Three Wise Men 12/20/21

A True Story with Richard Bleil

Author’s Note: This is an adaptation of a comedic story I plan to tell on stage because in the telling there is a lot of physical comedy.  Like so many of my “routines”, it is based on actual events.  Perhaps with a little bit of embellishing.  Maybe.  Sorta.

Back in the day, before auctioning off the garter belt from a humiliated bride’s leg, they used to toss it, much as the bride will toss her bouquet.  And, yes, I’ve caught a garter belt or two in my day, but I’m reminded of the garter belt I really didn’t want to catch.

I was around twenty-three at the time, dating a woman who was, oh, let’s say less than dedicated to me.  I brought her to the only family reunion I remember ever being invited to, and my uncle hit on her.  That’s fine, if you can’t trust your partner then it’s not much of a relationship, but it wasn’t much of a relationship because she did give him her phone number.  Well, I know they never texted, though.  Phones were still attached to walls back then.

She was a pianist (the first pianist that I would date, but not the last).  She routinely played at a church and would periodically perform at weddings.  One, in particular, she wanted me to attend.  I have no idea why, but she just didn’t want to attend alone.  And, let’s face it, if your girlfriend doesn’t want to attend a wedding alone, you go with her, but I certainly wasn’t looking forward to it.  I didn’t know these people, and she barely knew them, but there we were, at the reception. 

The part of the reception came along to humiliate the bride by exposing her to remove the garter belt, all while making off-color comments to the crowd as she just has to sit and pray for it to end soon.  When finally it was over, the DJ made an announcement for all single guys to go to the stage. 

I didn’t want to go.  I wasn’t really part of the wedding, but everybody at our table started goading me, including my own date.  Okay, fine then, up to the stage.

There were four of us.  If I try very hard, I can almost remember the name of the three other guys.  I think one was named Larry, and one was named Curly, and the third…escapes moe.  And all three of them were a head taller than I.  I used to be average, but you punk kids keep growing to be taller and now I’m short.  But that’s okay, because the three wise men lined up in a straight line, and I stood, hands in pocket, behind them. 

Did I mention that I really didn’t want to catch the garter?

And they were ready.  Man, they were all leaning forward, one foot in front, tensed muscles, a little sweat glistening from their collective brows, they really wanted it.  And I waited as the groom, facing away from the group to be perfectly fair, glanced back to gauge the distance.  They were ready, you could smell the testosterone in the air.  He glanced back again to pick his mark, and the three were ready for the contest of their lives.  He glanced back one last time to verify how he would throw it, and as soon as he turned his back one last time, the brain trust…took three steps forward.

Well, crap.

I knew what would happen.  There was now a considerable gap between the three wise men and me.  I could picture the mechanics in my mind.  Call me Nostradamus, as sure enough, I watched the garter fly over their heads in a high graceful arc.  They all leaped all over each other for it, but sure enough, it was out of their reach.  They had no chance as it fell where they were originally standing, literally at my feet, as I stood, hands in pocket.  To catch it, all I had to do was literally take one hand out of my pocket and hold my palm open without even reaching.

Did I mention that I really didn’t want to catch the garter?

Plop.  There it was.  At my feet.  The brain trust pivoted their bodies, still tense, still ready for the fight, trembling from the adrenaline in their veins as they looked down at the garter, then back up at me.  I watched them, bored.  The veins in their tense foreheads bulged as again they looked down at the garter then back up at me.  I watched wondering how long this would last.  Sweat trickled down their desperate faces as they again looked down at the garter, then back up to me.  I knew I had to do something.

Without even bending, I casually took a hand out of my pocket.  The three rocket scientists dove for the garter, forming a pile of sweaty smelly wrestlers at my feet as they fought and clawed to win the coveted prize.  One of them jumped out from the pile, holding the garter up in the air and letting out a guttural victorious noise. 

Did I mention that I really, REALLY didn’t want to catch the garter?

And darn it all, I didn’t get it.  Sigh.  I guess life goes on.


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