Four of them.
No funeral, though. And no Hugh Grant analogue, either.
Like ‘many’ other people, over the years I’ve been asked to be in wedding parties from time to time. Four times, even. In my case, this has meant best man.
Which is a stupid name, really. The ‘best’ part, I mean. It implies… things. It suggests values. What it really means, though, is that you’re not busy that weekend and you have (or will rent) an outfit with at least one (1) pocket. Not much of a justification for the adjective ‘best’, really.
The first wedding where I was ‘best’ was mentioned briefly in ‘Peeing again‘, a wedding in the Kitchener-Waterloo area on a steaming hot summer day.
The first thing to go wrong was the pocket rental — the store that rented it didn’t actually… deliver: “So sorry, despite the fact that you gave months and months notice, it isn’t ready.” “But I have to leave town! I have a cucurbita to drive to Hamilton and a rehearsal thingy to get to!” And my alterations were rather less challenging than the groom’s — after all, he was a rugby player and they typically don’t have necks. Me? Just a slightly overfed nerd. But let’s face it — he held the cards. Or at least the outfit.
Which meant… off to Hamilton and Guelph without my coachman’s outfit. I probably should have called ahead with the news but I figured it would only stress the groom out. There was nothing he could do. And they did promise to get it there in time. This time for sure.
So we hit the road with the already-mentioned….interlude by the side of the 401. With photos. Hopefully those photos have been lost in time.
I should be so lucky.
At the site of the wedding I was Evaluated by various family members including the sister that smiled all the time (scary) and the dad (“Can he be trusted?”) (Of course I can be trusted — I couldn’t exactly bring a locking gas cap without knowing the make and model of the getaway car.) and before you know it, it was The Day. When I had to learn about studs (and what’s the deal with those, anyway?), ascots (hence the ‘coachman’ reference above), why I should have brought a better anti-perspirant (hot day) and why it doesn’t rain at weddings (the minister told me. At length. He had multiple decades of experience.). I also met the maid of honor that I was supposed to do wedding-reception stuff with. (We took an instant dislike to each other. Uncanny.)
I also had that reaction with the photographer. He was rather less annoying when threatened with violence. (He kept adjusting my glasses. I made my feelings…known.)
(Photographers at such events are often outgoing and extroverted. I hate extroverts. I will return to this theme.)
The evening finished with me giving the happy couple a ride to their getaway vehicle. In the dark. In an unfamiliar city. Without a map.
I got lost on the way back.
The second wedding was rather less eventful — no photos of your narrator in compromising positions, no near-brawls, no hissing at the maid of honor. One of the themes did continue, however — it was another hot day. Unlike the first one, however, the reception was in a room where the ventilation was essentially symbolic. On the plus side, I didn’t look like a coachman. On the downside, certain members of the wedding family voiced….reservations about a “best man” with hair longer than the bride. In a possibly interesting footnote, some of the guests were hitting on some of the other guests. And I was suspected of drilling holes in the marriage glassware.
Number three I’ve mentioned in passing elsewhere — that’s when I tried to wear white socks with a tuxedo. Unfortunately for my cunning plan, the groom out-cunninged me. (After dressing, he looked me up and down and went “Pull up your pants. Let me see your socks.” It’s almost as if he didn’t trust me or something.) After a minor wardrobe alteration it was off to the ceremony which took place in this smallish sort of chapel thingy with big windows (with ledges which were, in an artistic decision, covered in candles) and a highly waxed and polished hardwood floor. The rented outfits came with shoes with smooth leather soles. Combine those with the waxed floors, remember that I am a maladroit and you can imagine the rest. Fortunately, as far as I know, the Moment wasn’t captured on film (pre digital cameras).
But the photographer captured virtually everything else. Because he was roaring around doing photographer stuff — fortunately, he didn’t try to adjust anything of mine so I didn’t have to take a poke at him. But…
I think I’ve mentioned that I have certain…character flaws. One of them is here. It’s one of my favourite words. I like it so much I’ve tried to teach it to several of my friends’ children, but I’ve found that most two year olds can’t pronounce it. They’re usually able to handle ‘doom’, though. Heck, one of them even calls me “unca doom.” But I was talking about the photographer.
He was dancing around, trying to capture every Moment of the wedding. At one point he was backing up, his camera glued to his eye. He backed up, crouched down, backed up a bit more, crouched down a bit more and….
sat on a lit candle.
I could have warned him, I suppose. But I had already disrupted things enough. Better to let someone else draw the attention.
There are other memories of that day, but to my mind few compare with the image of the photographer sitting on the candle. Not even me doing a pratfall onto my ample fundament (sounds nicer than “fat ass”). The bride and groom, of course, may have a different opinion. I haven’t asked them.
Which brings me to #4; this is/was the most recent of the four. One of the principals is someone (TV) that I’ve spoken of before. He married a lovely and talented young lady (let’s call her Little Missy) on a fine (if somewhat chilly) December day. (Their anniversary was last weekend which is probably one of the reasons I was thinking about this whole subject in the first place.)
Everything about their wedding — well, almost — was not-entirely-traditional. First of all, there was the budget — as I understand it, the entire budget was about $200. (Canadian dollars, hence small and maybe a little passive-aggressive.) From what I know about weddings, that’s… unusually small. I’ve spent more on a video game.
Also unusual was the fact that white socks were permitted. As was denim. Blue jeans, even. And long underwear (though I don’t remember anyone checking). And parkas. Because when I said “December day” I failed to mention that it was outdoors. On a rock. (Sandstone, I think, but I’m no geologist. Heck, when I was an academic, I didn’t deal in anything smaller than a galaxy.) It was a rock beside a lake. Nice rock. Nice lake, for that matter.
The minister was wildly overdressed, of course — he was probably the only person to wear a necktie, for example. He kept things short (it was, after all, outdoors in December in Canada) and mercifully God-free. My duties — commensurate with the abilities I’ve demonstrated over the years — were kept light, limited mostly to “Sign here, then there. Initial there.” And then it was off to the only part of the whole thing that was traditional, lunch. Stuffed salmon.
I’ve never really understood why stuffed salmon is traditional, but the person involved in organizing lunch assured me that it was and that’s good enough for me. It’s been a while but I recall that it was yummy. Maybe if it’s not traditional it ought to be.
Soon after that, TV and LM moved to someplace… warmer at which point it was discovered that there were…discrepancies in their wedding paperwork.
Probably my fault. Clearly someone overestimated my abilities.