Cousin Randy's Wedding

My mother told me months ago to keep the third weekend in June free because that's when my Cousin Randy was getting married. I didn't see that side of the family very often and we weren't exactly close so I had little interest in giving up a weekend for Randy's stupid wedding. There were three brothers – Randy, the oldest; Robert, the middle brother who was around my age, and Ronny, who was a couple of years younger than me. We were forced to hang out at family gatherings but I really didn't get along with any of them.

Needless to say, I wasn't thrilled with the idea of travelling to Boston with my parents and hanging out at a family wedding. I spent weeks trying to get out of the commitment but my father said I needed to take one for the Family Team to keep the peace and my mother eventually became annoyed with my constant complaining and pleas to be excused. When I realized that I wasn't getting out of the wedding, I asked my mother if I could bring someone so I wouldn't have to endure the torture alone.

"No," Mom said firmly. "This is a family wedding, not a hangout for you and one of your friends."

The stupid ceremony as scheduled for five o'clock in the afternoon which meant we would be spending the night. My parents wanted to get an early start to see some of Boston beforehand so I reluctantly rolled out of bed at seven o'clock that morning to begin the torture. My parents were excited by the family gathering but, at nineteen, I was at the 'who cares?' stage and I resented my mother for repeatedly telling me that I would go and I would have a good time!

I reluctantly dragged myself out of the house at the last possible moment lugging my overnight bag over my shoulder and I was surprised to find my parents standing at the curb in front of a large van talking to two other people also standing on the curb.

"It's about time, Topher," my mother said impatiently. "Let's go!"

I glanced at our cars in the driveway. "Aren't we taking our car?" I asked with confusion.

"No, we're going with the Dempsey's," my mother replied. "Didn't I tell you that before?" She asked with surprise.

The Dempsey's? They were our neighbors across the street before moving away four years earlier. Dan Dempsey was a year older than me and we hung out regularly. Last I heard he had joined the Navy. Dan's kid sister Keegan was a year behind me, an attractive and friendly girl whom I adored. We hung out too, sometimes with Dan - other times on our own. I crushed on her but then she moved away and that was that.

I approached the van and saw someone sitting in the third row of seats and I realized it was Keegan! She looked different from the last time I saw her but I would have recognized her anywhere. She cut off her long dark hair and it was now a blond pixie shaped-do around her pretty cheeks. She had her IPod earphones stuck in her ears but she waved when she saw me sticking my head through the opened side door.

"Good to see you again, Toph," Mr. Dempsey said, taking my hand in a strong shake before grabbing my bag and loading it into the back of the van. Mr. Dempsey had put on a few pounds and his hair was streaked gray at the sideburns but otherwise he looked the same as I remembered him.

His wife gave me a peck on the cheek and a warm smile before climbing into the passenger's seat. She was relatively unchanged, still attractive in her forties.

"Okay, I guess we can get going now that Toph finally showed up," my father remarked, motioning for me to climb into the van.

Going to a wedding with Keegan Dempsey!? Maybe this weekend wouldn't be so bad after all! I slipped into the back row next to Keegan while my parents took the middle row and the Dempseys manned the front. Keegan was staring out the window at her old house across the street.

"It almost feels like I never lived there," she sighed sadly.

"It's still your house to me," I replied as Mr. Dempsey put the van in gear and we pulled away.

"Oh, look," Keegan remarked as she watched the house disappear behind us. "The old tire swing is still back there."

"Yeah," I acknowledged.

"I used to sit in that tire for hours," she recalled.

"I remember."

"I loved it."

"Remember your mom's flower garden and how we weren't allowed to touch any of the flowers?" I asked.

"And one time you convinced me that no one would notice if we just picked one flower each but of course Mom did," Keegan recalled.

"I wanted to give you a flower," I explained, suddenly in so much awe of the memory that it made me blush with embarrassment.

"That you did," she giggled.

"Why are you guys going to my cousin's wedding?" I asked Keegan with confusion.

"The bride is the daughter of my father's college roommate," Keegan explained with a smile. "Small world, huh?"

"Incredibly," I agreed with a nod.

Our parents were gabbing away and nobody paid attention to us in the back. Keegan smiled at me a few times but she mostly stared out the window while listening to her music, although she offered me one of the ear phones so I could listen too.

Keegan Dempsey!

We were in the backyard of Maureen Parson's house. Keegan wore a long white dress that was too big for her. I couldn't even see her hands and we giggled while Maureen spoke.

"Dearly beloveded, we are here today to get Keegan and Topher married, forever and ever," Maureen said, reading from an upside down book. "Do you both want to do this?"

Keegan and I looked at each other and we shrugged sure.

"I now say you are boy and girl, married." Maureen waved the wand over us and stepped down off the bucket she was standing on and she gave us a nod. "Now you have to kiss."

"He is my friend so I'm not kissing him," Keegan announced.

"She is my friend too, so no," I agreed.

"You have to, you are married now," Maureen complained, placing her hand on her hip.

Keegan responded by grabbing my hand. "Come on Topher, we're leaving."

I took her hand and we ran from Maureen, climbing onto our bikes and speeding away as fast as we could go on our Big Wheels, racing to my house four houses away and running inside where we were greeted by my mother cooking in the kitchen.

"Hey, my favorites, what trouble are you two up to?"

"Maureen was marrying us but we escaped," I reported.

"Marrying you?" My mother paused from her cooking and looked at us. "Aren't you a little young to be getting married?" She smiled. "At least wait until you're seven."

She laughed with us and she spooned out a blob of cookie dough for each of us. "Go have some fun. Cookies will be ready in a while."

We ran off to my room and sat in the middle of the floor.

"I can't understand why she would make us kiss when we're friends," Keegan remarked.

I wrinkled my nose. "Maybe if we tell her we did she'll leave us alone."

"Are you saying we should kiss?" Keegan asked. "I'm only five."

"Just so she don't make us do it anymore."

"Okay then." Keegan puckered her lips.

"What are you doing?" I asked with surprise.

"I'm going to kiss you."

"I meant we should just say we did," I explained.

"Let's just do it," she decided. 'I don't like to lie."

So I puckered up. "But never again and we don't tell anyone about this," I vowed. "Bruce says all girls have cooties."

"I don't have cooties." Keegan crossed her arms and scowled.

"I know, but other girls do and Bruce will say I have cooties if we tell anyone we kissed."

"Oh, okay." She puckered again.

We got closer and soon our puckered lips touched and we pulled back, both of us wiping our lips.

"Okay?" I wanted to know.

"Okay," she confirmed.

We never talked about the wedding again but it was something I never forgot either, always fondly remembering the kiss we shared that day in my room. I glanced at Keegan sitting next to me in the van seat.

"How come we never got divorced?"

Keegan looked at me blankly for a few moments and then she smiled, realizing what I was referring to. "Because I didn't want to," she replied.