no such thing as a secret
My name is Brandy Alexander.  Swear to God.  I wish I were kidding, but I’m not.  What were my parents thinking?  Apparently, that naming me after a cocktail and a porn star would somehow enhance my life.  They’ve always wanted the very best for their little girl.  My mother remains fascinated with the cleverness of attaching Brandy to Alexander, “which co-incidentally is our last name,” as if I could have somehow missed that bit of family trivia.  I love my parents despite their oddness.  Or maybe because of it.  I thought about this as I wended my way through the Philadelphia Airport terminal, trailing bits of silver foil from the two hundred Hershey Kisses I’d consumed during my five-hour flight out of L.A.  I’m what you’d call a reluctant traveler and chocolate calms my nerves.  It also clears up acne, prevents colds and builds strong bones, so I eat as much as I want and feel really good about it. 

Even at six in the morning the airport teemed with activity.  I’d taken a night flight—the only way I could fly nonstop.  I’d been awake the entire time, just in case the pilot needed me for some reason.  Although the bag of corn nuts they’d provided midway over Tulsa really filled me up, I was still hungry.  I stood in the middle of the food court, debating the merits of eating a cheese steak at the crack of dawn and decided it was a good thing.  Then I hopped in line behind a woman with a gigantic ass and rethought my decision.  The woman
was holding the hand of a sleepy three year old with very wet pants. 

“Didn’t Mommy say ‘Go potty’ before we left the plane?” She harped in a voice that could cut glass. 

“A bit late for that, eh?”  I thought I’d muttered under my breath, but apparently not.  She whipped around and shot me a dirty look before turning back to her kid, who was, by now, standing knee deep in urine.  I guess the no sleep thing was really catching up to me, because that yellow puddle just cracked me up.  I was still laughing as a familiar voice called out to me.  “Yo, doll face.”  My friend, Johnny Marchiano, all five feet, three inches of him came striding forward dressed in fashionably autumnal rust and gold.  He wrapped his skinny arms around me for a surprisingly strong hug, and then stood back and eyed me critically. 

“You go out in public lookin’ like this?”  I glanced down at my jeans and “travel sweatshirt” feeling slightly ashamed. 

“Is that any way to greet your best friend?  I haven’t seen you in forever.  Tell me I look amazing.”

“You look amazing,” he said, rolling his eyes.  Johnny and I are the same age—twenty- eight, but he was born an Alter Kocker, that’s “old geezer” in Yiddish.  I picked up my carry-on bag and swung it over my shoulder. 

“So, what are you doing here?  I thought Paulie was going to pick me up.”  Paul is my brother.  He’s two years older, tons nicer and infinitely better looking.

“We drew straws,” said John.  “ I lost. I mean won!” 

“You love me,” I said, throwing an arm around him.  “You couldn’t wait to see me.  Admit it.”  I kissed him, big, wet and sloppy on his thin cheek.

“Eeewww!”  He said, and wiped his face on his designer sleeve.  Smiling, I headed for baggage claim. 

It was definitely weird being back.  I hadn’t set foot on east coast soil since the day I boarded the plane for Los Angeles, over four years ago.  I’d left the South Philadelphia neighborhood I’d grown up in, heartbroken and
disillusioned after the demise of an intense, ten-year relationship, determined to put time and distance between me and the source of my pain.  I missed my friends and family like crazy, but they made their yearly pilgrimage to southern California, and we’d meet sometimes in Vegas or Florida.  Last year my parents retired, bought a condo in Boca and now spend winters there.

 I work for a local news station in L.A. I’m the hard hitting reporter who brings you up to date coverage on   “How to Turn Your Bedroom into a ‘Boudoir,’”or “Ten Things You Should Know About Termites.”  My grad school
journalism professor would be so proud.  It’s a stupid job but it pays well, and it’s as close to investigative reporting as I’ve gotten, thus far.  Anyway, it was a terrific excuse for not coming back to visit.  It usually worked.  But not this time.  The voice on the other end of the line meant business.  “I’m gettin’ married.”  The voice belonged to Franny Di Angelo, one half of the Hell raising DiAngelo twins, my best girlfriends from the neighborhood.  She informed me of her plans in her typical, no nonsense way.  “No, you don’t know him…He’s
okay…yeah, I love him…you gotta come in for the wedding, you’re in it, and I’m not takin’ no for an answer…don’t give me any shit, I’m your best friend...” So, that was that.  She really didn’t have to say it.  I wouldn’t have let anything scare me away from Franny’s wedding, not even a six foot one inch cop with a crap load of heartache and my name written all over it.