One nice thing about getting older is that you have fewer weddings to attend, or at least fewer weddings to participate in. It is an honor to be in someone's wedding, certainly, but it's also an expensive proposition and time consuming in most cases. When it comes to weddings, I've discovered that I'm a better spectator than participant.
Way back in 1989 came my first request to be a best man. A buddy from high school, Glen was engaged to a woman he met in college, and who didn't altogether like me. I've never been certain as to why she didn't like me, but in the end, whether she did or didn't would not matter.
The wedding was to be held in her hometown in suburban Chicago. I was living in New Orleans at the time, a nearly 18 hour drive to Chicago. Dutifully, I showed up at Glen's apartment right at the appointed time, but he was not there. I didn't have anywhere else to go, since I would be staying at his apartment. So I crossed the street to a local pub, and there I found another member of the wedding party. "He hasn't been here all day," he said, still groggy for having driven up from Kansas City. He was clearly annoyed at being locked out.
Hours later, a light went on in Glen's apartment. We quickly downed our beers and crossed the street. The door was open, so we let ourselves inside. We were whooping it up! Hey buddy! Great to see you! Where you been? Not much longer now, eh? The old ball and chain, etc. etc.
But the revelry was not returned, and we noticed that Glen was in a lot of distress. The wedding had been called off by the bride, he said. I didn't believe him, and it would be just like him to joke about something like this. He dialed the bride and handed me the phone, and she confirmed she couldn't go through with it. Why? I never did find out. He never did tell me. All these years later, I still haven't been able to find out from other friends.
I hung around for a few days, as I was planning to do anyway. On what would have been his wedding night, we went clubbing downtown. It was a pathetic evening, but probably better than staying at home.
Glen really changed after this experience, or perhaps he had changed before but it took this incident to make me see it. He became more aloof, less trusting, and less available. Two years later after I had moved permanently to Chicago, he would run off with my girlfriend (I didn't realize it at the time, but that was the biggest favor anyone had ever done for me. More on this in a later post).
Today's lesson: Life goes on.