In which a veteran of cultural studies seminars in the 1990s moves into academic administration and finds himself a married suburban father of two. Foucault, plus lawn care.
This weekend, TW and I attended a wedding at City Hall in New York, followed the next day by a reception closer to us (and open to TB and TG). (I've known the groom since early grad school. To give you some idea of just how long ago that was, George Bush was President, the price of gas shot up, and we were at war with Iraq. Good times...) Vignettes from the weekend:
- As we herded into the wedding area, the groom announced “we just need to fill out some paperwork, then chop chop, and it's off to lunch we go!” I advised him that he probably shouldn't dismiss his impending nuptials with 'chop chop.' Thinking Like a Husband takes practice.
- The wedding holding tank (as opposed to the chapel) in City Hall has to be the happiest place on earth. Five or six wedding parties would be there at one time. The couples were giddy, the brides were beautiful, and the parents and friends were beaming. You couldn't turn around without walking into somebody's photo shoot. The couples were a heartwarming mix of races, ages, and, well, personal styles. As people-watching spots go, they don't get much better.
- After the ceremony, as we came into the hallway, the groom's brother stood nonchalantly quaffing a can of diet peach Snapple. Somehow, it didn't quite fit.
- Attempting to drive out of Manhattan at rush hour on a Friday afternoon should get you time off purgatory. The only viable means is by airlift. (Our last NYC trip involved seven – count 'em! -- trains, as well as the inevitable driving to and from the nearest station. We swore never again. There's just no winning this one.) Apparently, the NYPD busies itself by blocking off random streets without warning, which is good, since it has eliminated crime and has nothing better to do. Also, signs like “(escape route) exit here” are apparently meant to be understood to mean “(escape route) exit a few blocks down, then turn twice.” Silly me, using 'words' to correspond to 'external reality.' (Somewhere, Richard Rorty is having a hearty chuckle at me.)
- When we told TB and TG about the reception, they had identical reactions: “will there be cake?”
- There was. Ice cream cake, in fact, but not Cookie Puss. Cookie Puss just isn't wedding material.
- The reception was the following day, which actually worked out quite well. It was at the groom's parents' house, which was much closer to us, and kid-friendly. Most of the folks who have kids brought them, so TB was utterly in his element. He led an expedition into the woods to search for golf balls, since the house abuts a golf course. He filled a bucket with them, which I thought was pretty impressive. He also found an enigmatic rock, which was explained variously as a fossil, dessicated deer poop, a meteorite, and the byproduct of a long-bulldozed foundry. History will decide.
- The bride and groom got a real good look at their future, as various kid-related emergencies drew adults away from the table, often for twenty minutes at a pop. Adult-length attention spans are the first casualties of parenthood.
- I hadn't seen most of the groom's family since the 90's. They were utterly lovely, and they couldn't have been more gracious with the kids. At one point during the dinner, TB rose to announce Sunday night's meteor shower. This won public approval.
- Never give a best man toast without notes. I actually left off the punchline, and didn't even have drunkenness as an excuse. On the bright side, it was brief. Brevity is a virtue at these things.
- At one point, three of us got into a conversation about P.G. Wodehouse. I consider Wodehouse one of the gods of English prose, and trading favorite lines time well-spent. (“Although not entirely disgruntled, he was certainly far from gruntled.” I'd give major organs to be able to toss off lines like that.) I came away with a recommendation for another author of similar bent, which is no small thing.
- The Groom paid some serious relationship dues over the years. He has never been one to do things the easy way, but oh, my. He took a pretty circuitous route to this one – they met when they were on different hemispheres – but he done found himself a winner. Well played, sir.