Had I not promised that the subject would be addressed - albeit after equal large amounts of sun, food and alcohol - I would probably never go near it.
Here it is then.)
I was at a wedding the other day. Nothing unusual in itself except for the first time, I was at a wedding where one of the two main participants was a very, very, close friend.
This may sound callous and if there are people reading whose wedding I have been to, I apologise if you thought I liked you more than I do. But to explain, the groom at this wedding is part of what I call "The Front Row", this being my three most important mates who prop up my life from time to time. They are the the guys that do the hard yards -often unnoticed but never ignored - behind the scenes. And one of these Front Rowers, the loose head prop, was gettin' hitched!
The girl that he was marrying is one of life's amazing people. Burdened with beauty and brains, she never-the-less carries it off with superb aplomb. Bright, articulate, caring and generous, she is one of those people whom, if you only met once, is able to worm her way into your subconscious leaving an indelible mark. You could be on your deathbed, your mind addled with age, confusion and small amounts of morphine yet, like a bonfire on New Years eve, you would be able to remember her face clear as day. And she was marrying my loose head prop.
To say that she was the person that I'd imagined my prop marrying would be wrong. Not that he wouldn't deserve such a paragon, she just probably wasn't what I'd had in mind when thinking of the girl whom the prop would eventually join with.
With that in mind, you may not be surprised to learn that I'd previously always viewed the Bride with a degree of skepticism, as if she had hijacked my best friend and was taking him on a voyage that would lead to disaster. "This" I thought to myself, "is going to lead to me picking up my mate, dusting him off and telling him that he'll get over it in time" after the bride had systematically pureed his heart to a fine paste then served it on crackers with a garnish of fresh spring onion and a nice cup of tea.
But I didn't get it.
To say that there is a hint of jealousy in the paragraph above would be like telling Bill Gates' son that there maybe a future in this whole personal computer malarky or warning the Dalai Lama that those Chinese fellas mightn't be as friendly as they seem. After all, she couldn't know what was best for a front rower, could she? Only a fellow forward would know that.
But because he is in the Front Row, I was paying a bit more attention than usual. I actually watched, listened and absorbed on a level I'd previously reserved only for Oscar nominated films or woman whom, after I'd slept with them, lyingly told me how good I was in bed!
Even at this point, I didn't really get it. Sure, I noticed the devotional words, the slightly embarrassed grins from them both as the most poignant and sentimental vows were spoken - such words as they are should only ever be voiced once in your life. Even at the point where the union was blessed with the phrase "man and wife", my conceit meant that I still didn't get it.
It was only until the speeches that things started to become clear.
The nice thing about be a spare wheel at a wedding (something I'll talk about more in a later post) is the general absence of responsibility. One isn't laboured with a partner,wife or girlfriend whom you feel compelled talk to every once and a while. Likewise, because there is such a mix of the bride and groom's friends and relations, chances are that you will be seated beside a person that, since you don't know them that well, you can choose to not talk to them and it isn't seen as rude - merely nervous. So, you get the chance to look and listen a lot more than if you were in the midst of it all. And it was there that I saw it - on two distinct occasions!
Through a break in the crowd I watched as the Front Rower was looking at the woman who had recently promised to join him in matrimony. It was a long look. So long, in fact, that I thought he'd gone to sleep with his eyes open and a grin on his face. She was talking to the bridesmaid so had no clue that he was watching her.
This look was powerful......... but gentle. It was loving but not smothering. It was lustful yet kind. And I'd never seen the Front Rower look at anyone the way he looked at his bride. He is not the most expressive of people at the best of times. Indeed, this guy could qualify from Human Statue College with a double degree in granite looks and still motion with honours! In all the time I have known him, the front rower never gave much away with his eyes or face. Except here. He had given it all away.
I reached for a tasty beverage to consider what I'd seen. The bugger was more in love with this woman than he'd let on! Sure, there was the whole "marriage, declaration before friends, family and the world" thing but surely he would have told me if it was really "The One", wouldn't he?
I looked back at him to find that he had turned away to someone else, and this time, the Bride was looking at him. To say that the look that the bride gave the front rower was the same as his but magnified would be a wonderful understatement. It was more.
She had this smile dancing across her face. Only a small smile, you had to watch her a while to make sure the disco ball lights weren't playing "Purple Rain" with your eyes. And this smile said, "I know you better than anyone. I know you love me and I adore you".
I looked away as if I was seeing something I shouldn't. Something intensely private, R18 or not meant for general release. Another tasty beverage was called for to cool the heat of embarrassment from witnessing something so personal.
Then I got it.
Love is looking at someone else and, whether or not they are looking back, letting them know how you feel. And for such looks, words are not needed. It made me fervently hope to look and be looked at like that one day myself. And the reason that the Bride and the Front Rower could look at each other so long with this gaze on their faces was that they had "got it" long ago. I also realised that my vision of my mate's interior organs being served as hors d'oeuvre was way outta line and certainly wouldn't come true. I also realised at that time that there could be no other bride for my loosehead prop. Even props need front rowers of their own.
Because she does know the Front Rower better than I . She does things for him what no other woman could, gives what no other friend could provide and looks at him in a way no words can truly encompass.
So there you are. Thats what I think love is. If you don't think thats right, feel free to comment, but thats my line and I'm sticking to it.
For Keith and Helena