Sometime in the winter of 1981, a friend I'd known since junior high school wrote me to let me know he was getting married in the spring. Bob* and I had hung out and done a lot of things together, and it came as a complete surprise to me that he was considering getting hitched. I didn't know the girl involved, but I wrote him a number of very impassioned letters objecting in no uncertain terms. I mean, I wasn't ready to get married, how could it be possible that my best civilian buddy was? Needless to say, this subtle point was ignored by his prospective bride, who understood only that I was objecting to the marriage, and adopted an attitude of cold hostility. Well, she wouldn't be the first girlfriend/wife of a buddy who didn't like me.

In the fullness of time I got what was obviously intended to be a pro forma invitation to the wedding. It was addressed to me (and only me), not Specialist Wombat and Guest, and there was no invitation to the reception. Clearly, there was no expectation that I would actually show up, especially considering my objections.

Oh, really? I says to myself.

I managed to get a week's leave around the time of the wedding, sent the RSVP as soon as I'd gotten the leave approved, and scrambled to get a flight out of Frankfurt to DC. I couldn't get there in time for the bachelor party (I gather I didn't miss anything, since it was thrown by Bob's soon-to-be-brother-in-law) but I did get to visit with the best man the night before the wedding. My "girlfriend" S was in town, as it happened, so we went to pay a visit, armed with large quantities of adult beverages as was our custom. Now, mind you, we didn't go there with the express intention of getting the best man drunk. We were just going to drop in for a few hours, shoot the breeze, have a few drinks, and then head on home to get a decent night's sleep before going to the wedding and subtly express my disapproval by showing up in my khakis instead of dress uniform. Or, in S's case, enjoy being able to sleep in until all hours.

We started with White Russians, which S had acquired a taste for, and when we ran out of dairy products we moved on to Black Russians. About the time we ran out of Kahlua, the best man excused himself to the latrine, and shortly thereafter S and I heard the unmistakable sounds of someone worshiping the porcelain god with great fervor and devotion. High fives! We apologized and left (taking the remains of the rum with us) and eventually I got be awakened after far too few hours by my father asking loudly whether I still planned on going to Bob's wedding. I shambled out of bed and into the shower, cleaned up, got into my khakis, and made it to the church barely in time to see the newlyweds departing the chapel. The best man looked terrible, and I was told later that he was barely functional, which didn't help the bride's low opinion of me one bit. I left my wedding present (a bottle of really excellent raisin wine) with the groom's parents, and headed on home to finish nursing a really brutal hangover.

I mention all this because thirty years, five kids, and a couple of divorces later (mine and Bob's, not necessarily in that order) I've been invited to the wedding of Bob's oldest son. I don't know his #1 Son as well as I might have liked, but apparently his opinion of me is good enough for me to deserve an invite to both the wedding and the reception. His mother, Bob's ex, will be there too, I think.

I'm wondering if I should tell him the story about that drinking party.

*Obviously not his actual name.