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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Run for the Border - Parte Tres

I’ll preface my recap of the Chexican wedding by observing that, if someone has to tell you to remove the pineapple from your head as you’re leaving a party, it usually means you stayed just a smidge too long.  I’ll come back to this idea later.

I can be fairly blasé about nuptials, having attended literally dozens and played a Key Role of some sort in sixteen.  (My favorite was the one where the couple asked me to play the organ.  They knew I played the piano only but did not retract their request for my services even after I pointed out that the two instruments are more like fraternal twins than identical ones.  This led to my memorable and inadvertently ironic rendition of “Be Not Afraid”.)

The Chexican wedding ceremony, set in a beautiful, rustic old church in downtown Cuernavaca, was a standard issue Catholic affair.   The same cannot be said of the reception. 

It took place at a large, open air hotel lounge comprised of a stone patio and a grassy area.  In case of rain, the hotel staff had given the lounge a “roof” in the form of a series of massive green, industrial tarps.  From the outside the site resembled a public works project, but somehow the staff managed to make the interior a sparkling, cozy party room. 

Tables occupied the grassy area.  A single light placed on the underside of each one cast a soft but bright light through the sheer white cloths that covered them.  I’m sure the lighting-from-beneath technique is in vogue at U.S. weddings now, too, but I hadn’t seen it before.  I loved the warm, intimate effect. 

S. and I picked up our place cards and took our seats at Table 10 with several other members of her family.  The eight piece band started its sound check routine, only to be drowned out by a drumline-esque pounding overhead.  It took us a few seconds to realize rain had begun to strike the roof tarp, pretty forcefully.   Our table dismissed it as a passing storm—a momentary distraction--as did the other guests, because no one seemed to be abandoning their posts. 

When the wind powering this momentary distraction seized a corner of one tarp and lifted it, the rain wasted no time exploiting the opening (along with similar gaps at two or three other points along the seams of the tarp quilt)  The rainwater that had begun to pool at the low points of the “roof” cascaded unimpeded onto whatever lay below, which happened to include two fully occupied tables.  The guests at these tables took it in stride, despite their abrupt transition from evening attire to swimwear.

The deluge continued unabated for half an hour.  Valiant hotel staff climbed to the roof of the lounge and tried to piece together the breached seams of the tarp quilt, bracing themselves against the wind each time it threatened to rip the quilt apart again. 

The below-table lighting, powered by cords that ran electricity from the stone patio out to the grassy area , suddenly seemed less romantic, except perhaps to the few people for whom potential electrocution is an aphrodisiac.

Had this been a baseball game, they’d have called it before it started.  But eventually the newlyweds decided to take the field, so to speak, and braved a dash from car to bar.  The bride’s long, white gown was coated almost instantly in a layer of blackish mud, which did not affect her smile except perhaps to increase it.  Though I had met her only the evening before, I felt deep affection for this woman who threw caution to the wind and white lace to the dirt. 

Once the happy couple was seated, the staff served dinner.  At this point I must back up and note that, before my trip, many well-intentioned people offered dietary advice. I waved all of them off, informing them smugly that I intended to invoke my Egypt Rule. Under said Rule, any uncooked produce that could or should have been washed in a sink is off-limits.  I was fully prepared to sacrifice consumption of lettuce, tomatoes and other garden favorites in exchange for intestinal stability.   

I was not, however, prepared for the Egypt Rule to run headlong into the immutable force of the seating chart, which placed me right next to the bride’s mother, M.  The magnitude of the collision became apparent when an immense salad showed up in front of me.  M looked at me and nodded, inviting me to start eating.  I took a tentative first bite as she watched for my reaction.  “It’s very delicious, isn’t it?” she asked.  A mere nod of the head wouldn’t do, here.  Only a clean plate would provide adequate proof.  I tried to smile as I ate the whole thing while picturing pieces of chewed up lettuce landing like grenades in my stomach.  I hoped at least a few would turn out to be duds.  

The remaining courses were Egypt Rule-approved and delicious, so I savored them despite my lingering concerns about the salad.   As soon as the plates were cleared, the band shrugged off the polite dinner music it had been playing in favor of raucous, seat-clearing dance tunes. This band created plenty of festivity on its own, but just in case the party ran short on merriment, they began to hand out a series of foam props, which the dance floor crowd donned happily.    

First, they gave us enormous sunglasses.  Next came cowboy hats large enough to fit any of the heads at Mount Rushmore comfortably.  The third round featured fruit headbands.  Soon I found myself crowned with an enormous pineapple and dancing next to man who was still wearing a cowboy hat, making me look like a miscast Village Person. 

It was 3:15 a.m. by this time, so I decided this was my cue to leave the party.  That’s where I encountered the woman who pointed out that my head still sported a large piece of foam produce. 

Most people in such a situation, including this young lady, can’t help but mix a bit of judgment in with their helpful observation.  She fixed me with a look of pure condemnation that said, in no uncertain terms, “If you’re going to leave in the first wave of party poopers, the least you could do is give your pineapple to someone who’s worthy of wearing it.” 

I got the message loud and clear and surrendered the headband sheepishly.  She immediately crowned herself with the pineapple and strode toward the dance floor as I plodded off to my room. Flexible fruit indignities aside, post-marital splat life was treating me pretty darned well so far. 

1 comment:

  1. Wish I could have witnessed the organ performance! :)