Too Many Tonys
"It is bad luck to see the bride before the wedding, so I am leaving now, but I will see you at the church Sunday morning," Jeannie said, her hand gently resting under Captain Tony Nelson's chin. Removing her hand, she pointed at him and warned, "Now, do not be late!" She giggled and smiled, saying, "I am so excited!" before she finally blinked and vanished right before Tony's eyes. Rolling his eyes, Tony covered his face with his hands, wallowing in self-pity for just a moment before he went back to trying to figure out how to get himself out of this mess.
It wasn't as if Tony didn't have feelings for Jeannie. He knew from the moment that Melissa told him he was a free man that the only person he could ever see himself marrying was Jeannie. But there were a number of reasons that he couldn't marry her.
To begin with, Tony just wasn't ready to lose his bachelor card. He enjoyed single life. It took an enormous amount of pressure off of him and, if he was being honest with himself, he never had to worry about being alone. He always had Jeannie. No matter how many women he went out with, or how many times he told her he couldn't marry her, she was always there, ready to love him come what may.
Tony also knew, if he was being honest with himself, that he and Jeannie were as good as married anyway. They lived together, shared the same roof, ate the same meals, and spent almost all of their free time together. And Tony could admit, but only in the quiet darkness of night when he was alone, that he would thoroughly enjoy sharing his bed with Jeannie as well. When he stopped to think of that, the idea of getting married Sunday didn't seem all that bad. He thought of holding her tight, of feeling her warm, soft body against his and felt himself becoming accustomed to the idea. He wanted to press himself against her and kiss her hard and long. He wanted to touch her, to feel her swelling breasts, her welcoming thighs, her…
Tony's head popped up. "What are you thinking?" he asked aloud. "Jeannie deserves better than that," he said and felt the words come pouring from him. "She doesn't need someone who's only interested in her body. She needs someone to love her for who she is, not what she looks like. Someone who looks her in the eyes when he talks to her. Someone who respects her. Not like that phony Tony. Ha! He never even looked up! Jeannie doesn't want someone like that. She wants someone who listens to her, someone to care for her, not just worship her for her body." After a pause he added, "Phony Tony. Ha! As if she could ever marry a slob like -"
It was that moment that Tony had a brilliant idea. "Yeah," he muttered. "Yeah, that's it!" He jumped up and started to pace, excitedly. "If I can't call off the wedding, I have to get Jeannie to call it off. She'd never marry that phony Tony anyway!" Laughing he continued, "If I make her think I'm him, she'll get scared and call it off herself." Smiling broadly, he started to walk downstairs and to the bar. When he poured himself a drink he raised his glass and toasted, "Well, Tony old boy, here's to bachelorhood!" He threw back his drink and settled himself on the couch. "No sir, none of that married life for me. I can date whomever I please, and stay out all night if I want. I won't have Jeannie there to tell me I can't, won't have someone waiting up for me." As his heartbeat slowed, so did his thoughts. "No welcome home kiss, no one to share my bed with."
Tony sighed and, in a moment of extreme weakness, admitted that he almost wanted to marry Jeannie. It couldn't be that bad, he thought. After all, I do love her.
It was that thought that drove him back to the bar. Pouring another drink, he reminded himself that marrying Jeannie would get him kicked out of the space program. He could never explain her to Dr. Bellows. They'd have him locked up. No, he thought, I can never marry Jeannie. It's the only way I can stay in the space program. Following his logic through he realized, not only could he never marry Jeannie. He could never marry anyone. It's the only way I can keep Jeannie, he thought. He threw back his drink and poured again. "I'll just have to get her to call it off," he said aloud. And with that last statement setting his steely resolve, Tony sat and drank the night away.
When Sunday morning came, Tony was ready. He moved quickly, decisively, constantly going over his plan. He was going to worship her, ravish her, and scare her out of her wits. It was with this driven mindset that Tony entered the church.
"Forgive me for being late," he said when he found Jeannie waiting for him. "It's inexcusable."
"Oh, Captain Nelson," she said, happily.
"It's time you called me Tony," he said and then kissed her hand, "my angel. I thought this morning would never get here. What are we standing here for? Let's get married," he said, picking her up.
"Put her down!" General Peterson whispered, looking irate. "That comes later," he reminded him.
"You can't blame me for getting carried away," Tony replied, keeping his eyes glued to Jeannie's face. He watched as she began to look apprehensive and silently congratulated himself. Now it was time to pull out all the stops.
"Excuse me, sir," Dr. Bellows said, pushing his way past General Peterson and taking hold of Jeannie's arm. "Come with me," he told her, practically dragging her away from Tony's embrace. He watched as she was pulled away, keeping his eyes glued to hers until General Peterson stepped into his line of vision.
"And you," he said, inches from his face, "come with me!" Dutifully, Tony followed him to the altar, and shortly thereafter the ceremony began.
When the music started and Jeannie marched down the aisle, Tony's eyes were fixed to hers. He noticed how beautiful she looked, how irresistible she was, and channeled that excitement into action. As she approached him, he held out his hand, which she took, and guided him to her, placing his other hand protectively over hers.
"Dearly beloved," the preacher began. Tony took Jeannie's hand and extended her arm, tracing kisses from her wrist to her ear. "We are gathered together to join this man and this woman in the bonds of holy matrimony." Noticing Tony's inappropriate behavior, the preacher leaned forward and whispered, "Captain!" When Tony didn't stop, he admonished, "Captain, couldn't you wait until the ceremony is over?"
Over the rising murmurs coming from the crowd Tony answered with out ever looking up from the nape of Jeannie's neck, "Could you talk a little faster, sir? I've waited so long for this day," he said, turning his attention back to his would-be bride. "I wanna have a honeymoon. We're going on a six-month holiday. No, no, no, -" he caught himself, "no, a year!" He kissed her hand and watched out of the corner of his eye as she looked back down the aisle toward the door. "Oh, don't worry about him," he said as she looked back into his eyes, her fear evident. "He's not coming." Excited that his plan was working, but anxious over the hurt he was causing her, he kissed her hand once more, turning his face away from her.
"Dearly beloved," the preacher began again, "we are gathered together to join this man and this woman in the bonds of holy matrimony."
Pulling his lips away from the nook at the base of Jeannie's neck (a particularly sweet spot, he mentally noted, that he would need to revisit in the years to come), he said impatiently, "I will, I will! I do, I do!" Then he quickly returned his attention to that sweet spot.
"W-well, I do not!" Jeannie exclaimed, pulling away from Tony's careful ministrations. She looked at him, clearly frightened and said, "I cannot marry this man!" With that, she turned her back to him and ran off, back down the aisle.
For a moment, Tony felt a pang of sorrow. Perhaps he wasn't ready to marry Jeannie, but to see her running down that aisle, leaving him at the altar, was something he never wanted to experience again.
"Captain Nelson," General Peterson said, pulling Tony out of his reverie, "what the devil happened?"
Struggling to keep from smiling, Tony replied, "I have no idea, sir. She just ran out."
"I'm sorry, Captain," Dr. Bellows said. "I know how you must feel."
"Do you?" Tony asked, looking at the floor.
"He tried to warn me about her, but I wouldn't listen," Dr. Bellows admitted. "That's a very unstable girl," he diagnosed. "I think you're a lucky man to be out of it."
"Thank you, sir," Tony replied. "General," he said by way of parting, and went to leave, anxious to go talk to Jeannie.
"Captain," General Peterson said, putting an arm on his shoulder to stop him.
"I'll be alright," Tony said, and made his exit.
When Captain Nelson arrived at his house he felt like a free man. Whistling, he opened his front door, hung his hat on the nearby statue, and settled himself on the couch. He looked around, trying to find Jeannie, and found a martini in his hand instead. "Well, thank you," he said appreciatively. As he took a drink, a newspaper appeared in his other hand. "Hmm," he grunted as he swallowed. "Jeannie?" he called, and she popped onto the back of the couch. "Well, hi," he said and she giggled. "Well, what are you doing here? I thought by this time you'd be on your honeymoon," he said, shifting to sit beside her.
"So did I," she replied, smiling.
"Didn't you, uh – didn't you get married?"
"No, master," she said plaintively.
"Oh, well, uh… that, uh, that phony Tony came over here," he began, looking away, "and, uh, he said he was on his way to the chapel to marry you, so I just stayed away." He took a drink of his martini.
Jeannie laughed and slid off of the back of the couch and leaned over to face him. "Did you?"
"Mm-hmm," Tony answered. He looked back at her and saw her smiling. Slightly worried, he looked away again and asked, "Didn't I?"
"No, Master. I knew it was you at the chapel," she said playfully.
"You did?" he asked incredulously.
"Of course I did." He looked back at her.
"Well, why didn't you go through with the ceremony?" he wondered.
"Because thou went to so much trouble not to marry me," she tenderly replied. "I will never force myself on you," she admitted.
Tony giggled, relieved, and said, "Oh, Jeannie, you're marvelous." He glanced at her, and voiced his most secret feelings, "I wonder what would have happened if we had gotten married."
Now Jeannie giggled and replied, "You will never know, will you?"
Tony laughed and leaned in to kiss her. When he thought he had leaned too far, he opened his eyes to see she had disappeared. With a wounded ego, he went to take a drink of his martini and just as the liquid was about to touch his lips, that too vanished. Embarrassed, he settled back and opened up his newspaper, only to find that his hands were suddenly empty. Dejected, Tony folded his arms, and sat, wondering if he made the right decision.