Rain poured down in sheets; heavy and loud as it hit building and road. Wind whipped through the aspen trees outside the country club, but even in the violence the leaves rattled with a sound of serenity not found often enough.
An early autumn wedding reception was in full swing inside. Center pieces were being picked apart by bored children, the bartender was opening the forth bottle of vodka and tenth two-liter of Coke of the evening, the DJ was playing “Uptown Funk” for what felt like the ninth time. Jordan stood outside, under an awning behind the kitchen, taking an all too soothing cigarette break.
“Jordan, cake cutting in five. You’re on champagne detail,” the event coordinator said, peaking her head out the kitchen door for so brief a moment he wondered if the event even took place.
He flicked the remaining portion of the cigarette into the alley way and watched the little orange light disappear into a puddle. He had been a caterer for all of six months, but already knew weddings were not his favorite gig.
He went back inside and started popping champagne bottles. Glasses he was told to call “flutes” for reasons beyond his caring were slowly filled and loaded onto a tray. He hoisted the tray above his shoulder and walked into the reception hall just as the DJ announced the cake cutting was about to begin.
Jordan repeated, “You’re drink, sir,” and “you’re drink ma’am” over and over as he tray emptied. As he handed over the final glass, the recipient sniffed his arm.
He had no idea how to respond. No idea if he should respond. Weddings were weird.
“You smell of smoke,” said the gray haired woman with her nostrils still far too close to his arm.
“My apologies, ma’am. I will find something to mask the scent,” he said.
“Nonsense,” the woman nearly shouted. She looked around the room and stepped closer to Jordan. “Once this cake business is over, I need you to meet me on the third floor balcony bring with your pack and a lighter. Make this happen for me, young man.”
Jordan chuckled. He had seen the woman earlier in the evening pantomime a ‘kill me now’ motion to her husband. “I’ll see you there, ma’am.”
“Cut that crap out. Roxy. My name is Roxy and if you ma’am me again, I will maim you.” She kept an unblinking gaze on Jordan. He wondered how many times she had said that statement and followed through. He nodded his understanding and went for a new tray of champagne flutes.
Cheers filled the room as cake was smashed into the groom’s face. Jordan sneaked away to third floor balcony. Roxy was already present, watching the rain.
“I couldn’t take it any longer. Had to flee early,” she said.
“I understand,” Jordan said. He handed her a cigarette and a lighter.
“You remember that Alanis song?” She asked, lighting the cigarette. “Complete crap. Everyone likes rain on their wedding day. The sky itself wants to come to the party. How could that be a bad thing?”
“Little before my time, actually.” Jordan said, trying not to be rude.
“Of course it is,” Roxy was disgusted. She took a drag and listened to the rain. “You know what my grandson said when he told me he was getting married? He said, ‘G’ma! I’m totally getting hitched!'”
“Was he excited or scared by the thought?” Jordan asked.
“He’s thirty-seven. He talks like a kid, thinks like a kid and has the emotional maturity of a rather dumb kid.”
“Oh,” Jordan was not quite expecting that.
“You’re a kid, you can be dumb. The fun part about being old though is getting to say what you want with words you like. Not words people tricked you into using decades ago.” Roxy took a long drag. “He told me over the phone too. I like to keep our chats to Thanksgiving and Christmas. But no! He just had to call me and let me know. I was late to my book club. Coffee had gone cold by the time I got there.”
Jordan kept quiet.
“You’re wise to let a grumpy old lady rant. The groom in there always has something to say. I give it a year.”
“Give what a year?” Jordan asked.
“The marriage. The glow of the ring will die down and the bride will see that boy for the Apatow character he really is.”
Jordan laughed, “You know Apatow movies?”
“Everyone knows Apatow movies. We can’t escape the man-boy comedy anymore.”
Jordan’s phone buzzed with a text from the event coordinator ‘where r u?’ it read.
“Crud buckets, I have to get back downstairs. You need another one?” Jordan asked.
“No. Thank you though. And thank you for listening. It is a good skill you have there.” Roxy returned her eyes to the rain and Jordan made his way downstairs.
“Where in the world have you been?” The event coordinator shouted at Jordan as he entered the kitchen.
“Catering?” He replied.
“Was that a question?” The coordinator asked.
“I think yes. I was chatting with the groom’s grandmother. Do not call her ‘g’ma’.”
The coordinator looked him over. Eyebrows bent and face scrunched. She pondered her words.
“That counts. Now bus some tables.”
Jordan went back to the reception hall and started picking up dirty plates and forks. He heard a commotion from the far side of the room. “Chug! Chug! Chug!” A crowd chanted. The groom was standing in front of a row of beer bottles, drinking one after the other in rapid order.
He heard an annoyed side beside him. Roxy had returned just in time to see the show. “What a doofus,” she said.
Jordan laughed. He did not like wedding gigs, but Roxy made the night more than worthwhile.