It’s the biggest day of my life. The one I have been dreaming about and planning since I proposed to Jake at The Rusty Bucket—everyone whose anyone in our neighborhood’s favorite foosball, well-worn pool table, beer-scented kind of establishment put on the map by the reckless and the restless.
Like all brides, I want my beachside wedding to be memorable and amazing. I’ve spent hours poring over every detail with surgical precision. Guest list: check. Food: check. Inexpensive flowers: check. Dress that doesn’t make me look like a female Michelin man: check. We’re expecting nearly a hundred to attend and the coastline is proving she is as ready as a bird on an egg. The sea reflects aquamarine skies in her whipped-up waves. The temperature is warm but not hot. The flora stellar and so fragrant. Its perfection.
Guests begin to arrive while I’m off with a tuxedo-clad Jake having our photos taken. The photographer, who looks like a cross between the Fonz and Liberace, instructs Jake to put his long arms around me and look into my eyes.
“Clos-ah, clos-ah” he instructs.
We smile sweetly as he squeezes and adjusts our faces just so. We’re thirty minutes in to picture taking ordeal and Jakey suddenly seems very distracted which is nothing unusual for my ADHD Jakey.
“What the heck was that?” Jake says as the camera shutter clicks away.
“What?” I say.
“I didn’t see anything.” The photographer says.
“There was something. I saw it. Just for a moment, out of the corner of my eye. It looked like a huge tendril. Like an arm.”
“Well, I didn’t see anything. Maybe a piece of kelp or drift wood?” the photographer offers.
We all stare at where he is looking and see nothing but white caps.
“I’m sure I saw something.” Jake looks with wanderlust and makes like he’s ready to take off and investigate, forgetting today is a rather important one.
“Definitely not the time to go investigating big guy.” I say pulling him back to the reality of what is our wedding day.
The wedding coordinator finds us as we’re thankfully winding down our photos. She tells us the guests are seated and it’s time for us to start making our way over for the ceremony. The wedding music starts and I watch my bridesmaids and the groomsmen begin their march to the front of the crowd where we’ve got a pink rose and shell embellished archway waiting for the line-up. Tiki torches stand guard on the outer corners of our gathering throwing off flames as the day begins to darken for our sunset wedding. Jake’s nephew Ryan brings up the rings, and my little curly top cousin Sally flings floral petals as she slowly strides up the aisle. Jake walks up front and then I take a big breath and walk too.
I’m holding Jake’s hands as the minister leads the ceremony. We’re somewhere in between “we are gathered here today” and “kiss the bride” when I hear my bridesmaid Samantha let out a scream that makes my toes curl. Samantha is the furthest from me and the closest to the sand and the water’s edge.
“Oh my god!!!!!” She yells.
“What the!?” I say to Jake.
“Something touched me.” She says as she launches herself into the other bridesmaids knocking one over. “I felt something slimy. On my ankle.”
Her erratic movement trips one of the other girls as she backs up into the podium, ripping her dress from the waist down and sending the podium off kilter so that is falls sideway and smashes. The previously pious minister goes from holy man to man without composure in three seconds flat and says a few choice words.
One of the groomsmen is trying to calm Sam and the other women down and then I see it. A sort of slithering line from the sea’s edge to where Sam was standing. She’s crying hysterically and then I hear my Aunt Pauline shriek.
“Somethings got my purse” Aunt Pauline bellows as she pumps her puffy white arms up and down as if to take off in flight. And there goes a gold-colored Coach bag down the aisle, its contents spilling out as it gets whisked away.
I’m trying to figure out what is going on but everything is happening so fast. Chairs are flipping and our guests are panicking. Next thing I see is this tendrilled thing pulling itself up to where the servers have been setting up appetizers for the reception. It lurches, heaving itself on platters of shellfish and bacon-wrapped shrimps.
“Do something!” I say shrilly to Jake.
“What did you have in mind?” he offers.
“I don’t know, you seem like you wanted to do something earlier. Do anything but get that thing out of here.”
Jake snags one of the folding chairs and appears to be doing a bullfighter run at the thing. The giant octopus is on to his maneuver and slithers low and wide. It lifts one of its arms and grabs my curly top cousin Sally by her very curly top while at the same time yanking the chair straight out of Jake’s hands with one of its other arms. The huge octopus is definitely a multitasker. While it’s beak-like mouth pecks, destroys, and devours our lovely three hundred dollar, five layered, triple rose cream frosted, pink champagne infused cake with gusto, one of its arms, not the one still holding Sally now by her thick child legs, holds off Jake and as another is seizing bottles of gin and whiskey from the bar table. Between globs of cake and gin the monster takes on the appearance of something you would find on a frat house gone wild floor. It’s color changes from skeleton bone ivory to purple fizz.
I’ve had enough and waggle one of the tiki torches loose. My dress is too long to move fast so I do what any bride wanting to save her wedding day would do, I rip the bottom half of my dress off. I launch into a trot, flame blazing towards this ocean creature from hell.
“Offfffffffff!” I am screaming. “Get the hell out of here.”
The octopus realizes I mean business and I hear Sally express a large, “ouff” as she’s abruptly released from the creature and thuds to the ground. We do an artful, unrehearsed dance, the sea thing and I. I push the flame towards it and it goes tall on its many legs. The thing then struts sideways and ripples and surges and does a launch back towards the ocean from which it came. The splash is magnificent.
As fate would have it the beach grasses torched nearby send smoke signals to alert the authorities and the guest stampede destroy any evidence of the giant octopus. When the responders arrive fifteen minutes later, my perfect day has turned to stinking disaster and we are labeled irresponsible.
“I thought you would...I thought you could take care of it.” I say lacerating Jake.
“Seriously, I tried. But how do you fight a thing like that? He volleys back.
Epilogue: I didn’t marry Jake that day, nor any day for that matter. The octopus was never documented by officials. For all intents and purposes that day was erased. Kaput. I still have the top of the dress to show for it.