I attended the wedding reception of a friend two weeks ago. It was a very colorful and festive affair. I must admit I was highly impressed at everything I saw. It was something like a societal ball for the high and mighty and the rich and famous. There was an even sprinkling of a few celebrities, ranging from the business moguls, fashion icons, public officials to professional career men and women. It was complete with a red carpet to herald the guest entry.
To the unknown passerby, this occasion could easily have been mistaken for a celebrity fashion show. Stunning and outrageous outfits were on full display here to add to the pomp and pageantry of the affair. The invited guests used the opportunity to display eccentric tastes in fashion and style and they did so ostentatiously. On entering the venue of the reception (the only part of weddings I normally attend, save in rare cases), I was again taken aback by the great architecture of the twelve storied hotel. It was simply breath-taking. It had two great and masterfully crafted beams holding the entrance to the building. An a escalator rode people up to the great gold doors covered with murals of angels. The walls were clothed in unique marble. Gold and diamond shone from the expensive chandelier that hung upward. There was a great water fountain at the middle of the spacious car park with an amazing sculpture of an angel, presumably the Archangel Michael from whose mouth water gushed rhythmically. Guests flocked around the fountain to take snapshots of themselves in front. It was a marvelous hotel. I tried to make a mental calculation of how much this would cost for one honest and hard working man to build and I decided not to bother as my brief mental estimation led me to “error” as usually displayed in calculators when values exceeding its limits were put in for a solution.
The car park was a sight to behold. It was like a car show. All assortments of choice cars ranging from American, to German, to Italian, to Japanese were neatly assembled. It was a smorgasbord of automobiles from every corner of the earth and my brain kept blinking “error” each time I tried to make mental calculus of the cost of all cars combined. The families of the bride and groom were obviously well-to-do and well known in high society and with them came their rich friends.
There was a brief commotion behind me and several gasps of approval as the newly wedded couple arrived the scene. When I turned to have a look I was astounded. A white stretch SUV Limo stood in the drive way. I nodded in admiration as the bride stepped out of the carriage looking like a modern day Cinderella, all smiles. Her wedding gown was exquisitely fashioned and flowed greatly. Her bridal train consisting of six beautiful ladies accompanied her as they came down from the long vehicle. Then came the grooms men, looking smart in their well-cut grey tuxedos. My colleague, the groom came out last. His all white outfit elicited approval from everyone; from the white and obviously expensive brogue shoes, up to his expensive white suit. Unlike his bride however, his facial expression was bland with no smiles. For a second I wondered why. Its your wedding man, be happy but then I checked myself. The groom is usually never the happy one as his mental state during weddings is all about figures and costs. However, I was soon to discover that was not the case.
Around me, out came the gadgets! The i-Phones, the i-Pads, the Galaxies and what have you to take shots of the couple alighting from their royal carriage. My digital camera hung on my neck and I took a couple of snap shots to keep these moments alive. It was going to be an interesting wedding.
After the dance of the couple to their specially reserved seat (a dance which I observed the groom “moved” rather stiffly to the tune of Today Today by Eldee), we sat down in a royally-furnished hall. Bright lights blinked everywhere. The interior decor was top-notch. The smartly uniformed waiters gave us our first sip of Champagne for the day with the promise of more to come. Hmmm…my colleague really went out on a limb on this one. The atmosphere was charged naturally with excitement as there was plenty to eat and drink. The hundred or so guests settled down expectantly while the reception formalities went on. Orders were taken, food and drinks were served. The MC went on and on with his insufferably boring jokes and tales and I was amazed when people laughed long and hard. I must have lost my sense of humor, I thought. The hall buzzed with the small talk that accompanied these kind of meals. I sat with two paired guests who wouldn’t stop yapping about the food.
I concentrated my attention on the groom who appeared to start drinking a bit early for my taste. The expression of joy on his brides face had wilted considerably as she issued silent pleas to him. I had a very strong sense of foreboding. Something was definitely not right. A waiter stood efficiently at his side and ensured his glass was never empty.
The reception proceeded successfully as the usual formalities went on and the numerous guests had their fill of food and wine. Then came the time came for a toast to the bride and the groom. From then on, things spiraled out of control! The best man stood up and took a glass of Champagne and the microphone to give his most likely properly rehearsed speech when the groom stood, albeit shakily.
“That’s enough Fred. I think I can handle my toast just fine.” He said, his words slurring. He stood unsteadily and grabbed the microphone. This was strange. His speech time hadn’t come yet!
Fred was surprised. So was everybody and the hall went silent for about ten seconds as everybody wondered what was going on. The silence was loud and felt like forever. The clatter of plates with forks, knives and spoons stopped as did the popping of bottles, clink of glasses and even the occasional interference on the PA system. If a pin had dropped at that instant, it would have been deafening. The MC, in an attempt to quell this unplanned intrusion to an already perfect schedule walked towards the high table where the bewildered bride was seated alone but was stopped halfway.
“Mr MC! Have a seat. I’m taking over from here. Fred, have a seat please.” The groom said calmly now, very much in control. He strolled back to his position, next to his bride.
His bride held his hands anxiously in a bid to coax him to calmness when he shrugged her off roughly. Fred slowly sat down wondering what was up. I’d met Fred a couple of times in a couple of our heavy friday night outing sessions in the past. A loud mouth and an irritant when the booze was in. Didn’t fancy him much.
“I want to thank you all for coming to my wedding, the groom continued. It has been a day I have looked forward to for as long as I can remember; after I met this stunningly beautiful woman and asked her to marry me.”
Mixed feelings. My gaze shifted to the bride. Beautiful and perplexed. The murmurs continued in the hall.
“We dated for three years. THREE WHOLE YEARS…before I mustered the courage to ask her to marry me. And she said yes.” He said, looking at her.
“In those three years, I remained chaste, faithful, respectful and committed to no one but her. All I wanted in return was what I gave. I wanted her to reciprocate my love…” His voice broke.
The tension in the hall was palpable. The bride was shocked beyond words. She stood up and held his hands. We could hear snatches from the microphone.
“….honey….is the problem? ….is the matter? …you drunk?”
“Sit down, woman! He yelled. You are the problem! And I’m not drunk. I’m just heartbroken.”
The brides father rose in anger and so did many other family members on the side of bride. This was an insult.
“How dare you?! He shouted, red with rage. How dare you insult my daughter! I always suspected you were a worthless man!!” He raged on. So did the wife. Others followed suit. It was pandemonium. I watched on in shocked silence.
On the grooms side, there was shock and silence. The close cousin to the groom who was also one the grooms men quickly walked towards the groom with Fred meekly following. There was a heated argument between groom and cousin and as Fred joined the fray, the groom, who held a half-empty glass of wine, poured the contents on Fred’s face before anybody could react! The hall ignited in screams and shrieks of shock and excitement. A lot of guests got on their feet. Once again, the i-Phones, the i-Pads, the Galaxies came out to video this unexpected scene.
“That guy, he said, pointing to Fred, is my best friend…my best man! The kind that will smile in your face and stab you when you turn your back.”
At this, the bride gave a loud wail and fainted.
“Aah. He mocked, she’s finally gotten the picture.”
Family members rushed to her aid and tried to resuscitate her. By this time, speculations filled the air. The hall was abuzz with movement as guests surged forward towards the stage of the action. It was nearly a stampede as nobody wanted to miss out on this unexpected drama. The father of the bride, in a bid to avert what was fast turning into a horrible situation, in a loud voice requested everyone to leave the hall; that there were some family issues to sort out and of course, he was ignored.
“Don’t leave. All the food and drink I paid for are for your enjoyment. I have a nice story to tell about what transpired last night.” He loosened his tie and took off his jacket. He was sweating profusely now despite the low temperature in the hall due to the large split unit air conditioners that were on at full blast.
The bride came to and after a brief conversation with the family that surrounded her, she rushed to her husband’s feet, tugging and begging. He seemed to consider for a few seconds before he strode away. She held on to his trousers as he struggled to move.
“Leave me alone woman. Or would you rather tell the story?” He asked.
“Honey please! She screamed, with tears in her eyes. Don’t do this to us! I love you. It was a mistake. It’ll never happen again!”
In the ensuing commotion, I noticed Fred gradually retrace his steps to the nearest exit to flee the scene. I swung into action and intercepted him firmly.
“Going somewhere?” I asked menacingly, enjoying myself immensely.
He backed away in terror. I was six feet tall and muscular. He knew he stood no chance against me.
“Please, don’t allow that Judas leave. He must feel the indignation of my guests for what he did.”
I replied with a quick nod. The full attention of about a hundred or so eyes faced him. I felt the energy of condemnation in their stare as I stood right behind him. He was as guilty as sin and suddenly I pitied him. Seeing no way out, Fred went down on both knees, his head down and said, “Perry, just kill me now and be done with it. I don’t deserve mercy.”
The murmur of the crowd arose and fiery insults were hurled at Fred. For a moment, I feared for his safety.
Perry replied with contempt, “I’m no murderer. I just want to expose you for the false friend you are.”
To the crowd of guests who looked on anxiously, he said, pointing to Fred, “This friend whom I chose as my best man; a childhood friend, the brother I never had has been sleeping with this woman behind my back!” He pointed to his wife on the floor by his feet, wailing in her beautiful white wedding dress, her make-up ruined. It was a horrible sight. My heart ached as I saw the life of this beautiful woman go up in flames on what was supposed to be her happiest day. All for a moment of stolen passion, a moment of indiscretion.
Exclamations and loud murmurs took over. Suddenly, I felt complicit in this show of shame and I regretted it deeply. The bride’s father put his hands on his head in shame as his wife shook with tears by his side. Others shook their heads in disbelief. The evils that spewed from the mouth of some of these beautifully dressed guests was unimaginable. I left my guard post behind Fred for fear that the invectives would affect me and my unborn kids.
Perry continued his narrative of the events that transpired the previous night. How he found them humping the life out of each other in his sitting room floor when he stole out of his bachelor eve party in search of Fred who was to have arrived back at the party with the drinks he was sent to fetch. I felt sick to my stomach at the sordid details that spewed from Perry who was now fully under the influence of alcohol. The electronic coverage of this nightmare continued with the numerous gadgets. In a few minutes, It would be all over YOUTUBE, facebook and twitter. I tried to imagine a caption for what I’d just witnessed but my wit failed me. A few people had begun to leave already. I took a cue from them and agreed it was time for me to leave too. I grabbed an unopened bottle of Hennesey and strolled to my car outside the magnificent building. I’ll have to drink myself silly and hope to forget this traumatizing experience…this nightmare. But I had to ask myself, was it really worth all the trouble? Why didn’t Perry call off the wedding? Why embarrass his wife and her family and even himself in this way?
Some people just can’t handle heart break, can they?
Follow Malcolm on twitter @saymalcolm