For years, people told me how weddings, for single guys, were one step removed from a university freshers party meat market. “Man, people always hook up at weddings,” they told me. “And they especially love the single ushers.”
I never believed them, mainly because I’d never seen it. At most weddings I’ve attended, everyone either already had dates or was married. There were never enough single people to go around. Plus, it would seem that members of the wedding party would just be too busy to have a fling at a wedding. I mean, ushers have duties to perform. There are pictures to pose for, and, um, er… alcohol to drink, and, um… you know, all the other stuff that ushers have responsibility for.
So when I was asked to serve as an usher at a mate’s wedding a few years ago, with the recent breakup still lingering, and the confusion and depression not having dissipated, the last thing I wanted was any excess female contact. It had been all I could do not to start any conversations with women by saying, “Hi. My name is David. I am a human. I respond to logic, reason, and external stimuli. My life view will be the same in five minutes as it is right now. Please, tell me about your species.”
But people told me to just sit tight. “They’ll find you, mate. You’re an usher,” they told me. “People always hook up. Always.”
And, would you believe it… they were right.
Setting: The reception at Gav’s wedding. I ended up sitting next to an attractive young woman at the front table. (She wasn’t in the wedding party, which I thought meant she couldn’t sit at the head table, but no matter.) After a cursory discussion, I learned that she loved playing tennis and was the best friend of the bride’s sister. We ended up talking a little about Wimbledon, which had just concluded, and had a nice enough time, though I thought little of it. I was just concerned the bar would run out of my favourite rum.
After dinner, I told her it was a pleasure to meet her and went downstairs for the first dance. I danced with the mother of the bride, coiling her round and round until she almost vomited, and then, out of nowhere, the tennis player pushes in. OK. So we dance for a bit — I am a decent enough dancer — and all of a sudden, out of nowhere, right there on the dance floor, in front of God and everybody, she starts to kiss me.
I would have protested, but I was already quite light-headed. Oh, and there was an attractive, athletic girl in front of me. This lasted about two songs. Then, after I socialised a bit, she asked if I “wanted to go for a walk.” I said, sure, air is good, walking stimulates circulation. So we went for a walk, and she started kissing me again. She then asked me what I was doing after the reception. Like everyone else in the wedding party, I said I was going back to our hotel. She smiled and looked me deeply in the eye. “I’m coming with you. Is that OK?”
I did the rest of my wedding stuff, with this woman trailing behind the whole time. (Talking to the guys the next day, I was told: “We were all watching the two of you, thinking, ‘Dave has no chance. It’s like she came here to attack someone, and she chose you. You were a Dead Man Walking.’”) At the end of the evening, we all piled into a large people carrier and headed back to the hotel, with just a brief stop at a bed-and-breakfast where the groom’s parents were staying. (They were next to us drunken kids in the cab, looking nervous while we passed around bottles.)
The tennis player sat next to me, giggling and whispering things in my ear while propping her lovely legs on my lap. The cab cruised on. Then, suddenly, she paused mid-sentence and pulled out her mobile. I heard her call:
“Hi, it’s me. Listen, I’m in a really awkward position right now, and I’m not sure how to get out of it. I need someone to come pick me up. Can you do it? No? Oh, shit. I dunno, I don’t know how this happened.”
Um… Everyone in the cab was staring at me. The guys were mouthing, “What the fuck?!” The girls were wide-eyed. The groom’s parents… well, the look they gave me made me want to jump out of the cab and start running like Gump.
I turned to her, quietly, and said, “Hey, listen, I certainly didn’t mean for you to be in an awkward position. I, um, kinda thought this was your idea. Seriously, you don’t have to go anywhere or do anything. I’d be more than happy to tell the driver to go wherever you need to go. It’s really OK.” She looked down, then made another phone call. Exactly the same conversation. Exactly the same result.
I repeated to her that the driver could take her wherever she needed to go. She remained silent, staring out window, not meeting my eye.
We then arrived at the bed and breakfast. The groom’s parents hastily said their goodbyes and exited. Then, just as the door was about to shut, the tennis player jumped out. Just like that. The cab then took off. Match. Set. Game over.
(I can’t imagine what the groom’s parents thought of this. They leave a cab of drunken ushers and bridesmaids, and out hops a scared girl, no idea where she is or where she’s going. I must have seemed like Charlie Sheen to them.)
And that was that. I went back to the hotel, dazed and confused, became even more drunk, and I ended up even more depressed. I never saw her again until, quite unexpectedly, I ran into her yesterday. She seemed to recognise me — she smiled and said a cheery ‘Hi’ — and I pretty much ran across the street, dodging traffic and looking over my shoulder to be sure she wasn’t following.
So let’s get this story straight: David meets girl, she’s really into him, she’s all about David; then, suddenly, for no apparent reason, with no warning, she just switches, decides she wants nothing to do with him, and vanishes.
Ha! What the fuck, indeed! Such strange creatures they are…