The DJ puts on a song by Journey, and Charlotte turns to me. “Tell me something I don’t want to hear,” she says. “Something I don’t care about.”
“I can explain to you my theory about Jane Austen.”
“OK,” she says, “I don’t care about that, but how about something new?”
So I say, “The DJ is from Camden Town. In London. He supports Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.”
Charlotte takes a sip of “Bloom ‘18,” the wedding’s signature cocktail made of some trendy vodka distilled in The Valley. She asks me how I know that.
“David heard his accent and, for some reason, got convinced that he supported Arsenal. So he asked. Turns out they both support Tottenham.”
“That’s soccer, right?”
“The team he gets up early to watch?”
“Good job,” she says. “I don’t give a shit about that.”
I know lots of things I don’t care about. Rosters of English soccer teams, names of heavyweight champions, plots of Rick and Morty episodes, traits of My Little Pony characters, the rhyme scheme of Llama Llama Red Pajama.
Charlotte, my sister, knows every Journey song. Journey is her husband’s favorite band.
I told her not to marry someone whose favorite band is known only for a few 80s power ballads. It’s one thing to rock out to “Don’t Stop Believing” after a few glasses of wine, it’s another to follow the band around B-grade casinos in California and Arizona on their last tour.
Now, here she is, unable to handle a song at a wedding.
The DJ fades into “Raspberry Beret.” I exhale, but Charlotte still looks like a baby squirrel who’s lost her mother.
“I want to talk to Gabe.”
“That’s a bad idea,” I say.
“He’s been texting me all night.”
“You can’t leave Jessica’s wedding to make a phone call. Jessica’s family.”
“Just for a few minutes.”
“You get a bathroom break, that’s it.”
Charlotte looks across the room to the corner where the bathrooms are.
“Don’t be too long,” I say. “You have two jobs: make sure Jessica is having fun at her wedding, and don’t puke. Locking yourself in a stall with a cocktail while you text your lover accomplishes neither.”
“Fine,” she says, “then hold my drink.” She shoves her glass at me and strides to the bathroom.
Charlotte does not like it when I refer to him as her lover. She wants Gabe to be her boyfriend. But you can’t have a boyfriend when you’re still married. You can only have a lover.
Charlotte dances beside Jessica. She is one of four pink, flowing dresses around the bride. When they’re standing still the bridal party looks great, but when they dance and their skirts all billow they look like jellyfish with blonde hair. The DJ’s playing “Low.” Everyone squats down during the chorus, and I feel my knees crack even though I am not dancing.
I am sitting, sipping Mumm. My green dress barely comes down to my knees. I took my time when I shaved my legs today and they look pretty fantastic. I stretch them out, cross them at the ankles.
Charlotte spills some of her cocktail on her dress. When the song ends, she goes to the bar, gets another one, and comes over to me.
“Dance,” she says.
“In a minute.”
“Putting the kids to sleep.”
“I thought you had a babysitter.”
“We do. Kids’ll only go to sleep for us, though.”
“They’re kind of assholes that way.”
I sip more Mumm.
Charlotte stands in front of me, grabs my arm, tugs me a little. “Come on out.” She sounds like my daughter asking me to play with her Legos in the morning before I’ve had coffee.
“Wait,” I say. Charlotte goes back to the dance floor.
I’m wearing make-up, my legs are smooth, my heels are high enough that I’m almost as tall as David. I am drunk, and now no one is talking to me. This is like a vacation. I don’t go to dance until I’ve finished my drink.