Free-Floating Hostility

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

I was an Usher; the House is Still Standing

I, too, apologize for our failure to post over the past week. I'll be better now, and will have some school stories soon. Today I'm going to tell you about the wedding I attended over the weekend. Those of you who weren't at college with me might know the groom, Dave, as the usher who wore doggie slippers at our wedding. Otherwise, you might recognize him from stories in which I have described him as my Bad Angel, the person most likely to talk me out of, say, studying, and into, say, using my room for a pirate-themed party complete with a working cannon. Given Dave's propensity for creative ideas which he fails to execute, a number of us did not really consider the wedding plans final until we arrived at the chuppah, especially since the invitation only arrived last Thursday. Dave is a highly eccentric character and his transformation into Married Dude is in some ways a marker of the passing of my youth. It was nice, therefore, to spend Sunday evening in a time warp, hanging out with people I hadn't seen in years and behaving like a mildly prudish version of my eighteen-year-old self. In addition to a pair of my own ushing alumni, Andy and Trevor, I reconnected with a bunch of Dave's high school friends, with whom I used to hang out a fair amount back in the day. Apart for some net shortening of hair and weight gain, they had not changed one iota.

The wedding was held at an enormous castle, the location of which is still a mystery to me, as it is cleverly hidden behind a maze of 457 consecutive left turns onto streets named Chicken Valley Lane and Cocskpur Road, among other things. It belongs to a family friend with a banking job, seven children, 30 rooms, and, presumably, velvet toilet paper. I arrived late, thanks to some confusion between the arrival time for ushers and Dave's estimate of when I should leave in order to make it on time. I hitched with a friend of Dave's mom named Ruth, who was cool. I was a little puzzled when about an hour into our acquaintance Ruth said, "Ooooh, you're that Anna," but I knew Dave's mom liked me so I didn't give it much thought. The first person I espied on my arrival was the bride, Rovika, who is truly a knockout and of course was more so on this day. She put me in charge of locating the boutonnieres, which led me to cross paths with Tom, a high school friend of Dave's who was always a great favorite with me. Tom used to affect a certain hippy look which made for a most interesting contrast with his impeccable old world manners, so much so that Mike reminded me that when we first met I dubbed him Polite Tom who Looks like a Homeless Person. Since the name is not really apt any more and since I really quite like Tom, I'm going to shorten it to Polite Tom from here on out.

Anyway, I didn't think he would remember me, but he did, and I slid rather easily into the old crowd, who were all nice and all remembered me or got someone to refresh their memories before saying hi. There was one Mr. Rosenberg, who I generally refer to as Dave's Bad Angel, which makes his relationship to me something extraordinary indeed, and some other time I'll tell you about the time the three of us almost got arrested. There was Vishal, who continues to refer to himself as such though everyone else calls him Fish. Fish was the owner of the road-tripping vehicle affectionately known as the Terrorist Van, whose inner parts were 40% duct tape and outer parts 80%; I was sorry to hear he had reluctantly parted company with the van two years ago, truly the end of an era. Gaku, another of the ushers, had once been an inscrutable but accomplished...well, let's say he was in business, but he looked as though he might be on the straight and narrow; it was hard to tell because everyone looks respectable in a suit. He had been pre-gaming the wedding since the bar went up. The boutonnieres were located, along with Dave, and we promptly began poking ourselves in the thumbs with the pins that were supposed to affix the roses to our button holes (as the only female usher I was exempt from dressing requirements, which presented a problem as I had no button hole. I had affixed my rose to a wooden ring in my neck line via an ingenious wiring system when we realized we were short one and I yielded mine to Andy). Trevor sidled up to me with his wife Bevin in tow and demanded to know why I hadn't been able to attend his wedding; I explained to him cheerfully that it was all his own fault and we bickered just like old times. Eventually Andy turned up, too, with Fu. Fu is a delightful girl we knew in college, the funniest thing about whom is that she actually has some multisyllabic first name that nobody knows because her freshman roommate, known as Rikki the Physics Angel, named her after the college of Engineering the first week of school and it stuck.

Dave pronounced me Head Usher on the grounds that I was the most responsible member of the wedding party. This was both a practical choice and a sweet gesture, because Dave understands how much I enjoy a chance to act officious at a wedding. Tom and I were the only ushers evincing any interest in ushing; we got some rather vague instructions from Rovika, the meat of which was that we were to accompany the two grandmothers to their seats of honor to signal the start of the ceremony. Tom requested the more sturdy grandmother, so Rovika said he could have Dave's. At the risk of sounding anti-feminist I thought they'd probably want a boy to accompany Rovika's grandmother, so I nominated Andy, who was clearly the most reliable party. "My grandma will need a lot of assistance," said Rovika, "In fact, you'd better go through my sister." When I attempted to introduce Andy to the gradmother in question she stared ahead perfectly straight, perhaps vaguely aware that there was a wedding going on around her, but it was hard to tell. When I introduced Tom to Dave's grandmother, on the other hand, she responded with a degree of open flirtation that I would have found unusual if I had not known Dave's dad.

Our hostess instructed me to begin seating guests as soon as the rabbi arrived, which was estimated at ten minutes to seven. That was half an hour away, so I went for a stroll with Andy to catch up, noshed a few spring rolls and mingled. I kept meeting people who knew more about me than I did about them, which is unusual since I have a very good memory for gossip. I made a mental note to pay more attention to Mrs. Austerweil. I checked my watch and lo, it was 6:50, and lo, there was no rabbi. We waited. We consumed bruschetta and red wine spritzers. Lo, it was 7:30. Lo, where the shit was the rabbi? At this point Rovika told Dave he had better check his voicemail, which was how he found out that the rabbi was in a cab with no cell phone and that her directions had flown out the cab window. We will leave aside the discussion which obsessed the wedding party for the rest of the night, on whether and if so how this event might have realistically occurred. The couple kept admirably calm. Rovika confined her public commentary to the observation, “That’s a crazy story.” For his part, when I asked Dave, “Can I get you anything?” he replied, “Xanax, please,” but betrayed no other signs of anxiety.

As the guests progressed further through the supply of booze and hors d’oeuvres, a series of closed meetings began to take place in our host’s study. It was then that I decided that as the wedding party, this was our test. After a perfunctory solicitation of support from the young people I busted into our host’s desk and found a package of index cards—I was careful to ask permission from one of our host’s five-year-old children, which therefore makes it slightly less tacky than theft, especially since it was an emergency. With strategic assistance from Ruth and Dave’s brother Joe, we distributed index cards to the increasingly tipsy guests and asked them to write down something they’d be willing to say in public about Dave and Rovika—just in case.

The rabbi turned up of course, about two hours late, and we never had to use them. The seating was accomplished in record time though with low accuracy. Tom managed to wrestle a glass of wine out of Gaku’s hand before the bride appeared, but was unsuccessful with the cigarette, which Gaku finished smoking while holding up the chuppah with his other hand. The ceremony went as planned—this is a behind-the-scenes account, so if you want the lowdown on that kind of detail, go to someone else’s blog. Dinner and dancing followed, also as planned, except that during the toasts Gaku became voluble about his not having had a turn at the buffet, so I gave him my plate to make him quiet, which was fine. Dave had been allowed to choose one inappropriate song, so he selected “The Humpty Dance.” Four ushers stood rooted to the dance floor watching Rosenberg's girlfriend Amanda and Dave’s Dad do what can only be described as a booty dance. Dave’s uncle later told her, “You almost gave Art a heart attack.”

The last phase of the evening commenced with the cutting of the cake, and that last phase was called Rotating Gaku-sitting. As we filed back into the dining room, I caught sight of Tom and Gaku making an entrance reminiscent of The Princess Bride when Westley has only just been brought to life. We attempted to seat him, but to Gaku, chairs were no longer stationary objects, so I propped him up and took him outside for a glass of water. At this point Gaku began the first chorus of what was to be his refrain for the rest of the evening, namely, “Hey, wasn’t I holding a glass of Chardonnay?” I had talked him into downing about 32 ounces of water when Fish, who was a bit crapulous himself, appeared and allowed Gaku to finish his drink. Obviously I was pissing in the wind, so I transferred Gaku’s arms to Fish’s neck with an irritable, “Fine, you take him then,” and stalked off to do an inventory of the castle with Andy and Fu. At various points Gaku could be seen staggering about the property, now entering a bathroom under Rosenberg’s supervision, now leaning on the bar and demanding to be reunited with his Chardonnay, until he finally collapsed in a pool chair with his head in his hands, where he remained.

The older generation had mostly gone home by now, and the young ones had congregated in and around the enormous hot tub. Joe asked to be told stories about Dave, so I recounted for him the infamous Gnocchi Incident, wherein Dave and I opened a bottle of wine while cooking on an empty stomach and wound up vomiting pure purple instead of eating supper. Joe thought that was hilarious, and added, “Were you two still together at that point?”

“Say wha?”

It turns out that Dave’s family has been under the misapprehension that Dave and I were a couple at Columbia. They apparently couldn’t work up the nerve to ask Dave. It dawned on me that that was why everyone at the wedding knew who I was; they thought I had flown cross-country to see my ex-boyfriend married off and were waiting to see how I would take it.

Around 2 am we were summarily kicked off the property (for which our hosts were roundly abused later, despite having generously hosted a wedding for twelve hours already), and I had no choice but to become the sixth occupant of Rosenberg’s five-person car. I happen to have nightmares in which I am riding in Rosenberg’s car without a seat belt, but there were no more trains at that hour so I wasn’t really in a position to argue. Fish, Tom, and Gaku easily took up the back seat, so my attempt to wedge my own ample behind in was unsuccessful and I wound up essentially sprawled tightly across them. If I had found myself in this position with anyone other than the perfect gentleman that Tom is, it would have been obscene--Gaku at this point would have lost to Rovika’s grandmother at a game of Simon Says and was therefore not bothered.

I couldn't think of a proper concluding sentence for this post. Mazel Tov to Dave and Rovika.

2 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger Rich at September 08, 2005 5:42 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Your posts are marvelously detailed. I am glad Dave's wedding lived up to the hype.

  •   Posted by Blogger BrooklynDodger at September 09, 2005 5:56 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Your account makes the weekend wedding in a redwood grove in Los Gatos seem postively Prussian.

    Your account drew the following ad:

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