Bora Bora – Frederick G. Guggenheim


When Georgette saw us walking down the hallway towards her, she started impromptu dancing, right beside her concierge desk. She did a few shimmies, the slinky kind, with arms supplely simulating waves, and she started to play with her pretend orchid lei. 

Georgette is in her early thirties, tanned with sandy blond hair to her shoulders. Most notable, her mischievous smile and her twinkly blue eyes. She had on a beige dress, comfortable enough to wear around the house but formal enough to wear to the theatre of an evening. Below her left shoulder, she was wearing the all-important pin with her name and “Concierge” written on it, for those that need a prompt to figure out who she is and what she does.

As we approached she seemed just about ready to burst, “I’m just back from Hawaii. Our hotel was right on the beach.” Her voice resonated glee. “What beaches! The water was so clear. Justin and I went snorkeling by a reef right off our room.  That was incredible. Snorkel masks have improved so much. You don’t have to blow out the water when you dive down. My husband and I saw so much, and we had such a good time at the non-wedding.”

I’d heard before about couples that decided that an affair was too good a thing to burden with all the assumptions coupled to married life. I’d even read David Sedaris’s charming story about his non-marriage in the New Yorker (“A Modest Proposal,” September 21, 2015). But I had never found out anything before about a non-wedding. 

Here’s how you have a non-wedding. Georgette was having such a good time telling us about it, she really couldn’t stop. “My best friend Nancy’s fiancé, John, cancelled their wedding four weeks ago. But the hotel rooms, air fare, catering, music, even the base layer of the wedding cake were all paid for in advance and couldn’t be recouped. So, Nancy’s parents, Nancy, plus my husband, Justin, and me, we all went to Hawaii for the non-wedding, to celebrate life. And we did. We all had such a good time,” laughed Georgette. 

 “Nancy and the rest of our wedding party attended the rehearsal dinner, the pre-nuptial brunch the next day, even the non-wedding in our hotel’s function room.  A Willie Nelson impersonator provided the music.  Nancy did pass up the bridal reception, saying ‘Enough is enough.’”

“But there was one complication,” continued Georgette. “Nancy had two pre-paid tickets for Bora Bora.  During the rehearsal dinner, she asked me to go with her to Bora Bora for two weeks. For free.  

“Right away, that is, later that evening in our hotel room, I told my husband about the offer. But I told him I felt I was needed back at work. I mean, I just couldn’t, all of a sudden, call in sick. Then Justin says, ‘Maybe she should have asked me!’”

Georgette continued, “So I looked Justin square in the eye and said, if you really had done that, the boy-girl-just-friends-thing and all that, do you think you could still have a marriage?  Think again!”

About the contributor:  Dr. Guggenheim is a retired physician, now living in a senior independent living facility. Previously he has been the President of the American Association of Chairs of Departments of Psychiatry and a Clinical Professor at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University. Currently he is a Professor of Psychiatry and Chair Emeritus at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and an Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. He has published numerous medical articles and written or edited medical books. He has just begun submitting non-medical material, with a poem recently published in Pharos and two short essays in The Local Train Magazine.


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