• Lucia Joyce

My First (Almost/Pretend) Wedding

In second grade, at Millet School, in a snowy Alberta town of under 2000 people, I know pretty early in the year that I want to marry Kevin Doyle. Not officially, but unofficially, in a lavish make-believe. A 4th grader gets in on my truth and starts planning decorations. We play M.A.S.H. to decide on time and place. I choose 'Wednesday, first recess', because dates and times aren't exactly relevant to me yet.

Kevin is this great balance of funny, nerdy, and cute. He seems, like me, to be on the cusp between bully and bullied. He can crack jokes but he can also bounce back from being the butt of them. I admire this. I know even now, in Grade Two with Mrs. James, that finding the balance of humor and warmth in the chaos of primary school is essential. Kevin seems like a sports kid but he also reads. He has a lot of energy: all of it nonthreatening. I'm sold. Wednesday can't come soon enough. I'm not positive he will want to marry me but I can't think of any reason he wouldn't. May as well go all in since a 4th grader planned this, I assume he'll think.

On Tuesday, Kevin is absent. Dentist or orthodontist or some kind of mouth appointment. It works out great because we can tie up all the wedding's loose ends and really work to make sure it comes out how we envision it. I'm already getting used to saying 'Lucia Doyle'. How Irish!

Wednesday, the big day, arrives. I get to school early and I'm nervous for some reason. Pre-marriage jitters, I can only assume. It feels like the whole school has rallied behind the event, kids in other grades, maybe even one teacher knows and has shrugged it off as harmless. The 4th grade girl (I can picture mousy middle-length brown hair and I think her name starts with a 'K') weaves a flowery paper veil into my hair. She's thought of everything and delegated each task down a line of minions in lower grades. I won't be surprised if she becomes an event planner or a school teacher. Lookouts are sent from our classroom to the front entrance to trumpet Kevin's arrival at school. Even though the ceremony is at first recess, it will be an all-day celebrated affair. I'm just so excited to share this day with him. He deserves a kick ass wedding Wednesday, especially after missing school to have his teeth or tonsils prodded.

I am so swept up in the fun of it, and Kevin Doyle may as well be a mannequin at this point, or a blind, mute boy, for all he knows about what's happening today. Imagine being a normal kid arriving at school for a normal day and the school is abuzz with some big event--everyone is winking at, laughing at, and fist bumping you because in your one-day absence, a girl you've made eye contact with twice and never really spoken to has planned for you to get pretend-married at recess today. His shocked face could be a perfect meme if meme's were more prevalent in the early 90's. He is not prepared in any way for any of this.

It is my first big lesson in assumptions about less-communicative relationships.

My bad, Kev. I sincerely hope this day leaves no scar on your dope personality.

At recess, I remember a frenzy. Kevin bolts but other kids in every corner of the school are in on the plan and chanting/pushing him to the outdoor 'venue' (a shady hillside corner of the schoolyard between the old white building and the colorful new playground). I'm waiting in my veil with my bouquet--probably also fashioned from pastel-colored paper. I'm not hurt at his reaction so much as caught off guard, and laughing at the prospect of him running away at full speed like the citizens in dramatic old Godzilla movies. When I finally get a view of his face, before the recess bell disperses our fun, it's priceless. He's not yet fake husband material (he DID refuse to commit out of literal fear), but he's still so cute when genuinely overwhelmed. All expectations of the day have been shattered. All plans have gone up in smoke, but we can't deny how much fun we've gotten away with. Enough, at least, for me to lay low until Grade 4 rolls around and I try to publicly kiss Curtis Mingo's sweet, round, similarly unprepared face.

It's true. I've been a mischievous little romance junkie since before I can remember.

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