THE BIG DAY
Everyone loves a wedding. A wedding on Long Island is an acquired taste, and it takes a long time to acquire it. It took us about an hour and a half to get to Westhampton, and another hour and a half to get to East Hampton, 20 miles away where the church was. I imagined the wedding party stuck in the same traffic, having a road rage incident and spending the night in jail. How does a funeral get through? Besides the deceased, another two or three of his friends could die of old age in that traffic. I tried putting on my lights just in case people would let me by, but they just assumed I had been on Route 27 the entire night and forgot to turn them off.
There are people who attend church religiously- attending any other way would be silly. I am not a pious person. I used to go to Sunday School when I was a little kid, which was only a thinly-veiled excuse to rid all children from the service, so that it would be quiet enough to hear my mother’s stomach growl, echoing around the cavernous room, the statue of Jesus rolling his eyes. Then at the completion of Sunday School, when I was about thirteen, I was told that I must get confirmed. I envisioned getting an inked stamp on my arm or something, but instead you had to take a test, which included reciting, in order, the books of the bible. I knew I didn’t stand a chance of passing- Genesis, Nemesis, Tetanus, Leviticus, Schlemiticus, Meticulous, Deuteronomy, Dermatology, Phlebotomy, Chronicles, Barnacles, Monacles, etc., etc., etc., so on and so forth, I think I covered most of the major ones. In the end I borrowed a cheat-sheet from my sister and kept an eye on the weather report in case lightning might strike me dead on the spot.
Anyway the ceremony was lovely, some readings, a hymn or two, the priest telling you when to stand and when to sit, like the scoreboard at a Giants game. Thank god we didn’t have to suffer through the Corinthians again- “Love is this, Love is that, Love never leaves its underwear around, Love understands how to load the Dishwasher correctly, Love never leaves the Toilet Seat up…. Incidentally, why is it the man’s job to put to put the toilet seat down, and not the woman’s job to put the toilet seat back UP?
This passage is actually Paul’s letter to the Corinthians (which is where they get that rich leather from). Paul who? Doesn’t say. Who actually opened the letter? I have no idea, it was simply addressed “Corinthians,” no zip code or anything. Nowadays Paul would just shoot off an email, and CC all of the Apostles, let them forward it to whoever they thought should get it. If my dad was a Corinthian he NEVER would have opened it; any time the phone would ring at our house our dad would yell out: “It’s not the guy from the church, is it? Tell him I’m not here.” They were always calling for fund drives.
The priest was working the crowd: if you didn’t say “And Also With You” loud enough, he made you do it again. He did most of the talking, and every once in a while the celebrants (that’s us) would chime in and say something like “Hosanna in the highest.” The celebrants all seemed to know what that means except me. Everyone was invited up to take communion, and the priest charged me for the crackers and wine- is this normal?
As usual the bride and groom mumbled through the vows. I couldn’t make out much of what they were saying, but I thought I heard the words, “veal piccata,” and “Operation Repo.” We all said some prayers and promised to keep an eye on them and make sure they don’t do any of the dumb things we’ve been doing.
As the happy couple sprang from the narthex, instead of throwing rice at them, which is bad for birds unless you cook it first, or birdseed, which runs the risk of a Hitchcock-like scene where birds flock the church and start pecking at peoples’ hair, we blew bubbles instead, at the approximate rate of one every 5 minutes or so.
At the reception things perk up after a few drinks. I won’t even go into dancing here- that really needs its own blog. Suffice it to say that I spend much of my time on the dance floor trying to get away from those over-enthusiastic acrobats who are determined to whack into my one good knee.
After dinner it’s time for the usual wedding reception traditions, like cutting the wedding cake. There is a song for this: “The bride cuts the cake, the bride cuts the cake, hi-ho the dairy-O, the bride cuts the cake.” American lyricists left with a gaping hole in their train of thought will always fill it with, “hi-ho the dairy-O.” In the modern world of texting, “hi ho” means something totally different than it used to. Sometimes the bride and groom force-feed the cake to each other. If you’re going to complain for most of the marriage about how your husband is constantly stuffing his face, why would you teach him how to do it the very first day? And when are they going to wake up and serve chocolate lava cake?
They avoided the whole garter situation, which is creepy. In what other culture do a man and woman embark on their new life together by having a stranger feel up the bride’s leg and dress her with articles of underwear? And even so he only puts one garter on, so the other stocking is flapping in the breeze. You might as well put half her bra on while you’re at it. That way the cups are half full, if you’re an optimist.
Incidentally, Many wedding traditions have stood the test of time, as long it’s graded on a curve. For instance, the custom of wearing a bridal veil dates back to a time when marriages were arranged. If the betrothed had a face that looked like the surface of the moon, hiding it for as long as possible was only common sense. Misplacing the groom’s glasses would also be a good idea. Showering the newlyweds with rice also has historical basis. Since for the ancient Egyptians and Assyrians rice was a symbol of fruitfulness, throwing it at the new couple was a wish for their future children. Conversely, throwing fruit was a sign of ricefulness. Carrying the bride across the threshold stems back to a time when brides were actually stolen from their families. The best man was enlisted to help in the theft, and possibly a forklift if the blushing bride was also a paunchy princess.