After writing “Wedding” I was thinking a bit about the other weddings I’ve been to — there’s a story or two in the ones that I ‘just’ attended. Like the time I ruined my sister’s wedding. Like the other time I ruined my sister’s wedding. Like the time I more-or-less called the bride’s great aunt Nellie an old bat. Like the time when… but you get the idea.
Some years back an old high school friend contacted me out of the blue to tell me that he was getting remarried and would I come? Apparently, I was the only high school friend he could find (the joys of having an uncommon name) that was geographically…suitable. (That means “close enough to come.”)
I don’t actually know that, of course. I’m just assuming. I mean, would you want me at your wedding?
Whatever his reasons may have been, I hadn’t seen him for years so I did want to catch up a bit and, as previously implied, it wasn’t that far away and I had a new car (well, not new, but new to me). (The old one hadn’t given up the ghost, exactly, but the increasing number of failures had reached the point where something had to be done. The largely missing floor? Nothing that plywood and a couple of ‘No Parking’ signs couldn’t fix. The not-really-attached-to-the-car front bench seat? Inconvenient, but some steel cable and 2x4s were enough to keep it mostly in place. The hole in the gas tank? Just don’t fill it up. The non-opening driver’s door? Use the passenger door or, for bonus marks, pretend you’re driving the General Lee. But the radiator? I’ve mentioned in passing that there was a leak there; with prodigious amounts of water carried in the car it was fine but with winter coming… Something had to be done. So I replaced a North American monstermobile with 300-odd horsepower with a vomit-coloured rice burner with around 60. The Gutless Wonder was almost certainly a better car, was definitely newer but with less… character. (The working heater was nice, though.)
But I digress.
Because the wedding wasn’t that far away (Montreal area, three hours or so) and I had reliable transportation, off I went.
I hadn’t, of course, thought it through. I knew no one that was going. (Remember what I assumed earlier?) It was a room full of strangers. (Well, not entirely — I knew one person. But, as you might imagine, he kind of had his plate pretty full for the day — not much time to chat.
I am not good in environments where I don’t know anyone. (Like that party I went to in a bathrobe – but that’s another story.) I just sit in a corner and try not to be maudlin. (Well, maybe a little. Just not to excess.) One thing did kind of liven things up, though — the second-best wedding speech I’ve ever heard. It was the toast to the bride, as given by her brother. It went on, as these things tend to do, but one part stands out in my memory. I’ll try to do it justice.
There are various misconceptions about my sister. For example, some people think she’s bossy. She’s not bossy. It’s just that she was born with a rare and wondrous gift. She knows what’s best for you. And if you had that gift, wouldn’t you want to share it?
If looks could kill, he would have been nothing but a pair of smoking patent-leather shoes.
Unlike most weddings that I’ve been to, this one had three different venues — the church (where I got to feel out of place because it was all about God and stuff (no pagan ceremonies on a rock this time)), a restaurant thingy (where I got to feel out of place because I tried to make scintillating dinner (actually late lunch, if I recall correctly) conversation with complete strangers and failed utterly and completely: “What do you do for a living?” “Well, I’m an astrophysicist who, in an attempt to become less of a social pariah, branched out into IT.” Uncomfortable silence ensues.) and someone’s house (where I got to feel out of place because I was flashing back to every uncomfortable house party I’d ever been to). Despite my documented navigational inadequacies, I managed to find it.
I don’t remember much about the house except that it was nice and had a deck. Like many (most?) decks it was elevated a few feet off the ground, with one edge being anchored against the wall of the house. The expected things happened, until we were ordered onto the deck for the hurling of the foliage. I, of course, tried to remain inconspicuous and cowered against the wall where hopefully no one would pay attention to me.
The moment lasted and lasted until, with a long drawn-out splintering sound, the deck collapsed.
Only at one edge, though — the edge along the wall of the house. This meant that I fell three or four feet straight down at which point everyone “above” me started falling toward me. The closest person was a woman, somewhat older than me, shorter, a little plump and, um, buxom. But I didn’t have time to absorb all that — all I knew is that someone was falling toward me; reflexively I threw up my hands to fend her off/break her fall/catch her/whatever. It’s a logical reflex. Unfortunately — how do I put this delicately — she fell onto my hands, um, mammaries first.
She looked surprised. Her husband looked, well, let’s just say that I don’t remember ‘surprised’ as being the first word to enter my head.
And that’s how I went from being “the quiet guy in the corner” to “the creepy stranger that groped nice Mrs. Smith.”