The Wedding Party by Phil McNulty
After the vows and the signings and the throwing of confetti and taking of photos and the senile priest and the drunken usher and the mix up over bridesmaids - we went back to the house and started our social patter, clinking plastic glasses, while pink wine and inane chatter, helped loosen our barren talk, under the purple brollies, by an ivy wall, which leaned and, listened in the Strawberry evening.
It would be rude to be leaving. We should give it an hour. Hand over the present before first footing. Maintaining our poise but, maybe, taking some of the joy.We were by the carp pond, with skittering flies, beside beer in iced buckets. His and Hers on plastic chairs and plastic stools at opposing tables across the pool.
After attacking the buffet and mocking the presents others had brought, we sought to mingle, and jingle, pointing, there by the trees! How we jangled about those two under the willow's leaves. The lime dress against the brown girls skin, her doing that lipstick-smoking thing. It never fails. Showing the painted nails. The hand, so elegant, smoke curling, back stylishly arched. We were all staring.
Then the clink of fork on glass for the quiz. ‘Pull chairs this way! The only answers are Cuba or Casius Clay’. And baby boomers guess the rest. ‘Was I there? Were you there? Did we really protest?’
And with pens in hand , burdened by divergent lives, we’re terse and tensely proper.
Women have been careful - food not touching the lips. Men, as ever, exchange their pathetic quips. But with the pink wine gone, and the red to uncork, the quiz is abandoned for ‘meaningful talk’.
Now, we make up our lives. Loose drinking costs wives, vague memories of Liverpool dives. ‘Was that really you on Slater Street? And later in Abercromby square!’ Eyes meet. The dangerous frisson of the forgotten affair.
Words are exchanged, mascara runs and lipstick is smeared, tables are turned, punches are thrown. It’s what we all feared, but, it is a wedding, and with more red wine, everyone’s fine, they’ve made new friends and accepted apologies.
Some look for car keys but they’ve been handbagged for another day and, while no-one’s noticed, the bride and groom have gone and left the guests to play.
And the guests?
Well! The wheels are still turning but the mice are definitely away.