Saturday night, the plantsitter arrived, and we had a lovely dinner before she took the gang home to board with her over the week. And then, Sunday, I was gone.
Dad Pony's stent operation went well, and he was there personally to meet me at the airport. I was a little surprised by this, but he was indeed up and running. Well, not exactly running -- they'd put the stent in through the femoral artery, so he had to move a little carefully so he didn't rip that artery open and bleed to death there on the spot, but he was there. Looks like he's going to be fine. He still has lots of physical therapy to do on his wrist, which he does religiously. The doctor gave him a 45-minute set of exercises to be done six times a day. And he does them. Six times a day. One of the wedding guests suggested that they were prescribed for six times a day in the hopes that he'd maybe do them three times, but the therapist clearly did not reckon with Dad Pony's ability to follow directions to the letter.
My sister, who is starting nursing school at Yale, has now moved to a fabulous new apartment in New Haven, which I went to see. It's in a lovely grad student ghetto, where I used to have piano lessons, with a park, an Italian deli, a laundromat, and a pub all within easy walking distance. The apartment is newly renovated and sunny, with large, gracious rooms that my sister is decorating with her usual bohemian good taste. I think she's glad to be there, partially because she's starting nursing school, which is what she really wants to do, and partially to escape Dad Pony. This cardiac episode scared him more than he wants to admit, and he's dealing with it in his usual fashion, by lecturing me and my sister on how this problem is partially genetic, and We Have The Bad Genes, so We Must Be Careful. Three times a day.
I spent Wednesday in New York with my best friend, who is trying to become a musical theater writer. He and two of his classmates from his MFA program have written a show called The Day The World Went Queer, which was accepted to the Fringe Festival. We went to see its third performance, which was a smash hit. They'd generated some good word of mouth by that point, and they had a packed 250-seat house. The audience loved it and laughed through the whole thing. One lady even stopped him after the show and told him personally how much she loved his writing, and how she'd tell all her friends and get them to come to the last two performances. And the best part was that there were agents in the audience from Disney and Clear Channel.
The show is in fact pretty funny. It only has one joke, and it drags a little in the second act, but it's well done and clever, and the cast is clearly having a fantastic time doing it. They really threw themselves in, which is what you need to make that kind of utterly shameless satire work. There are also moments where it's surprisingly sweet, such as Timmy's adolescent crush on his next-door neighbor Mikey. And it features guys dancing around in buttless leather chaps, which is always humorous.
And now, the moment you've all been waiting for. . .
My aunt and uncle are experts at throwing enormous family parties. Their family is large and, unusually, keeps in very close touch, so you end up with two Passover seders in two time zones, each attracting thirty to forty people, all of whom are cousins to various degrees. Bilbo's birthday party has nothing on this. So, when my cousin Marcia announced that she was finally getting married, my aunt swung into planning with nearly military precision. She and Marcia did not leave a single detail to chance.
The wedding happened at a lovely little Vermont country inn that was completely commandeered for the event. Family started pouring in a week and a half beforehand, from England, India, Dubai, and parts in between (the groom is Indian). So, by the time the bride's family mobilized, the festivities had already been going for a while.
We drove up to Vermont on Friday, the day of, stopping to collect my step-bubbe and my aunt's best friend and her husband. The inn was gracious, quaint, polite, elegant, and clearly expensive, but The Family was taking care of that. It was remote enough that cell phones didn't get reception, so The Family kept in touch with the bridal convoy by walkie-talkie.
Event Number One was the actual wedding. It was Friday evening, on the lawn of the inn. We met the groom's family for the first time, and they are as handsome and charming as he is. There was a guitar player and a flutist, limeade and iced tea for the pre-wedding socializing hour, and a perfectly designed little wedding hill that had chairs and lots of flowers. I got to be the official pinner-on of corsages and putter-in of earrings, which is weird because I don't wear earrings and I'd never worn a corsage in my life. The groom was handsome in a black Nehru jacket, and my cousin's first wedding dress was a simple Empire dress of lace with a short train. The flower girl was too cute for words and scattered flower petals as if it were the most important thing in the world. It was a civil ceremony, featuring poetry read by the brothers of both bride and groom, wine shared by both families, and vows that the bride and groom had both written. The groom also got to stomp a glass, which was quite a trick on grass. The weather was cool and lovely, and the first drops of rain fell just as the photographs were finished.
Event Number Two was the wedding dinner. Not to be confused with the reception, of course. This was just a fancy dual-family dinner, cocktails beforehand, in the inn's dining room. Rich, varied, five-course (three or four choices of main dish), lots of tea and conversation. My (extended) family does this sort of thing all the time when they get together, so I think it was probably the easiest event to arrange.
Event Number Three was the wedding breakfast, the next morning. Relatively informal, buffet and hot main dish. Everyone could socialize while not wearing fancy dress. The exciting event of the breakfast was that eighty-five-year-old Uncle Bernie didn't make it. He had a ministroke in the morning and found that his legs wouldn't move. Fortunately, both the groom's father and younger brother are physicians, so, yes, there was indeed a doctor in the house. Aren't we clever? We marry doctors and then put them to work immediately. Anyway, The Family rented a wheelchair, and Bernie was back to playing family patriarch by late afternoon. We had most of the day free to roam the gorgeous Vermont countryside. The groom's family was a little surprised at how laissez-faire everything was -- apparently Indian weddings are just as long, but feature more organized activity -- but we explained the idea of "herding cats," and they understood.
Event Number Four was the reception. The real crowds started to arrive for that event. There had been only about forty or fifty people for the wedding, the dinner, and the breakfast, but now more family and friends turned up, for a final count of maybe eighty. More socializing, hors d'ouvres, Indian appetizers cooked right there in front of you, and lots more children. Dinner was a massive buffet, and my sister and I spent dinner chatting and visiting with the groom's two cousins, who were lots of fun. This was the event where Marcia wore Number Two Wedding Dress. Because you can't wear the same dress if your reception is a day after the wedding, of course. This one was a satin ballgown with embroidery on the bodice. The groom's family put on fresh saris, and I had my jingle skirt.
The DJ was good, and chose eminantly danceable music. The bride and groom had choreographed a lively swinging first dance, then Dad Pony got up to dance with my sister, and everyone who could move was dancing. Even my uncle, father of the groom, who had previously only been known to dance to one song in his life, got up and cut the rug a little. Because he'd only ever danced to one song, Marcia chose that one for the father-daughter dance. It's probably the only time the Village People's "YMCA" was ever used for the father-daughter dance. . . We also put on "Hava Nagila," taught the Indians how to do a freylach, and did the chair dance, without which no Jewish wedding is complete. Shrieking bride and groom and all. Even cousin Barak, who is thirteen, freshly bar mitzvaed, and not at all inclined to move on a dance floor, danced. We were dancing right up to ten o'clock, when a town ordinance said we had to stop. But the flower girl said she could have danced for another ten hours, and we believed her.
Event number five was the wedding brunch on Sunday morning. Yes, most of the events revolved around meals. The majority of guests were Jewish, and the Indians and Irish didn't seem to mind in the least. Prior to brunch, my tante Joyce and I teased the ringbearer mercilessly. He's one of those kids who's very smart, very articulate, wants to show off all the Facts he's learned in school, and has absolutely no sense of humor about it. He wanted to quiz us all about evolution, so he'd ask which species of early humans first had intelligents speech, and I'd say that in view of our current government, I wasn't sure we'd achieved that particular milestone yet. But Joyce and I taught him about the Fibonacci sequence, which pleased him. Then brunch happened. This involved fresh decorations in the reception tent, another buffet, and lots of nibbling and wandering from table to table to socialize. Brunch lasted for about four hours total, and then people started to mosey away. Full of party, happy, thoroughly danced with, and with the feeling that Marcia and Ranjeev had been properly married. The groom's family would be staying on for another week, to do more activities, but the main event was over.
And there was also significant eyebrow-waggling at my cousin Dan (Marcia's brother) and his fiancée Mary. They're next, in January. Their wedding will be on a Caribbean island, and the reception will be in Orlando.
It was a big wedding that didn't look like a big wedding. My aunt, in particular, is a design genius. She habitually works at scale-and-a-half, but does things so thoroughly and precisely that you don't notice the massive planning that goes into her events. It just looks exquisitely beautiful and elegant, and it's only when you stop to take a step back that you realize just how much thought, care, and planning has gone into organizing something like this. A three-day, two-gown, five-event, top-of-the-line wedding, where everything, including the weather, came off smoothly and with almost military precision. There is no one like my aunt for hospitality. No one. No one in the world.
It was great. And the best part is that Ranjeev is a great guy, and he and Marcia are a perfect match for each other.