So there I was half dead with worry.
I was going to be a best man in three days and nothing seemed to stop it. I had refused to cut my hair because I felt nobody would want to get married alongside a best man who looked like Bonny M. It didn’t faze the groom. He would seat with me and discuss wedding plans, comfortably ignoring the fact that I carried a six pound hamster on my hair.
At some point I began to suspect that maybe, just maybe, the groom wanted this as badly as I did. Maybe he wanted the wedding cancelled .And I was to be his excuse.
“We are gathered here today to have a wedding…hey…what’s with the hair. Wedding over! ”.
Suddenly it made sense.
That’s why I had been chosen as the best man. Because he knew, he just knew that if anyone could disrupt a wedding from happening. It would be Carl.
I was his Get out of jail free card. I would keep my hair. The wedding would be cancelled and the groom, the best man and bride would live happily ever after.
That was the plan.
A day before the wedding, as I sat with him trying to figure out why the Bachelor’s eve wasn’t going to happen; he looked at my hair wearily for about five minutes, Shook his head and then handed me a thousand Naira.
“Fix your hair Carl.” He paused for effect. “Please.”Then he walked away and that was that.
Plans had changed.
The wedding was a go.
More importantly. Me being his best man was a go.
Bonny M was going to have a switch with Mike Tyson.
The morning off the wedding I woke up five times.
The first at 12am.
The second at 12.05am.
The third at 12.09am.
The fourth at 12.13am.
The fifth at 12.16am
“This isn’t going to work.” I told myself calmly. “I’m much too nervous. I need some means to relieve myself of the stress and pressure.“
I turned on the bedside light and reached for my travel bag .Within it I found and swallowed three tablets of valium. I drowned it with a mug of milk and then for good measure I masturbated twice to my favorite fantasy. Me and Shakira and J-lo.
I sighed with relief as the tension left me. My eyes drooped with exhaustion and the effect of the valium coursing through my veins. I was a goner. I closed my eyes and passed out.
I woke up at 12.30am.
Eventually the morning came. The next five hours had I and the groom scurrying round trying to get things in order for the reception. We hadn’t got a Wedding planner. That wasn’t the African way. Between the hours of 7 and 9 I hung around the lady in charge of decoration. Somehow the balloon pump had gone burst. So now we had over 700 balloons that had to be blown. The wedding had to be saved. A wedding without balloons was like a wedding without a bride. (Male or female.) The balloons had to be blown.
The groom called me to help.
He had a lot going for him.
I was the best man.
I was paying him back for the thousand Naira excess I had been handed the day before.
It was either blow balloons or seat in my room and rehearse how to breathe during a wedding.
SO I helped him with the balloons.
Seventy minutes later, and with my cheeks hurting from blowing balloons I hobbled back into the apartment.
The house was set on a lovely incline that lent a view to the lovely valley that it was part off. Green trees breathed freedom in the distance as far as my eye could see. When I had been told the wedding would be done in the village I had had my doubts. They had long since faded. Framed with the vista of nature in the background, embellished with swooping drapes of gold and white, the compound looked quite lovely I had to admit. There were ribbons draped everywhere. Artificial flowers had made a Gazebo of the curtilage
Nice .Very Nice.
I spotted my sister somewhere midst the workers. She was tying cute gold ribbons unto the chairs.
“You’re still here. I’m impressed.” She said calmly with a smile.
“ Oh yeah. Where would I go.”
“ I don’t know. Mum bet with me that you would bolt an hour before the wedding. I disagreed.”
I made a face.
“Trust mum. She always thinks the worst off me. Why does she do that? Well….I’m not bolting.” I hugged my sister.
“Thanks for supporting me.”
“ I didn’t support you . I bet with mum that you would bolt 2 hours before the wedding. The car keys are on the dining table. Nice hair cut by the way. You almost look human. “
I bumped into the groom as I walked into the apartment. He looked really harassed . The way I expected him to look after 18 years, four children and bloated school fees. The wedding morning predictably hadn’t gone right. The Truck handling the drinks was taking it’s time. The balloon pump had gone bad. His backup best man (there had to be one. I was still holding out) was yet to come. And Chelsea was still fourth on the premiership table. Hardly a lovely morning.
I tried to cheer him up.
“You can’t fight Murphy’s law you know.” I said sagely.
He nodded his head and stared at the dining table.
“Are you going to bolt on me?” He asked.
“Me? Why would you think that?”
“Murphy’s law. Anything that can go wrong will.”
I slapped him on his shoulder.
“You made me your best man. Trust me. When it comes to going wrong, nothing can top that.”
He smiled and actually looked better. I felt pleased with myself.
I was getting the hang of this best man thing.
The wedding was set for 11. Meaning we had to be ready by 10 at the latest. We looked at out watches. It was already 15 minutes past 10.
“Go have a bath and suit up. I’ll meet you outside in another 10 minutes.” He said. The worried look was back on his face.
“ And Carl.” He called as I walked away. “Whatever happens, don’t slip on the soap and crack your spine. I don’t have a back up best man despite what you think!”
Drowning men cling at straws. Why did he have to snip mine?
I’d always prided myself on being expeditious when it came to taking baths. In three minutes I could manage to get soap to every single part of my body that needed it, Give it a quick once over and then rinse it off with warm water. If I was very zealous and lucky I could have an orgasm in the process. This didn’t happen but I did manage to get out of the bathroom in 3minutes and 19 seconds. Not a personal best but hardly a bad run.
I made my way to what was designated my room through out the duration of my stay. Hanging on the wall was embodiment of my mission here. A grey suit. Specially tailored to fulfill one purpose. Anything thereafter was secondary. This was my best man suit. Much had gone into the actualization of a dream. I could joke all I wanted. But once I wore that suit, Once I slipped the custom tailored tie into place, I was officially a best man. I was like Superman in the red and blue. Once I wore it .I was stuck with it. This was my last chance at emancipation. Run now or forever hold your peace.
I wore the suit.
Everyone screamed when I walked out the room.
I took a step back. What had gone wrong?
Was I wearing the wrong suit?
Was my tie all done the wrong way?
Did I wear my underpants out in my bid to emulate superman?
“You look lovely. “ My sister said.
“My God. “ Someone else said.
The groom walked up and smiled. “I wouldn’t have believed it. You look….wow.”
I stared uncomfortably around. I hoped he wasn’t about to propose to me. Not with a wedding in another 30 minutes.
Another girl walked into the gathering.
“Wow. You look lovely.” She said. “You look incredible.”
I nodded my head degage.
“Bond. James Bond.” I said.
The ride to the church took most of 10 minutes.
The priest waited for us outside the church. He had a big frown on his face. We were late. We had promised to be in the church by 10 and now here we where turning up at a quarter to 11.Again I had the impression that the wedding was going too be cancelled.
He gave us a long hard look. I wondered if my afro was back.
“Let’s go behind.” The pastor said.
It turned out we were supposed to have a counseling session of sort before the main wedding. I hadn’t known about it or I would have washed my socks. I sat uncomfortably beside the groom looking nervously at the pastor. I hoped he didn’t think I and the groom where a couple.
While we waited for the bride to come save us, some lady came in. She looked between 40 and 90.She had one of those flash bulb cameras that where used during the civil war. The kind that had an 8000 watt flash bulb which accompanied every shot alongside a loud resonant whirling sound.
She asked I and the groom to smile at her.
Hold your heads up. Snap. Snap.
Open your eyes.
Each shot was like a stun grenade in the room. The flash soon had tears running down my face. I felt like a corpse in a room and she was the forensic photographer taking crime shots. She took picture of us from ever conceivable angle.
Five minutes later the bride walked in. She looked so lovely.
I looked behind her. Sure enough the bridesmaid looked every bit as lovely as I had been promised. This just could work out eventually. I smiled happily,
The counseling session was pretty short. The groom was asked if he’d done everything he needed to do . He said yes. The bride was asked the same question and she reiterated the groom’s response. I was called to come sign the certificate. The church had a funny system .The witnesses signed before the wedding and the couple signed during the wedding.
“Sign the certificate. “ The priest said and looked away.
I stared uncomfortably at the wedding register. There were so many slots for signing. Where was I supposed to sign? Supposed I accidentally signed for the groom. What would that mean? That I had married his bride by accident.
I looked nervously at the priest. He had a grin on his face. He probably had gotten a couple of best men accidentally married to the bride this way. I was his next victim. The camera banshee was waiting patiently.
Make a move sucker.
Is this how Bobby married Whitney? Was he the best man at her wedding?
I looked at the priest and asked quietly.
“Where exactly do I sign?”
He gave a grunt of annoyance. Why didn’t I just marry her and make him happy. There probably was a lottery on me accidentally marrying her.
“Sign here.” He said grumpily, pointing to the line beside the word witness.
Another five minutes and the wedding began. The pianist played the wedding march with gusto. He probably had bet on me surviving the almost wedding and now had an extra 500 in his wallet. My belly curled as I waited before the chancel. This was happening. It was actually happening.
The bride looked beyond beautiful as she walked to the alter. It was true what they said about brides. I smiled until she reached I and the groom.
I looked across at the bridesmaid. She had a lovely face. Perfect makeup. Beside her I paled in comparison. I was tempted to look behind her and check her out. But this was a church. If I looked at her butt the odds where I would get turned to stone or salt or something.
She caught me staring at her and gave a slight smile.
This Afro loss wasn’t turn out as bad as I thought.
The service went really well in the end. The pastor kept things pretty simple. At some pint during the sermon he started talking of a lady called Ruth. He looked at our Quartette and asked us if we knew who Ruth was. Suddenly I was back in Secondary school.
I felt sweat run of my back in rivers.
Ruth? Who was she?
Wasn’t she the girl that killed that Goliath thingy?
Please don’t pick me.
Fortunately the bride seemed to know who Ruth was and so I was saved the indignity of being asked to stand and raise both my hands for the rest of the service. The pastor was being mean. Why didn’t he ask who Jesus Christ was. Everyone knew the answer to that one.
And so finally it came to an end.
They said their vows to each other. The brides maid had tears in her eyes when they where pronounced man and wife. Somewhere a band let loose a deafening Tattoo once the announcement was maid.
Ladies and Gentlemen. They’re a couple.
We marched out triumphantly. Everyone kept yelling and smiling as we walked down the Aisle. I saw my mum and my sisters. They were both cheering me on. My brother too. Beside them Stolich was snapping away with a silly grin on her face. I laughed and winked at them. This walking down the aisle thing wasn’t so bad after all. I extended the crook of my arm to the bridesmaid and she took it midst smile. We chatted as we headed to the doors of the church. We exchanged names. I cracked a joke about the wedding . She laughed and called me silly.
My face was flushed with beams. I had done it. I had been the best man.
We were just walking out the doors when the ambush happened.
Someone somewhere had thought it fitting to have children man the confetti. They were foam based . The kind that condensed into snowflakes upon contact with air.
The children where lethal with it.
As the bride walked out they let loose a blast of foam into her face.
She screamed in shock and tottered on the steps. I reached out to stop her and then I got hit by the salvo. A stream of foam caught me in the face.
“Get him!” One of the children yelled.
More foam hit me from the sides. I was gradually beginning to look like I had walked into a carwash. I glimpsed the bride through the foamy haze. She was being buried alive in foam too.
The air was replete with Children yelling. I managed to open my eye just in time to get shot again in the face. Everyone was a screaming and trying to get the confetti cans from the children. I had my doubts about their lineage. Their persistence, ferociousness and accuracy.
These kids were probably Vietnamese.
They were good.
Eventually they got the kids of our backs and we stood for our pictures. There were over a million digital Cameras and one annoying loud one. The banshee lady was back.
Raise your head. Stop frowning. Swallow the foam on your face.
Smile Mr Best man.
That was me. The best man.