On Saturday two of my best friends were married after nearly ten years of coupledom. Is that a lot? Ten years? I’m not sure; my four other close college friends have all been with their girlfriends for at least eight years now. So I’m wondering if this marriage will set those balls rolling, despite the anti-marriage chorus (from the guys, not the girls of course).
It was only the third marriage I’ve attended and the first of any of my good friends. The vicar was wacky, wearing a suit and tie with a buttonhole of three small tomatoes which allowed him an overly extended metaphor concerning tomatoes and marriage. Despite this it was strange seeing my two friends being so serious. These were the people I sat with laughing at The Wonder Years and Blackadder way back when. The groom and I had turns helping the other home across Bristol after messy nights out. We went camping, played marathon Sega soccer tournaments, bitched about flatmates and shared late pre-college-deadline nights constructing elaborate devices out of cardboard. And here they were dressed up in silly clothes, in a church, talking about lifelong commitment with a couple of hundred overdressed people watching them.
None of my friends feel like we’ve grown up, despite brushing 30, but it seems to be happening without any effort on our parts. The others all have houses, they’ve been together longer than many married couples, but heaven forfend we should be serious about something serious. Yet here were our young and beautiful friends being grown up.
Thankfully we were able to forget such things at the reception, held in a grand marquee in the grand garden of the bride’s grand family’s grand house. The entertainment was never-ending barn dancing, although the music sounded more celtic than country and western. Naturally, I’m above such ridiulous and inauthentic behaviour, especially as I don’t drink. My superiority lasted a couple of hours, slightly more than my increasingly drunk friends until, accepting that I’d enjoy it, gave it a whirl. And it was fun. And I was as good as someone who never dances could ever be. I was wearing my new and only suit which by now seemed like the only kind of clothing anyone should ever wear. I looked cool. I danced in my new Camper shoes. I was sober enough to remember the sequence of steps. I smiled, I laughed, I swung my partner by the hand. I was mature, intelligent and yet I could have fun. Look at me having fun! How could anyone resist me as I strode purposefully to and from the dancefloor, a head above the drunken crowds? How could I be the only single guy among all these friends and familiar faces?
Back when we were young, before we owned houses and had real jobs, the end of a do like this would be predictable. The older relatives would begin to disappear first, then the friends that weren’t so close to the bride and groom. Eventually, the only people left, crowded around the tray of quartered sandwiches, would be us bright young things. Maybe not as bright as we were a few hours previously, but our youth and hope and endless futures would shine through despite the glazed eyes, creased shirts and aching feet. We would be the last left standing. We’d have made the most of the free drink and would have alternated between vigorous, ironic dancing and standing in the corner laughing, joking, being sarcastic. We’d be ending another day of showing the world what it meant to be young and carefree.
Thankfully, that’s exactly how the evening did end which was a great relief.