Tuesday, March 26th
There had been quite a silence from the boys afterwards. Not a word, not a FB message or even a tweet. Just some kind of message that I had ‘done it’ against all the odds(?) and wishing me yet more congratulations(??). Yeah, dudes, thanks(???) Maybe it was an omerta pact: all sworn to secrecy about Cindy, her whip and that contraption(!). I had begun to forget about the humiliation…can you imagine Tony Adams in that sort of compromising position? No. Stuff of fricking nightmares.
Should I just confess, I remembered thinking. When Sonia had asked about the stag, I had said something straight. There was a lot of drinking (true)…and when pressed I had confessed there had been a stripper (true but no elaboration). I am an honest soul. Sonjs had been none too impressed, but then had retorted: ‘I had one too.’ What???? The word ‘had’ raised alarming possibilities… but I decided to be clever, no questions asked, none answered.
Then, as I was rushing around doing this, that and everything with my 3 weeks off (negotiated quite painfully from Gary, the boss, who insisted one week was unpaid as three at such short notice was exceptional)…a picture was sent to me on email from a firstname.lastname@example.org …it was the equivalent of finding a horse head in your bed. Believe me. And not one you would want to eat either…I was with Sonia and had just parked the car up at the venue where there was going to be a quick informal rehearsal. My face must have looked like I had heard that Jack Wilshire (our only salvation in this Arsenal dirge of a season) was on his way to Barcelona…
She was chatting to Claude, the wedding manager and ushered me forward to do the necessaries. I had not been cc’d or anything. You can see where my mind was in all this.
‘Darling, this is Claude Chartes, the wedding manager here.’ I looked blank, vacant, frightened. Pretty normal for a groom, then. He offered me a limp handshake, I barely touched his hand. Probably thought I was one of those hard-men Asian homophobes…should I show him the picture? Prove to him that I was a free thinking person who enjoyed ‘diversity’ as much as the next person.
‘Are you okay?’ Sonia asked, innocently.
‘You arez a bit scared…’ sympathised Claude, a small smartly dark haired gent with a French lilt. ‘It’s ok, normaal,’ he said touching me furtively on the shoulder. ‘I loook after you.’ I’m sure he said that to make all grooms accept they were doing the right thing.
Where was this picture circulating? If it hit Facebook, my life would be over. Forget marriage, Sonia all of that. Least of my concerns. I had a reputation as hard as a squaddies’ toe cap and respected as a Tony Adams’ tackle (on the pitch, pervs!). They knew who I was, tough but fair, strong but understanding, kind when it mattered but unrepentant too, if crossed. Cindy had overstepped the line, well not her really, but my mates and their cameras.
Claude took us into the hall, was explaining procedures. I got a text and literally jumped. Jeez, it was out. There. I was drunk, incapacitated, drugged. Had my excuses lined up like soldiers on a first world war battlefield, ready to perish in the line of duty.
Sis Rani: ‘You must be excited. Can’t wait to meet Sonia and family.’ I relaxed. How long would this go on for…not long, not long at all. A minute later, I was pretending to listen to Sonia and Claude talk about some Bollywood theme…I got a FB alert. Suki had put a pic up – no faces but omg, Sonia might recognise something. A short message, ‘Bro…prepare for Armageddon. Ha ha.’ It was Out. There. I thought I was going to have a heart attack, felt weak, just as I had done when Tottenham had gone 2-0 up against us in that awful match.
‘Yellow or blue?’ Sonia asked.
‘Definitely blue. Definitely.’ I was thinking about the pic and its journey across the world. Sonia looked at me, annoyed.
‘So, do you want to tell me what really happened at the stag?’ she asked seriously. ‘You’ve been walking around like a zombie, checking your phone like it’s a life support machine.’
I showed her. Had to. No choice, be married or live with secrets. That ain’t me. In three days, I will marry the most intelligent and beautiful woman in my world (sorry Bips/Kelly/J-Lo)…from that moment, I stopped feeling bad about myself. You are who you are – your wife loves you for it, nothing less, nothing more. Mrs Raaj, welcome to my (sordid) world and all those who inhabit it…for good or worse, mostly worse…
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