Monday, May 09, 2005

Better Off

I sat in my designated chair at Table Eleven, watching the festivities of the wedding reception begin. Dominique, with her white dress bustled behind her, bouquet of orchids in her hand, walked through the door with Andrew as they were announced "for the first time" as husband and wife. They strode to the center of the dance floor, where they slowly swayed to the beat of their song, enjoying their first dance as a married couple. When the last note of the song finished, they took their seats at Table One with the rest of the bridal party. A hundred knives tapped on a hundred champagne flutes, beckoning the couple to kiss. The newlyweds laughed and rolled their eyes, but did what was requested of them. When their kiss was complete, the band started to play, and Dominique breathed a very obvious sigh of relief that the attention had been shifted from her.

The band, an eighties cover band called The Legwarmers, was amazing. They played the songs so well, it was like a concert AND a wedding. It was impossible to not dance when their version of Prince's "Let's Go Crazy" poured from the speakers in the hall. In no time at all, the dance floor was filled with middle-aged family members, youngish friends of the bride and groom, and little kids eager to expel all of the energy bottled up inside of them from sitting through the ceremony. Women were spun by their partners, their evening gowns unfurling around them like petals. Some men shifted uneasily from side to side, snapping their fingers and trying not to look like idiots, while some men simply didn't care what others thought.

Jason, a groomsman, obviously one of the men who didn't care. Out on the dance floor, his legs moved from one place to another on the parquet floor without regard to the beat of the music. His arms moved independently of his body, flailing above his head as he navigated the packed floor. He closed his eyes and bit his lip, dancing himself into a sweat-covered frenzy and relishing every second of it. In the middle of the band's second song, he removed his tuxedo's vest. With the third song came the removal of his tie. By the fourth song, he was hopping around on the dance floor, shirt open and chest bared, with perspiration cascading down his frame. He sang along with each song, occasionally turning to the band to scream "Rock on!" or "You guys fuckin' rock!"

"Jason's so funny, isn't he?" Amy, a bridesmaid who I'd met a month ago, sat down next to me.

"Yes he is," I laughed.

"He's in love with me," she offered, taking a sip of her Malibu Rum and pineapple juice drink.

"Oh, is he?"

"Yeah. Which kind of works out for me, because when Dominique asked me to be in her wedding, I said 'Well, only if I can find someone to sleep with in the wedding party.' And, as it turns out, Jason's not half bad. Besides, I don't have anyone else, so, you know..."

She laughed, but I couldn't figure out if she was joking. I took another look at Jason, spinning furiously now around the other dancers on the floor, making himself dizzy and laughing out loud. I looked at Amy, perfectly put together in her bridesmaid ensemble. Not a hair was out of place on her head. The makeup she wore on her delicate features was flawless. Her teeth were impossibly white. I looked back at Jason. He was doubled over near the stage, trying to catch his breath and reclaim his ability to see straight.

"Are you kidding me?" I asked.

"No. You know, he's got a lot of money. He lives in California, but he'll be here for the next few days. He's been making passes at me all week, and it's so nice to hear all those compliments. I'm supposed to go back to the City tonight, but I think I just may find myself in a certain somebody's room this evening." She gave me a wink as she made lazy circles in her drink with a straw.

"I thought you had a boyfriend," I said.

"Oh, Robert? He broke up with me last week. He didn't think I was mature enough." She rolled her eyes. "But now he's calling me again, leaving me messages about how much he misses me and what a mistake he's made. So I'm letting him play that role for a while. Speaking of which..." She opened her cream-colored purse and removed her cell phone. "He was supposed to text me tonight," she said, "and I forgot to check earlier." Her words were distracted; she was really only interested in finding his message. "Would you look at that! There it is!" She smiled, triumphant. She turned the phone around to show me the screen. "He wrote to me!" She turned the phone back around, hungry for his words. Her eyes scanned the message, then she flipped the phone shut. "I just wanted to make sure he'd write, you know. Just to make sure he's still interested." She tucked the phone back into her purse, then set her eyes back on Jason.

"Now it's time for you ask that special someone to dance," the lead singer announced. He straightened his hot pink pencil tie, then began to play.

Amy got up immediately. "Excuse me," she said to me. "I think Jason wants to ask me to dance." And she sauntered over to the dance floor, placed herself in his line of sight, and waited to be asked to dance. But he didn't ask her. Instead, she grabbed his hand and pulled him into her as he walked by.

From my vantage point at Table Eleven, they were mismatched. He was tall and awkward, sweat running down his face in runnels, his hair wet hair stuck to his cheeks and forehead. He was spastic. She, on the other hand, was the picture of elegance, in her strapless bridesmaid's dress, her thin gold heels.

And I realized at that moment that, if I were her, I would be spending my time at that wedding avoiding him. Because he was acting like he was high. Because he was covered in sweat. Because he lived all the way across the country. Maybe I am too judgmental, I thought to myself. She's not judging him because he's been out there dancing all night. Maybe there's something to be said for giving a guy a chance.

The song ended, and Jason left Amy standing in the middle of the dance floor. The band had begun to play "Welcome to the Jungle," and Jason had to be by the stage to play air guitar. I saw Amy shimmy her way toward Jason, lifting her skirt higher and kicking her legs, Rockette-style, clamoring for his attention. But his eyes could not be pulled away from The Legwarmers, and she retreated to the rear of the dance floor, where her body moved with the music, but her eyes never left him.

I didn't know which one of us was worse off. I may have high standards, but I'm not willing to lower them just to escape loneliness. She may be more free-spirited and willing to accept, but it may be just because she's lonely.

In the end, I knew I would be going to my hotel room alone that night; and it was possible that she'd have company. But she'd still be going home alone tomorrow.


Shawn said...

I love that the lead singer of the Legwarmers had a hot pink tie...

Tried your email link but it didn't work... wanted to tell you I really loved your post about the train ride and the girls. You really captured the weird mix of cockiness and insecurity that is the teenage girl.

I have to admit, packs of teenage girls still scare me... they can be tough.

Also, thanks for stopping by my little bloggy blog. Cheers and have a great week.

Scoot said...

I don't know...after your description of Jason, I kinda have the lead character from "Napoleon Dynamite" in my head....

Laurie said...

You're exactly right, Scoot...He was just like Napoleon, only not as endearing.

Anonymous said...

he may have gone home with her, but he totally wanted the singer of that band!