Wednesday 7th February 2024
“Becky’s boy Levi, is getting married!”, Miriam called from the kitchen. Joshua was in the dining room setting the table before his brothers arrived and the chaos of Friday Night dinner ensued.
He set the cutlery down and wandered into the kitchen where his mother was busying herself preparing the vegetables.
“You remember Levi right? You were in the same Bar Mitzvah class, Levi’s always talking about how Rabbi Enoch called you a ‘smarmy little know it all’ when you started asking him all those questions. Levi thought it was brilliant, he’s still quite a fan you know, he’s been to John’s gigs”
“Of course I remember Levi, and the wedding is great news” said Joshua, picking up a potato peeler and joining in preparing the veg, “they’re an adorable couple, you can see how much they love each other.”
“He wants you to come” Miriam said, “To the wedding. He’s so excited, it’s going to be a massive party, he’s even said to bring all your friends.”
“All of them, or just the lads? That’s a lot of people you know”
“Oh Levi won’t mind, you know how generous he is, and he’s just had another promotion so the cost won’t be a problem… such a good boy”
She cast her eye over Joshua’s shabby jeans, she would offer to stitch up that hole in the knee but she knew he’d refuse. She was proud of him, heaven knows she knew he was special, but it would be so much easier if he’d put on a suit, go for some job interviews. He smiled at her, he thought she was about to launch into one of her speeches about finding a ‘proper’ job but it seemed she knew better. She bit her tongue. Yes she was his mother, but who was she to tell him what to do, after all….
“I know you’ve been really busy recently, John’s been raving about you, but if you could make it, it would be lovely, Levi really admires you, he wants you to be there”
“I know, I love Levi too” replied Joshua fondly, “of course I’ll be there, wouldn’t miss it for the world, you know how much I love a wedding!”
“If you’re bringing those lads though, tell Andy to put on a tie eh? And Simon…”
“We call him Pete these days”
She rolled her eyes, kids today, ‘I identify as this that and the other’, why couldn’t they just be happy with the names their parents gave them?’
“Well whatever he’s called, tell him from me, I don’t want any of his fisherman language around company right!”
Joshua laughed. “Good luck with that one mum!”
She was right, the wedding was quite the shindig. Promises made, the party was in full swing. The happy couple seemed not only to have invited all their own friends, but all their friends of friends and friends of friends friends. The more the merrier. Joshua nibbled on a vol au vent, was that prawn? Yum! That was a welcome catering oversight! He sat back in his chair and surveyed the room. It was quite wonderful, everyone was so full of joy, laughing, dancing, singing (He loved karaoke.) Most of the lads had joined a conga on the dancefloor, what a beautiful sight, this rough tough bunch of rag tag ruffians trying to co-ordinate their 24 left feet and not fall over backwards and squash someone’s Aunt Mabel. It was great to see them letting their hair down. As the conga danced past Joshua’s table Tom broke off
“You okay dude?” he checked in, sitting down breathless
“Oh yes, taking it all in, I do love a wedding”
“Yeah, we know! This must be the sixth one you’ve dragged us to in as many months. I guess we’re at that age where people are settling down, we don’t have to go to all of them though.”
“Wouldn’t miss a single one” said Joshua.
“What is it with you and weddings?” asked Tom.
“I love love” replied Joshua.
Tom stuck his fingers down his throat and made barfing noises.
“Not into all that romance bollocks myself mate, hearts and chocolates, I don’t ever want to be anyone’s knight in shining armour thank you very much”
“That’s not what I mean” Joshua replied.
Tom raised his eyebrows
“Oh you meant, how’s your father! I like me a bit of that” he winked.
Joshua sighed! “No Tom, I didn’t mean sex either. I meant love. I meant spending all day cooking someone’s favourite meal because you know it makes them feel special, or not looking bored when they tell you their favourite joke for the umpteenth time. I mean the way it feels when someone tells you something wonderful about yourself that you know is true but don’t have the confidence to recognise in yourself. I mean when you know someone knows the things about you that you’re ashamed of but you know they still think you’re amazing. I mean when you trust someone and don’t listen to gossip about them, when one person gives another a reason to believe their future is filled with hope. I love when people recognise they are made of the same stuff as one another, that they’re all one, all the same, equal, and then they pull together in the same direction to do amazing things together. I love seeing people know where they stand, and see how powerful that makes them, to be able to just be who they were created to be with another person. I love when people promise to defend and care for each other for the rest of their lives, and they mean it, really mean it. That’s what marriage is about, that’s what weddings celebrate, not gooey romance, and no Tom, not just getting your end away, but love, real deep love, the entire reason for being.”
Tom shifted uncomfortably, embarrassed by his previous remarks. Josh did that. He just got right to the heart of the matter, he was so wise. How could he be only 30 and yet speak with the wisdom of eternity. Tom felt like when Josh spoke it was as though he knew, and even contained every atom of the universe. Joshua smiled, his eyes twinkled, and Tom felt as though he were looking at the entirety of existence, summarised in one man. It was scary, and yet not, because it was Joshua and he was just so human.
Suddenly the moment was broken by Miriam looking panicked.
“Joshua, come quickly, I need you” she whispered. She grabbed his elbow “sssh don’t let people know, Becky’’s mortified”
Joshua stood, he placed his hand affectionately against his mothers cheek, oh how he loved this amazing woman, always looking out for everyone else, rising to any challenge, she was a tower of strength. “What’s the matter mum?” he asked.
“It’s the wine! It’s completely run out. You remember they put on the invite that the bar would be free all night, and Levi ordered dozens of cases of wine, dozens, but look around, it’s like the whole town is here, the wine’s run out.
“And what am I supposed to do about that?” Joshua laughed.
She removed his hand from her cheek and held it in her hand
“I know you can fix this” she said, seriously, looking him in the eye.
“Mum, it’s not the right time for me to be starting to do things like that, not yet”
She gave him that look. He knew that look. She waved at the bar manager, beckoned him over
“Just do everything my son tells you to do” she said “don’t question him, just do it”
And with that she walked off, leaving the bar manager looking more than a little puzzled.
Behind the bar were some large empty jugs. Joshua told the bar manager to fill them with water. Once he’d done this Joshua instructed the bar manager to pour a glass from them and take it to the wedding planner to taste.
The bar manager was disappointed. The way Miriam had spoken he’d figured this guy was going to fix the problem, he thought perhaps he knew an off licence with surplus stock or had a van they could use to nip out to ASDA for some cheap plonk, yeah this didn’t seem like a cheap plonk kinda family but they’d get away with it, half the guests were already smashed, they wouldn’t know a Lambrini from a Moet at this point. But no, he’s clearly some kind of mental patient who thinks he can do magic tricks. Still Miriam didn’t seem like the kind of lady you mess with so he best humour her idiot son. He really didn’t have time for this.
Handing the glass to the wedding planner he gave a knowing wink “this man wants you to drink his wine” he said, making air quotes round the word wine. From the other end of the bar he flashed Joshua a patronising grin and gave him a big thumbs up. What was he actually going to do about this wine situation though? Perhaps he could ring his wife, she might be still awake, she could maybe pop to a 24 hour supermarket with her credit card or something…. His train of thought was interrupted by a gasp from the wedding planner.
“This is amazing! Where did you get this?”
“Erm, that guy over there!” He pointed at Joshua who by now was heading for the dancefloor, his friend Mary laughing and squealing “come on, lets dance, I love this one”
The bar manager laughed, “nice one! Good joke” he said to the wedding planner, but the wedding planner was already rushing across the room to Levi, who was standing head in hands with his mum and her best friend Auntie Miriam
“Why didn’t you tell me you had a case of the good stuff? Honestly Levi, this is brilliant, it’s the best wine I’ve ever tasted, why’d you wait until now to send it out?”
Miriam punched the air! “Joshua! I knew he’d sort it”
As he exited the dancefloor, Levi was waiting. “Joshua! You saved me! Thank you so much, thank you for coming. I’m so happy you’re here, now come on, let me introduce you to my new husband….”