A trip down South to the white heat of Miami sees our lone Englishman get dressed head-to-toe in Linen, confused for a member of staff and aurally assaulted by a drug fiend...
I’m heading down to Florida. There is a wedding we have to attend. But first we are visiting my girlfriend’s friend’s place in South Beach for a few days. I’m excited for the trip. Miami, Naples, South Beach. It’s all very glamorous.
Taxi to JFK for the flight. Waiting in departures. The girlfriend takes a trip to the bathroom. Sat alone. This is a good moment. Things are alright. Life’s not all bad. Then I feel something on my shoulder. Look down. Oh no. Look up. Birds. Birds inside the terminal. I’ve just been dropped on by a bird.
The girlfriend returns. She looks at me covered in excrement.
Not so glamourous now.
I’ve foolishly got myself into a conversation with someone. I’m sat by the pool at the friend’s house and this fella has started talking to me. I thought staring at my book was enough to get rid of him but he is gabbing on. Worse still he is talking to me about drugs. Few things make me more uncomfortable than talking to someone about drugs. Sex maybe. Their belief in God. But this chap has singled me out as some sort of kindred spirit. He is here for the big music festival. Some sort of trance based thing. He is moaning to me about how his group of friends don’t want to party like maniacs all weekend. He’s one of those people that don’t need anyone else for a conversation.
“Last night we went to bed at 4? I mean 4. Come on. It’s vacay.”
Vacay. One of the worst words out there.
I try to nod and sympathise.
“Yeah and last night I was all like do you guys wanna go skiing? And they were like no.”
This is where my problem with drug conversation manifests itself. I don’t know the lingo. Thinking back now he clearly was referring to cocaine. At the time I said
“Oh. Are they not the outdoorsy types of people?”
I’m in Naples, Florida. For a wedding. Not mine. Girlfriend’s friend. The ceremony is on the beach. But there is an event the night before. Now, the Americans do something called a “Rehearsal Dinner.” Now this isn’t something we seem to do in Great Britain. From my experience a wedding in the UK consists of turning up in the afternoon, quick ceremony in a marquee, overcooked chicken, a disco, the end. But in America there is a push towards making a bigger event out of it. Fair enough. Hence the rehearsal dinner.
At one point I’m stood alone. A man in a pink jacket, handkerchief in his breast pocket and slicked back hair from the 80’s, turns to me and says. “I’ll get two champagnes.”
So it’s the night of the rehearsal dinner. I’ve been worried for weeks. The unknown. My girlfriend has picked out an outfit for me, much in the same way you would a teddy bear or a eunuch. It’s not really me. Linen Shirt. Linen Trousers. Michael Bolton. I’m sceptical. I’m concerned it is not formal enough. The girlfriend does some research and assures me it is perfect. Fine. I want to fit in. I never feel comfortable at these sorts of things. I don’t fit in.
We pull up to the Country Club where the dinner is. Country Club. Alarm bells right? Walk in. Shit. Everyone is wearing a jacket and tie. There are about 200 people there. So that’s about 100 men in jackets and me.
Doing the rounds. Shaking hands. Getting looked at up and down. Judgement. Judgment. Judgement. All I’ve got in my head is the inherently racist. “Tom, you’re British, you are better than these people.”
It’s not enough though. At one point I’m stood alone. A man in a pink jacket, handkerchief in his breast pocket and slicked back hair from the 80’s, turns to me and says. “I’ll get two champagnes.”
I look at him.
“I’ll get two champagnes.”
He. He thinks I’m a waiter.
It’s simple isn’t it? Explain. Say my girlfriend dresses me. Tell him I’ve never been to a rehearsal dinner before. Point out that I’m British. But I say nothing.
The slick dick, picks up some plates, hands them to me and says…
“Oh and take these plates would you.”
I take the plates. Nod. Now fit in. I’m a waiter. Now I fit in.
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