Almost Infamous - Views from a Black Intelligentleman

The Wedding

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[Warning: This is a LONG post. I have no intention of splitting or shortening it, so either settle in or go read something else. Maybe get some work done. Either way, you've been warned.] A friend of mine (we'll call her Cage) got married a few weeks ago. Ordinarily, this type of event is a wonderful thing. Weddings are blessed events; they are times of joy and jubilation, and a celebration of the union of two souls. This was not one of those types of weddings. The Setup You see, there were issues about this wedding, well before the actual event took place. The bride met the groom very shortly after her divorce was finalized from her previous marriage. This was the epitome of a rebound relationship, by normal standards, but Cage seemed pretty into him, and as her friend, I was supportive. At first. Things began proceeding faster than normal, and within two months they were discussing marriage. I protested; she had just gotten out of a really rocky marriage, and the last thing she needed was another marriage to a man she barely knew. But she was in love; no amount of advice would change her mind. They began planning an elaborate wedding with an interesting, unusual theme: eastern Indian/medieval. To this day, I'm not sure how these two disparate ideas go together. It's like chicken and ice cream, you know? This theme was not restricted to the decorations - the bride and groom were designing custom-made costumes to wear at the ceremony. My friend was wearing an Elizabethan gown, with all the accessories and trimmings. Her fiance was wearing an authentic medieval man-dress (I'm sure it has a real name, but "man-dress" is far funnier to say). But it didn't end there: the guests were also required to be dressed in authentic period costumes. At this point, I laughed my ass off while saying "Ain't no way in hell I'm wearing a costume to a wedding." (I did go, and I did wear a borrowed costume from a man apparently the size of a small trash truck. I looked like Shrek's second cousin. Shut up. ) By now I was thinking that this wedding was a result of a fevered dream or some really good weed, but nevertheless, it proceeded with all the strength and fury of a runaway subway. The grand event was to take place at the First Monday Canton Trade Days site in Canton, TX, about an hour's drive from Dallas (where I am). The significance of this place, you ask? It's also the location of this area's SCA events. The SCA is the Society for Creative Anachronisms, an organization that is "dedicated to researching and re-creating the arts and skills of pre-17th-century Europe." In other words, it's a bunch of people who dress up in costumes and armor and pretend to be in the Middle Ages. Her fiance is a high-ranking member of this area's SCA group, hence the location and dress code. And the SCA was scheduled to have an event that very day. Hoo, boy. Oh, and there was supposed to be an elephant on site. An elephant. Not a pretend-elephant, not an artist's rendition of an elephant, but a live, breathing-and-shitting elephant. So here's a quick summary, before I launch into the particulars of the wedding itself: Cage was marrying a guy she barely knew, and fresh off her divorce. The wedding was taking place an hour away at an SCA event where the participants and guests were expected to be in full costume. Oh yeah, and the elephant. Genius. The Pre-Wedding Pomp I was told by my friend to arrive at the site at 7:30pm on the day of the wedding. I was told this even though the wedding wasn't really due to start until 8, because I'm chronically late. It's a character trait. Or flaw. True to form, I showed up around 7:45, and immediately ran into a problem: the site was HUGE. The ceremony was supposed to take place in a tent - and there were dozens of tents. And forget just looking for people in crazy costumes, because there was an actual SCA event taking place that day, meaning that everyone there was in a crazy costume. I drove around and around, looking for anyone who even faintly resembled a person I knew, failing miserably. By now I was pissed; I had driven an hour away, to a wedding I protested, dressed in a borrowed, four-sizes-too-big medieval costume, and now I couldn't find anyone even approaching normal to ask about this cockamamie thing! I didn't even see the elephant, which I had planned to use as a visual marker for the location of the ceremony. After making a few passes around the place, I finally parked at the largest structure I could find, and started walking in a randomly-chosen direction. Well, the Atypical Wedding Gods must've taken pity on me, because within 3 minutes I spotted the groom, making his way toward me. We linked up, and he explained that the wedding had been relocated to the large structure where I had parked, due to excessive rain. When we entered the building, he left me to go get ready, and I was left to my own devices. In the area where the wedding was to take place, there one I knew. At the same time, directly in front of me, court was in session. As in royal court. Up on a stage sat the king and queen (I learned later that they were actually a baron and a baroness, a fact that mattered to me about as much as Whitney Houston's shoe size), a princess, several other people in charge, and no elephant. The audience consisted completely of people in different period garb, carrying weapons and flasks and whatnot. One guy looked EXACTLY like Peter Pan, except for the 5 foot long bow and the quiver full of arrows on his back, and the fact that he was no younger than 45. The women were all dressed like wenches or courtesans or some other female-appropriate role from the Middle Ages. Even the children present were costumed up. I felt sad for them all, and then that passed, and I laughed. I wandered over to the wedding area, lacking anything better to do at the moment, and I spotted one of Cage's children, who I did recognize. She was with a woman who looked sorta like Cage, and when she spotted me, she walked over and said "You must be Damian." Seeing as I was Cage's token black friend, I'm sure it wasn't too terribly hard to figure me out. She was Cage's sister, and she did NOT want to be there. Our exchange: CageSis: "What do you think about all this?" Me: "It's not my cup of tea, but hey, whatever finds your lost remote. I'm still looking for the elephant." CageSis: "The what?" Me: "Nevermind." CageSis: "Yeah, this is stupid. So, is Cage's fiance an asshole, or what?" Me: [stunned silence, looking for the angle] Me: "Uh, why do you say that?" I was looking for the angle because, although I had heard he was an asshole, he'd never been anything but nice to me, and I wasn't about to throw him under the bus to someone I didn't know. She goes on to tell me about all the assholish things he did since she arrived, which I won't even bother detailing here. The guy is an asshole, something he'll tell you himself. Eventually she wandered off, leaving me alone again. As I stood around, Cage's cousin from out west approached me. I had met him before on a previous visit, and I was happy to see him again. Our exchange: Me: "Fran! So good to see you again! Fran: "Damian, glad you made it out! So, what do you think?" Me: "I'm reserving judgment until I've seen all of it. This will be in my blog, no doubt." Fran: "Yeah, I've already got several pages written. Wow, Cage's fiance is an asshole, isn't he?" Me: [not-so-stunned silence, wondering what the hell happened] Me: "Uh, yeah, he's an interesting guy. Why do you say that?" Fran launched into a monologue about all the assholian things perpetrated by the fiance of the past few days leading up to the wedding. Again, not worthy of description. Fran found something more interesting to do, and thus left me to my own devices. About five minutes later, Cage's best friend and maid of honor Retro came over, and brightened noticeably when she saw me. Our exchange: Me: "Retro! You look great in your costume." Retro: "Ugh. Thanks, Damian. It's so good to see you. Is this not a clusterfuck?" Me: "If it's not, it's in Clusterfuck Academy, awaiting graduation. How's Cage?" Retro: "On the verge of a nervous breakdown. My God, is Fiance an asshole or what?" Me: [completely un-stunned silence, trying not to laugh] Me: "That seems to be the consensus. Why do you say that?" Retro begins a tirade about all the assholery committed by our antagonist, El Fiance . Suffice it to say, he wasn't a popular character. After she left, I decided to be proactive and meet the others there. Of note were Fiance's mother and grandmother, both of whom were very Texas and very nice. By now it was 9pm, and the wedding still hadn't begun. I didn't really want to be there in the first place, I looked like Shrek, and I was looking an an hour's drive home again. I decided that I was leaving no later than when they walked down the aisle, because there's only so much tomfoolery one sane person can stand. Retro grabbed me and took to where Cage was, which was a sweet relief to all that had happened before. She looked lovely, and was serene, even through the craziness of the situation. I knew that would be the only chance I had to talk to her, so I explained that I wouldn't be staying after the ceremony. She understood; she knew how I felt. There's a fine line between "support" and "condone", and I wanted to make sure I walked that line carefully. As I headed back over to the ceremony area, I happened to pass behind Fiance's grandmother, the charming woman from before. And I'm not saying this to be mean; I'm not making this up, and I don't think it was intentional, but as I passed behind her, the unthinkable happened: She farted. Loudly. Like a frat boy on beer night. Well. That was the capper on a fine evening, or so I thought. The Ceremony I won't bore you with endless details about the ceremony - hell, I've already bored you enough as it is. I'll give you some highlights.

  • The "priest" was a long-haired, one-legged biker dressed in period garb.
  • The guests were given small vials of bubble liquid to blow bubbles as the couple passed. No bubbles were blown.
  • Slices of apple, a horn of mead, and pieces of bread were passed among the crowd to eat as a way to share in the ceremony. Mead is disgusting.
  • The priest sliced off a chunk of his thumb while slicing the apple, and bled profusely.
  • The king and queen (oops, baron and baroness) attended the wedding, bringing the total number of black people in the building from 1 to 3.
  • Bride and groom both are vegetarians, meaning my meat-eating ass had no food to eat, except for rabbit feed.
  • There was no elephant. I was duped.
The Denouement As promised, no sooner had the happy couple walked down the aisle than I slipped out quietly into the night. I was tired, confused, and mad. I was promised an elephant. I did hear there was some bellydancing after I left, though. Among the dancers was the groom's mother and grandmother. I think I left at just the right time.

The Postscript

We all found out that the couple had flown to Vegas and eloped about 2 months prior to the actual ceremony.



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