Standing near the large speakers booming the apparently intoxicating song ‘Louie, Louie’ I stared, unaware of my expression. The crowd danced, twitching too and fro with a stiff rhythm following the chorus in the expected outbursts of sing along ‘yeah yeah yeah yeah.’ The ladies, in their very straight ginger colored dresses had taken off their shoes to pad around holding the ties of their late twenties, early thirties, slightly overweight boyfriends and probably soon to be unattractive husbands whose narrow-minded man’s man seeds will probably seek out their ovular target to help over populate the world with their unfortunate offspring. Highlighted hair swishing, Keystone Light sloshing, the lyrics of ‘Louie, Louie’ belted out across the immense hall, a fantastical hotel alight with marble colonnades and granite counter tops. The security guard slowly sipped a diet coke, his ponch overhanging the belt holding his cuffs, keys and pepper spray. He eyed the mid-south valley girls with narrowed eyes, up and down, up and down, seeming to nod approval with the music. Across the way from the dance floor a large spacious area opened up with clothed tables filled with delicate white flower pedals, crystal glasses, half eaten pieces of wedding cake, scattered silverware including three different kinds of forks and the slouched lumps of all the southern money oldies, the aristocrats of Tennessee half dozing over cooling cups of coffee. The caterers, dressed in black, eyes casting about for ways to make the event move as rapidly as possible, stepped quickly and efficiently, taking up forgotten drinks and left plates, attending to the spills and broken glass left by inebriated guests. ‘Louie, Louie’ dropped off while ‘I’ve Got the Power’ slammed into my eardrums, rattling my observations. I sighed heavily and walked over to the bar, the thirty five pounds of equipment strapped across my midriff and shoulders, taking on the visage of pregnancy, protruded from my skinny, almost undernourished looking frame. This stupid lens bag is stretching out my shirt I thought, while laboring across the dance floor through the drunken, fluffy, pink colored crowd. At the drink tabled I asked for my third glass of wine.
“Red please.” The bar tender handed me a shimmering glass of white . . . I think it was Chardonnay. I’m not good with wine, and I didn’t much care anyways; I was trying to stifle my disgust and boredom.
I helped myself to a piece of vanilla, icing covered cake and took a servants route back to the dinning area where I sat down next to a old man who had tufts of hair coming out of his ears. Unloading my equipment didn’t take long, having done it many times before. I settled everything very particularly on the table top; I had to be ready if he called me . . . he wasn’t a very patient man when it came to photographing weddings. When he called over the three-way walkie-talkie, I had to be at his side in a split second. This gig isn’t so bad. I was drinking good wine, eating catered food with time to zone out and think while watching hordes of wealthy people make fools of themselves as they celebrated, carrying out a ceremony to a probably unsuccessful life together. The divorce rate in the United States is over 52%. That means a couple has less than half a chance of their lives together actually surviving together and most likely they will be celebrating their ultimate separation before they both destroy one another’s esteem but of course, only after having two or three children to make the whole matter more complicated and difficult.
I blame religion for this. They go into a union trusting that god is blessing their choices, blessing their lives, blessing their new combined income, blessing their new home, blessing their new fat babies on the way, blessing their whole entire goddamn stupid marriage, which by the way, is a marriage of exclusion; a patriarchal institution where only a miniscule sliver of the diverse pie, only a fraction of the world wide melting pot will be blessed by this very particular god. Fuck me. Not even fucking civil union can be afforded in this completely money driven society where everyone can be a consumer and pay the government but not everyone can reap the few benefits of being a peon underneath that governments umbrella. Sigh again . . . I think I’m getting distracted.
It all ties in though, everything makes sense; the people feed religion, religion feeds the government and the government feeds itself. All of this I thought while eating my cake next to the lumpy old man with ear tufts, slouching into his fold up seat with the expensive corsage pined to his lapel.
Just then, the talkie beeped static; I could barely make out Norms voice over the scratchy connection. Doesn’t matter, I don’t need to hear what he is saying, it just means come. I took a final swig of the chardonnay, deftly (well, almost deftly, by this time the wine was bubbling in my head muting out the crappy songs the DJ was playing) swung the lens bag over my shoulder buckling it at the small of my back, picked up the monopod and headed towards the bride and groom, picturesque in their soon to be unhappy selves. I could see the flash of Norm’s camera as I made my way between the swishy crowds.