Monday, November 16, 2009

Shouldn't It Be Too Late in the Year for June Gloom?

The second sentence of the email initiated cognitive dissonance the moment I read this: "Was in a really fun wedding all weekend."

No, you weren't.

No, really, you weren't.  I know because there is pretty much no such thing as a "really fun" wedding unless:

  • the person being married is you;
  • the person being married is someone you used to date and they are marrying someone worse than you;
  • the person being married is Liza Minelli and the other person is a flaming homosexual;
  • you have slept with someone at the altar within 72 hours of the wedding.
Most weddings, however, do not fall into these categories.  And since this phantom "Fun Wedding" was the second such mythical marriage I heard about this weekend, I decided to begin this week's column by dispelling the lies about weddings.

The first person who raised this topic was my father, who went to the wedding of the son of a close friend. This type of wedding falls into the category of "Weddings You Are Obligated To Attend" (which includes family members and close friends.)  Other categories of weddings include "Weddings of People You Slept With In College," "Weddings of People You Slept with in High School," "Weddings of People You Slept with in High School, then spelt with again after they Friended You on Facebook," "Weddings of People You Should Have Limited to a One-Night Stand but Ended Up Dating and Now Have All the Same Friends," "Weddings of People You Nearly Married," "Weddings of People You Once Married," "Weddings That Have the Potential to Get Interested Because Half the People Going Are Alcoholics," "Destination Weddings - or - How to Spend $2,500 on Someone You Don't Particularly Like," "Weddings of People You Work With," and "Weddings of People You Are Curious To See How Fat They Got."

Every other kind of wedding is avoidable except the Obligation Wedding.  You have to work, the dog is sick, the kids have fleas, you broke your arm skiing, you have another wedding and it's a family member...whatever.  Send a check (if you're a Jew or from the New York area) or a gift off the registry (New Yorkers use the registry for the engagement and cash for the wedding gift - it's a unique way of double dipping only my ancestors could have perfected.)  Write a nice card.  Wish them well.  Stay home.

I know, everyone reading this thinks I'm ungracious (if they didn't already which, quite frankly, would be rather miraculous.)  But let me just say it - weddings suck.

Only one of three things happen at the ceremony: if they're Jews, Hindis, or another non-Christian religion, the ceremony is conducted in a language most of the guests don't understand.  If it's a generic Christian wedding, the format is either something you've seen on every television show ever produced, or is slightly modified so the couple can read their own vows.

There is nothing worse than the dreaded "custom vows." When this happens, you can count on a high likelihood of oversharing (I don't need to know anything about the contours of someone's body unless I'm currently experiencing them), public displays of co-dependence (no, actually, I'm fairly certain you can live without each other - whether you may do so happily is another question, but your admission is certainly making the rest of us glad you found each other) and bad poetry (bonus points to the rhymers, who inevitably choose to pair "love" with either "dove" or "above" - a disappointment to all of us who are sitting in the pews rooting for "shove." I have heard tale of one wedding where the bride rhymed "love" with "wuv" which I think is cheating; and also - hilarious.)

Also, when did the kiss begin involving tongue?  How is that not gross?  If this is where we're headed, I might actually start going to weddings again, but only when we get to the point where the groom is doing body shots off the bride.

Oh yes, did I forget to tell you that?  I don't go to weddings anymore.  Only blood relatives with one degree of separation or less (parent/sibling/aunt-uncle/first cousin) or friends who can remember a time when I had hair, love handles or empathy.  Nope - my routine is: Send regrets, Send a gift.

Here's why.  This is what happens when you do go:

1. Sometimes you must travel a fair distance, sometimes even crossing state lines, incurring airfare or long car rides, hotel bills, and extended events with people you don't very much want to spend time with.  You run out of conversation during the Rehearsal Dinner and have lapsed into quiet hostility or discussions of the weather long before the Next Day Brunch.

2.  At the wedding itself, you are subjected to people you felt awkward around at one point or another in your life, or people you were close to that you no longer see and feel awkward around now, or people you are still friendly with but would rather be hanging out with somewhere else.

3.  You are seated according to the most basic stereotypical label someone can stick on you: "Friends from College," "Single People," "All the Random Gay People We Know."  I will never again go to a wedding and risk being seated between the queen who did the bride's hair and the groom's Aunt Mary and Uncle Shirley who are 65, ride motorcycles and harvest corn.

4.  The food sucks.

5.  Yes, it does.

6.  Yes, even at your wedding.

7.  The music is either some tragic suburban local outfit doing weird covers of Bon Jovi songs and pretending they can handle Whitney or Mariah with a lead singer who only has a 12-note range, or a DJ who is still playing songs from the Spin Doctors and the Wallflowers.  I miss the 90s too, but not that badly.

8.  The drinks are weak and there isn't enough privacy in the bathroom to do drugs.

I began to feel a little misanthropic about my stance on weddings, so I called the ultimate romantic.  One of my oldest friends, a woman, and someone who's wedding I was actually at.  For the sake of anonymity, we shall call her "Monkey."

"Hi, Monkey."

"What's up, Duck?" Please don't ask.

"I'm writing about weddings this week, Monkey, and I need the perspective of a woman."  Monkey stood steadfastly behind the principle that all women want to get married and all women want to keep the option of children open.  She therefore believed, as strongly as Republican politicians claim to believe in God so they can look righteous while getting poor religious white southerners to vote themselves into poverty for another generation, that all women want to get married by the age of 30.  I disagreed with her vehemently for years, but ultimately realized that, with the exception that the precipice in New York City is about 32 (we skew a bit older on the topic of marriage) - the Monkey is right.

Ask yourself - do you know a never-been married woman over the age of 30 (32 in New York) who doesn't want to get married ASAP and isn't a little bit angry/bitter/depressed about it)?

"Okay," says the Monkey.  "How can I help?"

"Are weddings ever fun?"


"I knew it."

"Well, mine was fun."  This is true - but only because it falls into the category of being her own wedding.  For me, the Monkey's wedding was fun, but largely because everyone attending was some degree of clinically insane.  Plus, there was candy.  "Yours was fun, too."

I agree, but then again it was my wedding.  It was also held in the Monkey's house (in Massachusetts, my only option at the time, though I doubt Iowa would have been a contender even if we could have gone there way back when.)  The wedding included the Monkey, a funny Jewish lady rabbi, and a pile of cupcakes.  The reception was an 8-day vacation for 10 people to Puerto Vallarta.  Say what you will about Same-Sex Marriage, but we took our friends on vacation and didn't waste any time with some crappy cover band or (actual wedding experience from 1997:) a cash bar.

"Thanks, Monkey."

"You know, Duck, people will think you're really bitter if you write about marriage.  After all, same-sex marriage has had challenges at the polls, politicians aren't standing up for it, and there's the risk that you'll sound a little "sour grapes." Now, personally, I totally understand where you're coming from, because most weddings are twice as long as the movie Titanic and half as interesting, but do you really want to open this can of worms?"

"I do."

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