My friend Taffy was getting married for the third time and planning a three-day wedding extravaganza. It was taking place in a tiny village located in the middle of New York state’s Catskills Mountains. Besides being near a popular ski resort, Fleischmanns is the summer destination of choice for many of New York City’s Hassidic Jews. Walking around Fleischmanns is a lot like walking around Jerusalem, only it’s greener and safer. Bearded, black-shrouded, forelocked Hassidics share the narrow country roads with skinny lycra-clad outdoor enthusiasts.
I made plane reservations for New York and looked into accommodations. After noodling around on the Internet, I found a motel for less than $100 per night. The proprietor told me that I couldn’t make an August reservation until June 1, so I waited. On June 1 I called the motel. “We’re booked,” said the proprietor. “How can you be booked?” I asked. “You wouldn’t let me make a reservation earlier.” “Sorry,” said the woman, and she hung up. “Thanks,” I said, but she didn’t hear me.
I found a more expensive, but available B&B close to Taffy’s summer cabin. My friends Mac and Susie were also going to the wedding. We decided to share the room in order to save money.
At the Highlands Inn, the owner handed us one key. “Can we have two?” I asked. “We might not be together the entire time.” “Don’t worry,” answered the proprietor. “I never lock the doors. Really, you don’t even need a key.” I put the key in my pocket and we drove off to the rehearsal dinner.
The following day there was a group run and yoga, and then a hike up the mountain to the site of the wedding. Taffy stuffed her wedding dress in a backpack just as it started to rain. But the sky cleared at the top of the peak and a ceremony was performed by the groom’s best friend. Then we took the ski lift down to the lodge for a party. At 11 p.m. I was sitting in a hot tub in back of Taffy’s cabin, and by midnight I was walking to the B&B with the bride and her daughter. Taffy had on a bathrobe and slippers. Amelia had Taffy’s large green parrot, “Bird,” on her shoulder. The Hassidics were all in bed for the night.
At the B&B we found the front door locked and all the lights out. We went to the back door. It was locked. We checked the ground floor windows and finally found one that was open. I stood on the bride’s shoulders. Bird squawked encouragement. I kicked with my legs to try to squirm in the window but I was cautious. I didn’t want to somersault into the darkened room. Taffy started to giggle. Bird parroted her laughter. I laughed too, and then a voice from inside said, “What the hell do you think your doing?” It was the proprietor.
“I’m the bride,” said Taffy, as way of explanation.
“I’m the bride,” mimicked Bird.
“I’m the bride’s daughter,” said Amelia.
“I’m the bride’s friend,” I said. “And I don’t have a key to my room.”
“I gave you a key,” said the proprietor.
“I know,” I said, “but my friends have it because they came in earlier than me. You said you never lock the front door.”
“That’s why I gave you a key,” said the proprietor.
“But you only gave us one key and they have it.”
“That’s why I gave the key to you,” said the proprietor.
“KEY!” shouted Bird.
“Shut up,” said Amelia. The proprietor looked at her in alarm. “Bird,” she said. “I’m talking to Bird.”
“It’s okay,” said the bride quickly, wanting to avoid a fight between the parrot, the proprietor, Amelia, and me. “Now you’re here and Suzy can get in, and I can go home and prepare for the next party.”
I got down off the bride’s shoulders and went around to the front door where the grumpy innkeeper let me in.
“Kiss the bride,” said Bird.