For Jasmine and Rosanna
Wyatt and I hit Tako Cheena, a pan-asian taco joint, before the wedding in Orlando. We sit on
the patio, eat panko-cod, tofu, and Korean barbecue folded up in corn tortillas and swap,
taking a bite off the other’s tray, the scallions and sauces falling out in a welcome mess.
José Ralat, Taco Editor of Texas Monthly, says that every taco is representative of their time and
place, that they are a melding that we all have a claim to.
As Wyatt and I find our seats before the ceremony, I look back to see Jasmine dancing by herself
at the entrance to the winery’s loading dock; she’s waiting for Rosie to appear, and when she
does, O the glittering of the dress, O the eyes and tattoos falling down arms, O how
everything is watercolors and tears.
Jas and Rosie’s vows are uttered in front of a wall of wine barrels rising to the top of the brick
walls. Sitting near the back, I hear most of the words: the times they’re fumbled, choked in
the throat, or when, out of eagerness, one starts talking before the officiant finishes his
There is a swapping of rings and kisses. The wedding flows upstream into the reception.
We gather around tables—wine barrels stood upright.
Demi tells me dancing on a sprained ankle is as simple as being the right amount of drunk. She
drinks red wine and I drink Stella Artois till suddenly we finish our first and third and watch
as hummus is heaped into bowls: black olive, garlic, sun-dried tomato.
O how the bar is split open and our eyes follow the other’s form as we move to the marble
countertop for more.
O how we drink.
O how we remind me of when I was young and my cousin got married in Santa Fe—the place
where I saw truly drunk adults for the first time, how they hobbled and weaved, cha-cha’d
their slides, the way revelry starts with the feast and escalates.
My friends and I are circled around a barrel when people carrying platters emerge and we gorge
on macaroon-ish crusts stuffed with pimiento cheese and thumb-nail toast with pesto spread
and a strawberry sliver as the doors are opened deeper into the winery.
We wander in and sit at long live-edge tables, devouring a buffet of chicken, herb crusted
potatoes, and tofu tacos that spill their guts on dresses and suits as we hunch over them.
These tacos are the mess, the effortlessness, the providence as I dance with Wyatt and, on the
count of three, crash into friends so I can steal someone’s boyfriend and tango across the
concrete of the brewing room floor.
Messes aren’t messy if you love them for it, if they are meant to be made in the moment.
Candles exhaust themselves, melt across the hardwood tables until we pick at the puddles with
When I walk to the bar, the bartender presses the tips of her fingers into her temples like she’s
reading my mind and cries out Stella! and I mime her, make some twilight zone noises, and
O how nice it feels to be understood.
The fermentation tankards gawp as we whirl, dance, and sing punk rock anthems.
Demi and I run out of wine and beer and scamper back to the bar for fresh drinks during the maid
of honor’s speech.
We talk with the bartender about something so important that I can’t remember it for the life of
In New Mexico, before the wedding, I wandered the halls of the hotel in search of something and
came across a cracked door. The sound of sex or porn trickled out the room. I stood in the
hallway and peered into the sliver of darkness, weighing the chances of whether, if I walked
in, I would get murdered or laid.
But sometimes you have to risk it for the biscuit.
In the winery, a friend raises her hand and teases Wyatt that he can’t do high kicks. He accepts
her challenge, executes a perfect one, and nine Stellas and I put our heads together and think
hell, I can do better than that.
And Aphrodite told Sappho that you can only attain as you desire, that before all else was desire,
so I tell our friend to raise her hand higher three times until I am satisfied with the challenge,
kick my right leg out, and hear a rip-pop—a concern—as I whip off my feet.
And for a moment I am suspended in air before my elbow catches me on the concrete floor, the
bottom of my beer bottle slamming against the ground, foam showering my suit.
Wyatt and Demi descend on me like valkyries to the fallen, and I can feel air flow across my ass
as I realize that fate has worked its strings,
I’ve become the one man at every wedding who splits his suit pant—
In Santa Fe, my aunt conga-lined with a groomsman and his fateful rip—a right pants leg
flagging in the dancing breeze to reveal bright yellow rubber ducky underwear.
When I wake the morning after Jas and Rosie’s wedding, I can feel the happiness I’ve packed
into me wanting to escape the body—
O how the cyst pushes out the back of my knee, the ankle burns, the elbow swells into a tender
O how my suit pants lie piled on the floor, ragged at every seam.
O how the foot which doesn’t know it’s broken limps to the truck.
On my flight to Santa Fe I flew alone for the first time and saw a woman slumped against the
wall of the terminal, weeping in a way that I didn’t understand, in a way that made me realize
I was just a boy.
And in the midst of all the dancing in Orlando, as we belt Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance,
or whatever, there is a moment where Demi grabs my arm and my hand finds her back, and I
remember what it feels like to know the heat of someone through their fingertips.
O I don’t know anyone who wants to go through this mess alone.
Cover photograph by Andrea Nguyen.
Will Anderson received his B.A. in Creative Writing from Florida State University. Having spent younger summers working in the timber industry, he logged for a time after undergrad, and later taught high school English. He is now pursuing an MFA at FSU. His works have appeared in Profane Journal and New Southerner.