Sometimes when one is presented with a barrel of fish, the polite thing is NOT to go fishing, but to graciously decline.
Sometimes, however, the opportunity presented is so beautifully perfect it simply cannot be passed over.
Many years ago, my husband and I were guests at a wedding where the three bridesmaids (it will come as no surprise) were dressed in matching, perfectly hideous gowns. Why brides do that to the women they profess to love best in all the world, I will never understand. (shaking head sadly) I didn’t. I stepped neatly around the issue of choosing bridesmaids’ dresses by choosing my brother to stand as witness for me when I married. Clever, eh?
At any rate, when it came time to leave the wedding, we found ourselves excusing our way through the flock of inebriated bridesmaids on the hall steps. They surrounded us though, and they had hold of our clothing, so without sacrificing it to their painted and coiffured clutches, the only escape was through their maze of questions.
“We don’t know your names,” they giggled, and batted their lashes. We offered our given names. They pounced on mine like a fish tossed to three gulls.
“Mylene,” they giggled, “That’s a different name. What kind of name is it?”
“It’s a French name,” I smiled.
“A French name!” they tittered, and one of them hiccoughed delicately, “Is your family French?”
“No,” I said, “my family is Irish.”
“Irish!” they cooed, their eyelashes fluttering. “So what’s your last name?”
“It’s English,” I answered.
“English!” they laughed, and one of them clapped. There was an expectant pause. “So...what is it?”
I smiled. “It’s English.”
They frowned, blinked several times, and rustled a bit in their horrible dresses. “Yes, you said it’s English, but what IS it?”
I said, “It’s English. My last name...is...English. My name is Mylene English.”
They thought on this, they blinked, they blinked some more, then they laughed. “That’s great! Your family is Irish, your first name is French, and your last name is English.” They were greatly amused.
They turned to my husband and fluttered their lashes, “So are you an English, too?”
My husband, who was born in England, said, “No, I’m not an English, but I am English.”
The flutter of horrible dresses was stilled. The only discernible movement was the rapid blinking of their eyelids, the only sound the faint click of their mascara’d lashes.
“What?” they asked in uncomprehending unison.
My husband smiled his most charming smile and offered again, “I’m not an English, but I am English.”
We grinned brightly at the flustered, fluttering bridesmaids, clad in their horrible, phosphorescent dresses, bade them a ‘good evening’, linked arms and giggled across the parking lot to our car.
“Fish in a barrel,” laughed my Englishman, “just like fish in a barrel!”