The tux rental place was as stuffy as he’d remembered. The clerk, a youth barely older than Tariq, stood before them evidently bored out of his mind. Matt couldn’t blame him. It was a beautiful day in the city, a great time to go and enjoy oneself at the park. A good day for anything but work.
The youth looked at him. “You’re Tariq’s dad aren’t you?”
Matt smiled. “I am.”
The youth smiled. “I’m a friend of his from high school.” The boy offered his hand. “Derreck Chambers.”
Matt took the boy’s hand and shook it. “”Pleased to meet you, Derreck. I hope he wasn’t too rough with you.”
The youth shook his head. “Oh no, Mr. Morrow. Terry was an awesome friend. never got in any fights or made any trouble. Always painting or sketching. Most kids misunderstood him, but I didn’t.
“There were rumors about him being gay, but they were nearly always started by jealous boys who wanted a girl he was going with or a girl who felt slighted because he refused to go out with them. He had a knack of being able to tell who was faithful and those who were only out for fucks.”
Matt smiled. “He must’ve learned that from me. And call me Matt. Mister is just too formal.”
the youth smiled. “OK, mist–OK, Matt. I took cues from Terry. He taught me a lot about what the right woman was and how to have a tight relationship. He went out with my sister for a while.”
Matt smiled. “Terry is good about that.” He motioned to the ladies. “Darlene, the one in the lead, is the one who has the color scheme. You’ll want to be talking to her. The boys and I are here only for the fitting.”
Derreck looked at him. “Darlene?”
He chuckled. “The one with the big binder, who is directing traffic.”
Derreck nodded. “Oh, OK.”
Derreck ambled off to talk with Darlene. Matt resumed his musings about the shop as he waited. Darlene had the color schemes. Those had been agreed upon by the ladies–and Sam. He was just along for the ride.
He smiled at the number of tuxes in the shop. Thousands upon thousands lined the walls. Hundreds or thousands more were on the racks on the floor. Who knew there could be so many types or colors?
He was amazed. But, then, he hadn’t been in a shop like this since 1990. He hadn’t had any reason. He had not been invited to any weddings, nor had he wanted to go to any.
He had simply wanted to disappear. At least until now. Now, he felt alive. He was in love.
“Those over there will do nice.” Darlene’s voice snaped him out of his thoughts. “Get the sizes from each man, then have the tailors go from there.”
Poor Derreck. He had to put up with getting sizes from everyone. Matt smiled. There was nothing like trying to get straight answers out of a bunch of men when it came to waist size and height.
Two hours later, Matt found himself standing in the cake shop. Now, the group consisted of just him, Amanda, and Darlene. He was not a cake person. He would opt for red velvet cake over any other any day.
He politely tasted each and every sample brought to him. He could not tell the difference between the different flavors. All the white tasted like vanilla to him. He wasn’t sure about the yellow or the pink. Brown or black all tasted like chocolate.
He gave Amanda and Darlene a look as if he was lost. “No Red Velvet?”
Amanda smiled, then looked over at Darlene. “Would it still fit the motif?”
Darlene nodded. “Yes, as long as the frosting remained the main colors you picked or at least close.”
Amanda nodded. “Then let’s do that. I mean, all these are nice, but they aren’t as diverse in flavor as I was hoping. And I want Matt to be happy.”
Matt looked at Amanda. “I will be happy with whatever you decide, Baby. When it comes to cake, cake is cake. It is all the same to me. But I have never had a red velvet cake at a wedding. It would be a change. I know the traditional cake is either chocolate or vanilla, But who said we have to be traditional?”
She smiled. “I love you so much! You are always thinking outside the box! It makes things exciting!”
He smiled and nodded. “And I Love You too, My Love.”
Amanda stood there looking at Matt. It was times like this that made her realize just how much she loved him. He didn’t care what she did, just that things got done. The idea of a red velvet cake was ingenuous. It was different.
Sandra had dinner ready when they returned. Peppered rack of lamb, buttered steamed carrots, fresh steamed green beans, and small baked potatoes. The inviting smell of the roasted lamb mingled with the sweetness from the carrots and the fresh smell of the beans to become the most enticing aroma. Matt couldn’t wait to taste the succulent feast that sat before him.
Even more surprising was the fact that the rest of the family were already congregated around the table, waiting for them. Divine stood and raised her glass. “Here is to the happiness of our Pops Matt and our soon-to-be step-mother Amanda. They have been kind enough to take us into their home and make us a part of the family. May we all find the same love they share in our own futures.”
Rounds of “here, here” sounded around the table in agreement, along with the gentle clinking of glasses. Matt smiled as he watched, his eyes tearing up with pride in his children. Despite their not having been a family, in presence, for very long, they all seemed to be getting along. It made him so proud.
Amanda was awestruck by the toast. These kids barely knew her and yet they had all accepted her. It made her so happy to be accepted. She felt so honored, so a part of this family.