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For All Nails #82: Scenes From a Wedding


From the Society section
_New Orleans Telegraph_ [1] 
9 June 1974

MRS. ANNA CONTRERAS

Miss Anna Domenica DiMaggio and Mr. Robert Thaddeus 
Contreras Junior were married Saturday in the Basilica 
of the Sacred Heart on the campus of the University of 
New Orleans.  Father Enrico Petrocelli, President of 
the University, celebrated the Nuptial Mass.  The 
reception followed in the University Gardens, of which 
the bride's father is general manager.

The bride is the daughter of Dominic and Ottavia DiMaggio 
of New Orleans.  She is a graduate of UNO and of Plutarco 
Mercator University in Mexico, and is both General Counsel 
of Pomona Calculators, Inc. and a solicitor in private 
practice.  The groom is the son of Robert Contreras Senior 
of New Orleans, late of Mexico City, and Mrs. Paul Kafelnikov 
of Novidessa, Mexico.  He is a graduate of PMU and of 
Champlain University, and is now Professor of Mathematics and
Electrical Engineering at PMU and Chairman of the Board of 
Pomona Calculators.  After a wedding trip to the Caribbean, 
the new couple will make their home in Palo Alto, Mexico.

Best Man was Mr. Jefferson Dimaggio of Palo Alto, first 
cousin of the bride.  Maid of Honor was Miss Jennifer 
Contreras of Mexico City, half-sister of the groom.  Guests 
included Professor Gerard Belanger of Burlington NY, NC, 
winner of the 1961 Nobel Prize in Mathematics [2], and Grand 
Councilor Anthony Conigliaro (PC-SC).

******************

University Gardens, UNO
New Orleans, Georgia, SC, CNA
8 June 1974

It was supposed to be the happiest day of a woman's life, Anna 
thought.  Busiest day of her life was more like it, but it was
quite happy as well, especially as it _looked_ like everything 
was going to come off without any problems.  Her biggest private
worry had been Jennifer, actually, who had seemed a bit immature
to be the maid of honor, but she'd done fine at the ceremony and 
delivered quite a funny toast, with several references to her and
Bobby courting in California.  Which of her cousins had helped the 
most, she wondered, in that crowd of Dimaggio honeybees now buzzing 
around the fair blossom.  Put a pretty girl in a strapless dress -- 
now _there_ had been a hassle, reconciling the fashion protocols 
for this international wedding.  For the bridesmaids she'd worked 
out a design that was demure by Mexican standards but not ridiculously 
so, with a jacket to go over for the church ceremony -- Jennifer 
should be able to wear hers again back home.  For herself she'd gone 
all out with lots of layers and frills.  It was a little warm for a 
New Orleans June but would be more fun for Bobby to take off tonight.  
The bridal suite at the Lord Nelson, with a bathtub designed for two... 
there might not be the traditional novelty for their wedding night, 
but how much better to share it as experienced, compatible lovers...

But the work was not quite done, there were guests to take care of.
Professor Piazza was standing alone--

"Professor, I'm so glad you could come!"

"Thank you, my dear, I must say you look radiant.  And I dare say
I recognize that cat-got-the-cream look you always had in class
when you knew you had the right answer."

"Well, I've found the right husband, if that's what you mean."

"Oh, and thank you for the draft of your book.  I'm learning quite
a bit about Mexico, I think.  As you've been doing yourself at the 
bar, it seems.  A case headed for the Mexico Tribunal!"

"Oh, I just got the case started.  Robert brought in the big sticks  
once it got to the federal system.  I don't have much to do with it
now."

"That's not true, you know."  Robert!  "My big sticks are working 
entirely from Anna's briefs, y talking to her every week.  Of
course, they could work straight from Lanza's decision, which was
word for word from Anna's stuff anyway."

"That's an exaggeration, but it's very kind, thank you.  Professor,
this is my _former_ client and new father-in-law, Robert Contreras.
Robert, this is Professor Michael Piazza of the law school."

"Welcome to New Orleans, Mr. Contreras.  I understand you've taken
up business here?"

"Yeah, my lawyers keep winning all the cases, but Mercator's boys
really had me by the eggs [3] as long as I was playing under their rules.
So now I'm a consultant to Tory companies on Mexican trade, which is a 
big laugh considering how I kicked the duck myself."  Hmm... how much 
had Robert been drinking?  This could be a problem...

"What do you think your chances are in the Tribunal?"  Fortunately the
professor seemed determined to stay on the subject.

"Anna says it's in the bag, now that it's finally going to be heard."

"That's right, Professor.  Once Hawes and Armstrong were confirmed by
the Senate last winter, we've had four firm votes for judicial independence
out of seven.  They've been trying to stall since then, but Robert's
big sticks blocked the last Court of Appeals thing two weeks ago.  We're
going to the Tribunal, and we're going to get _five_ votes, maybe even
everybody but Dominguez himself."

"Isn't that a bit surprising, when there are only three Moctezuma
appointees even now?  And the Tribunal is such a political body, with
only Senators and ex-Presidents eligible."

"But the judges who became Senators under Dominguez were actually pretty
good judges, Professor.  Mercator mostly filled the Senate with people
who were well-known from vitavision, to get the voting numbers up [4].  So
you've got Rivera and del Popolo, who are colorful, but really know the law.
And then they're the natural choice to fill Tribunal slots."

Robert added excitedly, "Speaking of well-known people in the Senate, that's 
how we got an actress as Secretary of State.  Mercator put her in the Senate 
for her looks, besides the fact that he was banging her at the time--"

She had to get him out of here now!  "Excuse me, Robert, could you join me 
over at the punch table for a moment?"

The poor man.  He was proud of Bobby and happy that Bobby had found her, but
this occasion had to be reminding him of his own three failed marriages.
Not to mention that Linda was here with her Alaskan second husband.  She needed
some way to keep Robert in line for a couple of hours, until she and Bobby
could make their getaway to the hotel (and to that bathtub).  Where to put 
him?  Well, _there_ was Connie Magliazzi, pretty enough to hold Robert's
attention and young enough not to be offended by a few crude remarks.  
Good old reliable Connie.  She began steering her father-in-law toward the 
bridesmaid, who was talking to the very pregnant wife of one of Bobby's 
Burlington friends.

*****************

"I tell you, Dominic, _paisan_, the city is changing, and we've got to 
change with it."

"You mean just more of the Spanish?"

"That's the start of it.  My district's maybe twenty, maybe twenty-five
percent Spanish-speaking already.  When they redistrict next year I'm going
to lose some of the outer suburbs and get the rest of Spanish Town.  Don't
get me wrong, they're good people and I love 'em.  Not really any different
from our ancestors when they came over."

"A French city, then Spanish, Tory, Italian, now Spanish again?"

"That's about the size of it.  Dom, I got thirty-eight percent in this 
district last year [5].  There's just no damn way I'm going to take it 
again for the Peoples' Coalition."

"You mean you'd run as a Liberal?"

"Do you think the Italians would still back me?"

"Hell, yes, I mean everybody _likes_ Monaghan, but you can't say he's
doing much of a job after Moca.  If _you_ think Skinner'd make a better
Governor-General, that's good enough for me."

"It's a tough call there.  Skinner's sort of naive, true, but he'd
probably have Mike Murphy as Foreign Minister.  Moca was mostly the 
Army's fault, but we know now Monaghan really shouldn't have gone in
there.  We lost so much--"

"Yeah, you know Connie?  The cute little bridesmaid there talking to 
Bobby's dad?  She was dating an officer in Tarleton's who never came
back."

"Ooh, Dom, that's a shame.  At least we got the prisoners back.  But all 
these deals with the Mexicans, now, I don't know..."

"I've gotten to know a lot more Mexicans lately, though, Tony.  They're
pretty sensible people -- all Bobby and his friends seem to want from the
CNA is to sell us calculators.  I mean, my own _brother's_ a Mexican now."

"Oh, I know, the regular people are all right, but there's that goddam
big army and old Mercator always itching for a place to use it.  Not to
mention New Granada, handsome young King or not.  Yeah, I know, he worked
for you in the garden. But now he's working for that Elbittar, who I 
wouldn't trust for a minute."

"So you'll run as a Liberal in '78?"

"Or before that.  I'm not convinced Monaghan's going to last out his term."

"The PJP people would backstab him?"

"No, _we_ might, we Green Dogs [6].  Monaghan's majority doesn't really
exist any more, not with so many of us ready to switch parties.  Sometime 
that's going to become obvious.  It happened to Mason back in '62, right?  
He lost _half_ of his own party, but Jay and Speigal decided to wait for the
regular election.  I'm not sure the country could wait three years this
time." 

"Damn.  That's never happened before, I guess, a midterm election.  Well,
this neighborhood will be with you, Tony, I can tell you that."

"Thank you, Dom, that means a lot to me.  Even if your whole damn family
is Mexican now."

"Fuhgeddaboutit!"

*****************

Geoffrey Bild was a satiated man.  He liked his food, and he liked
it spicy, and New Orleans (with its traditional Italian cuisine) was 
unlike the rest of the CNA in catering to his desires.  He cradled a 
bowl of _zuppa di ocra_ in one hand and a plate of _pesce rosso 
nerato_ [7] in the other.  The _anduila_ sausage had been just the 
thing too, in gravy on top of red beans and rice.  He belatedly 
thought about Caroline.

"Honey, do you want another juice?"

"I really could use some chocolate milk, but I don't think I could get that
here," sighed his wife.

"The bar seems pretty well stocked, it might be worth a try--"

"It's all right, Geoff.  Two more months, then I'll be back to three glasses 
of champagne at one of these things."  She giggled nervously.  "It
beats six glasses, I suppose."

He nodded his head in firm agreement.  Caroline used to be the life of
a party, and weddings always made her more rambunctious than usual.  Their
own wedding had been a hasty one at sea, on the Kramer ship in 1959.  There
had been a reception in Taichung when they arrived, but Caroline had always 
felt shortchanged.  They'd been through a lot since then -- all the trouble
with Kramer, their sudden and stealthy departure from Taiwan, setting up in 
a new (and unexpectedly frigid) country -- but he was finally beginning to 
make for her the life that she deserved.  That they _all_ deserved, including 
their first baby, conceived after three years of trying.

"Oooh, there's Cupertino.  I need to talk with him.  Honey, you all right?"

"I'm okay, Geoff.  I'm craving something... maybe the dessert table has been
restocked.  Go talk business, we'll have another mouth to feed soon."

They kissed, and Bild followed the young Mexican toward Gerry Belanger and
one of the groomsmen, let's see, that would be the best man's little
brother Vince.  Cupertino gave Vince a rough but affectionate slap on the
back.

"_Oye_, Vinny!  What's this Tory been telling you?"

"_Orale_, Steve.  Says I should go up to New York, do an MBA at his school."

Cupertino turned in mock anger toward the North American.  "So, Belanger.  
You think sales managers grow on trees?  This man is a moron, true, but he 
goes off to Toryland and who's gonna do his job?"

Belanger seemed comfortable with the banter.  "I was just pointing out to 
Vincent that we have a fine business program, and that Burlington is an 
excellent place to live, just ask Bobby."

Cupertino seemed unimpressed.  "Hey, Vicente, don't bother, Bobby already 
told me all about it.  You can see a lot of these Tory girls around here in 
the summer, but come winter in the North?  They're bundled up so tight 
you'll _never_ see a bit of skin.  Take away your favorite pastime, _mano_."

"Hey _mano_, my favorite pastime ain't _watching_.  And you know what Juan
Bailleres says about those Tory girls when they get in out of the cold [8]."

Cupertino gave Belanger a nudge in the shoulder.  "So, big Professor 
_vato_, you really _want_ this guy in the CNA?  Are your women gonna be safe?"

"Champlain women can take care of themselves, don't worry.  You'll have to
come see for yourself, Steve.  I'd love to have you give a talk about the
Pomona-2."

"Hey, that would be ok, thanks.  And maybe we get you to visit PMU, how come
you never been there to see Bobby anyway?"

"Oh, I did some defense work here and there back in the sixties [9].  I doubt
I know any secrets that are still worth anything, but the Science Ministry
would prefer that I stay on this side of the line.  Not that we don't trust
our new Mexican partners in peace or anything."

This seemed to set Cupertino off.  "Goddam politicians.  Always have to 
_chingar_ a good deal.  Do you know how many Pomona-2's I could sell in 
the CNA if _our_ goddam government would let me?  Tell him, Vince.  Vince?  
Whoops, he's spotted Bobby's litle sister again, we won't see him for a 
while..."

Bild swallowed the last of his spicy fish and cut in to the conversation.  
"You know, you could sell even more if you used CNA-built parts.  Smaller, 
cheaper ones than GC is building for you now."

Belanger welcomed him effusively.  "Geoffrey, hello!  Steve, this is 
Geoffrey Bild, formerly of General Computing, now on his own in -- 
Massachusetts, isn't it?  Geoff, you seem to know Steve Cupertino?"

"Only by reputation so far, it's nice to finally meet you.  So anyway,
Steve, you interested in wafers?"

"I'm always interested in wafers.  You got wafers?"

"Charlie Lee and I got wafers, and like I said, they're smaller and cheaper
than GC's.  We can give you 256 bivs on a single wafer.  That's twice the
store, and half the heat.  And if you can wait a year, we think we can hit
1024, or even 2048!"

"If they have exactly the same switches as the GC ones, just smaller, we
could plug them in without too much trouble.  But is that a patent problem?"

"Not in the CNA.  If it's built differently, it's a different machine even
if it does the same thing.  And our license for the building process never
belonged to GC in the first place.  It was Parker's, and now we got Parker!"

"Parker left Edison?"

"Technically he's retired, but yeah, we got Parker!"

"I'm interested, I'm interested.  But I use CNA-built wafers _now_ -- how
do your wafers help me sell any better in the CNA?  You know about Bobby's
dad, right?  Mexican customs wants his ass so bad we don't dare move a thing
over the line.  Imports are ok, no exports."

"How complicated is your assembly setup?"

"For the kit-builts it's nothing, of course.  For Pomona-2's we want most
of them to come pre-assembled, to make 'em easier to use."

"What you need, I think, is a CNA-based partner.  Stick our wafers into
a version of your box that's built here, and nothing crosses the line at all,
right?"

"And you have just the partner for us in mind, I bet.  What do you think, 
Gerry?  You think this might work?

Belanger rejoined the conversation.  "Small wafers mean small computers.  
Someone's going to build them, and you're the one who knows how.  Geoff, 
what's the limit on how small you might be able to make components, like 
individual switches?"

It was a good question, Bild thought.  "Limit?  I'm not sure there is one.  
Once you start making a wire by painting it on by a particle beam, it's 
just a matter of how well you calibrate the beam.  I guess a wire has to 
be a _few atoms_ wide..."

Belanger began to wax eloquent.  "You see, I don't see any reason why you 
couldn't get an engine the size of a GC-4's into a single wafer.  And if 
Steve and Bobby design it, instead of GC, it might actually _work_.  Steve, 
could you sell a little tiny GC-4 if Geoff can build it for you?"

"Wait a minute, I meant no limit in _principle_.  A GC-4 on one wafer
would take--"

"A GC-3, then.  Steve?"

"Hmm... you could design some _nice_ games with that kind of power.  There's
this idea of dactyling things straight to a vita screen too -- bigger memory
and a faster engine makes that work too.  It'd be hobbyists buying them
first, like now, but you could start breaking into the general market pretty
quick."

Belanger abruptly put an arm around each of them.  "I like what I'm hearing,
gentlemen.  Back in the fifties I wrote this paper [10] about a giant system 
of calculators spanning the country, or the world.  You could have the 
Confederation Library at your fingertips in your home or your office.  Or 
the Mexican National Library.  Or the German--"

Bild saw where he was going.  "But to do that you need a pretty big calc in 
your home or office -- _I_ get you."

"And _you two_ are going to put it there for me.  Starting with games."

Cupertino's eyes seemed to unfocus.  "You know, if we do, we could also 
make a _lot_ of money..."

And score a poke in the eye on _both_ Kramer and GC, Bild thought.
This was looking better and better all the time...

*****************

Sometimes you looked forward to a particular moment for a long
time, Anna thought, and then it was a letdown.  She'd thought 
about being married to Bobby for a long time, and about soaking
with him in this big bathtub since they'd booked the Lord Nelson.
All day, rushing around through the ceremony and reception, she'd
looked forward to _this_ moment of peace.

And you know, it wasn't a letdown at all.  In the afterglow of 
making love once, and the anticipation of many more times, it just
felt really good to snuggle her warm, wet, naked body against Bobby's.
Did it make a difference that CNA society _now_ approved of what they'd
been doing for most of the past two years anyway?  Yes, she thought,
it did.  No sneaking around _this_ hotel in the wee hours of the 
morning--

"Anna?"

"Mrrf?"

"I just wanted to make sure you weren't too upset about my dad and
Connie."

"What about your dad and Connie?"

"Uh-oh.  You didn't notice?  I should have told you later, I guess."

"Tell me now.  What happened?"

"Uh, they went home together, I'm pretty sure."

"What?"  A considerable quantity of water splashed onto the floor.
"I can't believe-- did anyone see?"

"I don't think so, my dad's gotten pretty good at being subtle, but 
I can tell.  I've known the guy a long time, after all."

"But Connie-- Jesus!  Bobby, we're talking about your father and my
roommate!  She's twenty-three, for God's sake!  How could he take
advantage--"

"It's ok, it's ok, take a deep breath, and let me hold you.  Yes, it's
wrong, but that's how my dad is.  And I watched them for a while, and
I don't think it was all his idea."

"Connie?  She's probably still a virgin, for Christ's sake!"

"Not from what I picked up.  Your dad was saying how she had this boyfriend
in the service, who got killed last year."

"So?"

"Well, reading between the lines, that was pretty hot and heavy.  C'mon,
Anna, _you're_ twenty-three.  You're old enough to decide which strange 
men you're going to sleep with, aren't you?"

"But your _father_!  He's old enough to be _her_ father -- older!"

"I can't argue with that.  But he's also a lonely man in a strange country.
And he's what we call a _mujeriego__.  It's a sin, and it's not very nice, 
but it's how he is.  I'm sure he was good to Connie, man to woman, for what
that's worth.  But how do you think he kicked the duck on three marriages?"

"He cheated on your mom?"

"Of course.  They got married pretty quick during the war, right before
he went off, and it was never really right.  She finally caught him in '49,
I think it was, when he came back from Manitoba, and kicked him out.  I
think he stayed faithful to Jennifer's mom for a while, but not that long.
The one I'm really sorry about was Marie."

"His third wife?"

"Yeah.  _She_ was actually the woman in '49 in Manitoba.  If she hadn't
already been married they might have managed it then, but they went their
separate ways.  He always thought about her, though, I think.  Finally he 
talked her into leaving her husband twenty years later, and they got married.
I thought it might work, but he started fooling around almost right away, 
and the papers caught him at it, and that was that."

"And now he picks up young girls at weddings."

"Young women, yeah.  I know what you're thinking, love.  Is it in _my_
germ plasm?"

"I wasn't--"

"Yes you were, and you should be.  I'm thinking it too.  My dad is a 
complete duck-kicker when it comes to marriage.  Am I going to be any
better?"

"That's not fair, though--"

"Yes it is.  Being with you now I could never imagine wanting another woman.
But some day I'm going to look at one, and want her.  And I'm not going to
do anything about it.  Because I love _you_, Anna.  I know you, and I want
to stay with you forever.  Dad could have been happy with _Mom_ if he'd
really looked at her and really committed to her, but he never decided to
do that.  I know better, and I'll be different."

There was silence for a few minutes, punctuated only by splashes.

"Bobby?"

"Mrrf?"

"If you ever _do_ really want another woman?"

"Hmm?"

"Bring her home to me, and if I like her too we can convert to Turnerism.
I could imagine sharing you, but I could _never_ imagine losing you."

"Hmm.  I don't think they make bathtubs big enough for three.  No, you're
enough woman for me, now and forever.  Come here and let me prove it again..."

Notes:

[1] The _most_ respectable of New Orleans' seven English-language dailies.

[2] Alfred Nobel lived and endowed his prizes in the FANTL but corrected 
    his OTL omission of a mathematics prize.

[3] Robert's direct translation of idiomatic Spanish "_huevos_".

[4] Mexico's version of Court TV is quite fun to watch -- part of the
    legal system's independence may be owed to its fan base as pure
    entertainment.  The Chief Justice of the Mexico Tribunal is Jaime
    Denton, mentioned in FAN #70 as the author of an important 1967 decision.
    Mercator appointed Denton, Dominguez appointed Jerry Rivera, Jose
    del Popolo, and himself (as he retired), and Moctezuma appointed Laura
    Nicolau, Elena Armstrong, and Irwin Hawes.

[5] Conigliaro (PC) 38%, Lopez (L) 36%, Steenberg (PJP) 21%, Robinson (NRP)
    3%, others 2%.  The PC won 13 of the SC's 39 seats in 1973, but seven
    were by margins of less than five percent.  Of the twelve PC Councilors
    who voted blank on the first ballot for GG, eight (including Conigliaro)
    were from the SC.  All three who voted blank on the second ballot (not
    including Conigliaro) were from the SC.  (See FAN #48.)

[6] As in OTL Britain, CNA candidates and supporters wear colored rosettes
    as party identifiers: green for the Liberals (once the country party),
    yellow and silver for the PC (from its origins as a farm-labor alliance),
    and white for the PJP.  The old Conservatives wore blue, and the 
    fringe National Renewal Party wears red (not a radical color in this
    timeline).  The "Green Dogs" are the PC Councilors whose Liberal 
    sympathies have been a constant headache for Monaghan, though the latter's
    control of the party leadership has prevented a single spokesperson
    from emerging.
    
[7] In OTL and in most of the Italian-speaking parts of this world a _pesce
    rosso_ is a goldfish, but in New Orleans it's a redfish.  OTL diners 
    would also recognize _zuppa di ocra_ as gumbo, of course.

[8] In the international hit song he performed in FAN #72.

[9] At Fort Mackenzie, Manitoba, with Abramowitz and some atomic physicists,
    as mentioned in FAN #3.

[10] Belanger's paper was similar to OTL's "As We May Think" written by
     Vannevar Bush in the _Atlantic Monthly_ in 1945.  You can read the 
     latter on
     
     the Atlantic's site.
     In many respects Bush had the World Wide Web nailed...

Dave MB

(with substantial help from Dan and Noel)