Rachel arrives at our door with a loud knock. She is wearing a floral print dress, white stockings and black patent leather shoes (with small white velvet bows), totally unkempt lush blond hairstack. She announces she is here to marry Jarret, our 5 year old son (Rachel is 3 months older). Jarret comes to the door. He is dressed in blue sneakers, T-shirt, socks and Blue Jays baseball cap. He asks Rachel, “What are you doing here?” “We’re going to get married,” explains Rachel. “Where?” asks Jarret. “In the backyard.” That seems sufficient and Jarret leaves with Rachel.
I cannot contain my curiosity—I follow.
When I come outside with Arlen (Jarret’s brother), Jarret is alone in the backyard. “Where’s Rachel?” I ask. “She’s inside changing,” is the absent-minded reply. Jarret is standing behind the picnic table twirling a bamboo garden stake.
Rachel arrives.
She is now fully made up, eye shadow and liner, rouge on her cheeks, lipstick. She is dazzling ‘though the complete picture is somewhat marred by the radiant smile missing three front teeth—two up top, one below.
“Put down the stick,” she says.
“Why,” says Jarret.
“Because we’re going to get married.”
“You have to be exactly like me.” replies Jarret. Points the stick directly at her.
“Put down the stick,” she tells him, “Ward, tell him to put down the stick.”
I refuse to be pulled into it, “This is a game for two, Rachel,” I say, and am amazed how quickly that logic is accepted.
“Put down the stick,” she says.
“Why,” says Jarret.
“Cause I’m ready for you to chase me,” says Rachel, raising both her arms above her head.
Jarret doesn’t miss a beat, “If you want to marry me, then you have to chase ME.”
“No,” says Rachel, “ to get married, the boy chases the girl.”
“No,” says Jarret triumphantly, “the girl chases the boy.“
Rachel abandons the argument, “Put down the stick,” she says.
“No,” says Jarret.”
“Put down the stick.”
If you’ve ever listened to children arguing, we will pass on the next twenty odd exchanges.
Now, Rachel has moved around the picnic table to where Jarret is standing, twirling the stick. She grabs the stick and yanks it from his hands. She has the stick! She holds it aloft like the Olympic torch. She twirls it like a majorette. Jarret is nonplussed—which surprises me— anyone who takes something of his commits a most heinous crime.
I find out why he is so nonchalant.
Jarret grabs the stick near Rachel’s hands and pulls her to him and plants a big sloppy kiss on her lips. Rachel surprised, jumps back, then remembers their conversation about kissing as a proof of their marriage (which I have forgotten to recount), and leaps forward and kisses Jarret back!
Well … things quickly disintegrate. Jarret drops all pretense and leaps on Rachel, traps her head between his hands and proceeds to kiss her repeatedly. Rachel is elbows up, punching and pushing Jarret away. I move in and break up the now combatants.
The marriage ceremony is over. Minutes later the bride and groom are entranced, riding tricycles, pulling around wagons, bound to each other with skipping ropes, full of toys.