Once he stepped into the room, the sound of laughter and talk suddenly died down. As he walked to an empty spot in one of the tables, people stared and some even held their breath, as if what they were seeing was something they would have never imagined. The walk he did from the entrance to the table only lasted a few seconds, but it seemed it had lasted for hours. Once he sat down people started talking and the noise in the room resumed after a while, as if nothing had happened.
The man’s name was Peter and he had come to the wedding alone. In the table he sat on, everyone was looking at him although it was obvious they were trying not to do so. They were failing miserably, as he felt their eyes probe him as if he was robbing something instead of just grabbing the napkin on the side of the plate. He was saved by the food, because the waiters started entering the room just in time. They served every single person a small salad and a small cup of soup.
Peter liked the taste of both things and he specially liked that people were not looking at him anymore. It was a relief that they had stopped piercing his body with their eyes. Instead, they were busy making a critique of the taste of the food and the portions. In every table, at least one person was mentioning how in other weddings the food had been much superior. Also, they gave what they though was advice in order to improve the flavor of the dishes, even when most didn’t know how to boil water.
Peter ate in silence. Once he had decided to go to the wedding, he had been conscious that he wouldn’t really be able to talk to anyone or share a single honest opinion. He was clearly the most polemical guest in the room but he wasn’t the most ungrateful at all. Maybe everyone knew his past and judged him for it, even some thought he didn’t deserved a seat in the event, yet there he was among all of the, having much more decency in one arm than most had in their entire bodies.
With the salads and soups mostly finished, the waiters came back. It was as if a flock of penguins had suddenly entered the premises. They were agile and very fast, as they grabbed the plates and carried them out of the room. Only a few minutes after the last empty cup had left, they entered again, this time with the main dish. It was a combination of seafood and ground food, if you will. It was served in rather small portions but it came with another salad, this one smaller, as well as a plate with a baked potato filled with cream and ham. It looked very good.
They waiters also filled everyone’s glasses with champagne. They would have to make a toast later on, before the cake was cut. Of course, please went at it again, criticizing the food. Some said the fish was raw and others thought it was certainly overcooked. Same with the other meats. Others complained they had received a smaller potato than everyone else and some people even declared theirs had nothing inside. Of course, many complained about the champagne, demanding for a waiter to come in order to ask them for the bottle.
Peter enjoyed his food a lot. Even without talking, everything was really beautiful. Suddenly, it dawned on him that all of it could have been for him, if things had lasted longer and if love had been a little bit better built. Because every single person knew that Peter had been involved with one of the people getting married and that’s why every single time they looked at him, they followed it by a whisper and questions he knew were not the kindest or of any of their importance, to be honest.
He tried not to listen to his own head and kept on eating, enjoying the fact that he had at least been invited, which was much more than he could have ever imagined happening, as there was no need to do so. But they had done it and he had complied because he wanted to show everyone that everything was ok, that he wasn’t dying or anything because he wasn’t the one in the altar. To be clear, he didn’t knew if an altar had been involve because he had missed the ceremony on purpose.
There was no way he would make a scene inside a temple. He did thought about going but at the last minute he decided against it. Instead, he would make it to the party. However, he never intended to be late and make such and entrance but that’s how it happened and the only one he could blame was the taxi driver for being so slow. He even thought of talking to the couple and apologize for that, but he ultimately thought it was better not to fan the fire that people carried around.
His baked potato was very hot so he decided to leave it alone for a while. The shellfish were excellent, or maybe that was because he hadn’t eaten any for a long time. The other two pieces of meat were a small pork cutlet, which tasted really good with a sauce they had made only for it, and a piece of veal that many people decided to leave on the plate. Peter ate it and realized that it hadn’t been properly cooked. This time, the murmurs around the tables were right. As he prepared to eat his potato, it was taken away by the waiter flock that came and went in a second.
The next thing they brought were the small plates for the dessert. Peter could actually see that some carts were being pulled into the room. They had a large selection of small desserts on them, so you could choose any to join cake on the plate. Most people were looking at the selection but that was exactly on the opposite way they should have been looking. They were warned about this with the sound of a fork being lightly banged against a glass full of champagne, done by the groom.
Everyone’s face denoted boredom. That part was often the most boring one in any marriage ceremony. But the sad faces all around weren’t enough to make the groom refrain from doing what coupled had done for generations in a wedding: telling everyone about their love in that small public forum, as if they had to justify what they felt. And many people, in this case, felt exactly that was what was happening, especially when they noticed the presence of Peter once again.
The groom talked about how beautiful the bride was. He told everyone, with jokes and a charming but used sense of humor, how he had being the lucky guy to ask such a beautiful woman out. It was childish at times, but ultimately effective, as many people had started crying for no apparent reason. The speech wasn’t sentimental, maybe romantic. It was short and people erupted in cheers but no one really knew if it was because he hadn’t talked for hours or if they were really touched by his words.
Then, the bride spoke for more than thirty minutes. Granted, she looked quite beautiful in her white dress and whoever had helped her with makeup had done a fabulous job. But her voice was monotonous, and people were almost sleeping by the time she finally ended her speech. People applauded but clearly because they wanted to be mice to the person getting married. She was proud of herself and didn’t seem to realize she had bombed so hard. Love had made her stupid.
They cut the first piece of the cake and, after fake laughs, apiece was delivered to every single person in the room. The cake was not good or bad; it was just fine, like the couple on the main table.
Before attracting more attention, Peter ate his cake with haste and then left the room. He grabbed some macaroons on his way out and ate them as he cried on the taxi back home.