I’m a recovering cynic.
I’m getting to the age where all my friends are married, engaged, or in serious relationships, so when I’d see a girl my age at a wedding without a rock on her finger or a guy standing next to her, I’d assume that she was carrying around enough baggage to move to Europe.
About six months ago, I had the realization that if any of these single women noticed that I was wearing no wedding band and had brought no date to the rehearsal dinner or ceremony—the perfect way to ruin otherwise good friendships with females—then they were probably making the same assumption and concocting alibis for me: “He’s a player” or “He must be gay” or “He was born with both male and female genitalia” or “He eats children.”
A by-product of disappointments and heartbreaks that we’ve left unaddressed, this subtle cynicism uncorks the finest vintage of our creativity. I often overlooked the simplest, and most plausible, explanation, “Like me, she just hasn’t met the right one.”
I recently attended the wedding of a high school friend, Bear, which caused us to miss our annual flyfishing trip in central Idaho. His wedding was the first of four over four weekends in four different cities. He asked me to be an usher, which meant buying a summer suit for $100 at S&K. Now that’s what I’m talking about! Why ask your friends to pay $150 to rent a tux that they can only wear for one night when you can ask them to buy a suit that they can wear for ten years?
Bear always was practical, and there’s nothing like a suit or tuxedo to put me on my worst behavior. By worst behavior, I mean the type of boldness that has for years helped me entertain my friends and family with the cringe-worthy tales that result. I have a reputation to keep up.
Married men never cease to live vicariously through single men, and my friends at the wedding were no exception. They were all concerned with whether or not I found any of the women attractive.
My flyfishing buddy Rob was the most persistent:
“Dude, you need to be meeting these girls!”
“Hellooo, because some of them are hot.”
“What about her?” He pointed out a blond girl on the dance floor, holding up her dress with one hand and punching the air with the other to The Commodores’ “Brick House.” She was more like a stone castle.
“Yeah, don’t think so. Maybe her?” I pointed out a really cute brunette on the opposite side of the dance floor. She was taking pictures of the other bridesmaids dancing.
“Why don’t you go talk to her?” he asked.
“Do you really think I’m going to meet somebody at a wedding? Does that actually happen outside of romantic comedies?”
“People do it all the time.”
“Well, I did ask Bear about her. She’s a cousin of the bride, and she lives in Winston-Salem. Long distance relationship. Don’t know how I feel about that.”
While I was talking, the brunette had walked around the dance floor with her camera and was now standing about fifteen feet away with her back to us.
“What have you got to lose? I think you should go talk to her,” Rob said.
I knew that Rob had no expectation that I’d actually do it. I wanted to see the look on his face, and he was right, I had nothing to lose.
“You’re right,” I said and walked over to her.
Here we go, I thought.