I hold my empty red wine glass, eyeing the waiter, feigning interest in the enthusiastic young man standing in front of me. He speaks without ceasing. Not a pause. Not a comma. Not an intake of breath. Just a wall of words emanating from his overly large mouth, a chasm devoid of charm, a wellspring of nothing, a gaping maw. I’m trying to follow him, but he seems to be talking about everything and nothing—all at the same time. But this I do know. Every word, every phrase, and every clause he has relentlessly launched at me in the past ten minutes has been without wit or insight or interest. I look for an opportunity to excuse myself, to disappear, to cease to exist. At this juncture, he is as unavoidable as my attending this wedding.
“Water,” I finally say, breaking into his dramatic monologue, some story he’s been unspooling in gushes and spurts. Something about whitewater rafting or aqua jogging. In truth, I haven’t been listening to him, wanting instead to liquify and dribble across the floor, like the wine I spilled a half hour ago. I don’t think anyone notices, but I’m inebriated and cannot be entirely sure. Regardless, I am thirsty and I have imbibed too much. I need água. Eau. Aqua pura. I need a glass of water. I abruptly excuse myself, flowing past him in an ugly taffeta bridesmaid’s dress, rustling through the thick crowd of well wishers. I desperately need . . .
Air. Freed from that claustrophobic conversation, I decide what I really need is fresh air. The hotel ballroom is expansive, full of family and friends, festively laughing, dancing, singing. I overhear a snippet of conversation—an older woman airs her grievances about the chicken, which, indeed, was dry, as expected. I look back to ensure that exhausting man isn’t following me, to finish
our his conversation that has no end. I quickly locate the door to the balcony, where the denizens of the wedding party gather. The smokers. The introverts. The ones who don’t put on airs.
You. You are firing up a cigar, a filthy thing. You cough and sputter while the other groomsmen laugh at you, your lungs not used to something that acrid. We’ve met before—the engagement party, the rehearsal dinner, the wedding party’s luncheon. Your eyes smolder, as you see me standing in front of you, wobbly from too many glasses of wine at a dry chicken dinner that lasted far too long. I should have left earlier. I had planned on it, but something kept me here—and here you are. We look at each other, cupid firing quivers of arrows into our hearts and other organs. My face flushes with heat from the wine or from your depthless brown eyes, the color of . . . the color of . . .
Earth. You leave your band of brothers and come over to be with me, arms folded on the balcony, looking over the dark expanse. You stand right next to me. We are comfortable in our silence, our presence grounding one other, the touch of our shoulders side by side seems unworldly. Why would I be anywhere else on earth than right here with you? That was the longest wedding I’ve ever sat through, he confesses. The priest could have shortened the nuptial blessing by just reading the entire Bible, I reply. We banter like we’ve grown up together. How is it we have inside jokes already? The minutes we talk together feel like decades, as time stretches and warps. I’ve known you for seconds. I’ve known you forever. At one point I pull back to really look at you. Why do you seem so familiar to me? I wonder if you are as gobsmacked as I am. You cannot finish a coherent thought and it makes me laugh. Like me, I think you are on . . .
Fire. The little blonde storming through the double doors leading to our rencontre des amoureux looks like she’s spitting fire with lightning bolts flashing from her eyes. She’s been looking for you. Oh mon Dieu, cherchez la femme! I must be drunk because my high school French is coming back to me with perfect clarity. Your little friend calls me a name which I don’t process because I don’t care to, happily standing next to you on a lovely April night. I put an arm around you possessively. She calls me a few other choice names. I nod, because they are actually quite clever and fairly accurate. Suddenly, you are animated and fired up as she, unpacking emotional baggage and making a bonfire of pent up shit right before my very eyes. This is indelicate, but I love it. This is high drama. Especially when she launches a verbal tirade against me—pauvre petit moi—expecting me to defend your outrageous flirtations. Did she think I was some sort of . . .
Airhead? Some feckless trollop trolling the low hanging fruit at wedding parties, looking to poach another girl’s beau? Can it, lady, I say. I gesticulate with my wine glass, flinging a lovely bordeaux all over her dress. It looks ghastly. Like blood splatters all over the front of her tasteful white pantsuit. But seriously, who wears a pantsuit under 40, you know what I mean? I nudge you. But your eyes are teary again, and not from smoke. You’ve realize you just cratered your long term relationship with a drunken bridesmaid dressed like Princess Peach. Even I think you’re an idiot.
“Water,” I ask the bartender, crab walking sideways in from the balcony. I’m getting a fat furry tongue, like I always do whenever I drink too much, another sign I should have left early and cut my losses. No wonder I couldn’t come up with some witty repartee against that little blonde and her drippy boyfriend. I hope the chicken at their wedding is just as dry and tasteless. Here is your water. Would you like a slice of lemon? Lime? the bartender asks. Both, I smile, attempting to be seductive, but I’m drunk and look like I’ve been up all night. I decide to turn off the charm. Can I call you a taxi? An Uber? He’s very nice, but I can manage at this point. It’s a dance I know very well. A short drive home, a very hot shower, some terrifically ugly pajamas, and then I drunkenly fall into the . . .