The Girl Whisperer
as published by
The Sunday Guardian
of 7th September
THE SECOND BEST MAN
There’s an odd story of the origin of having a best man at weddings. We go to ceremonies and we see a mirror image of the husband-to-be, dressed in the same suit, a matching tie and same tint of sunglasses. I’d often wondered what the significance of having a husband’s clone was. For everyone who has ever had a ‘best man’ at a wedding and not wondered what the need of it was, deduct intelligence points now. The chief bridesmaid is a different matter; the exorbitantly-priced voluminous swathes of clothing the brides call dresses need assistants to see they don’t get trapped in doorways and ripped to shreds or have the folds sweep all the dirt off the busy streets as they trail behind the wearers. The presence of another female is expedient in these matters. There has to be a calmer female to whisper into her ear that she’s doing the right thing, marrying the right man, reminding her to smile for the cameras. That’s essential.
We follow customs we do not fully understand here, but everyone should do what makes him (and her, happy). I sat watching an office assistant one day. ‘What happened last Saturday?’, I asked. She cheerily replied, ‘I was a covettee lady at a wedding ceremony’. It took me a long while to figure she meant ‘confetti’. Her function was to throw ‘covettee’ at the marrying couple and the wedding programme said so. Then there’s the ‘ring bearer’, a distraught young man forced to carry a ring on a cushion when he’d rather be watching cartoons; the flower girls... Why would you want to carry hibiscus flowers at a wedding? It had a purpose for those who started the custom. The flowers were carried, then, for the perfume that emanated from them. Why would they have needed perfumes? Go figure.
But enough English weddings bashing here, it won’t make me popular with the ladies who spend their time checking out wedding sites on the internet and planning what the midget masquerading as a ‘little bride’ will wear.
If you choose to feed a thousand people with nine hundred and fifty of them not caring whether you lived or fell off a bridge the next day, that’s your prerogative. I think families willing to enter debts over weddings should instead invest the money into the marrying couple. Just open a bank account in their new name and give the gazillions you would have spent buying wine, to them. They’d be grateful forever. Now if you’re a governor’s son or whatever, it’s wise-thinking and strategic to marry with fanfare and pageantry. All the governor’s friends will be there and give you enough presents to ensure you live happily ever after or that you can be unhappy in comfort.
Let’s go back to the best man. According to legend, it was the practice to have another man stand ready just in case the groom failed to show up at the ceremony. This person was known as the second best man. The ‘second best man’ who would be dressed just as the groom would have been, would take the wife instead. Gradually, as the years went by, the word, ‘second’ was removed and the fellow became known simply as the ‘best man’. Makes sense, doesn’t it?
Now the application to modern times- how many people have been unable to hang on to the man of their dreams and been forced to marry the second best man? There is a saying the Whisperer holds dear, ‘it’s not who you love, it’s who loves you’. Sometimes a woman meets a man who fits almost every expectation she needs from a man; he makes her laugh, doesn’t take himself too seriously, is hard working, playful, and grooms himself well. Unfortunately, it’s not everyone we love who loves us in return, and even if they do, it doesn’t always happen at the same time.
So, a woman might grieve for a long while when she cannot have the man of her choice but after a while, she stops grieving and makes herself available to potential suitors again. The only thing is she might settle for someone not quite near her initial expectations.
What happens in this case? Does she settle for less? Many women deciding to be ‘realistic’ or listening to those who say they should be, in this way, enter into permanent liaisons and live to regret it.
You must place a price on yourself, have a ‘minimum standard requirement’, and tell yourself, ‘nothing below this’. When we settle for the second best man, it leaves us miserable. Remember that the wedding ceremony itself is not a destination, it is the beginning of a journey, and you’d better have the right companion for the journey or you’ll be waking up on many nights as the road gets bumpier, wondering how you ever managed to get yourself into the situation you are in.
‘I can learn to love him’. Maybe. Still the Whisperer thinks it is best not to try to grow this love but to have it from the onset of the relationship. The second best man might be the one that is available but sometimes you have to hold on to your ideals. There’s a difference between being married and being happily so.
As you walk through life’s paths, I pray you find your best man and even as important, that he finds you too, and recognises that he has done so when he sets eyes on you.