Jamie tapped his glass with his fork aggressively. Eventually everyone stopped talking and looked at him with pursed, forced smiles. The bride looked wary.
“I’d like to make a toast to the bride,” Jamie said. “Hold on.” He splashed some more champagne into his glass, then lifted it again. “A toast. I keep thinking of that short story by Mark Twain–‘The Stolen White Elephant.’ You know what I’m saying? I found it!”
He jerked his glass towards Kaylynn, sending a bit of champagne tipping over and dribbling down onto the long dining table everyone was seated at. Nobody laughed.
“It’s right–” he jabbed again. “Yeah. Anyway, I kid. She looks beautiful–you look beautiful, Kaylynn. Nice to see you give makeup a try.”
No laughs. A cough. Kaylynn looked at her new husband, who similarly pressed his lips tight.
“I’m just joking,” Jamie went on. “I guess I’m not as funny as Kaylynn. Kaylynn was always funny. Still is. Looks aren’t everything, though, right?”
No one seemed to get the joke.
“Feel like fuckin’ Bilbo Baggins up here,” Jamie murmured into his glass as he took a gulp. The children at the table looked at their parents. Someone patted Jamie on the back in a gesture to get him to sit down. He kept going.
“Referential humour not doin’ it for ya either? Christ, this whole family’s dead inside. Really glad I didn’t wind up with you zombies as in-laws.” He rose his glass to Shawn, the groom. “Thanks for taking one for the collective team that is, you know, the living.”
Someone was telling Jamie to stop. Many began to boo.
“Aw, I know, look, I’m mixing metaphors. Kaylynn can be both a zombie and an elephant. Why not? She’s fat, sure, and she’s hollow, too. Total corpse. They should arrest me and Shawn (and, hell, probably half the unrelated men here–and maybe some of the related ones) for necrophilia. Am I right? Come on, you deado fucks, laugh for once.”
Expressionless. The faces of the dead. Pitying the living, the suffering. The ex-fiancees of the world. Of life.
Today we had: “A missing elephant,” “At your ex-fiancee’s wedding,” and “Someone who can’t make anyone laugh.”
Barely made this one on time today. Whew!