Say "I do" to five surprising stories of women grappling with love and marriage and whether to walk down the aisle or run away.
In Elise Juska's "Perfect Weather for Driving," Megan and Joel's sunset fender-bender makes for a great drunken story at his friend's wedding, but the reality is hardly romantic. Stuck in a New England hotel waiting for the verdict on their Volvo, the two are forced to take stock of their own damaged relationship -- and whether it's too late to fix it.
In Tara McCarthy's "Losing California," engaged surfer Alison is convinced that Michael Madsen -- a member of her favorite band -- is her soul mate. Unfortunately, he's not her fiancé. So Alison flies to Nova Scotia, where Michael lives, because she's either right or she's wrong -- and she better find out before the wedding.
The bride-to-be in Pamela Ribon's "Sara King Goes Bad" has always done the right thing but decides it's important to know what it feels like to be reckless for once. And so two weeks before her wedding, she indulges in an unforgettable night of sex, drugs, and petty crime.
In Heather Swain's "The Happiest Day of Your Life," Annie and Ben plan a simple ceremony at an apple orchard. But when Annie loses perspective -- and everything that can go wrong does -- she's forced to rethink why she wanted a wedding in the first place.
The "Emily & Jules" of Lisa Tucker's story are two lonely people who meet on an online bulletin board for agoraphobics. But when Emily is invited to her estranged brother's wedding -- and it's clear across the country -- both she and Jules may be forced to change their ways.
Will any of these heroines get to the church on time? Cozy up with Cold Feet and find out.
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May 03, 2005
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Excerpt from Cold Feet by Heather Swain
Perfect Weather for Driving
I am shamelessly addicted to Dr. Phil, and it kills me to think how disappointed he would be in me right now. This is what I'm thinking as I ride shotgun in the Volvo, this and the fact that Joel still drives the Volvo, and the fact that I cheated on Joel, and that the long-sleeved black dress hanging in the backseat is probably inappropriate for a July wedding and the sunlight bouncing off the windshield is strangely bright.
"Geez," Joel says, and nudges the visor down.
It is six-thirty on a Friday night, and Joel and I, like most of the eastern Seaboard, are inching toward New England. The sky is the perfect, cloudless blue tailor-made for family reunions and beach parties and summer weddings. Ours is the wedding of one of Joel's college friends, one of those three-day, three-hundred-dollar affairs. We left Philadelphia at noon, the inside of our car a minefield of tiny pink hearts. The dry cleaner's plastic hanging in the backseat: We Our Customers! The directions stuck to the dashboard: Can't wait to see you! Nathaniel & Nicole! The night before, Joel had counted out the exact toll change we would need, and the coins sit now, smug as sausages, in their designated compartments. The trunk is jammed with my red suitcase, his brown suitcase, martini glasses wrapped in paper the color of dimes. We've done the wedding thing so many times it felt like packing for a business trip.
I squint into the sun. The median is thick with trees, letting the glare sneak into shadow then pop out again, swallowing the cars, whitewashing the road. The windshield is exposed as filthy, every particle of dirt and dust magnified. A week ago, leaving for class, I'd discovered the Volvo had been soaped: YOU SUCK, ASSHOLE! I thought the fact they'd bother to insert a comma was hilarious; Joel did not. By the time I got home, he had scrubbed it off as best he could, but the sun finds those letters now, faint, translucent, like the silhouette of jellyfish lurking just under the surface of the sea.
"Dammit." Joel's mouth is a blond scribble, the rest of his face hidden under Ray-Bans circa 1989. He is wearing a short-sleeved shirt, sky blue. Sand brown shorts, sand brown sandals. Everything about Joel is sky blue or sand brown: hair, socks, belts, eyelashes. His eyes are the color of water. It was one of the first things I loved about him, this gentleness, beachiness.
Then he pokes the Ray-Bans up his nose with one finger, like a pair of reading glasses, and there is no reason this should annoy me and yet it does, annoyance so intense that I gouge the door handle with my fingernails. Followed by a pause, a flip in the gut, and a groundswell of guilt.
"We'll never make it at this rate," Joel says.
He's swiveling the radio dial, looking for a traffic report. I focus on the square of driving directions stuck to the dashboard. It's affixed with a swatch of the Scotch tape Joel inexplicably stores in his glove compartment along with ruler, scissors, and penknife. They are poor substitutes for air-conditioning, cup holders, and power windows, but this is not something we joke about. When Joel and I moved to Philadelphia last year, my old Mazda was abandoned in favor of his older Volvo, a family relic from the 1980s. Joel is a firm believer in the theory of oil changes ensuring eternal life; at this point, the Volvo's very survival has become a point of pride.
"Here we go," Joel says. A female newscaster comes through faintly, crackling like a popping ear.