at my friend L’s wedding today. if L would not have been in it, all would have been lost. especially at the reception, which was lunch at an Indian restaurant for about 20 of us, at this immensely long table. i’ve never been able to hold a sustained conversation at a table of that length. nor follow one.
i found myself seated next to this peculiar, very chatty man. his wife, who turned out not be his wife but his girlfriend recognized me from my performances i can’t count the number of years ago. there were so many years. i think i have lived long enough so that everyone looks familiar to me in one way or another. but i can never quite identify where i know them (everyone) from. her name was Maggie.
the chatty man, it also turned out, was the father of the groom. and i thought it was peculiar how distant they seemed, not only by the length of the table, but i sensed very little in the way of what i would interpret as a relationship. i would never be able to guess they knew each other, even in passing. it was odd. it felt odd that he seemed to be more attentive to me than to the woman who was not his wife, his son, his ex-wife, his new daughter-in-law, her parents, etc.
he sort of reminded me of this man i once knew who was married to the ex-friend of my former girlfriend in new orleans. this was the kind of man who had something to say about everything, but usually whatever he was saying only made sense in the most obtuse, accidental way since he was either vastly stoned or inebriated. it was tiring for me to be around him. i feel terrible saying that, but i can’t imagine a likelihood where he could stumble upon this paragraph. but that’s the person the groom’s father reminded of, and i almost called him by the name of my ex-girlfriend’s former friend’s husband (Lyle), instead of his proper name (Dan). Dan and Lyle. Lyle and Dan.
at one point he asked me if i was from this area. and i answered that i’ve lived in the area most of my adult life but grew up in one of the suburbs. he asked me the name of the suburb. and when i told him, he said, “oh, so you’re a cake eater.” I said, “A what?” He said, “That’s where all of the cake eaters live.” I asked him to define the meaning of a cake eater, and he said, “you know, the kind of people who like to have their cake and eat it, too.” i thought, “hmmmmm… interesting. i think i’ve just been profiled.”
i didn’t feel the need to justify or qualify anything about my upbringing because i was secretly wishing he would pay attention to his existing and new family members. Maggie, however, expressed her disapproval of the cake eater label, since she grew up in a suburb adjacent to mine. And now we were both living hand-to-mouth existences. she did not even have health insurance. and of course, i have narrowly dodged losing Everything, at least once or twice. I wanted to ask him, “do you have any sense of what that’s like?” but i didn’t say a word. i just waited. and eventually, he decided to meet his son’s new in-laws.
(but later that day, i realized i was being equally judgmental. I had judged Dan to be like Lyle in much the same way he was judging me to be a cake eater. And we have at least 2 essential things in common. We were both born, at some point. We will both die, at some point.)
then Maggie began a conversation with me and we somehow got on the subject of last week’s air & water show, which is an annual event where multitudes of people congregate along the lake (the water) to watch an aerial (the air) display of military prowess. people just flock to it. i always imagine them to be gazing in awe at the sky in much the same way as the people who watched Moses descend from Mount Sinai reciting the 10 commandments. at least in the movie version.
those of us not in awe of the air & water show lived in dread of it, summer after summer.
i spent a large part of that day stuck in traffic because i forgot that this was absolutely the worst possible day to drive anywhere. but there was no other option for me to travel to a very very distant suburb to attend L’s shower. and by the time i arrived there, at the shower, i was irritated, exhausted and in one of the worst moods ever. and i was 20 minutes late. As soon as I got out of the car, L rushed me into the house to join the shower because they were all waiting for me. and it began with a very devout, unfathomable prayer. i tried to follow but i could not grasp the words.
meanwhile, back at the air & water show, Lyle/Dan and and Maggie were out on his sailboat at the epicenter of the military display. And the day was not going very well for them. as Maggie related to me, they were having a difficult, difficult day. A really bad day. So bad, that it more or less destroyed their relationship. We agreed that there was just something about that air & water show that brought out the worst in people.
Maggie told me she had decided that Dan would just be a friend, although he was not aware of that yet. she had never dated a white-collar person before, which i think is another form of profiling.
that was 9 hours ago and something tells me that Dan and Maggie might not be together anymore. but so often, i am so wrong about these things. i wish them well.