Pop Pop and the Unexpected Bridesmaid
My grandfather, Pop Pop, was invited to a wedding of a daughter of his friend in North Carolina. All I knew it was states south of where we lived. My Dad and Mom share their concerns of him driving that far alone and suggests I go with him so he would have a navigator. And in case he got into trouble on the road. If he did, I could be there to help by calling home or for help.
Pop had introduced me to his friend Mrs. Ruth Storm, six years earlier when he introduced me to letter writing. Pop Pop is good at taking time with me and we have a strong relationship. I did not meet my Grandmother Grace, she died shortly after I was born.
Pop Pop calls, Ruth and she is delighted about my coming; asking if she could put me to work once we get there. She and I have been pen pals long enough that she feels like she knows me and could trust me to be helpful.
I am the youngest of the brothers, but had been a pen pal to Pop Pop’s friend since I was nine. Pop had met Mrs. Storm years before on a trip to Florida. Ruth Storm lives in North Carolina. While I don’t know how they met, I knew my grandfather made friends easy. Mrs. Storm has three daughters and the oldest one is getting married. Now, Mrs. Storm is looking forward to meeting me as well has having Pop Pop as an honored guest. I guess he know Mandy and is fond of her and her sisters. Between by brothers and cousins, there are no girls this generation in our family.
Pop Pop tells me he wouldn’t be surprised if Ruth or her daughter asks me to do something for the wedding. Pop Pop doesn’t stop to see relatives in Maryland or Virginia as suggested by my parents. Pop stopped fifty miles from the Virginia-North Carolina border, 150 miles from our destination. Pop treats us to a special dinner. Pop focuses his attention on me when we're together; apart from him I don't get attention like this. I have speech problems that cause people to shy away from me, even those close to me.
Pop Pop had moved to Florida and been away for over a year and I was very happy to be with him again.
We were up early have breakfast and are on the road by 8 a.m. and expect to pull into Ruth’s driveway by 11 a.m. Pop isn’t too happy that we needed to stop so soon at a rest area because I forgot to go before we left this morning. I am to quickly use the toilet and get back. He is nice about it and didn't get angry with me.
I overhear a bus driver and two other men speak of their bus having trouble; admitting it is worse than they had told Carrie Underwood. 'Ms Underwood,' they said, 'was already upset and nervous enough thinking she will be just on time for some promotion stops at nearby radio stations, as well as a practice session that night.'
I am naive enough to approach her bus with a solution to her problems. I return to our car by a long route going by her bus. I step up into Carrie’s bus and introduce myself directly to her. Two guys quickly have a hold of me, but Carrie and her friend insist, they let me go, as she and her friend are not in any immediate danger.
I explain that her bus has more problems than she knew but that my grandfather and I could help her. The guys tell me it is a nice offer but I didn’t know what I am talking about. They say things are complicated for a singer of Carrie’s fame.
I say, “I suspect you’re right, but Miss Underwood is more intelligent and sophisticated than me. I just thought she wouldn't appreciate being kept in the dark. If she knew a better way, I just thought I would be respectful enough to speak to her directly.” Max, a security guy, would like to have hit me just about then.
Carrie whispers to Jeanette to get a day bag and essentials ready just in case. She puts on a baseball cap, sunglasses and an oversize coat belonging to someone else. We are out of the bus and I am leading her to our car. My grandfather is at the car looking around and begins to laugh when this pretty woman walks up with me to the car.
I introduce my Pop Pop, "This is Miss Carrie Underwood, she's an important singer who needs a ride to Raleigh/Durham." She explains their bus troubles and she sounds upset, "If I stay around the bus there might be some unemployed people and more problems than I already have."
Pop simply explains, “I know of your name, but that's it. I'd be willing to help anyone my grandson thinks so highly of. We too need to get going so if you want our help with a ride, grab a few things and let’s go. Take no more than one other friend and what the trunk has room for.” It isn’t ten minutes and Jeannette has things packed and is riding up-front with my grandfather. I am sitting in back with Carrie, but I am now very nervous and shy.
“What happened to the bold young man who came onto my bus,” Carrie asks?
“That was me acting how I was brought to be, bu... ut I, I’m now scared because you’re famous and I, I’m just a dumb kid over his head lookin’ like a fool,” I responded.
“For someone being shy, possibly thinking he has a problem you shouldn’t be so hard on yourself. I suspect others already do that enough.” I smiled and relax as I understand she's as nice as she appears to be. She opens her arms to draw me near to give me a hug. I am caught up in the smell of her fragrance and the soft glow of her hair. My head was just below her chin as she hugged me and I was in heaven. I looked into the rear view mirror to see my grandfather’s eyes glowing with a warm smile.
“My wife Grace was the one musically talented; she raised our family with a love for good music. It sounds like you have a beautifully precious voice. What kind of music do you sing,” he asks?
Jeanette pops a CD into the car player and mentions to Carrie it is CD 4 with the medley. It plays about 15 seconds before Carrie starts in singing along. The CD and she jump into a second song a few seconds in and she smiles as she heard me singing along. At the end she comments that she could use me as a back-up singer.
“Yea, but I would have to be one of the female back-up singers as my voice hasn’t changed yet.” I explained, “I like singing along with your songs as it gives my speech a rhythm and helps me to put words together.”
“If I give you a few tickets to our concerts would you be willing to sing with me?” I didn’t really respond nor did she push it any further, as we sing the next forty minutes.
We drop her off at her hotel, and she warmly and quietly expresses her thanks and leaves. She has given Pop Pop something but I didn’t see what it is. I am very glad, we're on our way and fifteen minutes later we were at the Storm’s house.
Ruth Storm is very happy to see us, but distracted by something that has happened. “Thank you William for coming and it is so nice to see you Brice.My special pen pal and Will’s grandson it is very nice to finally meet you. You have grown from your pictures that your Grandpa has given me.”
She introduces me to her second daughter Marcy. Amanda has just stopped and she confirms for her mother that Cousin Bree’s grandmother is dying. Bree's to be a junior bridesmaid and help as an usher before the wedding. There are two junior bridesmaids and both are to help several times during the wedding.
They show us a picture of Bree in her Bridesmaid’s dress. She's 14 and they told us she's feeling real bad, not only, about her grandmother’s death, but creating a hardship for her cousin Mandy's (Amanda) wedding.
Marcy suggests to her sister that Bill and Brice could be an answer to their problems. I speak up and tell Ruth, “Grandpa and I have talked on the way here that you thought enough of me that you might be asking my help for something. I am sure if there is something Grandpa or I could do, we would want you to ask and we would try to help.”
Marcy asks, “Brice, has anyone ever told you how cute your eyes are?” Grandpa laughs and insists I answer.
“Awe, since I was a small boy they said that I have long lashes and beautiful eyes that should be on a girl.” When I share this, Marcy giggles out loud.
"Not only do you have beautiful eyes like Bree, you are a lot like her in so many ways."
Ruth speaks up and tells Marcy, "Put any crazy thoughts out of your head young lady." Grandpa smiles but he doesn’t say anything. I speak up again about wanting to help.
Amanda tells me, "It is not that simple Brice. I appreciate your offer but we cannot ask it of you." I turn to Grandpa who has a puzzled look. Seemingly others see a way I could help. But they think I'm too young to seriously consider their request.
I speak up more strongly than before, “Grandpa wouldn't you want me to help if I could?”
Ruth says to Amanda and Marcy, “I don’t think he will want to do it, but you might as well show him Bree’s junior bridesmaid dress. Then let him know what you're thinking.” Amanda put her hand over her mouth, afraid to say anything, but she looks happy. Marcy takes me by the hand to another room and shows me this beautiful pink gown. It is slender and smaller than most women’s dresses. I'm sure it was Bree’s. There is another hanger with a bra and pink satin panties which I try not to notice. Marcy takes me to a mirror and holds the gown in front of me. “Brice what do you see?”
I say, “While I could help as an usher, you need a girl who could be a junior bridesmaid and a usher.”
“Brice, what Marcy is suggesting and the gown seems to be close to the right size. That if you are really willing to help, you would need to do it as the junior bridesmaid and the usher,” says my Grandfather.
“Pop Pop, I would do what I could, but I don’t think they want someone that looks like a boy to be in that dress to embarrass the wedding party.”
Mrs. Storm speaks to me, "When she put the pretty dress in front of you. She and I saw that you would look like a young teenage girl in it… The only way to prove you wrong or to show you are right; would be to have you try on the dress. I would ask if you're willing to try it, but it's way too much to ask?”
It's not my nature to step back from my word or a challenge.
Mandy took me by the hand to another bedroom. "I need you to quickly take a shower and please wash well and shampoo your hair… When you’re finished and dried off, put on the panty and bra then come out so I can help you with a slip and the dress."
I must be one of the most naive and gullible guys to continue on. I called out to Mandy and ask, "I there was front and back to the panty." I had to confess, "I'm having trouble in hooking the bra in back." Mandy comes in and shows me this and helped me with that. Soon she is ready and putting the gown down over my head. I never saw a gown like that with one strap over the shoulder. Mandy was fastening it in the back as she had me put on a slim belt. It went around the waist, but I was told not to tighten it. It was pretty and its silver accents went well with the dress.
I say, “Wow! I have to say, this gown feels as nice as it looks.”
Mandy says, “Let me brush your hair into a different style and put on a little make-up on you. Then you and others can see how you look.” My make-up is done and she puts a pair of shoes in front of me for me to step into.
Mandy calls the others in and asks me to face the mirror. Ruth's the first to speak-up; “Brice, you would make a very beautiful junior bridesmaid. But it is what you see and your decision if you would be willing to be a junior Bridesmaid… Do you see that pretty young woman there? More importantly are you willing to become her for Mandy's wedding?”
I look at Pop Pop, wondering if I had gone too far. Pop compliments me on looking like a lovely young lady. I look down and saw the front hem line was below my knees. Others saw my embarrassment as Mandy and Marcy both give me a hug.
“Mrs. Storm, I think I need to call my parents to make sure it is okay.” She shares that is very understandable. I could have waited but I called right then. I walk to another room as Mrs. Storm encourages everyone to leave me alone. On the fourth ring I am about ready to hang up then my mother answers.
“Hi Mom… Yes we got here safely around noon. Ruth Storm and her family are real nice. But they have a problem and I promised to help if I could, before I realized what I was doing… No, it is not what I would call wrong, but it is very unusual! …A cousin to Mandy, the bride, well her grandmother is dying and she won’t be able to be in the wedding, but she was to be one of the ushers and a junior bridesmaid. She and I are very similar. I kind of volunteered to take her place but not as a bridesmaid. But when Mandy said it was the junior bridesmaid that she needed. Well her sister Marcy said I not only had pretty eyes like Bree, and I could probably fit into the pretty junior bridesmaid's gown”
“Yes, even Pop Pop said, I looked like a pretty young lady.”
Mom surprises me saying, “It will be a good learning experience and your Grandpa knows about you. Now let me talk to Mrs. Storm and your Pop Pop.” They each talk with my Mom and laugh and smile as they do.
I do over hear one disturbing statement, “If Brice is to be believable, he'll need to get himself into acting like a girl and a junior bridesmaid.” Ruth takes me aside and shares what my mother had said. “You need to know, if I think it gets too much for you, I will not allow you to continue as your Grandfather’s granddaughter.”
“I will get somethings for you to wear now. But Marcy will need to take you and get enough clothes for you to use as your own.”
“But I have tickets for Carrie Underwood’s concert tomorrow night!” I began to cry and Ruth hugs me as says she will do what she could to make it alright.
She talks with her daughters. Marcy is taking me to lunch and then to go shopping. I didn’t have any sisters and just a couple of girl cousins, so I always enjoyed the few times I could do something with a girl. I am wearing a skirt, padded bra and top, Marcy has some light make-up on me, and puts my hair in a ponytail sweeping my bangs the other way. She gives me a simple bracelet and necklace.
Marcy is quite popular whether it's at the café or shopping. She gives me some small pointers on my speech and how to walk. I'm surprised when she introduces me as Brianna, saying either Bree or Anna is good. I ask and she says, “Your grandfather thought it was the name they would have used if you were a girl.”
I let Marcy order first and I followed her order closely. I did take a large iced tea. I imitate her with my napkin and taking bites of food. I was ready to drink the iced tea from the glass when she stuck a straw in it. “It’s better with your lipstick.” I learned Marcy's the second daughter and would be starting at a university in the fall. She is planning a double major in accounting and education.
I am pretty good at math so I tested her; she likes my spirit and says it's an interest we could share. Apart from some girly jeans and one pair of shorts, we get several skirts as well as blouses and tops that went with them. She stops at one cosmetic counter asking if her cousin could get a makeover. I am embarrassed but as Marcy says, it would be a good way to find my true colors.
She gets a call from her mother and is told to get me an outfit for Carrie’s concert and that my ears needed to be pierced. The cosmetician usually did not usually pierce ears but something Marcy said led to an exception and a nice pair of gold hoops.
She says we need to get one more outfit, a longer skirt and a suggests half slip. I did not understand why it needed to be so pretty. On the way out we stop at a salon. She tells the woman I am to have a perm on Friday or Saturday, but need a shampoo and my hair styled to hold me over until then. Sheena does cut and shape my hair. Then she shows me how to take care of it.
Marcy is pleased and says everyone will love it. She drives me into the city and shows me some of the North Carolina campus. We find a small park where we're able to walk and visit before heading home. We kind of bond as we visited there.
When we get back to the Storm’s, Ruth is preparing dinner but asks me to try on and show her and Pop Pop some of the outfits. She compliments how my hair looks. I felt like I should apologize about how much it is costing them and worry if I can live up to their expectations.
Faith their youngest daughter calls asking to bring her boyfriend home to eat. Amanda calls and she wants Richard to meet me tonight but their time is limited.
Pop Pop spoke up and asks about a particular restaurant and says he would pay for tonight’s meal. We are quickly on our way and would meet Amanda and Richard there. Faith and her boyfriend would be there some twenty minutes later. They would be later, saying if they have to take Matt’s younger brother home it would be later. But they're all told to come to eat, soon as possible.
Will, as everyone else is calling Grandpa, and I rode with Ruth Storm and her husband. Ed. I joke about everyone in his household being girls. He thanks me for doing what I am doing. He emphasizes he would understand if I back out. Grandpa told him, “I never had a granddaughter.If Brice can stand it, I'm going to enjoy the few days it lasts.”
“Thanks Pop Pop for telling Marcy my name would have been Brianna. If it is okay that is what I would like to be called the next few days, but I think I should use Anna and not to confuse it with the Bree I am filling in for.” Ruth asks me to wait until we see Amanda, to see if the wedding programs have been printed.
Amanda and Richard are there waiting and have a big table already being prepared. Richard is surprised I am really a boy as he doesn't see one. He treats me real nice and is happy I am helping. He wonders if he should tell his parents, and Ruth suggests "Yes, saying, but it should not have to go further than that."
Ruth quietly tells me that Carrie Underwood is looking forward to our coming to the concert and she recommends with your voice you are welcome to stay dressed as a girl if you're comfortable. She says it might actually be nice for young girls, to see you as encouragement.
My cell phone goes off and I have to look through a purse to find it. Mom says hello and asks how I am doing. I tell her we're ordering food and the family is very happy to see Pop Pop. And they're treating me as one of the girls. I say good-bye and hang up, the phone immediately rang again. I knew I was in trouble with my Mom for hanging up but I'm angry that she called right back.
“I am sorry Mom, but…” and I was interrupted. It is Jeanette Carrie’s personal attendant, “Brice or Brianna…”
“I am sorry Jeannette my Mom just called and I thought she was calling me back.”
Jeanette's real nice and she tells me two songs Carrie is suggesting I sing with her. One as a duet and one with her back-up singers. I am excited as I knew the words to both songs but I didn’t always know when Carrie was singing and when the other singers came in or out. She shares my problem with Carrie and the next thing I know Carrie is on the phone asking, “Brianna, you are so good to think of that. I am so proud of you. Could you be at rehearsal either at 11 or 1?”
I ask Ruth and she suggests 1:00 p.m. They would need to work on getting me there and back but that is okay. I spoke to Carrie, “They suggest 1:00 p.m. but they need to figure how to get me there and back with all their wedding plans.”
“Congratulations, I hear you are going to be a bridesmaid and usher. If you can be ready by 12:15, my driver will pick you up. Dress casual but bring your outfit for the concert. You can rehearse with us, and have a small bite to eat. Jeanette can help you get ready if you don’t mind. You can meet your grandfather and family after they come through the entrance. We will have enough tickets and great seats, just let me know how many will come when you get picked up.”
“Thanks Carrie,” I said as I covered the phone to tell Ruth Storm. “It will be 8 of us if the Bride and Groom can come.”
Carrie interrupts me, “If the Bride and Groom come there will be four more tickets for their friends, if they want them. People are going to enjoy hearing you sing.” She told me she had to go but would see me tomorrow.
We had given our orders when the women got up to leave. I started up but realized they were going to the restroom. Marcy caught me by the arm, “Yes, this includes you. You might as well get use to being around us.”
I saw two teenage boys look at me and Marcy responded, “How do you like catching the eyes of someone else’s affection?” I didn’t think it was funny but Marcy just put her arm around me and said, “Get use to it. The next four days you are an attractive girl.” There were three toilet stalls so it took a while. I was getting a bit of an education as women had to take care of more stuff than guys.
One young woman told me not to worry my breasts would be growing and be there for the rest of my life. I wasn’t sure how to answer that but I thanked her and said she was very pretty. Marcy pushed me into a stall and reminded me to close the door all the way. I was glad I came with the women as I did have to go.
When I came out and was washing Amanda notice my fingernails and told me she would quickly paint them. Marcy told me there was no use arguing with her sister, just be quiet and cooperate. So I came out of the restroom making sure not to touch anything until Amanda gave me permission. They were a nice rose pink, I was glad they were not for a little girl. It was hard holding my purse and to be seated. Richard held my chair and pushed it in as I sat down.
Grandpa was the only one who knew, I was a fussy eater. So he was surprised when I was served shrimp cocktail and ate it without complaint. Luckily I was half through and liked it before I realized what I was eating. I noticed my nails were dry as I brought up my napkin. Ruth suggested I just lightly pat my lips, and when I was finished she commented that I did well. Somehow I felt the pride of a young girl well up inside of me.
I took a few bites when Marcy suggested I take a small sip of water. I realized she was guiding me to eat slowly and small bites. “Young Lady, you are definitely growing up. I wish your mother could see you, she would be real proud,” Poppa said. Ruth got up from her place went around the table and took two pictures and then asked me to come around and stand behind my Grandpa.
Shortly after she sat down my phone rang and my Mom was thanking me for the pictures. Ruth texted her saying I suggested she send them to her. I had to ask if they looked good. She asked, if the earrings were clip-on, she couldn’t tell by the pictures.
Faith, Matt and Ricky showed up and quickly ordered, my Poppa quickly went to the cashier to make sure they knew he was paying the bill. It was to include anything even what was not yet ordered, as he was asking for a beer for after his dinner. Mr. Storm told Grandpa he should not have done it. “I only had one daughter,” Grandpa said, “Thanks, but I wanted to do this.”
A guy who knew Marcy waited until she was finished eating and asked her for a dance in the lounge. Ed Storm and Richard soon followed suit. I was about to move closer to my grandpa, when a teenage boy tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I would dance with him. I looked to my grandpa and got no help, “Young man, you have good manners and Brianna, you have my permission as long as he treats you well.”
I didn’t know how to dance as a boy, even less as a girl. I became real nervous as the second song was slow. Jackson was probably sixteen and guessed I was fifteen. When he pressed himself to me. He thought I would be impressed, but we were not thinking the same way.
Marcy was nice delivering me after the second dance by asking me back to the table. “Thanks Marcy, I appreciate you saving me.” She told me I had done well but I should pace myself and stay within the family group in case I made a slip.
I asked her, “Will I to need to dance at the reception?”
She asked, “Would you mind if I asked Ricky to dance with you for practice” …She laughed when I said, “But isn’t he a bit of a fox or whatever girls would say?”
“How is it that you noticed that,” Marcy fired back?
While I turned red she asked Ricky if he would dance with me and he came right back with her. Aunt Ruth, as I now was calling her, smiled as we walked to the dance floor. She came over and took some pictures, but not before I had leaned my head on his shoulder as I was getting tired. After three dances, Aunt Ruth complimented how well we did but that I needed to get home with a big day tomorrow.
I was falling asleep even as we rode back. Ruth warned me, “I am sorry but a girl cannot just flop down on a bed and go to sleep. I will help you but you will need to work with me.” She changed the subject and asked me about singing with Carrie Underwood.
“I can’t believe it is happening, I was tickled when we could help her and we rode in the car together. It is unreal that I will be singing with her. I thank you for getting me a cute outfit to wear when I am on stage with her.”
“But you will be up with her looking and singing like a pretty teenage girl, in front of 10,000 people.”
“I am kind of thankful because I will be able to enjoy it and giggle like a girl. Come Sunday it won’t be seen as being me,” I said. We were home and Ruth took me to a bedroom and I helped get my clothes hung up or placed into the laundry before i got in for a shower. I had a shower cap, but was not successful in getting all my make-up off.
“Glad to see you are awake so you will remember what we will do and how to do it again,” Aunt Ruth. I learned about removing make-up, cleansing my skin and using a moisturizer before going to bed. She had me put on a panty and laid down as she marked my chest and glued on breast forms. Fifteen minutes later I had on my nightgown as Ma Storm gave me a goodnight kiss.
It was well after midnight when Marcy woke me up as she was getting ready for bed. I hadn’t realized my bed was the second bed in her room. I woke enough to visit for a half hour; she really appreciated my helping her sister. She complimented how well I was doing.
She asked how I felt about my breast forms. “I guess they’re age appropriate, but I felt like Faith’s little sister.”
Marcy said, “Our younger cousin, yes they are age appropriate and but Ricky and others thought you are at least 16." Marcy was comfortable with that and it was a nice compliment coming from a guy. "Luckily you are not a younger sister as we will be put to work in the morning.”
“I can help until I am picked up to go to rehearsal.” I did wake up by 6:30 and joined Aunt Ruth having tea in the kitchen. She gave me a robe to use while I was there. Grandpa was up and I got him a cup of coffee as Ruth was already getting his breakfast. I asked her what I could do to help this morning.
She asked me if I knew how to do laundry, I said, "We were all taught, but we aren’t washing for a house of girls." She said if I could get loads split up Marcy and Faith would appreciate it. Marcy, Faith and I ate together and I was happy to be accepted as one of the family. Ruth had to meet with Richard’s Mom, so she was asking a lot of Marcy and Faith. I saw their list of things to do and crossed off two things I would get done that morning.
Faith had Carrie’s songs playing throughout the house for my benefit and everyone’s enjoyment. She told me she was jealous. I changed the bed and cleaned the master bathroom as my last task. Marcy checked how I looked and made sure I had everything before I was picked up. She noticed things I had not even thought of and had me ready when the driver showed up.
Poppa gave me a kiss on the cheek as he saw me off.
Jeanette met me with a big smile and walked me to the concert stage and took my stuff away. Carrie smiled and waved as she was in the middle of a song. Jeanette came back with two pairs of country style boots. They looked the same to me but one was a woman’s 8 and the other an 8E. Both with a 2 ½” heel and girly looking, they caught my eye.
Carrie greeted me and said I was a very pretty girl and thanked me for all I was doing. I was very nervous and it showed as we tried the first song. Carrie took my hands and we sang face to face. She was so inspiring and helped me to get on note and to relax. ‘’Remember you are a young girl who I asked to enjoy a song on stage with me. You have a good voice and it sounds better the more you enjoy yourself.”
With that said they helped me to find some marks, get use to the lights and taught me to sing to the audience as well as to Carrie. Jeanette gave me a wrap-around skirt the length and fullness my skirt I for tonight. Another back-up singer took me under her wings for the second song. Some changes were made to have me singing a larger part than the regular song. I learned that the concert version of some songs were quite different from the CD cut. Jeanette explained this made the concert so much more enjoyable than a sound room.
Carrie had me hold an infant child and sing to the tune of “Jesus Take the Wheel”, “Darling don’t you worry, Jesus and Mommy love you tonight, and you’ll be alright.” They made a video of it to be played three times when I sang the tune tonight. There were other times where during the song they showed a real single mom and her child. I looked enough like her that it was very moving. The Mom feared being made known so it would be my image and someone’s child which would be on the CD album jacket, if I agreed.
They even took pictures of me like I was delivering and nursing a baby so my face could be transposed over hers. I was to be given a $2,000 fee, but asked instead for the mother and child to receive $250 per month for two years. Carrie smiled agreeing. “We do need for Jeanette to set up an account for Brianna with mailings to go Ruth Storm as your executor if that is alright.”
“We have a concert in Philadelphia and another at Rutgers University this fall, where we would like you to sing if you are willing and for which you would be paid” said Jeanette. I asked if this meant singing again as Brianna. “Unless you want people to guess it is you tonight and in the video. We would rather they not.” It would also rest on my voice not changing and my Poppa not being there.
I said ‘yes’ certain my mother would not agree. I did not know come tomorrow; she in talking to Carrie and Jeanette would agree. They had life like forms of a vagina with a head crowing and another with a head and shoulder through that were used as props. I was kept busy up to 5:30 for a 7:30 concert.
I was cleaned up, dressed and ready to meet my family at 7:00 p.m. Poppa and Ruth went back with me to meet Carrie. Jeannette had come out to meet the Bride and Groom and ask a secret question to which they smiled and agreed.
The opening act was a young male country singer on the rise, trying to make a name. He sang and performed well but I really didn’t remember a thing. Carrie was well into her first set when Carried finally called me up. It was a warm and responsive crowd and I received a good reception which gave me goosebumps. I walked and was the best girl I could be, but I was sure people would see the boy.
Carrie acknowledged what Grandpa and I had done for her. She mentioned Richard and Amanda’s wedding for which we came. Carrie had called their honeymoon resort and upgraded their honeymoon package to their best accommodations and changed their flight tickets to first class for a place unknown.
Carrie said, “This is for a special young woman with the struggle to be a mom.” Different from Rock songs, country songs often told a longer story. “Brianna will help us to sing it with new life… I hope you enjoy it” And she started in and there were times we sang together. I couldn’t tell but the people seemed to like my voice and became enthralled in the story. The first time I sang, “Darling don’t you worry, Jesus and Mommy love you tonight and you’ll be alright.” Behind me I was holding someone’s daughter and singing as she was my own. The concert hall became quiet and I feared I was doing a terrible job singing.
Carrie whispered in my ear, “You captured their hearts even the guys are hooked. I knew you would.” The song went on and it was Carrie’s song rolling off her lips and out of her soul. The second time to the tune, the baby was really in my arms, it was like a prayer to Jesus and a love song to my little baby. I placed her in a little bassinet as we sang on.
When we finished the song I was so excited, but new feelings washed over me. I curtsied once, then picked up the little girl and brought her to Carrie. The baby smiled a cooed. As the song ended, Jeannette took the baby and I stepped back and the mood changed so fast as they recognized the next song, “Before He Cheats”. Her old fans were with her from the start and new fans found themselves being delighted as well.
She played off the band and often the crowd. One poor guy was captured in the lights, as the cheater in the crowd. When she turned and walked away he didn’t know whether he should say “Wow” or “I’m sorry”. But he was delighted when his girl gave him a big hug and kiss.
She called me back and I thought she would thank and excuse me to sit down, but she asked if I knew “How Great Thou Art” and if I could sing the refrain with her. I smiled and she had begun the song. At the end of the second refrain she asked me to take the third verse. Somehow when she took the last verse I knew to back off, knowing I could not stay with her as she finished the song.
I curtsied and kissed her hand as saying good-bye to someone I adored. Carrie spoke to the crowd, “If you love her like I do give her a warm country reception.” I got back to the seat before I noticed I still had the rhinestone jacket and cowgirl hat on. Two more songs and a break was taken. People swarmed me as I stood out with the hat and sequined jacket. Marcy knew I needed to get to a ladies’ room and Jeannette came to our aid. Jeannette was taken back when Marcy, Faith and I went in together.
Faith: “I can’t believe girl you had all that in you. I really thought you were a single mom aching for her baby.” I was at the sink when I broke in tears, “I felt like I was. Right now I am so sad I am a girl who will never have a baby.” Faith had me at her side, and Marcy took me fully into her arms. Jeanette had already left to attend to Carrie.
It seemed just a moment and Marcy had me back, my make-up fixed and back to our seats. Poppa thought he would not make the full concert but decided he would enjoy staying. I hugged him as his granddaughter and moved to sit next to him. He held my hat and between songs and would delight those sitting near us with his antics and waving the hat.
Carrie started the second half of her show sharp and raised the bar with each song. One might have thought Raleigh was not a major venue, but Carrie wowed the crowd with a long second set and came back with an encore of six more. She announced before she ended the show NC State just invited her back for Homecoming in October. The crowd went wild. Carrie a microphone slipped to me as she ended the night with “Jesus Take the Wheel”.
We all attended the post concert party back by Carrie’s dressing room. Carrie signed my hat as a gift, Faith had on my jacket and Carrie asked her if she had a place to wear it. Faith turned to Amanda and said the wedding reception. Carrie treated her to the Jacket, no small gesture.
I did not know line dancing but Carrie, members of the band and my sisters were all up with he to show me how to do it. I knew Brice wouldn’t have but by the second song I had it and the third dance was all joy. Grandpa was his humorous self dancing along.
Tonight, I was very tired again but I knew the regiment in getting ready for bed, Faith, Marcy, Ruth, Ed and I stayed up to visit. It was Ma Ruth who commented on my new country girl boots. She said she had quite a photo album being compiled for the unexpected Bridesmaid.
Marcy tapped me on the shoulder and we were off to bed. Marcy sat me down and asked how I was doing, giving me a chance to share my concern about feeling and looking like a girl. "We have no problem that you are a guy; I just see you as doing what you need to, to help Amanda. That you would enjoy how well you are doing speaks volume to us about the depth of your character. Grandpa Will means a lot to us and we would not want to hurt his grandson."
She did allow me to cry on her shoulder. When I woke up crying at 3:00 a.m., she brought me to sleep in her bed. Ruth was about to pull the plug on my acting as a girl. Looking at the morning paper I knew a change would make more problems than it solved. Metro events page headline, “Brianna is a ‘Jersey girl’ who represents the better reality image of her state.”
I received a phone call from Amanda, the laughter of a Bride, “I just want to confirm I have a Junior Bridesmaid, and that your image and ego will still fit into Bree’s gown.” Her Mom wanted to talk her out of using me, but Ruth was on one phone and I was on another. Amanda’s voice broke with sorrow when she tried to agree with her mother.
“Amanda, this is Brianna and it would cause me more explaining if I dropped out and tried to attend with Grandpa as Brice. I am in the wedding party as Brianna unless you forbid me.”
“I love you Brianna; we expected we needed to take a picture of you and Carrie on our Honeymoon as proof of Carrie’s generosity. Please know Richard and I are eternally grateful, but we would not want to do anything to hurt you… Mom, am I going to be in trouble with you for accepting Brianna as my Junior Bridesmaid?”
She said, “I guess we all agree it is what needs to be done. She will be a beautiful Junior Bridesmaid and quite a secret until some day we can all sit back and laugh that it in fact happened.”
To be continued…
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