A few minutes before go-time, my cousin went to the bathroom for the last time as a ringless man.
The rest of us sat in the waiting room, outfitted in grey tuxedos with a vest and tie shaded Kansas State purple.
We talked about previous weddings and marveled at the gaps in memory while standing up front.
There are always symbolic acts to provide tangibility to unity, some great readings, maybe an outstanding vocal or instrumental performance that will always be recalled from the clutter of memory, but then there are those times when all you can think about is your left anterior cruciate ligament, your upper-right gastrocnemius, or the trickle of sweat making its way down the small of your back.
Due to the intensity of the moment, an unreasonable terror reaches those standing in the “V” up front. Any little movement to open the hip, or bend in the knee to provide relief seems to creak like a door in a Stephen King book. Facial sweat makes noise, scratching your nose is like signaling a 747 for landing and don’t even think about something like a sneeze.
People will later be talking about you, not the two.
If the dog screws up, it’s cute. If you yawn, or trip and bring the bridesmaid you were trusted to escort to the floor, you might as well just run to Mordor yourself than endure the lethal stares from the congregation.
So you hold it all in, stay rigid though you know that’s the worst way to cope, and miss out on a little bit of the ceremony for fear of ending up on YouTube.
We agreed on this and laughed the nervous laugh of groomsmen that might be tempting disaster by talking about it.
The fact is no one knows, and no one really cares what minor travesties beset the groomsmen, because as long as you don’t drop the Bible (I didn’t), spill the water (I didn’t) or pass out (none of us did) all is right in the world, so go get the pictures done, toast, eat, unclip the tie and boogie. Right?
You could say that it’s a compliment, that us dudes, no matter how disgusting we smelled when we returned from the bachelor party camp-out that included at least three layers of hiking sweat, two layers of campfire and whatever eggs deep-fried in bacon grease does to a man, cleaned up and cared enough to worry about taking the focus off Brittany, and our man Jordan — the one she chose to spend forever with. We wanted it to be perfect for them because we know the exposition, rising action and sub-plots that led to this.
The whole thing was drenched in emotion and love from the first stroke of the piano to the last dance.
So the three minutes that seemed like 11 days when all I could focus on was the stupid twitch in my left extensor digitorum brevis muscle and copious amounts of back sweat is but an inconsequential anecdote in an otherwise unforgettable day for my cousin, his wife and all those they asked to share it with.