A fortnight ago my best friend got married.
Insanity that a number of my pals have either knotted the tie or are set to wed when I still feel like a mere tyke, but bloody all jolly good fun in the lead up, actual nuptials and ceremony, and being able to refer to a handful of males as, “Oh yes, that’s my friend’s husband.” Enables me to have a momentary hex as a mature, refined adult before conversational partner looks down at my glittery, no lace chucks and realises I’m playing pretend.
Anyway. To Steffanny and Carl’s Jr.
Steph and I met on our first day of Uni back in 2011. I knew not a soul, and was acting as I always do when a tad anxious and trying to be likeable – gabbering on like a nitwit and making horrendous puns. Split into groups to be toured around the campus, mine was full of tittering girls discussing – what else? – boyfriends, relationships and the promise of talent within our about-to-be Kickstarted degree (unfortunately, talent largely lacking; what with being Communications, thus a more female friendly course of study, males fell into one of three main categories – gay, hot but complete arrogant tossers or computer keen and going into digital media). One young lass was twittering (not referring to “twittering” as in Twitter in this instance – ’twas before the days of the big tweeting explosion of popularity. I’m actually meaning “twittering” in the twit sense, as this girl most definitely was that way inclined). As she spoke of her woes of her boyfriend not having driven her into Uni and making her bus, prompting her to question his comittment and the status of their relationship (I mean, come on) Steffany and I locked eyes in a moment of mirth and had to quickly look away to combat the giggles rising in our throats. That marked the pinpoint of when our friendship started, and I’ve never looked back (apart from when I had to train because she wouldn’t pick me up and I pondered it all). (Joking. Reference to twit girl afforementioned).
We started out on a very swotty student buzz – you know, quarter of an hour early to every tut and lecture to sit centre mid-front, spending our breaks doing readings and handing in assignments a good two weeks before their due dates. Over time (I say this in a way to allude to many months later; in all honesty, it was probably more like three-point-five-weeks) this relaxed to turning up on the dot for class if at all, handing in projects on the day they were actually due, and declaring, “Readings? Fuck that! Let’s skim the intro par when it’s necessary in an essay otherwise the recommended text list can go right to neglected.” With me in an apartment just up the street, our days largely consisted of having good intentions to go to class but instead getting smoothies from our new fav found cafe down the road and lounging about on my bed (it was Symonds Street and very limited apartment space; guests had to either join me on my slumber site or stand in the kitchen with one leg in the washing machine to comfortably fit). On the odd (well, semi frequent) occassion we’d hustle to a bar for a drink (and when I say “drink” I fully mean the one – a single cider was more than enough to get us sufficiently scuttered, slurring and swaying our way down to the train) as well as a handful of missions to town (less said about that the better). She was there to calm me in irrational breakdowns in the face of overwhelming assignments and I was there to, well, stand with her as she sucked back a ciggy. It was a friendship more solid than a concrete cemented pillar.
It was on one trip home to Cambridge in the holidays when Steph was staying with me that Carl’s Jr first came in on the act. Actually, boomeranged back on the scene is far more apt; old Carl and Steph had gone to primary school together, and “dated” as 13-year-olds in the days of MSN, hand-holding and what not). Every time Carl’s Jr txt Steph her face was assimilated by a massive, massive smile, even over the most mundane of messages, like that he’d just driven home from work or that his burger had been really yum.
I was intrigued to meet this gentle giant who was making my usually rather a challenge to impress bestie grin like Jack Nicholson on the cover of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (though she’s far, far prettier than old Jack). (And has better hair). On learning he had just taken up a post as bouncer at the extremely classy Hamilton bar (club? What is the correct terminology for these establishments?), Outback, (when I say classy I am beyond 100 per cent taking the wees. The more refined sight at Outback would be a fake-ID using female in a cut out sided dress barely covering her fanny, off her face on one-point-five vodka cruisers and unaware that her tacky platinum hair extensions have slipped, with the bulk showing the clips and a number of others strewn across the dance floor) (Yes, I did just describe myself at the age of 17) one Saturday night when one (bottle of) wine deep I decided to ditch my counterparts and go find this lad to give him the hard word.
Poor, poor Carl’s Jr. Obviously Steph had not gone into specifics regarding my somewhat bizzarre appearance; I had just shaved off all my hair so was sporting some good duckling fuzz, was going through my Alty, all-for-feminism spell, and was rocking some boots which at the time I regarded as simply fab, but now look back on and cringe (these were like workerman boots which would’ve weighed a good six kg apiece and were the chunkiest things you could possibly imagine).
Carl’s Jr was bewildered as to who the six-year-old boy in a skirt with an intricately laced headscarf adorning “his” head was that canon balled over, punched him in the arm and screeched, “Carl’s Jr mate! How the heck are yah?”
(Side note: Carl’s Jr’s name isn’t actually Carl’s Jr. It’s simply Carl. But – as with everyone – I just must put my own spin on everything and knowing that the man is partial to a good burger, in my mind he was Carl’s Jr from the get go).
Anyway. Fast forward a few years to Steffanny and I having graduated – Steph relocated to Rotorua and was making inroads as a reporter and I’d disregarded my degree and swanned off to Aussie to work as a waitress. Steph and I have the sort of friendship where we can go months with no contact then have a chat and it’s like we only yarned yesterday. No pressure, no expectations, no dramas – but that being said, absolutely at each other’s side should anything happen. Anyway, one day I received a call from her, all flustered and fizzing.
Apparently following a convo with her colleagues on pink batts, Steph had gone home to see if her house was insulated. Opening up the manhole in the spare bedroom and popping her head in, she clocked eyes on a little black box.
The following few weeks had me receiving a plethora of snapchats of Carl’s Jr. Doing the dishes, watching TV, eating, even a few of him asleep. They started with captions like, “Come on Carl, just pop the question”, soon developing into, “For fucks sake, just fucking ask me you tosser!!!”, que emojis and lots of frustrated scribbles.
When the snapchat finally came through of a beaming Steph, hand splayed with a glistening ring adorning her second-in-finger (Cripes her camera must be good to capture that sparkle) I went wild. After much confusion where my colleagues thought I myself had become engaged, I set the screenshot as my wallpaper where it remained for a fair few weeks.
Once again fast foward (past the very merry Hen’s night, stress over not-yet-arriving bridesmaids dressed and much messaging organising spray tans and such lark) to the weekend before last and the much anticipated uniting of Mr and Mrs Bennett.
I won’t go into the ins and outs of the day (especially leaving out the horrendous occurrence when my foot and Steph’s dress connected with a resulting sound of ripping fabric, horror struck expressions and my flurried and frenzied fluffing up of the folds to hide the injury) but the ceremony was one of the most beautiful moments of my life. Not because of the sensational setting (Italian Renaissance mock ampitheatre at Hamilton Gardens), nor the impeccable looking bridal party (MOH in particular, what uppppppp), but the way in which Carl’s Jr looked at Steffanny. (Though I must say I’ve never seen anyone as beautiful as Steph was we did the aisle thing).
He literally looked at no one else the entire time. His focus was locked on his to-be wife, never wavering from her face. And his expression – my words, his expression – if anyone ever asks me what love is, I will say Carl’s Jr as he said “I do”.
As I said in my speech at the reception, some thing just go together. Copy and paste. Lily and James. Purrell and pushing shopping trollies. Steffanny and Carl’s Jr.
Congratulations to Steph and her husband (que momentary mature moment for me).