Monday, October 18, 2010

A life-affirming weekend

It was a busy few days, climaxing with the wedding of my good friends Shabnam and Kyle on a fog-shrouded mountaintop above Malibu. Shab is one of the six people (six!!!) who officially Follow this blog, and I really appreciate it. I'd appreciate it even more if I knew the significance of the Follow feature, but here we are. Huge congrats to the both of them--not only for getting married but for getting married in unimpeachable fashion. I worked as a banquet waiter during college breaks for several years, and in those years I attended at least a hundred weddings of various sizes and flavors. No gay weddings ever happened over there at the Naval Postgraduate School, but I'm sure that was just a coincidence. In any event, this wedding was in my all-time top three, narrowly edged out by a pair of 200-guest barn-burners (one Irish, one Jewish--both peoples can really party). To have accomplished such a celebratory feat with less than a hundred guests and a day of foggy, drizzly weather was downright miraculous, and I say that as a hardened professional. Finally, even this bitter, salty soul was touched at all the sweet, funny awesomeness of the wedding. I don't believe I know anybody, including myself, who deserves lifelong happiness the way Shab and Kyle do. Their kids will come out of the womb princes(ses) of men.

As with most of life, weddings are gentle amalgamation of the choices you make the choices you don't. They got just about everything right--an absurd accomplishment for two people who were not only marriage rookies, but came from intact families! (No divorces/re-marriages for practice reps.) I counted five crucial mistakes they avoided:
1. Attempts at humor during the ceremony
Actually, they walked right into this one and emerged unscathed. I'm not sure how it happened--normally weddings are awful venues for humor. There's too many people with too much at stake, and public humor is tricky under the best of circumstances. But Shab and Kyle decided to fire a challenge fastball down the pipe on a 0-0 count, and it paid off. Both the wedding program and the vows were laugh-out-loud funny without undermining the sweetness of the whole event.

2. Having a clergyperson perform the ceremony
I don't think "clergyperson" is a word and neither does my word processor. Anyway, there's only two good reasons to have a priest or rabbi or what-have-you perform your wedding: a) you are super religious and this person has a close relationship with you and your intended; b) you are super religious and you feel like you MUST have this person do the honor or it's not official. Kyle and Shab are not super religious, and the wedding was officiated by a mutual friend from college named Nick Allen. Nick actually did a lot of work to make everything work and huge props to him, but he hammered home God's honest truth about weddings and funerals: personal relationships matter. I don't want some religious figure I barely know intoning about either my future life or my present death.

3. Attempts at humor during the toasts
I was pretty worried about this. Funny wedding toasts don't work; either they embarrass the bride and/or groom, or they're so peculiar that nobody understands the joke. Standing up in front of a hundred people and making them laugh is really, really hard. That's why stand-up comedy is one of the hardest things on the planet--and the difficulty increases exponentially as the crowd grows. After a successful flouting of the funny-ceremony rule, it must have been very tempting for Lyndsay and Drew (MOH and BM--that stands for Maid of Honor, and Best Man. Also Bowel Movement, which is fun). And both of them did the right thing by keeping it sweet, authentic and concise. The only violation of the rule was unintentional: Drew's toast was delayed because he was scrambling to try and find the iPad on which he'd written said toast. If you're asking "Who on Earth would write a wedding toast on his iPad?" then clearly you don't know Drew Wahl. I hadn't seen the guy in years, and I'd like to thank him for providing the whole wedding with a priceless "Oh, Drew, you preppy son of a bitch" moment. You forget how much you love somebody until something like that happens.

4. Wedding cake for dessert
I'll admit this peeve is heavily fueled by my waiting years. You see, the waiters don't pack a bag lunch. They take a minute here and there during the reception to duck in the back and wolf down some of the extra food. So they eat what you eat, including (usually) a slice of the cake. Let me say this for those of you who don't go to many weddings: the cake is a lie. It's made days in advance with ingredients selected not for taste, but for density and "hold." These are terms typically used to describe the benefits of hair mousse. Because the cake is not a dessert made to taste good; it's a structure designed to look good. The end result is a bland, spongy substrate tasting vaguely of corn syrup and maybe chocolate. The frosting is applied in vast quantities from a spray gun, and it is closer to toothpaste than anything else. The best wedding desserts are just normal desserts that people make--cookies, pies, turnovers, homemade cakes. Realizing this, Shab and Kyle had not one but TWO amazing dessert spreads. I tried a half-dozen items and all of them were delicious, but there were about 15 more desserts I could have tried. There was a cake, and it was cut in ceremonial fashion by the bride and groom, and slices of it were eaten by some poor deluded souls, but it was far from the focal point. As it should be. And that brings me to the last mistake they didn't make...

5. Cake-facing your spouse
This is probably the most obnoxious wedding "tradition" in all of human civilization. I'd actually prefer the Middle Eastern tradition of cutting loose with gunfire from an automatic weapon. Even if tragedy strikes, there's a bunch more room on the dance floor. I'm not even sure how to muster a rational argument against cake-facing, so let's just do the Colin Cowherd thing and say it out loud: "I'm standing here with the person I'm going to spend the rest of my life with, who's spent months preparing for our special day of celebration. You know what would make this moment really special? Mashing some cheap industrial wedding cake right into her stupid fucking face!" Oh wait, you didn't say "fucking?" Well, you might as well have, because you just hit your bride in the face with a piece of shitty cake. There is nothing to be gained by cake-facing your new spouse. DON'T DO IT. As Shab and Kyle were cutting the cake, Nate Dogg (the future Dr. Mr. Dr. Terrell Stevenson) piped up next to me, "I hope they get each other in the face!" This is the sort of degenerate Western Civilization with a capital W and C is up against. But this was no bush league couple, and they served each other a ceremonial First Bite of Shitty Cake with class.

I drove all night to make it home from the wedding. This probably seems like a really bad idea, but it was actually a lot of fun. I was too cheap (read: poor) to book a hotel room, and having spent the entire night dancing and talking with old friends I was completely sober. Big mistake, by the way: my "stuff yourself and get wasted at the reception" instincts badly eroded during my banquet-waiting tenure. A good wedding guest should really not be able to make it across the parking lot after the reception, let alone find his car and get into it and operate a manual transmission. But there I found myself, and the next five hours were a blur of red console lighting and Australian death metal. I used huge amounts of caffeine for the first few hours, and supplemented it with weed for the last two (THC knocks you out eventually, but it works in the short term). It was a great night, all told.

And since I'm reminded of weed, I'll close this post out with a highly informative video on the debate surrounding Prop 19. The Taiwanese are visual learners, apparently. Talk about counter-intuitive.

I don't want to get into much detail here (and I have work to do before Monday Night Football starts, so we're wrapping up), but these are my three favorite things from this video:
1) Pot smokers clearly delineate themselves from law-abiding Californians by wearing bandannas, growing beards and driving authentic replicas of the Mystery Machine from Scooby-Doo.
2) That has to be the smallest goddamn barn I've ever seen. Though I guess it has to be, in order to appropriately house the bounty of those 25 square feet.
3) As far as Taiwanese people know, the only black people in California are incarcerated. I don't feel bad at all for my racist slanty-eyes cheap shot before the video.

And finally, last last last business: Rob is gone for good. Nick and I will be rocking +30 moodlets for at least the next three days, so by all means come over and enjoy our good cheer (and the Giants in the NLCS!). I won't get into details because only the most corrosive kind of asshole would spread self-serving falsehoods about his home life to anyone stupid enough to listen--right, Rob? I'll just sum up my feelings using a context-inappropriate Eminem lyric: "Bitch, if you died, wouldn't buy you life."

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