Tuesday, February 05, 2008

'That was a man thing!'

My best man, Miles, called unexpectedly last night.

‘Could you email a few of your wedding pictures to me?’ he asked. ‘Only I was telling Delilah [his new girlfriend] about your wedding and how Maude gave me a really hard time about my haircut. I just wanted to prove that it wasn’t that bad.’

I said I’d be happy to scan a few images as soon as I got the time.

‘She did give me a hard time you know.’

I was surprised that a grown man was still smarting from a throwaway reprimand of years ago from Maude – the kind of remark I weather on a daily basis, strapped to the mast of matrimony.

‘I think that she was actually more critical of the fact that you hadn’t shaved. Oh, and of the option that you presented to me as we entered the church.’

‘But I offer that to all the grooms I serve and, anyway, you shouldn’t have told her – that was a man thing.’

Miles has been a Best Man on several occasions and stood out as the most capable candidate when Maude and I were planning our wedding. He has a certain charisma and the ability to work a room without showing signs of his massive recreational drug consumption. I did consider Archie, but suspected that the little chap would be mistaken for a pageboy. Larry too was ruled out – his narcolepsy is quite unpredictable.

Miles has a checklist of what he believes to be his duties as a Best Man. He composed the list on a beer mat some years ago and carries it in his wallet. I recall our approach to the church gates on that fateful day. Miles turned to me and raised his hand in a ‘STOP’ signal.

‘Woooah, bonny lad!’

I stopped and said nothing. I thought perhaps he was about to issue some last minute words of advice, or to wish me many years of happily married life. Instead, he reached into his back pocket and produced his wallet. As he opened it I shielded my eyes from a possible outpouring of trapped moths. When I looked again Miles was really concentrating (I could see his nostrils flaring). He was consulting his checklist. He took a small pencil from behind his ear and carefully ticked off the items he had achieved. Miles’ handwriting has always reminded me of ransom notes – I couldn’t read any of the bullet points apart from the very last one on the list. His pencil hovered, as he opened his mouth to speak – it read: