Last weekend I went to the wedding of a friend I had fallen out of touch with. We both still live in Brooklyn, and I suppose I see him from time to time, but things between us are always so awkward and forced that it's sometimes weird to think we were ever friends. But we were, so when he invited me to his wedding I agreed to go.
He was marrying his longtime girlfriend, an Indian girl from New Jersey. She came from a very... traditional family, which meant they had no idea that the betrothed were a fairly prototypical Bed-Stuy couple who had moved in together almost two years ago. Of course I had no idea until I accidentally revealed their cohabitation to one of her Indian relatives, who seemed horrified that they were sharing a bed before marriage. Don't get me wrong, I would have been happy enough to go along with the fiction. I just would have liked some warning ahead of time. But most of all, when it came to keeping secrets like that from your super conservative family, I couldn't help but think, "Yeesh, good luck with that."
The first night of the wedding it became clear that the real reason I was invited was to pad the number of people who were there for the groom. The bride's entire family was in full attendance, including lots of folks from India. My friend's only had one family member there, his mom, so even though he and I aren't very close anymore, I still felt like there was something important about me being there.
The problem was that there are LOT of duties you have to perform at an Indian wedding. The whole affair lasts three days. On the first night, I had to perform in a sketch and dance about how happy we all were for the married couple. And it didn't run on some traditional script. The sketch was original and highly personalized. Luckily someone else wrote it, and I just had to read my parts. But I'm not particularly good in front of crowds. The whole time I really wanted to take a pull on my vape. But the bride's Indian family served vegan food and had absolutely no bar, cash or otherwise, so I doubted they'd take kindly to open use of an electronic cigarette.
The second day was a little better, even though we started insanely early - at like 7:30 in the morning. I'd purchased a traditional Indian kurta for the occasion, which is essentially a long shirt with embroidered trim. Is it offensive to refer to Indian formal wear as fancy pajamas? Because I don't mean it as disrespect. I sincerely think that we should completely adopt Indian formal wear for special occasions, at least for men. What I wore was absurdly comfortable. It was colorful and definitely looked cooler than a regular suit. What if that's what we wore to all wedding, business meetings, or whatever? Just saying.
The first thing we had to do that morning was march the groom through Madison Square Park and down the street to the wedding venue. We were led by two guys with drums, as we spun around with flowery decorations and flowing fabrics. It was pretty fun. I created a festive cloud around our procession by taking huge rips on my vape.
The ceremony itself was pretty cool if difficult to understand because it wasn't in English. My friend seemed like he was barely tolerating it, taking an almost sarcastic attitude to performing the various ceremonies and duties. It was was one of those moments at a wedding when you think, "Wow, he must really love her."
That evening, during their version of a reception, I ate a caramel with magic mushrooms in it. Frankly I was just getting bored with the whole thing and was just hoping to make the event more interesting. And boy was that successful. As people made speeches about the couple, I somehow became convinced that I was going to be asked to say something. I panicked, trying to think of something non-cynical to say. Eventually I decided to recount the plot of The Giving Tree to the best of my recollection. Of course, I was never asked to speak.
The dancing was fun though! I'm actually a pretty big Bollywood fan, so I knew a lot of the music they played. And there was plenty of other stuff I jammed out to: Talking Heads, Bowie, etc. OH, and there was an open bar at the reception. By the time I was vaping openly on the dance floor, no one seemed to see the clouds, and if they did they didn't care. So for a moment dancing vaping felt like what it really is - just another part of life and celebration.