We jIt’s finally summer, and unlike Europe’s heat wave here it’s what they call rich men’s weather: Warm, sunny and no bugs. This coming Saturday, July 7th will be Camp’s big day. He and Muriel are hosting a garden party at Muriel’s house and they are going to formally tie the proverbial knot and says nice and endearing things to each other in front of family and friends. With that in mind I decided to be in an upbeat mood and not dwell on the usual misery and word-wide discord but instead focus on harmony, good vibes and love.
‘All we need is love,’ I said as an opener to my friend when I sat down at the only empty table we could find, since our usual spot was taken up by four boisterous German tourists.
‘Yes, that about sums it up,’ Camp said, chuckling, ‘and I intend to give and get my share this coming weekend. A bit scary mind you, tying myself to another person with vows and promises, hopes and all our combined baggage.’
‘Clare and I are certainly looking forward to it. Since this is a casual affair – so you assured me – I wont’ have to give a speech or wear a suit and tie.’
‘Don’t worry, Muriel and Clare are working on it. They’ll dress you up properly so you won’t look like the wedding crasher,’ Camp laughed. ‘As for the speech, I’m counting on it.’
I took a hefty swallow from my pint. I will have to work on a speech now. What the heck am I going to say? How I met Camp some ten years ago when I tried to sell him copies of my self-published restaurant memoir and he kindly invited me for a pint afterwards, advising me to better stick to my job since writers were generally poor and lonely. Or how about taking full responsibility for him meeting Muriel – the love of his life – when I introduced them at a fundraiser for the Grantham’s wharf society. Or how thanks to our weekly executive meetings on Thursdays we were able to hold it together despite the world going to hell all around us? No, I better stick to humour and an upbeat message. The future is a gift and should be treated with kindness, enthusiasm and respect.
‘I take it you’ll move in together now?’
‘Yes, but I’m already staying most days at Muriel’s. It makes practical and financial sense. She certainly doesn’t want to move into my bach-pad. I’ll give that up and move all my valuables and stuff over to her house. Mind you it’s mostly books and my old records, my favourite chair and a few paintings and carvings, mostly from local artists, collected over the years.’
‘It’s a big step Camp and I admire you for taking it. Was it your idea or Muriel’s to get married?’
Camp looked at me for a beat and then admitted that it was him who proposed. That surprised me because I always thought of him as an entrenched bachelor who would only surrender his status quo under intense pressure and lobbying. I should have known because underneath that gruff exterior lived a teddy bear.
‘Well you’re doing the right thing,’ I scrambled, trying to hide my surprise.
‘I know you didn’t think I was capable of matrimony, but a woman like Muriel who not only likes me but loves and respects me, doesn’t come along very often in ones life time. Not in mine anyway. I consider myself fortunate and blessed to be able to throw in my life’s lot with hers, for all the time we have left.’
‘I’m happy for you,’ I said just as Vicky was slaloming through the crowd with our refills.
‘Vicky you’re going to be at the wedding on Saturday aren’t you?’
‘I wouldn’t miss it. I think it’s wonderful. Does that mean you won’t be able to join your friend for your weekly meetings? The world wouldn’t be the same without you two trying to fix it.
Vicky must have read my mind because that exact question was on the tip of my tongue but I needn’t have worried.
‘Nothing will change my dear, the world will still need fixing and I will be the same man next week as I am today.’
Little does he know, I thought to myself. Being married is not the same as being single.