Tag Archive | Bauer BBQ

A Soft Place to Land: Chapter Thirty-One (Part One)

“Looks like you have a great turn out this year.”  Marah bounced Lanie on her hip as she surveyed the Bauer’s backyard.  And to say it was a good turn out was an understatement.  Once again it seemed as if the entire town showed up en masse for the annual event.

Michelle finished hanging the last of the lanterns and stood back to survey her handiwork.  With a nod of satisfaction she turned towards her friend and smiled, “Yeah I think we get bigger every year, and I love it.”  Marah and Michelle walked back towards the house, dodging screaming kids along the way.  “You know, out of all the events in Springfield this is the one I missed the most when Danny and I lived in California.  Even if every year my dad grumbles about cancelling, Rick and I know it’s all bluster.”

Marah laughed, “I was thinking the same thing.  Every year my mom would send pictures and I would get jealous.”

Michelle reached over and rubbed a finger along Lanie’s foot which caused the baby to kick and giggle, “At least we’re all together and can pass this tradition down to another generation.”  She looked up and saw Tony over Marah’s shoulder.  The man’s face was one of pure longing and Michelle’s heart went out to him.  To both of them.  “How are things between you and Tony?  Still separated but not?”

“Yes if you must know.” Marah shifted the baby to a more comfortable position, “I know everyone thinks it is ridiculous but I need Tony to see me as an equal in this marriage.  Not keeping things from me because he thinks I can’t handle it.”

Nodding in understanding Michelle put a reassuring hand on her friend’s shoulder, “I understand.  Do I ever.  But hon, This is part of being married to a Santos.  Even being married for years and I am still telling Danny that I can handle the world and all it has to dish out.  But sooner or later you have to ask yourself, are you punishing him for who he is or yourself for loving him anyways?” And with those words to ponder Michelle gestured towards the house, “Now we better get the rest of the food ready or this party may just turn to anarchy.”

***

From across the patio Tony watched Marah and Michelle talk, his beer clutched in his hand.  Marah had her back to him which gave him unrestricted access to stare at his wife and just…wish everything was back to normal.   They had reached a stalemate and neither side was willing to budge.

“Gripping that beer kind of tight there brother.” Ray joined Tony and smacked him on the back lightly.  Following his brother’s gaze he saw the reason for his brother’s coiled demeanor.  “I see.”

Tony looked at his brother out of the corner of his eye, “You see what?  Because I’d really like to know.”

“You’ll figure it out.  I watched Danny and Michelle fight and claw their way to where they are now, And I have no doubt Marah and you will do the same.”

Tony wished he felt as confident as his brother.  For the first week or so Tony had looked on the so-called ‘separation’ with amusement.  Thinking Marah would see that as long as they loved each other nothing else mattered.  But then came the realization that she had no intention of caving and no amount of flashing his abs would work.  Then came the real battle of wills.  Like Marah sashaying around the house in her babydoll nighties.  And so began the cold showers that did nothing to tame the heat that Tony felt towards his wife.  And she knew it too, the minx.  But what Tony couldn’t figure out is what it would take to mend the rift between them.

***

Ed Bauer clapped his hands to get everyone’s attention, “Welcome to the 47th annual Hunger Games!” As everyone in the yard laughed and cheered he looked down at his granddaughter Hope and asked, “Did I say that right?”  The little girl covered her mouth to stifle a giggle but nodded at her grandfather’s joke.  Turning back tot he crowd gathered Ed smiled, “No there will be no fighting to the death for food.  Who would want to fight for my son in law’s version of barbecue anyway?”

“Hey!”  Danny acted affronted but it was all in jest, everyone knew Danny couldn’t grill to save his life.  But still Michelle rubbed his arm reassuringly.

“Today my daughter and son-in-law told me some great news.  Seems there is going to be yet another addition to the Bauer-Santos household!  And fro that I will gladly choke down one of Danny’s burnt burgers.” The news set off another round of clapping and cheers from the crowd of Springfield residents.  “And I thought to myself, this is why we do this every year.  Because honestly, every year I grumble about cancelling it.  The hassle and fuss, who needs it right?  But every year my children look at me like I am crazy and begin planning anyway.  They know I’m not serious because this tradition is one that I hold dear to my heart.  It is one that I passed down to my children who I know will continue it even after I am gone.  It is one that their children will continue after them.  And that’s the way it is supposed to be.”  The last part caused Ed to pause as he got choked up with emotion.  “So enough talk from me and welcome friends, family, and fellow residents of the great city of Springfield to the annual Bauer Bar-B-Que!”

***

Richard waited until the crowd had dispersed to their various pre-speech activities before he made his approach.  He found the targets he was looking for over at the picnic tables that had been set up on the lawn.  He pasted on a smile, “Hello Michelle you are looking well.  Marah, you look as lovely as ever.”

Michelle crossed her arms and regarded him coolly, “Hello.”  She turned on her heel and marched back to the house without saying another word.

Richard chuckled, “Must be something I said.”

Marah stood and picked up Lanie who was contentedly chewing on a cookie in her hand, “Must be.  Excuse me.”

Before she could walk away Richard held out a hand to stall her.  “I never got a chance to apologize for the other night.  I stepped over the line and I am sorry.”

Marah searched his face for signs of insincerity but found nothing to indicate deception.  “Apology accepted.  I should probably apologize as well, I wasn’t in a very good place that night and I probably was sending all kinds of mixed signals.”

Richard waved her off, “The fault was mine alone.  I knew you were married and I stepped over the line anyway.  I hope we can still be friends.”

Still be Friends?  Marah didn’t think they had ever been friends to begin with.  But social niceties told her to nod and accept, “That would be fine.  Now excuse me,” She indicated the baby in her arms, “I think someone needs to be changed.”

***

From the patio Tony had watched the man approach the Santos women.  He had watched Michelle’s non-to-subtle snub and her march away.  And as it left his wife and daughter alone with the bastard it took everything in him to not go over and finish the job he had started at the Roadhouse.  But Danny had laid a restraining hand on his shoulder, “Stand down Primo.  Let Marah handle it.”

So he had stood back and let Marah hopefully set the jerk straight.

Michelle handed Danny a beer and they all watched Marah walk back toward the house, the diaper bag hanging from her arm a clear indicator at where she was going. “Who invited the asshat anyway?”

“I did.”

They all turned to face Ed who just shrugged at the looks of mutiny he got, “That is what this event is all about.  Joining together.  And Richard Salas has no family in the area.”

They all watched Ed walk over to begin the egg toss.  They were all silent until Danny looked at them and grinned while holding up his spatula proudly, “I am going to give him the burnest burger I’ve ever done.”

Tony grinned and tipped up his beer towards his cousin, “Way to have our backs man.”

The Bauer Barbecue: A True Legacy

The Bauer Barbecue became a Guiding Light staple in the 1980s and quickly became one of the most popular episodes of the year.  I know that I loved watching every year as family and neighbors, basically the entire town, gathered in the Bauer backyard to celebrate this holiday.  It was full of tradition and just one of the things that made Guiding Light special to so many.

Bauer

And it certainly was special.  I think Rick summed up the legacy behind this annual event during the final barbecue.

“I look across your faces and I realize that I’m one of the grown ups now. It just seems like yesterday that I was just a little kid sitting on that diving board eating my grandma’s chocolate chip cookie. I couldn’t help but think about my Grandma Bert today. She was a great lady. Real special. And not just because she loved her grandson but because she came up with this, this celebration with family and friends. She used to tell me, ‘Rick, we live in a great town, in a great state, and an even greater nation. And we’re all very blessed to live in a country that upholds freedom and liberty.’ And she’s right. And I miss her. And it’s not quite the same without her. But she leaves this wonderful legacy behind and I feel very blessed.”

The Bauer Barbecue is indeed a true legacy.  A gift that fans still treasure as they look back on all the great memories throughout the years.  Hope you all have a safe and wonderful Fourth of July!  (And may you burn less hamburgers than Danny Santos)

 

Some memorable Bauer Barbecues:

Bauer BBQ 1987– Alan-Michael makes a unique entrance

Bauer BBQ 1988– Fletcher and Maeve get married.  Reva urges Johnny to get on with his lfie despite Roxie’s mental breakdown

Bauer BBQ 1990– Ed and Maureen are fighting.  Holly and Ross have a romantic moment

Bauer BBQ 1991– Forget the light show, Alexandra’s setting off fireworks of her own when she denounces Roger

Bauer BBQ 1994– Bill plays a trick on Ben, Alex wonders why Alan-Michael turned down the presidency.

Bauer BBQ 1995– Well….the first clip is the build up to it anyway.  Rodger gets his first invitation.  Holly and Fletcher have been faking their fights.  Alan-Michael and Lucy will end up watching the fireworks on Alan-Michael’s yacht.

Bauer BBQ 1996– Gilly has feelings for Griffin, the mystery of Zachary continues

Bauer BBQ 2001– Danny tells Tony not to come to court tomorrow,  Phillip and Harley are fighting. Unfortunately Part One is unavailable in which Meta reads the Declaration of Independence.

Bauer BBQ 2002– Post 9-11 the tone of this Bauer BBQ was somewhat lighter with the musical sequences, though there was the requisite drams such as Rick in need of a heart transplant and Phillip and Olivia hiding their kiss from Alan

Bauer BBQ 2003 – Marah and Tony throw a surprise wedding for Danny and Michelle

Bauer BBQ 2009– The final Bauer BBQ

Prelude to Love ~ A Robbie and Sarah Short Story

Kid Fan Fiction?  Well one day GLManny mentioned that Guiding Light should have implied that in the future Robbie Santos would romance Sarah Randall.  Which makes complete sense.  The hint of future romance would have led viewers to imagine that even if we didn’t SEE it, these characters went on to live in Springfield forever.  But I didn’t want to cheat them by only giving the kiddos a brief scene, and they will probably never get an adult story since then I would have to age everyone… So instead here is a short  scene that occurs during the Bauer BBQ that sets the GROUNDWORK for that future romance.  That hint of a romance…

***

Robbie Santos sat on one of the picnic tables while Sarah Randall and her father came in dead last in the three-legged race.  If anyone had asked him at that moment who had won Robbie would have probably looked like a big loser.   Because the truth was he had no clue.  He was too focused on the huge smile on Sarah’s face and the twinkling sound of her exuberant laughter.  The flowing of all that dark hair of hers as it was caught up in the warm summer breeze.  His eyebrows drew together into a frown.  Girls were super lame so it made no sense whatsoever why he was still sitting on this picnic table watching her of all people.

She was one of his sister’s best friends since they did dance class together.  But she was at his house all the time.  Even worse, those two were always trying to tag along behind whatever his friends and he were doing.   Robbie thought about last week when he was going to go bike riding with his friends Jude and Danny.  Sure enough, Hope and Sarah had wanted to tag along like usual.  Until Sarah had noted the flattened tires on her brand new bike.  The look of pure sadness on her face had made something deep inside Robbie’s stomach clench.  Without thinking he waved his friends off and instead spent his afternoon eating popsicles and playing board games with his little sister and, of course, Sarah.

Robbie rested his chin in the palm of his hands and sighed.  The group had moved on to various other Bauer games and yet here he was, thinking about a girl of all things.  His friends would really laugh at him if they could see him now.

“Hey slugger.  What are you doing over here all by yourself?”

Robbie turned and watched his dad and uncle Tony approach.  Oh great, witnesses to his torture.  “Nothing.  Just thinking”.

His dad and uncle took their seats on either side of him before looking where he had been focusing for the better part of an hour.  “How’d your mom and Hope do in the three-legged race?”

“Um. Well I wasn’t really watching that close.”

Danny and Tony exchanged a look.  They both knew Robbie hadn’t moved from that spot so what had him so transfixed? “You want to go grab a burger before the fireworks begin?”

“Not hungry.”

***

If Danny wondered if anything was bothering his son this confirmed it.  Like most boys his age Robbie was always hungry.  Danny gave a quick glance to Tony who merely shrugged his shoulder, he was just as clueless about Robbie’s mood as Danny was.  Might as well try the direct route and see if that worked. “Want to talk about it?”

Beside him Robbie heaved a big sigh before turning towards him.  “When do girls stop being lame?  I mean, you married mom so they stop some time right?”

So not the question Danny expected from his son but he could work with this.  Well, we would at least try.  He made a concentrated effort at avoiding eye contact with Tony knowing that he’d find his cousin’s eyes glittering with tightly reigned mirth.  He was barely holding his own laughter in so he knew it was best not to tempt himself.  “I guess girls stopped being lame, as you call it, when I was almost a teenager.  But I also grew up with your Aunt Pilar.  She was a pest, always following around Tony, Ray, and myself.  But also she played a mean game of stickball.  So I always knew that not all girls were lame, there were special girls who were cool.”

Tony chose that moment to chime in, no doubt prompted by the memory of Pilar’s ability to whoop all their tails in stickball.  “You can say that again!  Pilar was downright scary in a game of stickball.”

Robbie laughed at Tony’s exaggerated shudder but he was not to be deterred. “When did you know you were going to marry mom?”

Danny had wondered when that question would inevitably be asked by one of his kids.  Just like he wondered what the best answer would be.  Because the truth wasn’t glamorous, romantic, and the stuff of fairy tales.  Michelle would probably be the best one to explain their journey to love, but of course Robbie chose this moment to ask that particular question. “Wouldn’t you rather know where babies come from?”  His son just shook his head while Tony laughed loudly at his predicament.  Yeah just you wait… “When I met your mom I was…captivated.  She was so beautiful and bright.  She made you want to be around her just so you could soak up some of that brightness for yourself.”  He paused wondering how best to explain this part of the story.  “You know how we talked about your grandmother, my mother, how she sometimes did bad things and hurt people she loved?  Well, she wanted to hurt your mom and I couldn’t let that happen.”

“Because you loved her?”

Danny smiled ruefully at the memory.  That had been one hell of a ride,  one full of twists and turns.  But it had led them here, and for that he would always be grateful.  “Yeah, I did.  I didn’t know it at the time but I loved your mother to the very depths of my soul.  I still do.  Some people sit and let life happen for them, Santos men make decisions for themselves.  Not always the right ones, but we never follow anyone’s chosen path.”

Robbie seemed to turn this information over in his mind, filing it away for later, before he turned that laser-like focus on his uncle. “When did you know you loved Aunt Marah?”

Tony tilted his head down and met his gaze.  “From the moment I saw Marah I knew she was going to change my life.  We had what we call a destino.  And all of your dad’s warnings and her parent’s influence couldn’t keep us apart for too long.  But we were both really young when we started going out and we both made mistakes, particularly me.” Understatement of the year but Tony couldn’t imagine telling Robbie about just how dumb he had been back then. “But even when we were apart we never stopped loving each other.  Guess your dad and me, we’re just a new breed of Santos men.  We love and we love completely.  And when the right one comes along you just know.  You go out of your way just to try to make them smile because that smile is the best part of your day.”  He looked up at Danny and smiled. “When did we become such saps?  What’s next?  Are we going to start doing each other’s make up?  Having pillow fights during sleepovers?”

Danny ignored his cousin and instead laid his hand on his son’s small shoulder. “Did any of that answer your question?”

“Yeah.  I was just wondering that’s all.”  All three Santos men turned towards the patio when Michelle called their names.  “Get up here and get some ice cream before it melts!”

Danny smiled and all three of them complied eagerly.  Looking at his wife silhouetted by the quickly setting sun he felt his heart speed up just watching her dish out ice cream.  Danny couldn’t wait to get their vacation started.

***

Robbie sat on the soft blanket as the first firework exploded in the night sky.  But he wasn’t looking at the fireworks.  Instead he was watching Sarah Randall and his sister dance around with sparklers.  Sarah was once again making his gut twist into knots just listening to that laughter.  He didn’t even notice the chocolate ice cream from his cone dripping down his wrist.

“You go out of your way just to try to make them smile because that smile is the best part of your day”.  That’s what Uncle Tony had said.  Kind of like the day with Sarah and her bike.  Maybe what his dad and uncle said was true, maybe Sarah was his destiny.  Realizing the sticky mess he was in he stood and threw the ice cream cone away.  Before he could talk himself out of it he walked over to where Sarah was currently twirling with a green sparkler and tapped on her shoulder. “Hi Robbie.  You want a sparkler?”

Robbie didn’t answer, he just leaned forward and kissed her.  It wasn’t like the ones he saw on tv or even those between his parents.  If the guys saw him now they would make be making a mixture of gagging noises and making fun of him.  But he didn’t seem to mind  which was funny.   When he pulled back he looked into her brown eyes that had to have grown at least two sizes in shock.  “I’m going to marry you one day Sarah Randall.”  And as he marched back towards the blanket to watch the rest of the light show Robbie had the odd sense that he had just chosen his path…

What Matters Most~ Chapter Three: Part Three

“Dad’s will named me CEO of Spaulding-”

Alan-Michael rolled his eyes before cutting in. “Phillip this really doesn’t surprise me. Everyone in Springfield knew you were Alan’s golden boy. I was constantly left having to prove myself while you could do no wrong. I may have been a typical Spaulding ass before I was run out-of-town but the old man was a champion at it before you and I were even born.”

“Okay this sibling rivalry stuff has gotten old. Did dad ever shoot you? I think physical damage to one’s person trumps exile. So yes, in his eyes I could do wrong and I did. Frequently. But that is beside the point. The point is I want to make Spaulding Enterprise a true partnership with you and I working together not against each other. There is nothing in his will that says there can’t be two at the helm, we can both be CEO. ”

Alan-Michael stood motionless for a few minutes flabbergasted by what he had heard. Come back to Springfield? Run Spaulding alongside his brother? The whole idea sounded ludicrous. “What does Aunt Alex have to say about all this?”

“Surprisingly she’s all for it. She doesn’t play much of a role in the company these days. She’s been too busy traveling the world with Fletcher Reade.”

That news caught Alan-Michael by surprise. “Aunt Alex and Fletcher Reade huh? Don’t know what to say about that one. As for you and me? You do realize we don’t exactly have the best track record when it comes to sibling accord right?”

Phillip smiled patiently, “Alan-Michael it’s time for us to bury the proverbial hatchet. You want to know why I was the so-called golden boy? Because Alan saw a lot of himself in me, and that’s not a particularly good thing. In you he saw a lot of your mother. Do you try to tarnish the goodness in others or hope that the goodness outshines the Spaulding genes? Hell he knew you didn’t want to be like him and damn if I didn’t prove the old man right at times by acting just like him.” He looked at his brother and hoped that whatever decision he made that something good had come from today, “Even if you decide to return to France I hope that we can work on this brother thing. We wasted too many years being at odds. I only have one brother and time is too short.”

Perhaps Phillip was right, though Alan-Michael tended to think Alan’s mind games had gone deeper than that. That they were simply the only way he knew how to show love. He knew from family stories that his grandfather Brandon had done the same to Alan and Alex, pitting them as eternal rivals. But he couldn’t help but think about what it would be like to have family, a true family he could give his son. And he knew Lucy missed her own family as well. It would be nice to belong to this well-knit community again. “I need to speak with Lucy about all of this.”

“Of course.” They turned and walked towards where Lucy stood talking animatedly to Buzz and Lillian, “Do you need some backup?”

Alan-Michael was momentarily shocked at the question, it was a night for shocks it seemed. That Phillip would play the big brother and even offer or that Alan-Michael would find himself accepting, “That might actually be good. Last time I was in town, well it wasn’t a good scene with me and Buzz.”

***

“What do you think you are doing Lucy? Did you not learn your lesson the first time with that creep? And you have a child and you never even bothered to let me know!” Buzz was nearly foaming at the mouth he was getting so worked up. He kept his voice low but it still held a tone of outrage.

“Yes I wonder why we have stayed away. Because we both knew that this would be the reaction we would get. But dad, part of the reason we came back today was because Alan-Michael wanted to make amends. You of all people should know about making mistakes, and yet I forgave you just as Harley and Frank forgave you.”

If it was possible Buzz’s face got even more red as he bristled with rage. “We’re not talking about my mistakes. We’re talking about a man who repeatedly hurt this family.  Who hurt his own family.  Who-”

Lucy began ticking off Buzz’s past transgressions on her slim fingers one by one. “Like you dad? You hurt this family too you know. You abandoned Nadine and her kids and married my mom. You tried to buy forgiveness for your abandonment using money from my trust fund. You tried to hide my very existence to spare Frank and Harley’s feelings, but we all forgave you. You don’t corner the market on second chances dad.”

“Lucy it is beneath you using stuff from over twenty years ago in your arsenal.”

Lucy just shrugged, “It is what it is. And if you want me in your life. And if you want to get to know Michael, you’ll have to forgive just like everyone else.”

***

Tony leaned towards Danny and whispered. “You were right, our family no longer corners the market on dysfunction.”

“No kidding. I think we went to a bar-b-que and ended up in Peyton Place.”

***

Alan-Michael stood in the middle of the patio and looked at the sea of faces. Some family and some friends. Some familiar and some unknown. After witnessing Buzz and Lucy’s heated exchange he knew what he had to do. And that was to eat some serious crow, publically. So here he stood on display with an unlikely ally in his brother Phillip by his side. He took a deep breath. Here goes nothing, “By now you all know who I am. While this entrance isn’t quite as memorable as the parachute drop I had some precious cargo with me and wouldn’t risk it for the world.” He shot a wink over to Lucy who stood holding Michael. She moved to his other side and took his hand in support as he continued, “Anyway, years ago I was an ass. I lost the best thing in my life and I took it out on a lot of innocent people. People that mean a lot to me.”

Alan-Michael turned towards his father-in-law to address him individually, “Especially you Buzz. You didn’t deserve what I did to you. If I could take it back I would. But since I can’t I can only hope I can prove that I’m not that guy any more.”

Buzz stood motionless absorbing the words and weighing their sincerity. He wasn’t the only one. The rest of the town stood nearby silent and still as if being the first to make a sound would fracture the scene before them. The prodigal son returning and bowing before the town a humble man. It was quite the event for the Bauer BBQ.

Michelle was the first to stand and move towards her cousin. She enveloped him in a tight embrace, “Welcome home Alan-Michael.” She gestured towards the picnic table, “Come meet my husband Danny and his cousins, Ray and Tony.   And I am sure you remember Marah.  Tony and Marah got married last year so now she gets the added privilege to call me family.”

“Last time I saw you Marah you was wearing pigtails!”

Alan-Michael’s comment made the rest of the adults at the table break out in laughter and eased the residual tension. Except for Marah who did a face palm in childhood embarrassment. “Don’t remind me.”

Toby eyed with wife with a grin. “Pigtails huh? I think I’d pay money to see that.”

As Alan-Michael passed by Buzz the older man held out a hand to stall him. “Look, Lucy was right. I did screw up a lot when I was younger. And you were right as well. We are both guilty of being asses. So I don’t care what you do to me, I’m a big boy and I can take it. But you hurt her again and I will hurt you so bad they won’t be able to find the body. Got it?”

Alan-Michael accepted the threat humbly. “Got it.”

***
The adults in attendance all grumbled good-naturedly as Rick called them together for their last event. The washers tournament was a popular event at the Bauer feast.

“Oh stop it.” He admonished with a grin. “You all knew what you were getting yourself into.”

As the competition was so stiff only a select few actually participated, the rest just stood on the sidelines and cheered. Or jeered as was the case with Rick who took it all in stride since he knew it was all in fun.

Rick stepped forward with his clipboard. “So I see the teams are the same this year. Let’s see we have, Josh and Jonathan, Billy and Bill, Danny and Tony, Buzz and Frank, Holly and Blake, Mindy and Beth, Reva and Marah.  And of course the three-time champions, Yours truly and Michelle.”

From nearby someone coughed which sounded suspiciously like “braggart”.

But Michelle surprised everyone when she stepped forward and made a last-minute substitution. “I think this year I want Alan-Michael to be my teammate.”

Rick look pole axed. “But Michelle, three-time champions!”

Michelle ignored him and instead walked over to Alan-Michael. Yes he was a Spaulding but he was a Bauer too, it was time for this town to remember that. “What do you say cousin?”

Alan-Michael looked uncomfortable, as if being put on the spot was the last thing he wanted. But he saw the sincerity in Michelle’s eyes, the hope that he would come back to the family fold. By his side Lucy nudged his gently, urging him on. He smiled. “I say let’s show them how it’s done.”

Phillip slung an arm over his friend’s dejected shoulders. “It’s okay buddy. You always have me.”

***

Marah sat propped against her husband as they waited for the fireworks to begin. Suddenly she slapped the arm holding her and pointed towards the sky in excitement. “Look! A shooting star!”

Tony leaned down and nuzzled the hair away from her ear and whispered, “What did you wish for?”

Marah laughed huskily, turning her head to gaze into her husband’s chocolately brown eyes. “Not happening Mister Santos. If I tell you I won’t get my wish.”

When she began pouting as if not getting her wish would be the worst thing in the world Tony thought she was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. A woman pouting. Call him crazy. He leaned down and whispered against her lips this time. “Maybe if you tell me I can make all of your wishes come true.”

Marah thought her heart would stop at Tony’s statement. If she already didn’t love him with all her heart she would have fallen in love right then and there. She pulled him closer for a kiss that left her breathless and tingling in all the right places. Just then the sky exploded in a kaleidoscope of colors. It was so beautiful that Marah wished the night would never end. Wrapped up in the arms of the man she loved with their child resting safely under his protective arms. Life didn’t get more perfect than this.

“Hard to believe how much has changed since a year ago.”

Marah looked over her shoulder at her husband, “Hard to believe how much better it is. I never would have thought anything could have topped you coming back to me, to all of us. ”

Tony had to agree. This past year had seen all of his dreams come true. Marah and him were finally married after so many years of pain and loneliness, and now they were expecting their first child. Things couldn’t get much better than this. “Ready to pack up the kids and head home?”

“You know me. I’d go anywhere with you Tony Santos.”

Tony stood and helped her to her feet before placing kissing her briefly. “My kind of woman.”

What Matters Most~ Chapter Three: Part Two

Across the yard Ray nearly choked on the soda he had been drinking.  When his cousins looked at him in alarm he waved off their concern, and instead watched the as Phillip Spaulding made the biggest move of his life,  “Is that who I think it is? Well I never would have believed it if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes.  And they say miracles don’t happen.”

Danny looked to see where Ray was watching with such interest and then turned back toward his cousins, “And they say the Santos family has skeletons in their closet.  The Spaulding family could give us a real run for our money.”

“I don’t know Danny.  Ole Alan sure was a snake but Carmen and Maria were both rotten to the core.”

Danny nodded at Tony’s assessment of their matriarchs.  Carmen and Maria sure did a number on them, hell it was a minor miracle they both didn’t spend a small fortune on therapy over the havoc caused by those two.  Danny noted that the noise level in the yard had dropped considerably, probably due to the arrival of the unexpected “guest”.  He nudged Tony’s arm with his elbow, “Let’s go grab a seat.  This is bound to get interesting and I don’t want to miss it.”

***

“Hello brother.”

Phillip opened his mouth but couldn’t make the words come out.  Phillip had heard all about the nefarious actions his brother had done while everyone believed he was dead, still it was time to let go of the past.  Alan was gone and it was time for them to finally bury the hatchet.  “Alan-Michael.  You look good.”  And he did.  Even with the wariness in his demeanor, even the veiled suspicion in his eyes, there was still an air of happiness about him.

Alan-Michael lifted an eyebrow mockingly, “For an outcast you mean?  The true prodigal son returns.”  He looked around and saw all the people who were pretending they weren’t staring at the reunion taking place, “I can see some things never change.  The good people of Springfield probably can’t wait to run me out-of-town.”

“No. I mean for my brother.” Phillip knew this wasn’t going to be easy, a lifetime of resentment was not going to be wiped away in only one day.  But damn if he wasn’t determined to succeed. “Glad you could make it.”

“Got to admit, I was surprised to hear from you.  Last I heard you were dead.  But I would be the last to hear anything in this family.”

Phillip smiled, or at least tried to paste on something that would pass for something close to it. “Guess we have something in common after all.  We have both been lost, and we have both been found.” Phillip turned towards the woman standing silently beside his brother to welcome her to the Spaulding fold and was once again rendered mute.  Now that truly was a surprise!  Not only the woman herself but the ring gracing her finger told him that he found the true reason his brother had returned.  If anyone could get Alan-Michael to open his heart to his family it was this woman.  “It’s good to see you again Lucy.  I see now why brother seems so happy.  I am glad you found your way back to each other.”  And he meant that.  Alan-Michael and Lucy were one of those couples that just belonged.

“It’s nice to see you too Phillip. ” Lucy leaned in to her husband who placed his arm across her shoulder in an automatic gesture of solidarity, “Sometimes you get lost and you’re lucky enough to find your way back.” She paused as if overcome with the enormity of being reunited with the other half of yourself.  Phillip could understand that.  He sometimes found himself pausing to just look at Beth as if to reassure himself that it was real, that they had found their own way back.

Alan-Michael rubbed his wife’s arm as if to soothe away any residual pain of the past.  Calmed by his touch Lucy looked down to her right and Phillip was shocked to see a curly-haired little boy standing shyly against his mother’s leg.  He couldn’t be more than two but he looked so much like the rare pictures of Alan-Michael at that age.

“This is our son Michael. Michael Henry Spaulding.”  She reached into her purse and pulled out an envelope that she quickly passed along to her husband, “I see dad over there.” She boosted little Michael on her hip before quickly kissing her husband, “I am going to go introduce him to little Michael here. And let you and Phillip talk.”

“Lucy you don’t have to do that.  No matter what has happened in the past we’re family.”

“No Phillip, We won’t be family until you two can finally make peace.”

***

Rick stood looking around the others, trying his best to catch a better look at the scene that had everyone so enthralled.  He finally sighed and gave up, “Do you think I should go over there?”

Michelle and Marah both gasped out a horrified, “No!”, with Michelle pulling her brother down to sit beside her at the picnic table. She looked her brother in the eye leaving no doubt she meant business, “This has been going on too long.  They are grown men and they both have a lot to get off their chest.  You going over there would just make things worse.  Let them work it out for themselves.”

Rick almost look affronted by the implication, “He’s my best friend Michelle.”

“And he’s our cousin.  Our family.  And I for one will never forget him reaching out to me after my Mom’s funeral.”  She rubbed his shoulder to soothe the sting of her words.  Rick always tried to solve Phillip’s problems but this was a family matter and didn’t need his input, “Let’s just watch it play out.”

***

“The last time I left town Alan made it look like I was siphoning funds from Spaulding into my private account.” Alan-Michael shook his head before looking at his brother, “I was a complete ass.  I had already lost Lucy.  I was working with Alan to gain control of Spaulding.  And in the process I lost my soul.  After I was forced out-of-town I had nowhere to go, I had burned so many bridges.  My first stop was to see my mother.  I had neglected her for so long and for the first time in years I was able to be a real son to her.  And then there was Lucy. ” Alan-Michael paused and smiled at Phillip as if sharing a secret, “It didn’t take long before I realized that I could live in exile as long as I had her by my side.  The biggest mistake in my life was walking away from our marriage instead of fighting.  And it took some serious groveling and work on my part before she would even give me the time of day.  But enough about me.  Here.” He handed over the envelope that Lucy had passed him moments earlier, “This is a letter from our attorney and necessary documents showing my innocence and that the money has been sitting dormant since Alan transferred the funds.”

Phillip didn’t even glance at the contents.  What was done was done.  It was time for a new era, and that meant moving forward. “I appreciate this Alan-Michael.  Now let me tell you why I asked you to come today.”

“You mean it wasn’t for my stunning personality?”

Phillip laughed, “Sadly no.  I actually wanted to make you a business proposition.”  He looked at all the people who were pretending to not be watching them with avid curiosity and shrugged, “Sure this probably isn’t the best place but you deserve to be here.  Your mother is a Bauer after all.”

Alan-Michael crossed his arms across his chest, “Well by now the good folks of Springfield know who I am and haven’t already gotten out their pitchforks.  So I guess I am safe.  At least for now.”

What Matters Most~ Chapter Three: Part One

The Bauer Bar-B-Que- Where something interesting always happens…

Once again Marah found herself standing outside the Bauer home clutching a bowl of potato salad.  The only difference this year it was her that was filled with nerves instead of Tony. “Are you sure you can’t tell?”

Tony sighed, they had already had this conversation twice since leaving for the bar-b-que, “Marah you look gorgeous as usual.  You can’t even tell you are-”

His speech was halted by her placing a finger against his lips, “Shh!  Just a few more weeks before we tell everyone.  And we’re about to be surrounded by little ears that hear everything.  Remember the hooker boot fiasco? I could call Michelle over here to remind you.”

When she pretended to move towards the noise coming from the backyard Tony reached out a hand and stalled her, “Alright I’ll keep quiet as long as you stop asking if you have a pooch.  The only pooch you have is Toby and he isn’t telling anyone our secret.”

Marah laughed, “Okay stud but remember not to let it slip.  Especially since we are watching the kids while Danny and Michelle go on vacation.  Little ears and all of that.”

Tony stopped and sighed in mock exasperation, “Tell me again why we are watching the kids for a week.  Are you sure you should be taking on that much?”

She knew he was going to be a worrier, it was in his nature.  “How about because Danny is your cousin?  Or that they are our best friends?  Or perhaps it’s because they watched Toby while we were in Hawaii?  And yes for the fifteenth time I will be fine.”

“Okay fine.  But if there is any Barbie playing its with you this time.”

Marah laughed as they continued towards the backyard, “Probably best.  I’m sure Michelle will relax better knowing you aren’t telling her daughter about the latest street-walker footwear Barbie is sporting.”

***

Tony ushered Marah to the picnic table where Michelle currently sat trying to get Robbie and Hope to eat, “Want me to get you something to drink?”

Marah wanted to admonish him for hovering, but managed to reign in the comment.  Hovering beat the hell out of him wasting time worrying about what could happen, “Thanks honey,  anything diet sounds good.”

Tony hesitated, “Are you sure?  Isn’t Aspartame supposed to be dangerous?”

If looks could kill Marah’s glare would have sent him six feet under, “I love you but if you think I’m giving up my occasional diet soda you best forget it.”

“But-”

“But nothing.  I’ve given up alcohol, coffee, and for the forseeable future anything involving fish since it causes me to retch.  If you fight me on this I will make you give up something you like as well.” She slowly moved her eyes downward until she stopped on a particularly favorite part of his anatomy before looking back up and smiling serenely. “If you know what I mean?”

Not like he could miss it!  The look in her eyes almost made him flinch. “You fight dirty Marah Santos.” He looked to Michelle, “Would you like anything Michelle?”

Up until then Michelle had managed to hold in her laughter but with Tony ‘s innocent question she let loose. “You two are too much!  It’s going to be an interesting, not to mention entertaining, seven months.”  She wiped away the tears that had formed at the corner of her eyes, “And just for future reference, diet soda is perfectly safe.  Wouldn’t want you to end up scared for life.  Or walking around with that scared look in your eye.  What would the children think?”

***

After delivering Marah’s drink, and just to be on the safe side he brought an extra one for Michelle, Tony made his way over to where Danny and Ray were watching Rick man the grill.  He walked up and elbowed his cousin, “Not going to show off all your grill practice?”

Danny actually blushed.  “Not likely.  I think I’m actually getting worse.  Though I haven’t charred anything beyond recognition in a while.  Of course now everything seems to be done on the outside and raw in the middle.”

“Are Michelle and you excited about the cruise?”

Danny grinned mischievously, “Seven full days where rubbing suntan oil on my wife is almost a requirement?  Yeah you could say I’m excited.”  He looked at Tony and frowned, “You sure you want to watch the kids?  It’s a lot, especially for newlyweds.”

“Danny enjoy your cruise.  The kids will be in good hands, we’re actually looking forward to it.” Okay that last part wasn’t exactly the whole truth but he figured Danny and Michelle would be better off knowing the kids weren’t going to be a bother.  He loved Danny and Michelle, loved their kids, and would do anything for them.  Besides, how much trouble could they be?  And as far as he could tell those three loved their Uncle Tony and Aunt Marah.

Beside him Ray brough his drink up to his lips. “Talk about jumping into the deep end little brother.” After a healthy swallow he turned to his brother, “I’ll pray for you.  I think you’re going to need it.”

***

Michelle watched Tony join the other Santos men before turning her attention to Marah,”So you’re not even two months in and already you seem ready to clobber Tony.”

“He hovers, a lot.”

Michelle was attempting to clear Hope’s mouth of bar-b-que debris, no easy feat since Hope was literally jumping up and down in her eagerness to join the other children running around. “Get used to it now sister, Santos men make hovering an art form.”  She sent the now clean Hope away with an affectionate pat on her bottom, “Considering how our first two pregnancies went when I was first pregnant with Danielle I couldn’t even go to the bathroom without Danny trailing behind.”

Marah laughed.  She didn’t dare tell Michelle about Tony standing outside the shower the other day ‘just in case in case she slipped’.  Because slipping in the shower was such a normal occurence for her. But it seemed he came by it naturally, bathroom hovering was in the Santos genes, “I hear you loud and clear.  I am hoping that once we get past the two month danger zone he’ll ease up some.”

Michelle smiled patiently at the younger woman, “If he’s like Danny he will ease up somewhat, but he will still worry in silence.  You know how they grew up, and how protective they can be.  It’s enough to drive a person insane, but it’s the only way they can deal with the situation and lack of control.  My advice to you is to look at it as a Santos quirk and bask in the attention.”

“How did you get so wise?”

“You can’t be married to a Santos as long as I have, not to mention carrying three Santos babies, without picking up one or two pointers along the way.” Michelle reached over and laid her hand on Marah’s. “I’m just glad I get to pass this Santos wisdom down to you because Lord knows I went in blind.  Now let’s go get raid the desert table!”

***

The players who had signed up for the egg toss reluctantly took their positions in two straight lines on the patio.  At the front of the rows stood Rick Bauer in all his glory, he resembled an army General getting ready to inspect his troops.  Satisfied the troops were finally assembled he walked slowly down the row passing out the eggs to the teams.  “You know the rules.  Each team gets one egg. You toss the egg to your partner and if he or she catches it you are still in the game.  If either one of you drops the egg you are out.  After a successful catch each team will take a step backwards.  Good Luck and happy tossing!”  He made his way back to the front of the lines, “When I blow this whistle you may toss your egg to your partner.  If you toss it beforehand you are disqualified.  Are you ready?”

Most of the adults there were used to Rick’s dedication to the Annual Bauer games and merely grumbled their acquiescence.

Tony looked at his partner Hope and smiled. “You ready little Santos?”

The little girl nodded enthusiastically.  “I’m ready Uncle Tony.”

Rick sounded the whistle and Tony lightly tossed the egg which the little girl caught in her tiny hands. She held it up proudly, “See! I caught it!” She turned to her right and showed her brother who had caught the egg Danny had tossed to him.  From nearby he heard Marah and Michelle’s cheers for their little Santos clan but he kept his focus on Hope and their egg.   Hopefully he wouldn’t totally embarrass her.

***

Tony stood with Hope on his shoulders while they did a dance of victory over the egg toss.  As Hope pumped her small fists in triumph Tony locked eyes with his wife, whose face was practically glowing watching Tony with the little girl.  Conversation buzzed around him but he didn’t hear a thing, he was too focused on the woman who held his heart.  His intense focus was cut short by Danny’s slap on the back, “Will you two knock it off?  There are kids present.”  Tony laughed as his cousin walked off muttering and threatening to use the hose. Tony couldn’t let him have the final say on that one. “Oh like you and Michelle haven’t given Springfield something to talk about a time or two!”

Danny turned back and grinned. “You kidding?  We still do!”

***

Phillip stood off to the side and checked his watch for the fifteenth time in the last hour.  He hadn’t felt this nervous in years but he knew that it was time.  Time to make things right.  He looked at his watch again.

“If you check that thing again I am going to rip it from your wrist and chuck it into the hot tub.” Rick handed Phillip a beer before pointing his own towards the watch in question, “Got a hot date or something?”

“Or something.” Phillip took a long drink while debating about telling the other man about his secret.  They had been best friends for most of their lives but this had the possibility of blowing up in his face.  Best to keep it to himself and see what the night would bring. “Shame Leah couldn’t make it. But hard to beat the allure of vacationing in Florida.”

“Yeah can’t really blame her there, though I wish she were here.  This is a Bauer tradition and the more Bauer’s the better.”

If Phillip’s plans worked out Rick might just get his wish for an additional Bauer.  He resisted checking his watch again and instead turned his friend towards all the people gathered in the backyard, “Quite a turn out this year.”

“It’s a great tradition, and one that I hope continues even when we are old and grey.”

Phillip laid a hand on Rick’s shoulder, “Hate to break it to you my friend but we’re old and grey now.” He looked at Beth and Mindy fussing over a pregnant, and very tolerant, Lizzie.  Nearby her son Jackson sat on his father’s Bill’s hip hanging on his every word and Phillip smiled, “Hell I’m a grandpa.  But I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  Living away from all this made me realize just how important family is.”

Beside him Rick became instantly alert. “Danny Santos! Step away from the grill!” He turned towards Phillip briefly, “I’ll be back. I have to save the burgers from becoming charcoal.  And look, he has his partner in Bar-B-Que crime with him.  Don’t think I don’t see you Tony!”

Phillip laughed as he watched his friend march across the yard.  No one took grill duties as serious as Rick Bauer.  He watched all the happy families gathered together and he knew he made the right decision.  Which caused him to check his watch just one more time.

So focused on watching the time he never notice the couple approaching until they stood right behind him…

Marony ~ Bauer BBQ 2003

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I was going to upload just the Marony scenes from the Bauer BBQ from 2003 but then decided to upload the entire episodes from July4-9, 2003.  There is a lot going on in Springfield this week, all centered around the annual Bauer BBQ.  Marah and Tony have taken it upon themselves to throw a surprise wedding for Danny and Michelle but as Ed says “Something always happens at the Bauer BBQ” and this year is no exception.

I love the 2003 Bauer BBQ because it is one of the few final happy moments between Marah and Tony before their final break up.

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July 4, 2003 (Part One) : Things are still tense between Josh and Reva. Ed thanks Marah and Tony for forcing him to having the BBQ. Ed hands over the reigns of Grill Master to Ross. Marah and Tony’s Justice of the Peace isn’t blending. Tony and Marah’s behavior makes Reva suspicious. Gus brings Alan to the BBQ. Mel gets called into work. Tony gets the Justice of the Peace to dress as Uncle Sam.

July 4, 2003 (Part Two) : Reva questions Marah to see why she is acting odd, is she pregnant? Marah laughs her mom’s question but Reva remains suspicious.  Alan talks to Beth about Lizzie working at Spaulding. Gus and Rick talk about the case against Ben Reade. Lizzie visits Olivia at the Beacon, Lizzie makes a show of playing nice. Alan and Phillip argue. Reva finds wedding evidence and assumes it’s for Marah and Tony.  Ed gives the speech to kick off the Annual Bauer BBQ!

July 7, 2003 (Part One) : Josh learns that ‘Uncle Sam’ is a Justice of the Peace. Shayne doesn’t want to leave Marina. Ed wonders where Danny and Michelle are. Alan says Phillip is just like him. Jeffery declares his Independence from the Mayor over facial hair. Reva and Josh jump to the same conclusion about Marah and Tony. They decide to go ‘fishing’ for info. Rick organizes the Bauer Games.

July 7, 2003 (Part Two) : Reva has a plan to get information from Marah and Tony, and they aren’t exactly subtle. The egg toss competition begins. Josh suggests they give Marah their blessing which shocks Reva. Beth catches Lizzie calling Ben Reade. Darcy tries to hide her ties to Eden. Marah and Tony set Reva and Josh straight…and learn Danny and Michelle won’t be back for the BBQ.

July 8, 2003 (Part One) : Frank is suspicious of Darcy and Eden. Darcy comes clean to Frank, Eden paid her to hit on him.  Marah keeps trying to reach Michelle on her cell phone. Meanwhile Michelle and Danny are waiting to elope. Michelle and Danny have second thoughts about the quickie wedding. Gus and Eden argue about the case.  Ben crashes the BBQ to talk to Marina.

July 8, 2003 (Part Two) : Darcy tries to explain her actions but Frank doesn’t take the news well. Shayne reacts to Ben showing up, Bill has some words for Ben.  At the chapel Michelle can’t marry Danny that way. Holly feels guilty for Ben. Michelle and Danny arrive at the BBQ where their  surprise wedding can FINALLY begin. They are pronounced man and wife as the fourth of July fireworks begin.

July 9, 2003 (Part One) : Ben watches from the bushes as the Bauer BBQ, and Danny and Michelle’s wedding winds down.  Michelle throws her bouquet, which Marah catches. Tony has a surprise for Danny and Michelle’s first song. Dr. Langham wants Reva to go to Milan with him for a study. Ed tells Danny to make Michelle happy. Tony is upset about Marah’s reaction to his marriage question though he hides it. Holly finds Ben floating in the hot tub.

July 9, 2003 (Part Two) : Holly calls for help for Ben. Marah tries to play mediator for her parents. Seeing Marah’s distress Reva pretends everything is fine. Danny and Michelle enjoy their wedding night. Back at the Bauer’s Ross wants protection for Ben. Tony tells Gus that Eden was with him at the BBQ. Reva and Josh continue to fight. Danny makes Michelle a promise.