Inside the black time capsule from the year of our Lord 1999, you’ll find a number of items evoking the spirit of the time: a CD-ROM single of C-Murder’s stroll classic, “Down for My N—gaz”; a 5X, Latrell Sprewell New York Knicks jersey; a copy of Zane’s Sex Chronicles.
If you move aside the pile of two-toned do-rags and bandannas folded just enough to shade your left eye, you’ll find a double VHS set of The Best Man and The Wood. These films were released at the height of “Taye-Day,” a period of time that inspired and predated “The McConaissance.” A time when Scott Leo “Taye” Diggs was more than the author of children’s books with an unbelievably flawed premise. He was the black actor who had the ladies flocking to the movies. A worthy, yet still inferior, option to the Milk Duds god, Morris Chestnut. Between 1998’s How Stella Got Her Groove Back and 2002’s Brown Sugar, Diggs starred in The Best Man and The Wood, two benchmark films that gave us a look into the intricacies of marriage from a black male perspective that haven’t been replicated in a meaningful way since.
Furthermore, these films acted as a blueprint of the wedding experience for those not quite of age at the time. Both tales touched on the feelings and experiences that men face and the pitfalls they needed to avoid. Lessons were imparted. Take off your $500 rented tuxedo before assisting a drunken groom. Ask before you touch any booties. Don’t ego-trip and write a semiautobiographical book with an ominous title that airs your inner circle’s dirty laundry. Decline “best man” status if you’ve slept with your boy’s fiancee. Don’t play with your friend’s faith. Basically, don’t be Harper Stewart. Also, try not to be named Harper Stewart.
But do fall in love with strippers?
The takeaways from these films may be a bit muddled at times, but they do enough to remind you that fear and infidelity are the quickest ways to turn a celebration of love into a Love & Hip Hop reunion.
But we already knew that, right? Keep it in your pants. Don’t leave anyone at the altar.
As someone who just attended his first real bachelor party weekend, I soon learned I couldn’t rely solely on Taye to guide me and my brethren through this process. This list isn’t for grooms. A groom’s task is survival. Maintain a modicum of sobriety, keep your nether regions drier than a mouthful of saltine crackers and show up. For the rest of us trying to have a good time, here are some things to avoid:
- Bringing Work From Home
Don’t do it. It isn’t worth the effort to send carrier pigeons, pay for a portable hotspot or rush to your hotel's business center to send that document to Stacy. If Stacy can’t find the report on the shared drive, then she’s going to have to wait until Monday. Love yourself, please. Furthermore, set your email auto-reply to: “I love myself; I will reply when I feel like it … or never.” Put the laptop down and eat a plateful of salad shrimp.
- Major Events
Check a calendar. If you truly love the groom, you and your team should have free rein over the city like rampaging upwardly mobile, middle-class Vikings. Idris as Heimdall in the flesh. But if the International Organization of Cellphone Kiosk Salesmen is having its annual bedazzled belt-clip competition downtown during the same weekend, you won’t be able to turn right for a 3-mile stretch of downtown or park in some enterprising stranger’s front yard for less than $20. You don’t want to get into a tipping contest at the strip club against Deloitte at its annual shareholders meeting. You’ll lose.
- Venmo Transactions
Venmo, PayPal and their equivalents have made sharing money between friends easier than ever, but if your party of groomsmen is more than five people, you’re entering into dangerous territory. You’ve injected the demon known as “bills” into a group and effectively made one person both a bill collector and accountant. No grown man wants to spend a weekend badgering his friends for money and keeping track of line items named “some light-skinned girls and some Kelly Rowlands.” Time is of the essence, and if Sean is still waiting on a reimbursement from an overcharge on his light bill to pay for his ticket to the game, y’all might as well hit happy hour.
Contrary to the current state of the Western world, the best form of government is a benevolent dictatorship. People need to be led. There is no arena where this is more apparent then a bachelor party. Is there a cover? Who’s getting the Uber? Will there be lemon-pepper wings? Too many voices create confusion, disorder and unnecessary congregating in and around doorways. A kind and gracious king (ideally the best man) will rise and direct the group. Good soldiers shall follow. Furthermore, democracy creates lobbyists. Without a strong guiding hand, you’re creating an opportunity for the groom’s cousin Earl with the box braids to rally the group to go to Applebee’s. Now you're eating lukewarm, loaded-baked-potato skins instead of crab legs.
- The Groom
If you really want to have a good time before your boy gets married, you need to avoid him. That doesn’t mean don’t spend time with him during his last period of freedom, but carefully weave in and out of his presence. If you’re not careful, you may end up with an unwanted burden: responsibility.
Your guy is having one too many drinks? You have to tell him to slow down. He left his phone in the taxi? You now have to carry it. He’s getting a little too close to a female performer? You have to counter that suplex from a bitter, ex-athlete bouncer.
Male-bonding opportunities come few and far between as you age. Operating with precision will allow you and your boys to have as much fun as possible before you usher another one off into marriage land. It’s important to maximize your fun and cut out cheapness and disorganization, which can plague group activities. A memorable time is paramount for the groom, and if you manage to get him to the altar in one piece, his wife might just let him hang out with you after the wedding.
Brandon Harrison lives in New York City and has Hollywood stories that rival those of Rick James. He prides himself on staying righteous and knowing more about basketball than you do. Follow him on Twitter.