My wife and I have been together for eleven years now, and I still can't identify all of her relations. Her family tree has more branches than Starbucks, and many's the time I've been re-introduced to a cousin/uncle/step-nephew eighteen times removed and been forced to smile brightly and bluff desperately until someone's been kind enough to fill in the blanks for me.
This weekend we were off down the coast again, this time for a wedding, an event that promised a sea of faces I'd be required to navigate. And at the end of the day, I'm happy to say I didn't do too badly. If I did stumble, there were far more pressing crises to distract people from any faux pas I might have made.
First there was the limo, booked by the bride and groom weeks ago and inexplicably cancelled just before the event. While the car did eventually turn up, the rings didn't, misplaced by the alleged Best Man and still AWOL twenty four hours after the ceremony.
While the wheels were falling off for the not-quite-so-happy couple, they were completely stuck for us. Finding that our directions to the wedding were hopelessly inadequate, we pulled our car over and ducked into an isolated general store for better ones. With the route now clear in our mind, we were ready to go ... except that the exact spot where we'd stopped our car has Western Australia's Softest Earth (tm). As my wife tried to pull out onto the road, the wheels simply just spun noisily and dug themselves deeply into the dirt.
A little while later a kind soul drove by and, spotting my wife and I in our finery, digging the car out of the earth with our hands, helped us get back on the road.
Still, telling the story kept some of the lesser-known faces at the reception busy while I struggled to remember their names.
Things got worse for the bride and groom, meanwhile, when it transpired that the caterers had forgotten to bring half the food. By the time the guests got around to actually eating, almost everyone under the age of ten was tired, half-starved and fractious. Almost everyone over ten was tired, half-starved and drunk.
Other highlights included:
- The children getting to ride round the block in the newly rebooked limousine. Much excitement here, less for the experience of travelling in a big car than because they got to watch the TV in there.
- The discovery by the kids that the next-door neighbours had decided that as pets, dogs were passe. Why keep mutts when you can have a pair of roos? They even had collars.
- My son finally realising that bubble fluid is for blowing bubbles, not for drinking (he won't be making that mistake again: it was like the racist Women's Institute lady from Little Britain).
- A snake whipping out of the undergrowth not three feet from one of the tables, fanging a mouse and dragging it off into the bushes to feed. My daughter was extremely distressed by this, not because she's a sensitive soul but because she missed seeing it.
And for me, one last ray of hope - I don't feel all that bad about forgetting names and faces now that my wife's mistaken the son of a distant relly for the neglected offspring of one of the caterers ...