Game Over - By Adele Parks
‘What an inauspicious start to married life,’Josh comments.
‘Is there such a thing as an auspicious start?’ I ask. He grins at me and Issie scowls. She likes weddings. The rain is falling so hard it’s bouncing off the pavements and up my skirt. I’m bloody cold and wish the bride would stop hugging her mother and simply get in the car. I look closer. Maybe she isn’t so much hugging as clinging. Maybe the seriousness of what she’s done has hit her and she’s having second thoughts. Issie shakes the remnants of confetti from the blue box but misses the bride and groom. The confetti settles on the grubby road. The filthy street is a stark contrast to the finery of their clothes, the car, the flowers, the smiles that radiate.
‘Josh, what’s the proper name for a squashed cube?’ I ask, pointing to the little blue box of confetti. ‘They should redesign this packaging,’ I add.
‘No!’ Issie looks horrified, as if I’d suggested exposing my bikini line to the vicar. ‘Weddings are about tradition.’
‘Even if tradition means tacky and predictable?’ Two big sins in my book.
‘By definition,’ she defends. Then she leaps forward to jostle for a front position to catch the bouquet. She nervously hops from one foot to the other, her sleek, blonde, shoulder-length hair brushing her right shoulder, then her left, then her right again. Issie is a fidget. I am a still person. She continually rubs her hands together, taps her feet, jerks her knee. She once read that this constant nervous activity uses thirty calories an hour, more than a Mars bar a day, pounds in a year, a whole dress size in a lifetime. Her constant unfocused activity strikes me as a fairly accurate metaphor for how she lives her life.
I don’t try to catch the flowers. I don’t try for two reasons. One, Issie will lynch me if I catch them. She’s spent the entire reception spiking the drinks of single women, in the hope that this will diminish their coordination. And two, it’s bollocks.
No really, the whole marriage thing is bollocks. I mean I’m as happy as the next one to have an excuse to wear a hat and drink champagne. Generally, wedding receptions are a laugh, a big, fun party. But that’s as far as it goes for me. Beyond that, it’s bollocks. I’m not a man. And I’m not a lesbian. I’m not even a man hater – Josh is one of my best friends and he’s a man. I’m a single, successful, attractive, 33-year-old, heterosexual. I just don’t want to get married. Ever.
Issie doesn’t catch the flowers and she looks as though the disappointment will break her.
‘A drink, Cas? Issie?’ asks Josh, in an effort to cheer her up. He doesn’t wait for a response but turns back to the hotel and heads directly for the bar. He knows that we’ll willingly join him for a drink Martini-style: any time, any place, anywhere. We elbow through the elegant crowds. This morning they sat demurely in church pews but they have now abandoned any semblance of civilization. The exit of the bride, the groom and the oldies leaves the rest of the guests free to indulge in what brought us to the wedding in the first place. The opportunity for some hedonistic, no strings attached, unashamed sex.
I selected my target in the church, before the ‘I dos’. I relocate him. He’s tall, dark and handsome. Admittedly, he doesn’t look that bright. Rather too in love with himself to allow room for anyone else. Perfect. Deep and meaningful is an over-rated phenomenon. Shallow and meaningless but well endowed gets such a hard press.
It’s important to pick out a target early on in the proceedings and it’s important to let him know he’s it. I smile. Directly at him. If at this point he looks around and tries to locate the recipient of my smile, I’ll instantly go off him. I like my men to be arrogant enough to know that I’m flirting with them.
He passes the test by grinning back at me. Only turning to catch his reflection in the mirror that hangs behind the bar. He grins again. This time at himself. The difference in appreciation is fractional. I don’t mind. Vanity is a safety net. I flick my hair and turn away. Job done.
Issie and Josh are still fighting their way to the bar. I call them back.
‘What? I was nearly at the front,’ Issie complains.
‘Don’t worry, drinks are on