Dorian Webb

The Dividing Line

dorian webb
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I used to think that the dividing line between youth and advanced age was taste in music. Now, as I scoot my cart down the aisles of the local supermarket, atonally singing along with my favorite songs (“Where do they find such great hits?”), I think that a new dividing line may have emerged.

Weddings.

Not too long ago, it seems, I was a member of wedding parties and an active participant in all the preparation and excitement that the special day entailed. The first one that I had any real role in occurred a year after college graduation, when I was the maid of honor for a friend. From a few states away, I helped to plan a bachelorette party for the bride’s closest friends. The day of the reception, I sourced and purchased disposable cameras for each white linen-bedecked table. During the ceremony, I held the bride’s bouquet, and was greatly relieved when the bride’s sister-in-law-to be was able to locate the wedding bands that I had inadvertently left in the dressing room moments before the critical “I do’s” were said. 

The next time my services were called upon was a few years later, after the guilt had (mostly) faded, and I was asked by my college roommate to be a bridesmaid. A chance for redemption! Attending menu and cake tastings, I found my raison d’etre. The day of the wedding, overcome by emotion, I ugly cried throughout the entire ceremony. Bouncing back somewhat, my tablemates and I had so much fun during the wedding dinner that not only were we in 60% of the wedding photos, but we also hit the dance floor before the bride and groom. The feelings of good will continued as the evening waned, and while munching on the top layer of the wedding cake I was entrusted with, I led an enthusiastic group of wedding attendees to the bridal suite, where we continued the festivities until the wee hours. 

Perhaps it is for the best that I find myself now in the very different role of “friend of the parents of the groom.” In that capacity, my husband and I attended a wedding at a Napa vineyard last month. Slipping into the back row of chairs moments before the ceremony began, our presence visibly surprised some of our neighborhood friends, a couple who were clearly disconcerted to see us there. They shouldn't have been... While some ethnic groups may be connected by "six degrees of separation", the ties that link Bay Area African Americans together hover closer to 2.5 degrees. Case in point: This female friend (who works with my husband) was the college roommate of the mother of the groom, and my husband golfs frequently (although not as frequently as he would like) with the father of the groom. I held my tears in as the bride descended flowering vine-lined stone steps to the altar but mopped them up with my husband’s handkerchief once the betrothed read the beautifully expressed wedding vows that they had written to one another. 

Later in the evening, after we had carefully pasted our Polaroided likenesses into the guest book, we found our table, tucked next to the parents’ in the back of the wine cellar. After dinner, each time we heard a song that we thought we knew, we creaked to our feet, “raced” to the dance floor, and within moments were left stranded when the song snippet morphed into an unfamiliar one. Resting at the table between one of these jaunts, we were joined by the college roommate of the groom’s father, who stopped by to say hello to our friends. There was something oddly familiar about him. Our friends introduced us. My mind continued to whir. Twenty-five years plus 60 pounds equals… I called him by his nickname. His eyes widened. 

“Dorian?” 

Bingo! It was him – a guy I had dated when I was closer to my college years than to retirement. And, not to put too fine a point on it, a man who DIDN’T RECOGNIZE ME EITHER.

Yep. The dividing line has now officially been crossed.