When I Last Saw You Laughing

Sunsets: puke-inducing kitsch when painted on a van, but flaming awesome when observed with one's own eyes on a balmy summer evening.

We got on a boat just past a sign that discouraged pirates from parking. Pete’s dad complained for whole minutes.

PDad: I don’t like my jacket. I’m not wearing it.

Tata: Put on your jacket, cranky!

I couldn’t decide if I were under-drunk or over-sober, but perhaps both. At no time did I hork over the side, no one whistled the Gilligan’s Island theme nor said anything about needing a bigger boat. Everyone in our party of eleven seemed off-balance, including the sleeping five-week-old. The boat putt-putted down a channel and out into a bay, where suddenly the sun seemed brighter and we all got better-looking as the whole venture turned fabulous. The boat zipped along parallel to a jetty then out toward a lighthouse. The minister’s wife sidled up to me. “It’s haunted,” she whispered confidentially. That seemed kind of personal. The captain turned the boat and we zipped off to another lighthouse, where the engines died and Pete’s dad married his longtime companion. The infant howled every moment the engines were silent. Just before the ceremony started, Pete handed me the camera and told me to go crazy. I put down my cane, slid all around the deck and took about seventy-five pictures, many of which we will regret, if we know what’s good for us. I held up the camera and took a picture of myself. Behind me, a voice asked, “You can take pictures of yourself?” I turned around and three cameras clicked pictures of persons holding them. This was before eight people drank four bottles of champagne. A pod of dolphins swam past us, on some vital errand, of course.

I am very funny. Perhaps you've heard.

You will be pleased to hear we stumbled off the boat and drove literally fifty feet to the restaurant, where a bar band launched into a lumpy, sour version of Nights In White Satin we heard from the parking lot.

PDad: What’s with the cane?

Tata: Sometimes I’m fine and sometimes I lurch a little.

PDad: Faker!

I grabbed a column and hung from it until I could breathe again.

PDad: The last person I said that to didn’t laugh.

Then I couldn’t breathe AT ALL.

Three hours later, after the band lost interest in horrifying us and wandered away, slices of wedding cake appeared at our places at the table. I took a few bites and sent up the white flag. Sober and over an hour away from my hotel room, I started barking orders since experience tells me that overtired drunks take growling for an invitation.

The bathrooms are full of country music, I said. Be careful!

Just package the cake in its original box, I said. Thank you!

The minister and his wife walked home. The rest of us piled into two cars. The bride and her daughter, also sober, drove us all home. We talked about Latin music and civil engineering. This was the first time in my life a wedding didn’t give me hives. I can’t say the same about the band.

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