Looking back, the memory is probably jumbled. Not unlike my brain. It’s morning, and I am in the passenger seat of my friend M’s blue Citi golf (the Chariot, as its affectionately known). He is sitting next to me cutting a line. Or am I cutting the line? Someone is. It’s more likely me (its on a CD cover, so we can also carbon date this as late 1990’s I would think). I have furry pants on, the lower part of a bear costume that I would assume came from Cinderella costume hire in Craighall Park (oh what hideous treasures it produced for the landmark events of Johannesburg’s nightlife). M is in a winged sprite get-up. I dare say he had rolled in a tub of glitter too. We are somewhere out in the Joburg countryside, and my friend R is getting married to another friend of ours, a wonderful young sprig of girl (and fantastic editor) whose name escapes me entirely. Never mind, the marriage won’t last too long, but they end up with nice people later on, so that’s alright. For now, a perfect summer day is delivering all the promise of a life of merriment and good cheer – as would be expected from a Midsummer Night’s Wedding out in the far flung wilderness on the outer rim of Joburg. I think it’s by Hartbeespoort dam, although that could be the drugs talking. Anyway, you can picture it. Two addled homos, one dressed as a Satyr (with horns and no shirt, and back then my 20’s six pack), and one as a Woodland fairy, trying to manage their remaining gram while sitting in a small VW. It doesn’t really reek of two people who are going to do well later in life (or even right now), or in fact, do much with their lives at all. Looking back now, with the benefit of light years distance in spacetime, it feels like that homosexual hotbox stands more as a general PSA advert for not doing drugs. And that fat line of cat (a substance from the methadrone family for the science nerds) is also very likely not going to “make it all better” as I have apparently claimed while hoovering it up with a rolled fifty. But live and learn.
I flip down the sun visor to take an honest appraisal of myself in a tiny mirror at close quarters. This is raw courage, to stare the hard facts in the face, especially in daylight hours. I am still of an age where skin elasticity will hide some of the wonder of recreational abuse and sleep deprivation and I can remember saying with a hint of pride, “We don’t look that fucked.” That statement might have ended with more of a question mark considering the amount of jaw chewing and sweating for a cool summer morning. Can’t be sure. I do know we haven’t slept since, well, at least some day or two or so ago. I guess it must be a Saturday and this is the remnants of my Friday, “we deserve a break” idea. Well, broken is definitely on the menu now.
M, bless his cotton socks, is having a mild panic attack. “NO ONE ELSE HAS DRESSED UP.” Ok, so I write that in capitals but he kind of squeezes that out at me like a hedgehog being slowly squished by a tractor tyre, all spikes and hisses. He is also stealing glances at new arrivals pulling up in their cars as if we are cloaked by tinted windows. For clarity – we are not. We are exactly as described. Two bobbing paranoid creatures very much on display like the main attraction in a human terrarium. Lack of sleep and, well, the drugs, are probably having a mild affect on both our cardio health and mental resources. But he is correct. Of the now growing number of people emerging fresh from their cars, none are in full Midsummer Night’s Costume. I do remember M fishing the invitation out of his bag and waving it at me as if it proved something. I believe that costumes were required. However, it seems this protocol was interpreted as purely suggestive by the rest of the guests. Suits abound. And maybe a hint of floral or doily on a dress here or there, but we have cornered the market in semi-naked and winged.
We leave the car. Fuelled by fear and drugs, we move to find other friends and seek shelter from the maddening crowd. Oh wait, but I am leaving out the fact that I am shooting on a small video camera (that’s right, I am what’s referred to as a “media guy” and my role is both friend and documenter of the festivities.). Now do not judge. It isn’t an actual professional engagement, as in: I was a freebie. But, with hindsight I can see that if the camera crew on my special day had arrived in this state I might have simply called the police and be done with it, but halcyon days, it was all part of the joy of summer. The immediate benefit of my filming is of course that I won’t be seen on The Blair Witch Wedding Project. The footage, as recorded on the unsteady hooves of Pan, will thankfully keep me hidden from sight (and like the marriage, is a corpse long dead and buried). However, it did serve to make M triply grumpy, as he sat alone in the second row with a large wand and wings. Everyone did say how great we look (this could be a complete fiction, but knowing our friends they would probably rally at the site of tragedy at such epic scale). And thankfully, the bride and groom, when they do appear, have a hint of having escaped from Titania’s dungeon; a halo of fresh flowers and loose clothing in questionable organic fabrics, but frankly, all I can see in my mind’s eye is M’s grimace as I keep catching him on camera. A disgruntled green demon. The red in his eyes is both hate and lack of sleep.