Thursday, September 14, 2006

You may not know this about me

But I hate weddings.

I really do.

I'm not the type of person to hate weddings. I like family events. I like getting dressed up. I like appetizers and wine.

But I loathe weddings. I loathe that we take what most cultures do in one afternoon, or at most, a long weekend, and stretch it out over six to nine months of engagement functions, wedding showers, bridal showers, bachelorette parties, dinners, after-parties and ephemera. I can't stand the fact that we've taken such a respectable and time-honored custom as exchanging goats for women and bastardized it to include up to four separate gift registries, a half-dozen or more uniformed attendants, and a cake that costs more than my student loans budget for a term's living expenses.

I hate the ridiculous, uncomfortable dresses, the rented formalwear, the dyed or leased shoes. There are no other remaining occasions where adults ask their closest friends to dress in matching and possibly used clothes and wait on them, nor many occasions that we mark, in our vastly privatized romantic lives, with catered food and a rented hall.

"Hey, Uncle Ted! Have a bacon-wrapped scallop! Today's the day my little girl gives her first hand-job!"

"Mrs. and Mrs. Rubenstein invite you to celebrate the occasion of their son, David's, first same sex relationship"

Why do we? Why do we do this? I understand that the rituals have meaning to some people, and among the religiously oriented, the ceremony can be incredibly important. Others have always looked forward to having that first dance, or being given away. Some people even like wedding cake.

Personally, I like cake. I like eating meals with people. But I've never been able to maintain lively dinner conversation with 150 people. Ten is probably my limit. Fifteen if there's alcohol. So that's all of the tradition that I find appealing. Unfortunately, wedding cake doesn't taste good. So that's one off.

But I can imagine, extrapolating from my deep personal relationship with cake, that there are people who find parts of weddings touching and meaningful.

But what I do NOT buy is that everyone who has a wedding likes every little bit of the American wedding. Some people like bands. Other people like their family. Are you really going to tell me that you find chicken a la king, dj's, cummerbunds, and pink roses on a field of baby's breath all deeply and personally symbolic of your unique romantic relationship?

I really can't think of anything else about the whole wedding brouhaha that means anything to me. I do really, ideally, celebrate any occasion with between four and fifteen people. Not eighty. So that's out. I don't like uncomfortable clothes, and I look awful in white. I love men in suits, but not tuxedos. I just can't get over that they don't own their pants. I don't like to coerce people to get me gifts, so showers and registries are out. I don't like clubbing or male strippers, so the bachelorette party is out. I don't dance or like music, so any DJ or band would be out. I don't like flowers, so that'd be out. I don't like videos or most photographs of me, so that's out. I'm not religious, so no church wedding for me. Personally, I believe that what the state of Massachusetts has put together, virtually any man may put asunder.

I like the idea of a proposal. Not the one-knee thing, though. It's too submissive. Not very creative. And we don't go down on one knee for much in life these days. Catholics do it at mass. But it's two knees. And there's a padded thing. A kneeler. Football players go down on one knee, I think. And I hate football.

The reason that the whole proposal thing appeals to me is because I like to mark decisions in life, not transitions. I was remarkably unaffected by my own college graduation. Wearing a bizarre costume and waiting in line did not make me feel like any momentous threshhold had been crossed. I'm sure that getting married would be a similar emotional non-event. The moment before a decision is made, however, the moment of formulation of intent, of anticipation, is a heady one. I can't remember much about the first time I actually had sex, but I have many treasured memories of considering the possibility. I like auditions more than rehearsals, Christmas Eve better than Christmas, and I LOVED applying to law schools.

The other aspect of proposal that appeals to me more than wedding is that not only does it require less of me, it also requires, unlike weddings where you try to manufacture a perfect manifestation of the deeper meaning of a relationship out of jordan almonds and satin-dyed shoes, that someone plan something about a relationship, but really FOR the other person. (Gender neutral there- see. It's like feminism, even when I'm talking about how getting presents is better than throwing a party). And planning, and thinking about what a person really wants, and really means to you, is the essence of romance (Men don't get enough credit for the planning that goes into a decent proposal. When, where, what kind of ring, what to say, how not to fart). Whereas thinking about what a person, their parents, all their friends, certain coworkers, and extended family, would like to eat for 45 dollars a plate is dismally prosaic.

But, all in all, like kittens into cats, engagements turn into weddings, and something cute and fuzzy and loveable turns into a resentful box-shitter who may or may not carry hepatitis.

I suppose I'm meant to be an old maid. Which is fine with me. Because I'd make a great crone. I'm very good at cranky.

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