[Warning: adult(ish) content.]
I was twenty-eight years old, and one of six guys in the groom’s party at a friend’s wedding: we were to wear black tuxedos with pink cummerbunds. I was paired off with a bridesmaid who had long wavy brown hair, deep red lipstick, and who would be wearing the obligatory pink bridesmaid dress.
I had met her the night before at the rehearsal, and sat next to her at the rehearsal dinner, where we spent some time chatting, mostly about the bride and groom. Late in the dinner, she casually asked me if I was single… I said yes… I asked her the same question… she said she would be as of tomorrow, the wedding day, as her divorce was final then. Without really thinking about it, I asked her for the first open dance the next night. She said sure.
The church where the wedding was to be held was way out in the country, more or less in the middle of a wheat field. We had to stand outside for pictures, which were taken prior to the ceremony. I honestly felt like a scarecrow standing in a field like that.
I noticed, though, that she (my assigned bridesmaid) really took to getting her picture taken — and she looked good doing it.
I also had the impression the bridal party might have gotten an early start on the champagne.
I typically love weddings where I don’t have to be the one providing music: I actually get to watch. When the bride came in, she looked radiant, and the groom looked completely love struck. I remember glancing across the way at the bridesmaids; all of them were looking back and forth from the bride to the groom, some with tears in their eyes — except for my bridesmaid, who was looking squarely at me. She smiled when she saw me looking back, then turned to watch the bride, her eyes shining.
The reception was about ten miles away. When the bride and groom arrived, we began the usual festivities. First open dance, my bridesmaid and I danced, and the next dance, and the next two. We went back to the table holding hands. Several other of the bridal party were watching with interest. The rest of the groom’s party was at the bar, as I recall. There was food; there were toasts and speeches; and champagne was flowing freely. The bridesmaid and I danced again and drank again, back and forth, for several hours, and, well into the reception, when some slower dances came on, there wasn’t any doubt any more that she and I were ‘together’.
When we got back to the table, she told me she wanted to talk to me outside “for a minute”. I was fine with that. We took our champagne with us, and two glasses.
And went to my car.
And, umm… experienced each other’s bodies fully.
And were noticed.
And then went back in and tried to play it off.
I don’t exactly know who it was that saw us – given the way that car was made, it would have been virtually impossible, to really see us – but everyone there seemed to know what had happened. Particularly the bride, who was looking daggers at her rather unconcerned friend, the one with the long messed-up brown hair.
The groom caught up to me a few minutes later in the bathroom.
“Man — Elise is PISSED.”
“You and Redacted. Everyone knows what you two were doing out there.”
I looked at my watch. “Yeah, what you and Elise should be doing, by now. Do you know how long it has been for me? It’s been, like, years.”
“Dude, I don’t care what you were doing. I know Redacted’s ex, and he’s the world’s biggest prick. It’s nice to see you two having fun.”
“Then what’s Elise’s problem?”
“This is her night, nothing is supposed to detract from her.”
“Should I apologize?”
“Nah, just take Redacted and go. It would have been better if you two hadn’t come back in.”
I went back in and quietly suggested to my bridesmaid that we should go. “I’m not ready to go yet.”
“I think we’ve caused quite a commotion.”
“Good. I have to be sure enough people know that they tell my ex.”
“I am pretty sure everyone here knows, and the news is way the hell across town.”
“Alright, we can go, then, ” she said breezily, if unsteadily.
We were going to go back to my place, but I ended up taking her directly to her house because the champagne caught up to her in the car and she started to feel sick. She asked if I wanted to come in, but I honestly didn’t. I told her I’d call the next day to see how she was doing.
When I called her late the next afternoon, she sounded like she’d swallowed an entire bottle of remorse.
“Ugh. I’m so embarrassed about last night. Aren’t you?” she asked.
I wasn’t, but I thought it only polite to say, “We’d both had a lot to drink.”
“Too much,” she said, wearily. “Well, sorry about that. I appreciate you calling to check on me. I’ll be fine.”
And that was that.
Unbeknownst to me, my eventual first wife was at that wedding, and that wedding reception. We did not know each other at the time.
Three years later, we were planning our own wedding and realized that both she and I had been there.
“Oh, I remember that wedding!” she said, “One of the wedding party couples were, like, gettin’ busy in one of the limos during the reception. Do you remember that?”
“It wasn’t a limo, it was my car.”
“You let them use your car?”
“Well, I didn’t want them using the bathroom,” I said.
“I guess that’s right,” she said, turning back to the invitation list.
For Nano Poblano this year, I’m trying a prose post a day instead of my usual work in poetry. Thanks for reading. – S.B.