Now, it is no big secret to most of you that I'm not a big fan of marriage. Almost every marriage I see is a total farce, at best a toss-up as to whether it's a tragedy or a comedy. I can count the number of happy, stable marriages that I know of on one hand, and still have a finger or two left over.
If you really want to know the depth of my disdain for the institution in all its forms, email me, and I'll give you the full rant. I'm trying to keep this somewhat concise, though, since it's a preamble to what I actually want to blog about today.
I have played countless weddings ("uncounted" mainly 'cause I never counted them). I've seen every variation under the sun. They all had their mixture of awkwardness, happiness, sadness, more awkwardness, tension, joy, anticipation, boredom, more awkwardness, and the thrill of it finally being done... Like a hurdle that the guys just want to get over. A rite of passage that's necessary, but unwanted for the guys, and doesn't live up to expectations for the girls. I'm about as big a fan of weddings as I am marriages. Blech!!!
Except... What we all want is what I call "the Movie Wedding" - where every action is sincere and emotional. Where every ritual is profound and meaningful. Where the love and exuberance and romance never lets up for a second. And that it's the beginning to a romance that never fades.
I went to my cousin Ben's wedding last week. It was going to notable to me for three reasons:
1) It was my first wedding EVER where I didn't play the piano
2) Ben and I (and my 18-year-old cousin Ruth Ann) were the last hold-outs of our generation... Of my 14 siblings and cousins, everybody else had been married... Sometimes twice. Sometimes more than that. He and I were the last bachelors.
3) My cousin Ben and my brother David are the best men (by almost any standard - best looking, smartest, most respectful, funniest, etc... It's annoying at times) of our generation, and I was curious to see who he was going to marry. My brother David married the only perfect woman for him (his is one of the aforementioned happy and stable marriages I know of).
Well, I flew in early to meet Lorna, Ben's intended. First impression; incredible beauty. Great sense of humor. Seems like a great person.
Then the next day, they were telling a story about her and Ben riding horses, and Ben's suddenly took off galloping over a hill where she couldn't see him. At the time, she didn't know he was an excellent horseman. And she told me that she could just knew he was going to get thrown, and maybe paralyzed a la Superman... And she said she could see how the wedding and marriage was going to be with him as a quadraplegic... And the two of them started joking about going down the aisle with him blowing on a straw to make the chair go... On the one hand, the jokes were a little on the tacky and offensive side (not that that ever bothered me, particularly; I find everything in life funny). On the other hand, it was one of the sweetest things I'd ever heard. There was no doubt in either of their minds that they would be married, no matter what the circumstances, no matter the difficulties. Of all the things they were talking about, and worrying about, and planning, the marriage was never going to be in doubt.
Ah, but then there was the bachelor party.
Most bachelor parties are hedonistic affairs, with as much alcohol and sexual content as possible... Strippers are considered necessary, hookers are often involved. Illegal drugs are not uncommon, neither is incredibly stupid behaviour on everybody's part. After all, it's his "last night of freedom," right? My thought on that is that if you view that lifestyle as freedom, you're not ready to get married. I'm not condemning anybody's lifestyle; I know that most people would find mine offensive. But if that's what you want, then you don't really want marriage.
Well, here come's Ben's Bachelor party... We got toy guns (arc-soft pistols; think realistic looking BB guns that shoot plastic pellets), rented "Way of the Gun" and alternated between watching the movie and shooting the crap out of each other. Fun, fun, fun, and not something that his wife would cringe to know about.
The next morning (the day of the wedding), he took us to the St. Louis City Museum. What an incredible place - like a playground for adults. If you've never been there, I can't describe it - just GO! Anyway, we played "Sardines" for a few hours, then went to the "ball-pit" which is like a giant version of those McDonalds play-pens with the balls in the bottom, except this one had volleyballs, and was about 20 ft. square... Apparently, much of the courtship of Ben and Lorna took place at this museum.
Then he took us to a Castle-like tower at the edge of the place, and described flying into town without telling her, and how she met him there (at the tower), and as she was walking up the steps, he'd laid a rose on each step, and when she got to the top, he'd asked her to marry him.
Talk about smooth.
So, the groomsmen and groom were by this point dirty, sweaty, unshaven, smelly, and tired. So we went back, took showers, napped, and left for the big event.
Lorna was beyond radiant. She was the most excited and exuberant bride I've ever seen. She was so happy that she literally couldn't stand still. Ben was at the pinnacle of suave and romantic, at times murmuring into her ear, always touching her to just remain close... I have never seen a couple more in love, and I don't mean infatuation, I mean LOVE. The kind where they will be giggling and flirting with each other when they're 90.
I should mention that Ben is one of the most devout Christians I know. He is the poster child for what churches want men to be... Yet somehow, while living a completely clean and chaste life, he manages to be a lot of fun to be around, and not just for short periods of time. He never judges you for living differently than him, never comes across as preachy or superior; he just does it because he believes that's what God wants of him. He doesn't spend much time telling you what God wants of you; that's between you and God.
So it was quite appropriate that the ceremony had a great deal of religious content. It wasn't out of place or awkward, like it usually is. In fact, it would have felt incomplete without it. It was beautiful watching them take communion together, and praying together. It was so sincere...
The Big Wedding. I doubt I'll ever see one like that again. No awkward moments. No looking out of place. No doubts. No insincerity. Just love, and more love, and more love.
I will never get married, unless it can be like that.
Which shouldn't be too hard, since I don't expect that I'll ever get married!
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