You are barred from watching the groom kiss the bride

Ariane and I had a fourth Ortigas "date". This was a few weeks back. It was unusual because it happened at around four in the afternoon. I left the office at a time when I don't usually leave it, although luckily I had nothing much left to do. She was using a sick leave to look for a side line. She grabbed something to eat before going home, and figured we'd have a little chat. She surely knew how lonely I was, being the only person I know in the area... well, at least Clarence started working nearby. But that was just two weeks ago. And I digress.

Well, it was the usual pleasantries, although me using the term "pleasantries" might imply that we did nothing but act as if we like each other. We like each other. We're good friends, more or less. The conversation, I meant, was about the usual things, and apart from my questions on why she was in the area, we pretty much talked about the same things: our jobs, our salaries, our future options, our shared past. And, oddly, marriage.

I met her boyfriend way back. "Jave, Niko. Niko, Jave." I was just two weeks into my work then, and we had a reunion of sorts at the Cinemalaya film festival two years back. I'd hear his name in the few other times we've met, and this time's no different. We were talking about the annual Paskuhan at UST, where he studies. For some reason Ariane started thinking about buying him a little something before she leaves. "Konting pasalubong lang," she'd explain, although I actually got it. They do it every time, she says, or so I think she said. I absolutely don't remember how I managed to shoehorn a discussion about marriage, although if we're talking about relationships in our early 20s then I guess it's utterly inevitable.

By then, I realized, I'll be attending weddings in the near future.

During my first year in college, I openly pondered about whether someone will invite me to their debuts. It was a big deal, after all. The little girl becomes a lady! Such clich├ęs abound! Being invited means you're significant in that person's life! I failed to realize that, by the time these things happen, the birthday girl is closer to their high school friends than their college friends, and there'd be a smattering of relatives around, too. Still, I was invited to a handful of debuts. Three, I think, the first being the surprise thing Caresse's mother organized, when for some stroke of luck I was tasked to bring other members of the block to what is supposed to be a family dinner. Initially I was gushing - she picked out the right number from her phone bill! - but eventually it felt a bit awkward seeing all those relatives. It went smoothly, though, never mind that I ended up only bringing 13 more people rather than 17. It wasn't achingly formal.

I'm not sure about weddings, though. I've been to some, sure, but most of them were when I was young, and the last one was when my grandparents renewed their vows. I have friends, or so I'd like to think - people who consider me a significant part in their lives, people who are taking the next step by striking it out on their own and starting a family. We're in our 20s. It will happen within the next ten years. I will get an invitation from the mail, perfumed and delicate. You are cordially invited to the union of this and that. You look at the list of people and get giddy over who is chosen as the maid of honor, perhaps. "Maid of honor si Lau!" for example, provided she returns from Sydney on time. I probably wouldn't care if I'm not part of the ceremonies - as long as I get an invitation, I'm fine. But I'll be bogged down by picking an outfit, and buying a gift, and being in the church, trying to hide my cynicism. And the reception, too. Talking to all these people, taking care not to eat much at the buffet, still trying to hide my cynicism about my own future. It'd be worse if I had a crush on the bride.

But, of course, that's just me daydreaming. I'm not exactly in the best position to get a wedding invitation. I'm generally out of the loop; I don't know who's hooking up with who. I'll hear of a break-up but my attempts to comfort the friend in question will be promptly ignored simply because it's me who's saying it. Heck, I'm not in anybody's circle of friends, even. "Ayokong i-invite si Niko," you might begin. You have two possible excuses: either we don't really know each other, or you're going to be concerned about my welfare. Supposedly. "Out of place lang siya dun. 'Di ko naman siya ka-barkada or something, eh." Same banana. Consider that I already missed my very first wedding, although if my ears aren't deceiving me, it's one of those bitches. "He does not have a right to know. Punta kayo sa reception! And don't worry, 'di kita pipiliting kumain." I wouldn't have anyway, just because.

Ariane ruled out the possibility. Not that she doesn't want to settle down in the future: she just didn't want to talk about it. We settled for Krispy Kremes. She chose three, I paid for one - I'm that helpful, although you can say I'm that desperate for praise - and she headed home on a bus. I walked back to the office trying to remember what else I might have to do. As far as I'm aware, none of them involve weddings. There's no chance I'm significant to anyone, I inevitably thought, and I got into the elevator pretty depressed. And no, it had nothing to do with the children that come almost every time.

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