Getting Married in a White Castle

There is not enough parking so your parents walk over from the Hardee’s next door. They say where they come from, it’s Carl’s Jr. I ask my father if anyone has figured out the difference between Checker’s and Rally’s. My mom brings her biggest purse.

You wear a pickle as a boutonniere because you hate pickles but you love me. Me, holding a bouquet of paper napkins. Me, not a virgin, me who can house a nine-dollar sack of sliders in minutes. Me. Spear wrapped in wax, slice peeled off the patty: we both know you will always slide the pickle across to me later. I feel like a goddess, like you are anointing an altar in the spicy brine. You love me.

Something Blue, a plastic spoon behind my ear. Our first dance is on the patio because a girls’ soccer team came in and we were so happy to hear they won and we didn’t want to tarnish their victory. They might make regionals this year. The weather is nice, and the restaurant was already playing the Beach Boys on their in-house radio. You drip some ketchup on my dress but mom produces a bottle of seltzer from her big purse. My private hope is that there will always be a little pink bruise at the bottom of the bodice. We will tell our kids that tomatoes came to our wedding.

We cut the cake and smash it into the surface of our milkshakes. Our guests say the dollar sliders are the best wedding food they’ve ever had; you say that means they haven’t tried the clam strips yet. We toast with Dixie cups of Sprite. White Castle, or at least this castle, does not sell champagne. Don’t worry, though. Mom, purse.

Your cousin catches the mustard packets, tied together, I toss in lieu of a bouquet (I used my first one to dab at the ketchup). Right now she is single but she hopes to get married at a Dairy Queen someday. She used to have a cat named Dilly Bar. I tell her that true love is out there. I tell her she should wait for the right one.

We escape the crowd, waving from the drive-through lane, FRESH OFF THE GRILL chalked on the rear window. We have planned a honeymoon tour of fourteen nonstandard McDonald’s. I can’t believe you have never visited the turquoise McDonald’s in Arizona!

You reach across to grab an onion ring and find my hand instead. You hold it. We vow to never wait so long again.

Hattie Jean Hayes is a writer and comedian, originally from a small town in Missouri, who now lives in New York. Her work has appeared in Belletrist Magazine, The Conium Review, Hobart, HAD, and Not Deer Magazine. She is working on her first novel.

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