Thursday, November 29

A Great British Wedding

WHEN I GOT TO the wedding reception I was so distressed that I had a headache – the reasons, various; I had found blood in my semen, my suit didn’t fit right and the taxi driver didn’t know where he was going – so I ordered two beers and necked them. Then I ordered a shot and another beer. Very soon I forgot about the headache. I said hello to the bride, who was already drunk, and kissed her. I heard clapping and the groom, my friend, was behind me. He was very drunk, too. ‘You look fucking awesome,’ he said. My suit was a joke that only he and I would understand.
‘It’s my dad’s suit. I picked it up by accident.’ I told him.
‘I don’t care. It looks brilliant. Even better.’
We all went to the dancefloor to mingle. The music was loud and so were the people. Everyone was in varying stages of drunkenness.
It had been a strange day because I was driven to my hotel by the boyfriend of a girl who, a year ago, I was infatuated with. Indeed the very thought of him would have been enough to make me sick, but I liked him. Even as she brought her long legs up on to the front seat, and as if they were neverending, which they were, I still could not dislike him for an instant. So I looked out over the estuary, at the very thick high fog that the automobile swum through and the factory chimneys tongued, and saw the frills of the city’s tablecloth. It was all very grey. Then we started to drink and more friends arrived and we laughed and ate and walked in the incessant rain while passing traffic splashed our ankles and we laughed some more.
‘Oi, James Bond, sign this,’ shouted some man at me. I didn’t like him.
‘ I’m not James Bond. I’ll sign it later.’
‘Sign it now.’
I signed it to shut him up. There were many sentimental messages in black marker. I put down some nonsense about football and walked away.
It was good to see everyone. We bought each other drinks, exchanged cigarettes and then enjoyed them outside where it continued to rain and all around us was darkness and the disjointed warm conversations from inside. Some of the friends I had not seen in a long time, so we took each other to the bar and bought shots. The groom’s father turned up. He was stumbling around, then, in preparing his drinks order, threw up all over the bar. Everybody cheered and slapped him on the back. The bar staff groaned, mopping it up. The groom came over and swore at his dad, threw him out the front door and sent him home. Everything resumed. We ordered some more beers and shots in salute to his father.
As midnight approached, a dance-off between the married couple began. They showed their chins, pouted, strutted and cursed their opponent. To the nostalgic whims of garage music, each performed a ridiculous dance move. We all cheered and laughed. They got up off the floor and brushed the spilled drinks off of their clothes. They showed their chins, pouted, strutted and dared their opponent to do better. After each had collapsed on the dancefloor enough times, they called it quits and we all booed and ordered more drinks. As I was getting another round of beers and shots, the man who had ordered me to sign a canvas for the bride and groom was shouting at his wife. He was using every word under the sun, berating her, calling her a cunt, pointing his finger and stomping his feet as his belly spilled from underneath his hired shirt. She, in a small purple open-back dress and tender as anything, started to cry at the bar and said to anyone who was listening – ‘Oh, that’s my husband!’ Then I realised I had run out of money, so I hurried off to look for a sponsor.
The groom kept coming up to me, kissing me on the cheek and exclaiming – ‘You’re a cunt, but I love you.’
‘Cheers, man. I love you, too.’ And I kissed him because it was a good thing to do and I was in the mood for it.
Five minutes later we would dance and he would say it again – ‘You cunt! I love you!’ So we danced and fell around and spilled our drinks.
In the morning I could not remember how I got back to the hotel but, as luck would have it, had got out of paying for the taxi. I waited outside for my travelling partners to gather themselves. I waited outside because, though the wind was numbingly cold, the day was bright and the temperature was cooling me down, preventing me from throwing up. I spat thick white phlegm into drains around the carpark. After forty-five minutes they emerged and, with the heating in the car turned up, we drove back, all of us sat in silence, drifting in and out of sleep, the sun warming our cheeks on its name day.

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