I can't keep my eyes off the cake. It's Pepto-Bismal pink, with these loopy swirls in the thick frosting. I follow the swirls, up and down, back and forth, like waves in a sickening sea. There are little candy hearts stuck on the top of the thing, and someone had scripted, "Congratulations Mike and Sandi" in green gooey gel, dotting the "i" in her name with a green heart.

I feel nauseous. I turn my head, slowly, to my right. There she is. I have my arm around her shoulder but my limb seems distant, disconnected. My hand touches her bony shoulder through her thin dress and she feels unfamiliar. People are talking to us, hugging her, drinking, laughing. I look at her face and I see her, I really see her. With a mix of horror and amusement, I come to realize that with her big teeth, big eyes, long face, and straight hair she looks like a girl Mr. Ed. I let out an awful blurt of a laugh and she turns to me, surprised but smiling.

"Oh, Wilbur, get me a piece of cake, will you?"

I'm not gonna marry her. I'm NOT going to marry her.


Jack took an index finger and swipd it, furtively, through the frosting on the cake, bringing it quickly to his mouth. It was stale and too sweet, as if it had been made thirty years ago and left to harden in the back of a supermarket bakery. He washed the taste out of his mouth with the tangy, harsh champagne and leaned on the buffet table. His brother Mike was going to get married and this was the engagement party. Jack didn't know too much about the girl, but people said that she was good for Mike.

They were over by the door, greeting everyone. She's wasn't a gorgeous girl, Jack thought, but she looked genuinely happy and had a bit of a glow to her. But what was really interesting, it dawned upon him, was Mike. His lanky, easy-going younger brother looked like a rusty robot, oddly animated then staring blankly into space. His arm was stiffly draped over her and his hand moved on her shoulder like it was a doorknob -- nothing like the luscious caresses you give a woman you love, you, nothing like it.

Jack tipped his glass to his lips, draining it, and gave an imperceptibly small smile. There was no way Mike was going to marry that girl.