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by Dylan Muhlenberg / 09.07.2010

It’s the morning after the night before and Gary’s sole is lying in pieces outside on the dewy deck. It’s flanked by empty bottles of Black Label and cigarette butts – black, cracked and not dissimilar to his soul. Gary can hold his head up high though, because to destroy a pair of Italian leather shoes like this means that he must’ve danced like Michael Flatley. I can’t be certain, I wasn’t watching.

Gavin is still drinking, muttering to himself now because his audience is asleep. Slowly people emerge from their rooms, looking like before photographs, some crack open beers, some fire cigarettes, some promise to never touch either ever again.

We’re all staying at a log cabin that’s perched on stilts above a lake and overlooking a pine forest. To get to the Lake House one must negotiate labyrinthine dust roads, fend off insects able to jump to cock-level and deal with a neighbour who, instead of being the clichéd redneck type, is a botoxed bitch quick to accuse those driving past her idyllic weekend retreat of trespassing.

While fisting our eyes and massaging our temples we take in the view for the first time. A question mark forms above our collective heads: would it be wrong of us to tell the children in the lake, who are very vocally enjoying their childhood, to shut the fuck up? After all, these kids were almost definitely sent out this morning out of spite. Their vindictive parents wanting to pay us back in kind for last night.

We couldn’t help that we were in high spirits, that the Lake House was the venue for our after party on a night we didn’t want to end.

This is a story of a wedding. Not my wedding – because mine flashed by in a heady mix of anxiety and fear – but a union that was beautiful and perfect and reminded me just how much fun everyone must have had at mine, while I was sweating bullets.

There are many reasons why a friend’s wedding will always be better than your own. The first and most obvious being because they are paying for it. Consolation prizes include the fact that you don’t have to worry about being nice to your socially retarded cousins, how you’re not required to give face time to each aunty/uncle-in-law, and that instead of making sure that everyone else is having a good time, you can focus on your own good time. It’s nice when your only obligation is to raise your glass.

This particular wedding got it right by being held at a venue outside of Cape Town, in a little valley where they make Appletizers. Bart called it “a very Appletizing venue” and thus provided the weekend’s in-joke. There were many more proffered by Gavin, who manages to deliver a quotable quote with every sentence, but it would be foolish to purloin these pearlers for you little piggies, and so I’m saving them to pawn off as my own in future, better paying, columns.

What I also love about a wedding is that it’s an excuse to dress up. Today’s conventional wisdom scoffs at men who wear anything dressier than a pair of jeans and a polo shirt, and maybe it’s because we’re not completely comfortable in formal attire that we slowly slip out of it, piece by piece, as the night draws on. As if sitting down to a game of strip poker: top buttons are undone, ties are loosened and jackets are hung over chairs to be forgotten like discarded school blazers left in some corner of a playground on a globally-warmed autumn day.

Things continue to fall apart when we get together at the bar. The dissipating bar tab is directly proportional to our fattening livers and we gavage one another with shooters. But then competitive drinking will always be as much a part of a wedding as tossing the bouquet. How else do you expect to get guys onto a dance floor?

Which is where we are now. You’d think that after all the times our better halves have dragged us unwillingly onto the dance floor, that this display of gumption would be better received? But no, instead they stand on the sidelines, arms crossed, eyes rolling, sucking their teeth with boerewors-lips.

“They’re actually spoiling it for everyone.”
“So childish.”
“Such dicks.”

Dilton pours a beer onto the dance floor (it is free, after all), magically turning it into an ice-rink, and immediately grown man-children, dressed in their finest finery, are taking turns to run and slide across it, starting on their feet and ending the spectacle on their stomachs. Not to be outdone, the Sarkas boy gets down onto his hands and knees, puts his face down, purses his lips, and drinks up some of the brown gruel that’s covering the floor in a thin veil.

Meanwhile Jeremy has taken his shirt off and is bashing a fold-up chair against the bar… As this and other carnage unfolds the black guy from the Goldfish song sings some doobie-do-wap-bop-bow type jazz over Lee Thompson’s swing band, the Lada Bros play acoustic versions of America’s “Horse With No Name”, Peter Sarstedt’s “Where Do You Go To (My Lovely)?” and Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide”, before the DJ plays the de rigueur wedding tracks.

Truth be told, we all have the time of our lives dancing, but only one man can actually dance, and he’s also a male-model-slash-South-African-Ultimate-Fighting-Champion who has got Margot, a very accomplished dancer in her own right, throwing shapes against him and the nubile nineteen-year old bar lady hot to trot. Every single singleton makes a mental note to learn some steps before the next one of our friends gets hitched.

Which is hopefully soon, because after having taken the plunge my friends deserve the same happiness that I bask in daily. And maybe I’m just feeling overly sentimental, after all a wedding is straightedge MDMA, but after being privy to such a lovely scene, where hearts abound in spades, and witnessing love in its myriad manifestations – the newlyweds lighting up every time that they lock eyes, a group of childhood friends at the bar with their arms around one another, young Ian and his Porsche driving cougar’s dirty version of the word – I looked at my wife, calmly, more composed, and told her with more confidence than I did six months earlier, I do.

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