Any time it rained when the sun was shining, my mother would tell me, “The fox is getting married.”
I grew up in Texas, which for many years I considered part of “the South,” as it were. Geographically it made sense, and a lot of the people I knew would instead say “the devil is beating his wife,” which always struck me as both extremely unpleasant (why would domestic violence even be a name for this sort of thing?!) and incongruous (the bright sunny day with the rain coming down felt like a best of both worlds scenario, and why would something so beautiful have such an ugly name?).
I vastly preferred the fox idea. Though to be honest, I had no idea what a wedding really was like; my experiences with those were limited to watching processions on TV — my parents are big fans of the original The Sound of Music so we certainly watched that plenty of times — and one dimly-remembered instance of a wedding at my grandmother’s church. As I recall it now, the service was itself a more USA-style wedding (the bride in white and the minister speaking his blessings) but the entire ceremony was in Korean. And as a kid, I knew more than I do now, but it still wasn’t enough to keep up with what was going on… not to mention a five year old in the audience of a wedding ceremony isn’t going to be paying the most amount of attention.
Still, in my mind, I imagined a fox’s wedding to be a strange and bright thing: of course it had to be, with the weather conditions necessary for one to happen. Of course there’d be a lot of white involved in the decoration and in the outfits of the marrying couple. Of course there’d be food and music, and by the end, at least one pair of foxes would be lawfully bonded.
But once I established that image, I wondered if perhaps they held large group weddings. Sunshowers were a rarity where I lived, and it seemed rather unfortunate if that was constrained by the whims of the weather and the need to go one at a time. Did the wedding end specifically when the sunshower itself did? Were they still allowed to celebrate afterwards? As a child (and even now as an adult, having been to more weddings and having a better idea of what they’re like), the celebration with the food afterwards was the part that appealed to me, personally, the most. Of course I care about my friends being happy with their Officially Sanctioned Partnerships, but I always have — and I assume always will — look forward to the food and socializing after the most.
And surely foxes, clever and hungry and also wanting the very best for their loved ones, would also want to have the part that comes after the wedding: the part with the food and the friendship. It seemed a little cruel to force them to contain all of the elements of “a wedding” to just the period of time for a sunshower.
Like I mentioned last week, when I was a kid, foxes were my favorite animals. The fact that most of the stories I knew painted them as villainous in some fashion didn’t really register to me; I liked that they were small and scrappy and clever, which was something that I (small, soft, and at least smart for my age) admired. I liked that it took brains to defeat them, not a simple show of strength, and I liked that they were not a single set character: it was not simply Fox, in this one story or series, bound by a set personality and arc — it was the fox-sister, leisurely devouring the livers of her borrowed household; it was Fantastic Mr. Fox carrying off his daring chicken heists; it was the fox-courtesan who seduced the Emperor to live a life of hedonistic luxury until she was discovered and dealt with.
I imagined they had their own humanlike societies, hidden away from our view, and every time my mother would say the fox is getting married, I’d think about them breathlessly watching the sky, ready to set up the festivities to go in a heartbeat. Would they pause, the way sunshowers sometimes paused, their heads lifted and hoping for the rain to continue, so that the wedding could as well? If the clouds cleared up and faded, did they simply pack up the party and go home?
Of course, I always pictured a happy ending for all of these foxes. Back then, like now, I always liked those the best. Surely the whole wedding wasn’t dependent on this; surely they just needed the sunshower as a catalyst, a symbol of good luck for the union, but not necessary to keep going.
Somewhat related, I’m planning on trying out a new writing experiment for the upcoming week — one that I can hopefully make into a regular occurrence. My hope is to write a short (1000-word max) story a week, just to practice with flash fiction, and to post 200 words of it a day onto my tumblr and pillowfort. I will be trying to compile them here on this blog for the Sunday blog.
And I’m thinking a fox’s wedding might be a fun place to start.