Yesterday I attended the wedding of two people I’ve never met.
I know. But when you’re married to an outgoing person who does know a lot of people, you sometimes find yourself roped into events you might otherwise avoid. She was invited, and by default so was I.
The parents of the groom turned out to be wealthy. The reception was at their home, a vast and stately structure of red brick and white columns. Valets were parking cars at the foot of the long drive. I handed over the keys to the Altima and straightened my tie.
On the walk up, we passed a guest house as big as our current home. Beyond the main house, fresh-cut grass sloped away to the St. John’s River. A great white tent had been erected in the event of inclement weather, but the sky was cloudless and the setting sun struck diamonds off the water. Courteous servers circulated with intricate hors d’oeuvres. The band was superb and the bar was open. Standing there in my three-year-old Jos. A. Banks suit and subtly stained tie, I was reminded of certain scenes in The Great Gatsby.
Something about money. I know it doesn’t buy happiness, but it does seem to buy everything else and 999 out of a thousand ain’t bad. Gazing out over the water at such a place, on such an evening, it was easy to wonder about the paths that lead some people to it and so many others decisively in the other direction. Me, for example. I don’t often pursue that line of thought, because it leads to consideration of one’s personal shortcomings. Better to drink the wine and enjoy the music. The opening number sounded a lot like Earl Klugh. At some point in the evening, I realized that it might actually be Earl Klugh.
Money is like water in that it tends to seek its own level. People who have less of it tend not to hang out a lot with people who have more. That’s just how it is. Disparity in wealth creates tension: a certain envy on one hand and a certain wariness on the other. The good news was that everyone last night had less wealth than our hosts, so it made for a gee-whiz kind of camaraderie, a shared sampling of the good life that was pretty hard to resent. And I should mention that the parents of the groom seemed just as gracious as gracious could be.
I hope not to attend a lot of weddings of people I don’t know. But for a glimpse of how the other 1 percent lives, last night was illuminating. And more fun than it might have been.