In many ways, the people of the Clatskanie community live in a world by themselves. Over all, most of the people who live there are quite happy with things just the way they are. About 1800 souls reside in the town proper with a remaining 1000 or so living in the hinterlands of Westport, Quincy, and Alston-Mayger and up on Swedetown Road. The town is small, industry is minimal, and the community's primary strength lies with the people that live in it.
Weddings are often life changing events and my friend Sulo had decided that he wanted to change his life. For about three years he had been dating a tall blond divorcee named Anna Marie Seppala (more often called "Little Annie). According to Little Annie, her former husband was a womanizing lying cheating drunk. At least that was how Annie would describe him when she wanted to be kind. Annie was determined not to make the same mistake twice, and it was pretty much by mutual agreement that the "M" word was never discussed.
So much for agreements, situations change, and so do people. Sulo proposed, and surprisingly enough, Little Annie accepted.
Sulo was overjoyed and it was with great excitement that they set the date for their wedding. Sulo suggested that they just drive to St. Helens and see Judge Grove. "There's no sense in us blowing a bunch of money on a fancy wedding" said Sulo
"I expect to get married in a Church, a Lutheran church," responded Little Annie. I was married by a Judge to a lying cheating adulterer, and I don't want to make the same mistake twice. I want God to bless our union. I am a Christian woman, and you are a Christian man. I want us to both have a Christian wedding."
There was no arguing with Little Annie and a Church wedding was scheduled for June. The pastor arranged for a counseling session making sure that all was right between the Lord, Annie and Sulo.
Things seemed to be progressing well. The Women of the ELCA, would cater the affair. Annie chose her brides maids, all teachers with but one exception, Christiana. Christina Lampi was a writer and very active in the local human dignity group. Sulo chose Arnie Heikkinen, his old friend from High School, to be his best man. Arnie was "unique." He was still single, and in many ways never seemed to have grown up. He seemed to think of himself as real ladies man, and loved to party. Most of his friends, Sulo included, had pretty much settled down, but not Arnie. He started planning for Sulo's bachelor party and gala prenuptial celebration well before the wedding date was finalized. Sulo really had very little interests in parties, his major interest was his Little Annie and was a bit worried that Arnie would take it upon himself to hire strippers or do something that just might be embarrassing.
Arnie was pretty upset, he had intended to take all the men up to a topless place in Rainier, and Sulo would have no part of it. "What's wrong with you Sulo? You used to like to party and have fun." Said Arnie.
"That place isn't for me, and besides, I heard that they don't have strippers there anymore." Replied Sulo
The wedding was to be on a Saturday, and the pastor asked if the wedding party could possible get together that Friday for a short meeting, a light lunch, and a rehearsal.
Several of the church ladies greeted the wedding Party and proceeded to serve lunch. Arnie couldn't take his eyes off of Christina. She wore a light summer dress, and it fit her in a manner most complimentary.
Pia Niemi set several sandwiches on a plate and all at once something "clicked". "I know who you are." Said Pia in a voice that was