I spent last Thursday afternoon frantically scouring Port Elizabeth’s malls (both of them! 😛 ) for a clothing shop that would have a french cufflink shirt. Having finally found it (Edgars, Walmer Park Shopping centre. They saved my life!), I spent Thursday evening ironing said shirt. Anyone who knows me knows I’m a T-shirt, shorts and slops kinda guy. Outside of work, it takes a lot to get me to wear closed shoes or anything resembling formal wear. This however, was a special occasion, Rodney my best friend was getting married the next day! I packed a bag for the weekend and having taken leave for that day, got on a plane to fly to Johannesburg early the next morning.
Friday morning was frantic, 8.15am landing time, getting into town, getting to the car rental company, and being very disappointed with the service-“What?! ’95 Ford Tracer, ok fine! You want it back by tomorrow morning?! Jeepers, I’m here for the whole weekend… fine then!” (Never using that company again!) then going to pick up my girlfriend, and date for the big event. While all of this was happening, 2 phone calls from the best man very calmly saying (while probably visciously swearing under his breath!) “Pascal, how far are you? …alright see you in a bit”, and a third phone call unbelievably, requesting that I drive to Melrose Arch and purchase 2 bouquets of flowers. All of this before having to get onto the road to Haartebeespoort, for a 14.00 start of the ceremony at the venue! What I would give to be just slightly (read: a lot!) more organised (insert emotive AAARGH!!)… All of that sorted, I finally got us onto the R512 to Haarties, arriving at Red Ivory Lodge, the venue for this much awaited event with barely an hour to go before the scheduled start of the ceremony.
I walked into the Alexandra suite to find a dazzling collection of groomsmen, all dappered up and putting the finishing touches to their outfits-a final polish of the shoe, an adjustment of the tie etc. Ngoni, Rodney’s brother and best man handed me my own groomsmen suit. I was dressed in a few minutes (my shirt did have to be re-ironed, having not quite survived the trip) and there we were, tailored suits, cufflinks and the distinct feeling in the air that a chapter was about to come to a close, and our friend was about to embark on a new journey… There comes a time in every man’s life when he must forgo the things of youth, the frivolousness and abandon. He must take the plunge, make a commitment and choose a partner for life. Rodney had done this a while ago (their relationship is about 6 years-strong), but this would make it official.
Rodney and I first met when we were both first year students at Wits university, we stayed at the same residence. Our first few encounters consisted of heated arguments about rugby, specifically that year’s Tri-nations tournament. That was 12 years ago. I don’t have another friend that I have known for that long. Despite my somewhat selfish nature (I spent most of the time during our varsity years buried in my books trying to become a medical doctor, and although I have come out of my shell somewhat since qualifying, I’m still not really Mr Sociable and Out-going) when I wasn’t stressing out about the next exam or just the sheer workload of the course I could always go and see him, or during the tough times I could always count on him for an encouraging word. He’s a really good guy, of strong character and he places a high value in his friendships. I have never been part of a bridal party before, never been asked to be one of a few to stand next to someone as they tie the knot with their chosen one. So this event was quite special to me, almost overwhelmingly so. It’s a good thing he didn’t ask me to make a speech or anything as I would have gotten quite emotional!
I first met Mandisa, Rodney’s girlfriend-now-wife not too long after they started seeing each other. Attractive, intelligent, also of strong character I noticed that she quickly became very important to him. I felt she challenged him somehow. All these years later here they were, about to be married. It absolutely warms my heart to see my friend so happy and about to take this big step. The ceremony was something quite special, Red Ivory has a chapel, the front of which is open and looks out over a picturesque veldt area that provided a beautiful backdrop to the scene of the blessing of their union. The reception afterwards was a good, fun party. I was horrified a few weeks previously when we had been informed that the groomsmen and bridesmaids would have to do a procession, consisting of synchronized steps during the reception. This is because my coordination is somewhat lacking, tending towards non-existent! Thankfully though the steps were pretty simple, dumbed down I think quite possibly because I was part of the bridal party! 😛 That part of the evening went off relatively smoothly, I think (and I stand to be corrected) that I may have only missed a step or 2 during our 10 minute performance, no more or less than any of the other guys…
Rodney’s brother Brian, and also Rishon, a good friend of his each said a speech about the man of the moment, and Jacqui the bride’s best friend also had a turn at the podium. None of the speeches were as embarrassing for the groom and bride, as one would have liked for the sake of entertainment but there you go, you can’t have everything in life! 🙂 Good times were had by all. Friends and family had come from far and wide, as people will do for such an event, and everytime the dance floor was opened there was no shortage of bodies moving and swaying in merriment.
Let me not to the marriage of true minds, blah blah blah… I could go on, I am a hopeless romantic, but that weekend came and went, and what a great couple of days it was. Definately worth the trip! You haven’t travelled I think, until you’ve travelled for friends. Sunday evening came and I was on a plane back to PE, to have to face work at the hospital again the next morning. For my friend, Sunday and Monday both came but he wasn’t the same. No longer a single man but now half of a newly married couple. Ain’t life (and love) grand? 😉