Debra Fran Baker
"Help! I can't get my tie tied!" Michael pulled the black silk into a tangled mess. "I can't get my fingers to work."
"Relax. I'll do it. Hold on." I stood behind him, reaching over his shoulders and looking in the mirror to get the bowtie fixed right. "There. Let me just get that boutonniere."
"How do I look? I look a mess, right? Guys like me always look a mess in tuxedoes."
"You look just fine." He looked beautiful. He looked beautiful all the time, but today he looked like a king in his clean, elegant suit. I wore something similar, just like a best man should, but on me it was costume. Which fit with the mask I was wearing. Because I was his best man and this was his wedding.
"You sure? You sure Rachel isn't going to look at me and think she's made a mistake?"
"She's lucky to have you." I couldn't look at him.
"I'm the lucky one. She's gorgeous, she's brilliant, she *loves* Nicole. She even tolerates *you*." Michael's eyes glowed. He was happy. He was getting married, and she was everything he said. Of course he was happy. He settled the yarmulke on his head. I had one, too, but it would wait.
In about five minutes, Michael's parents would come to the door and the four of us would walk down the aisle. And no one was going to ask here to "speak now or forever hold your peace." And he was happy. And Nicole was happy. And they promised that I'd be part of her life.
Dinner once a week. Nicole every other weekend, if she wasn't busy, until she turned eighteen. Watching Michael be with her. Watching them grow together. Maybe have their own kids, brothers and sisters for Nicole. I'll be Uncle Joey.
"Hey, Joe, why so glum?"
"I guess...I guess I'm just jealous." I hoped he'd misunderstand.
He put an arm around my shoulder. I didn't lean into it. "Don't worry, pal. It'll happen. You'll find the right one. If I could, you could."
"Yeah. You give us all hope."
"Knock, knock. You boys ready?" It was Michael's parents. It was time. I slipped the satin circle onto my head, and looked into the long years ahead.
Copyright 2001 Debra Fran Baker and NightRoads Associates
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