Scene: Brinda’s apartment. Brinda, trying to control her anger, is sitting on the living room couch, worn but attractively slip-covered. Her lawyer, A. Harper Finch, has taken the bright red armchair, and papers – along with two half-empty coffee cups – cover the surface of a somewhat dilapidated yet still serviceable pine coffee table. Mr. Finch, with his horn-rim glasses, is speaking ponderously. “-award you sole custody. Mr. McKay, regardless of his offers, is still responsible-” but a knocking on the door interrupts him.
“Excuse me,” Brinda says, looking frazzled as she runs her fingers through her short hair, pushes herself up, and heads for the door in her black pants and matching maternity shirt embroidered at the collar and down the front with white daisies. She opens the door to face Jim and Cindy Walsh, their expressions of eagerness and confusion melting into horror and shock as they behold her blossoming pregnancy for the first time.
“Brinda! ... Oh my *Go-od*” gasps Cindy, slack-jawed.
Jim’s face is turning a stormy red. “You have a lot of explaining to do, young lady,” he finally sputters.
“Oh, no, miss, no way. Now you’ve really done it.”
“Brinda, why didn’t you tell us?”
And Brinda’s eyes are filling up with tears, and with a big crashing orchestra hit sound effect, we get a flashback to Brinda’s Nightmares, all black and white, with Brenda sitting on the fold-out cot clutching Mr. Pony, and Cindy standing over her, shaking her head. “You were always irresponsible, Brenda... we knew that.... But how could even *you* let this happen?" And Jim steps up. "We trusted you, Brenda, and you let us down. Why can't you be more like Brandon? You don't see *him* unwed and pregnant, do you?"
But shaking herself out of it, Brinda pulls herself together. “Why don’t you come in? I’d like you to meet Mr. Finch, my lawyer.”
“Your lawyer? What’s going on?”
“I guess Brandon didn’t tell you...?”
“Tell us what?” they chorus.
And the scene closes on Brinda making a big ol’ “whatever” face, taking a deep breath, and getting ready to fill her folks in on All the Gory Details
Scene: The Haven for Spineless Women. Donna, in a Maid of Honor Frenzy, is clomping around in one of her Super Elastic Bubble Plastic green-and-yellow-and-orange outfits, yelling instructions into her cell phone: “You’re *sure* you have *everything* all ready to go? Because tomorrow’s the *wedding* and- Well, is the limo on its way?” And while she clodhops back and forth, the back door opens and in comes Kelly, looking tired. “Oops, gotta go, bye!” Donna Donnantics (yes, it’s now a verb) into the phone, hanging up and throwing it over her shoulder, then folding her arms in front of her and looking Totally Innocent. “Hi, Kel, how’d the meeting with the minister go?”
“Good,” said Kelly in that flat way that makes it clear she’s trying to convince herself and everyone around her.
But Donna is fully launched on Donnantics, and isn’t really paying attention. “Great! Super! That’s terrific! So! Um! What’re you doing now?”
“Well, I guess I’ll call the caterer about-”
“Nope!” sings Donna. “That’s all taken care of! You’re coming with me!”
“Donna, I can’t, the vows have-”
“Nope, no way, no excuses, nuh-uh... I’m taking you to this incredible new Middle Eastern spa I discovered. They do everything: body scrubs, hydrotherapy facials and seaweed wraps, plus they have all this cool Middle Eastern stuff like tafal soaps, milk baths, a hammam steam bath-” and there’s a timely knock on the door and Donna says “You’re going!” as she opens the door for the limo chauffeur who’s standing there with a bottle of bubbly and two glasses and he pops it and pours it, handing one to Kelly and one to Donna who does her patented giggling-stupidly-like-I’m-drunk-because-drunkeness-is-rilly-rilly-kute-especially-for-Good-Catholic-Girls-even-though-I-haven’t-actually-drunk-anything-yet routine as she guzzles her bubbly. And Kelly takes a glass with her bright-red short fingernailed hand and sighs and sips with her Itty Bitty mouth as Donna chirps “C’mon Kel... Steve’s taking Brandon golfing... this is the day before your WEDDING! We’ve dreamed of this for AGES! Let’s go!” [One of the many things about the Whole Wedding Experience that I found particularly onerous was the whole Boys Pre-Wedding Relaxation versus Girls Pre-Wedding Relaxation. The bridal magazines hit particularly heavy on all the fun and neat-o girliestuffs you can do with your Bridesmaids... shopping for lingerie for the honeymoon or going to a posh hotel for tea or, the most popular... treat everyone to a day at the spa. Um. Well, I dunno about Most Brides, but even if I’d had the spare $1500-2000 to spend on full spa treatments and yummy champagne lunch for the whole gang, my friends are all professionals... they have deadlines and responsibilities and appointments and couldn’t just skip a work day to dash off to the spa, (or shopping or bar-hopping or whatever) decadent though it might have been. According to the bridal magazines, this meant that I probably wasn’t showing them my appreciation that they were my friends and Bridesmaids. I hope they’ve gotten over the trauma. Anyway, the magazines and web pages and society and the Lifetime channel and all that show the clear and distinct boundaries between the Boyz activities and the Grrls activities. Girlies go do beauty-related things so they look pretty on the big day, or sate their nerves by gorging on Rich, Fancy Foods, and they giggle and talk and get all super-excitified for their friend, who is crossing the threshold from Singleness to Coupledom, and they’re in a salivating frenzy because this is IT and how exciting is that? But for the boys, this is the groom’s “last chance to have fun” before he straps on “the old ball and chain” so they do Manly-Man Dude things like faux-sports such as golf or pool or bowling and they drink beer and they lament the loss of their good buddy who is crossing the threshold from Singleness to Coupledom and everyone’s all sexist and stereotypical about “dead man walkin’!” and how “it’s all downhill after this” and he’ll have to “check with her” before they ever get to do anything “fun” again. Even THTM’s friends, who are all totally groovy and extremely Intelligent and got Really Good Educations from Really Important Colleges and who all know me and know THTM and know that we are both intelligent, independent and respectful people still fell into the “better have fun while you can, buddy” routine with THTM when they were on the Bible Study and Youth Ministry in Las Vegas until THTM finally asked them why they thought that both he AND I would completely change who we were essentially just by getting married.... I mean, thank you, Society and Bridal Industry, for preserving this stereotype. Like why don’t they just cut to the chase, and the traditional pre-wedding bonding with friends can be the bridesmaid-girls playing Barbies, taking turns dressing their dolls up in the shiny white wedding gown and veil and complimentary yellow bridesmaids’ dresses and fighting over who gets to marry Ken and packing a whole trousseau of teeny Barbie nighties and sportswear and evening dresses – with matching shoes – into the folding pink Barbie case which serves as the steamer trunk when Barbie and Ken sail on their honeymoon cruise around the world, and then the groomsmen-boys can throw him a “funeral” complete with “eulogies” by the groomsmen/family members lamenting the loss of his freedom (which is actually an oh-so-cute suggestion I saw for a groomsman-bash on one of those horrific bridal websites!) because marriage sucks and his future wife is a ball-breaker and he’s basically pussy-whipped if she got him roped into this whole marriage thing.
So Donna gulps her glass of champagne and tee-hee’s and gives the Donna Thumbs Up and holds out her glass for a refill before she whisks Kelly out the door to the limo.
And off they go.
Cut to commercial. Prolly for, like, household cleaning products.
Scene: Brinda’s apartment. Jim and Cindy “United We Stand” Walsh, sitting on Brinda’s couch with neglected coffee cups in front of them, are listening to Brinda’s lawyer, A. Harper Finch, gravely explaining the nuances of the custody battle. Brinda, hands clasped over her round mound of belly, is sitting nervously in an overstuffed purple armchair.
“I just can’t believe you never told us about this, Brenda,” sighs Cindy, resigned, while Big Jim is still glowering.
“I know,” admits Brinda. “But I can’t go running to you every time something’s wrong. I’ve lived on my own in London for several years now. I pay for my own education. I’m an adult now. And I wasn’t sure what to do when Dylan... when Dylan just deserted me.” She sighs, fighting tears. “One minute we were going to work everything out... we were going to get married, buy a bigger flat. I’d go back to work and acting classes after the baby was born and Dylan’d be with the baby. It wasn’t like money was a problem; Dylan had his trust fund, and I’d been saving what I could,” Brinda’s voice is growing softer, dreamy. “He talked about finishing the screenplay he’d started so long ago, and we liked to say that I’d play the female lead in it, and we’d come back to LA big stars.... Then you’d finally be proud of me, and accept Dylan and be proud of him, too. It seemed so important then. Such stupid, childish dreams... it’s hard to believe they meant so much to me even just months ago....”
“And you haven’t heard from Dylan?” demands Jim.
Brinda shakes her head. “No. Not directly. Just the letter Mr. Finch showed you.”
“When did he leave you in London?” queries Cindy, gentler.
Brinda takes a deep breath. “About six weeks after we found out I was pregnant. I came home from rehearsal one evening and he was gone, all his clothes were gone, and there was an envelope on the kitchen table with ten thousand dollars – not pounds – in cash. But no note, nothing.” And Brinda’s voice cracks, and soon she is crying freely. “I didn’t even deposit the money. I didn’t think he’d really leave like that. I waited for months for him to come back. I-” and she buries her face in her hands and sobs.
Cindy gives Jimbo her Big Wide Mommy Eyes, and goes to kneel in front of Brinda. “Shhh, honey... shhhh....”
“...and I’m doing everything I can to take care of this baby... it’s my responsibility!” Brinda’s bawling. “I worked so hard up until I left London! I’ve been saving every penny and....”
Big Jim is rubbing his stubbled chin and looking away as if in Great Pain.
“... and Brandon and Kelly think they can just take it away from me! And then Dylan tries to- to- to buy me off! And-”
Mr. Finch is shifting, uncomfortable and self-conscious, and poking at his horn-rimmed glasses.
“... and I really need your support, Mom, Dad... please,” Brinda chokes out which Cindy rubs her back.
“Jim,” pleads Cindy in a whisper, but Brandon Senior just shakes his head, gripping his forehead, and gets up to pace.
Scene: the driveway of Casa Walsh. Skeevy Stevie swings his ‘Vette – top down, natch – in from the street, then cuts the engine and hops out sans door a la Bo Duke. He’s all decked out in his Pretentious Golf Polo Shirt and Toolie-Boy Shorts, as is his buddy Brandon, who uses the door to exit the car in a more sedate manner. “Great game, bro, that was righteous,” Brandon says, doing the Noxious Short Guy Pompous Stalk around the car to shake Stevie’s hand – both super-flexing their arms, oh so manly-man – before taking their clubs out of the back seat. But as Brandon swings his clubs over his shoulder, he’s jostled by a passing Hired Person, who is carting a dwarf lemon tree or jasmine bush or topiary or somesuch to the Backyard Site of All that Wedding Madness. And Brandon and Stevie exchange sighs of exasperation because, you know, Real Men hate all that Girlie Wedding Stuff, and’re basically like “rent me a tux and I’ll show up.”
So while the Troll Boyz are making their way across the lawn, another car pulls up, and Jim and Cindy get out. [Don’t ask me. I guess they borrowed Brandon’s car.] And making Doom Noises, Brandon and Steve wait for them to catch up. “Uh-oh,” says Brando the Mando, “looks like they’ve been to Brenda’s.”
“Yeah,” says Steve. “Look, you guys probably want to talk so I’ll go inside and finish packing or something.” And he “zoiks” and Exists Stage Right while Brandon, Fully and Completely Furrowed, waits for his parents.
“So....” he says to them. “You been to see Brenda.” Brandon Walsh – the master of nuance.
“Why didn’t you tell us she was pregnant?” demands Big Jim.
“Wasn’t my place to tell you,” says Brandon in his revving-up-the-steamroller/deflecting responsibility voice. If he was in the doorway, he’d be leaning against the jamb with his arm hoisted above his head, looking down while talking.
“And the custody petition?” asks Cindy.
“Yeah. The custody case.” Brandon does the Weighty Shift from One Foot to Another in preparation. “Well. I didn’t tell you this, but last spring, Kelly had a pregnancy scare. A few days later, she thought that it’d been a false alarm [A Man like Brandon Walsh would never use the phase “got her period.” Heaven forbid!], but when she went to her doctor for confirmation, it turned out it was a miscarriage.” Big Pause while Jim and Cindy exchange Big Looks. Brandon does a Twisty-Head (TM me) and continues: “And the doctor told Kelly it was unlikely that she’d ever be able to carry a baby to term. Kelly and I had always dreamed about the family we’d have together someday, and, come to find out, we can’t have one. No kids for us. No grandkids for you guys.” Brandon shrugs, all super-obnoxiously Brave and It Doesn’t Matter-like, which means he’s Really Hurting Inside, doesn’t it?
“Oh, Brandon...” sighs Mommy Cindy.
“So this custody thing seems like it was meant to be. I mean, we all know Brenda. She can’t handle this one. And Kelly and I are ready to start our family.” Brandon looks from Jim to Cindy. “You know, we’d really like your support on this, guys.”
And Jim is nodding, and reaches to clap Brandon on the shoulder, then shake his hand, then do the manly embarrassed half-hug and Jim says “I’m real proud of you, son, you know that,” while Cindy looks awkward and ill-at-ease.
“But first thing’s first,” chortles Brandon. “First we gotta get through this wedding!” And comically, the front door opens and more Hired People come trooping through with crates and bundles of ferns and enormous vases and stuff.
Scene: the Spineless Women Compound. Kelly’s Rose-Colored Bedroom. Nighttime. Donna and Kelly, both laden with bags, come marching in, talking about the wedding rehearsal and rehearsal dinner that’s just taken place and all the packing that Kelly has to finish tonight because this “won’t be [her] bedroom after tonight” and the trousseau shopping that she and Donna did after that absolutely heavenly time they had at the spa and how much Kelly loves those seaweed wraps and how much Donna loves the “satin nightgowns and silk teddies” that Kelly bought and how nervous Donna is about tomorrow and how nervous KELLY is about tomorrow and all that.
With bags and suitcases and half-full boxes scattered about, Donna and Kelly go through the initial motions of looking like they’re going to do something semi-productive. Donna picks up a small carton, and puts some of Kelly’s Desk Stuff in it, like anyone would actually pack a box that loosely for moving purposes, while Kelly takes out a light blue sundress from one bag, and then a prettily flowered satin robe from another before her attention is caught by something else... something bigger: her Wedding Gown, hanging on the back of her wardrobe, pressed and ready, billowing out in a cacophony of Understated A-line Vera Wangy Elegance [you know, the so-called Donna Martin Original dress Kelly wore in the Non-Wedding Wedding was just what I thought Kelly Taylor would wear... those Rilly Trendy gowns with “modern silhouettes” that’re all the rage right now and are supposed to scream “contemporary” and “chic” and “unfussy” but to me scream “boring!” “dull!” “blech!” Not that I’m into those Tulle and Taffeta Monstrosities, either. I don’t like dresses with all those Danglies and Sparklies and Pouffies and Deedlies and Glitteries and Lacies and Gewgaws and Frou Frous and Encrustations. But actually finding my somewhere-in-between Mrs. John Kennedy Jr.'s Plain White Nightgown and those hideous poofy iridescent chiffon lace lampshade quinceañeras-type dresses accurately meant Running the Gauntlet of Bridal Hell. Those saleswomen will tell you anything to make a sale... you look like everything from Cinderella (yuck) to Cindy Crawford (puh-leeze)... from a fairy-tale princess to a movie star to the most beautiful bride they ever saw. And Wedding Dress Salesfolk are worse than Car Salesfolk... the pressure to “upgrade” is incredible. “I want a long-sleeved dress” I’d say, and sure enough they’d throw in a couple short-sleeved or strapless numbers because “you can have long sleeves added” or I’d say “definitely no bows on the butt” and naturally they’d bring out something with bows and lace and all that and inform me that their seamstress could take those off and put something else on, like why am I going to spend a thousand bucks on a dress, and then spend another several hundred for you to basically re-make the whole thing? What a crock. And the so-called “accessories” they tried to push on me... those plastic pearl necklaces and plastic rhinestone earrings and goofy gloves and purses made out of shiny sateen and tulle “wraps” and nasty heart-shaped thingies for the fronts of your shoes and shoes covered in that hiddy shiny sateen and fluffy garters... and I’m talking about some of the supposed “upscale” dress shops and salons on Ventura Blvd. and in Beverly Hills, not the place at the mall. Frankly, I’m surprised no one tried to convince me that a bride really needs TWO gowns... one for the wedding and one for the reception. I hate the Wedding Industry. Big surprise. Anyway...]. So Kelly touches her wedding gown with her newly-icy-pink-polished fingertips, gazing at it in wonder. “I can’t believe it. Tomorrow Brandon and I are finally getting married. By this time tomorrow I’ll be Mrs. Brandon Walsh.” [And I just have to interject here because I have Very Strong Opinions on the whole name-changing dealie. First of all, nothing peeves me more than being called Mrs. His First Name His Last Name. I am not him, dammit! Don’t call me Mrs. Him! Second, with all the options available today, I’m finding myself annoyed – and suspicious, even – when a woman automatically changes her last name to his last name. Truthfully, I didn’t really give it a thought until faced with the actuality of it, and I realized “Hey, I’ve created an identity for myself as Dwanollah MyLastName... I don’t want to just scrap all that, explaining that I *used* to be Dwanollah MyLastName but now I’m Dwanollah HisLastName.” And it surprised me because I have no particular attachment to my last name in a family sense – I’m not close to my dad – or in an aesthetic sense – because MyLastName is pretty goofy. On the other hand, I also wanted some kind of reflection that something had changed, that THTM and I were now a family unit. So I decided to hyphenate my name. A few weeks later, THTM told me he’d been thinking and he wanted to hyphenate has name as well, for that same “expressing a family unit” reason. And, all my usual Sardonic Cynicism aside, to me this was one of the most expressive and genuine declarations of love, commitment and respect that I’ve ever known. However, once we both made our decisions and began letting people know about it, I was shocked at some of the reactions from cousins and acquaintances and co-workers. “You mean The Husband-Type Man’s letting you keep your name?” “Isn’t he mad that you aren’t taking his name?” “HE’S taking YOUR name?! How’d you get him to do that?!” “Dude, what are you, pussy-whipped?” My favorite, though, was from my (dumb, chauvinistic, Sicilian) father: “O-h-h-h....” and a big long speech about how “You know, my father once told me that his last name was the only thing had to give me” and seeing *his* last name hyphenated with THTM’s last name was disturbing and- Um, hello, Dickwad? He isn’t taking YOUR name, asshole, he’s taking mine. Shut up already. Gawd. So I find that women who revel with glee in being able to write “Mr. and Mrs. His First Name His Last Name” and can’t wait to establish themselves as “Mrs. His Last Name” seem to have some Identity Issues working. Like the co-worker who couldn’t wait to get rid of “her dad’s” last name (from one patriarchal bond to another?). Or like the co-worker who used to write “Mr. His First Name His Last Name” and “Mrs. Her First Name His Last Name,” one above the other on pieces of paper and say delightedly that “this is what our checks would look like if we were married” (she was in her 20s, not 14). Like the 19-year-old cousin who started addressing thank-you notes from “Mr. and Mrs. His First Name His Last Name” in her prettiest handwriting with flourishes and flounces weeks and weeks before the actual wedding. Like the way all of us used to write our name with Our Boyfriend and/or The Boy We Had a Crush On’s Last Name in ninth grade as if to solidify our love (so says the former Dwanollah LeBon). Like they can’t be So-and-So, technician, or So-and-So, editor, or So-and-So, head of HR or SOMETHING and instead they have to be (primarily) Mrs. So-and-So, wife. ...I know, I know, but I figgered everyone was entitled to My Opinion, to bastardize the Hissyfit logo.] So Kelly’s sighing wistfully over her gown and Donna sighs too and coos “I know....” and Kelly continues, “After all the years of dreaming it, it’s really coming true” and Donna coos “You’re so lucky Kel. Brandon really loves you so much” and Kelly sighs “I know.... You know, after last spring... after I found out I couldn’t give him the family he wants so much, I was so frightened that he’d... he’d... want to marry someone who could.” And Donna coos “ Brandon isn’t like that Kelly. He loves you.” And Kelly’s still sighing, “And after he slept with Emma, I thought ‘That’s it. It’s over. Now we’ll never be married. We’ll never have a family of our own.’ And it hurt so much, you know?” And Kelly’s rosebud mouth and big tear-filled eyes are all round and earnest. “Because I loved him. Even after that, I still loved him.” And Donna coos “You know how much Brandon loves you, Kel. And look, after everything that happened, how far you two’ve come. Now you’re getting married!” and she giggles and hnnn’s and squeezes Kelly’s hands. “And having a baby, too,” sighs Kelly. “All my life I’ve dreamed of this, Donna, and now it’s here. It’s now. All my dreams, Donna... they’ve come true.” And Kelly and Donna share a tearful sentimental night-before-the-wedding hug. But then Kelly exclaims “Just look at me” as she brushes away tears and Donna hnnn’s and giggles and says “Oh, don’t cry” and they hug some more. Eyew.
You know what’s next, don’t you? Yup. The Wedding. Hang on to yer hats and glasses, folks....
Cut to commercial.