[the reverend]

[the reverend]

Welcome to the LEFT of center

Ricky & Samantha

August 25, 2012

 

So it’s a week after Lena and Isaac’s wedding, and I find myself sitting in front of historic Jane’s Carousel in Brooklyn Bridge Park. I’m here to perform Ricky and Samantha’s “modern Chinese” wedding, and aside from the fact that I had spent a lot of time getting to know the soon-to-be-newlyweds, for the first time ever as an officiant, I feel a bit nervous. Mainly because it suddenly occurred to me that, although Ricky and Sam are thoroughly hip New Yorkers, they had indicated that they have relatives who are decidedly less so, some of whom don’t even speak English. And what the hell are *they* going to think of my sarcastic wit and hopefully humorous insights? The answer (I suspected) was not much. *sigh*

 

I tried to push it out of my mind as I took in the impressive view. Now, for those of you who aren’t familiar with Brooklyn, I can tell you that a lot of it sucks. In fact, less than a mile or so down the waterline is the start of an ugly industrial area that runs all the way around the edge of the borough to the Gowanus, which you may or may not know is a superfund site that is super-polluted, super-smelly and super-disgusting. The park, however, is nothing of the kind; the carousel sits right on the waterfront between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges facing the lower Manhattan skyline, and the grounds have been landscaped with lush green grass and abundant wildflowers.

 

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It’s a beautiful day, and the park is filled with happy families, kite-flying hipsters and picnicking couples. Much to my dismay, it is also filled with roughly a half-dozen different wedding parties, some of whom are on the farthest side of the park from where I’m sitting. A quick check of my watch indicates that it is at least 10 minutes past the time the wedding was supposed to start, and immediately my nervousness graduates to full-blown panic as I realize that it is entirely possible that I have misunderstood Ricky’s instructions on where to meet, and any one of these distant wedding parties may in fact be *my* wedding party, and that I am therefore a shitty, irresponsible Reverend who is going to be late and ruin two very nice people’s Big Day.

 

Turns out I needn’t have worried. After a flurry of frantic and unanswered text messages, a young Asian family approaches the steps behind the carousel, all of whom are dressed to the nines. The little boy is wearing a tiny tuxedo, the little girl is wearing a party dress, and they are both so cute I want to vomit. I decide not to conclude they’re here for Ricky and Samantha just because they’re dressed up and appear to be Chinese, having learned from a similar mistake my parents once made. (They were on their way to a Pakistani culture and food festival in an unfamiliar part of Jersey when they became lost. They spotted a car with a family who looked decidedly Pakistani, and decided to follow them, assuming they were going to the festival. Yeeeeeah. Turns out, they were going home. So my parents basically stalked some nice family who mercifully didn’t call the cops on them.)

 

At any rate, the two adults quickly set up a sign for the kids to write on, and (much to my great relief) the girl writes “Ricky + Samantha’s Wedding” on it, embellishing it with flowers and a stick figure bride and groom that was probably far better than anything I could have drawn. I introduce myself to the woman; she is indeed a relative and assures me that yes, I am in the right place and that the couple is running late.

 

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I nearly collapse from the relief. Or quite possibly the heat. New York in August, even on the waterfront, is a sticky-hot mess, and that’s in shorts and a t-shirt, never mind dressed up for a fancy affair. I am fairly certain that my makeup is melting off of my face just like that guy’s…well, face melted off of his face in Raiders of the Lost Ark, and I pray that I will not be a sweaty, disgusting slob that photobombs all of the ceremony pictures. Another relative arrives with a cooler full of bottled water, and I gratefully accept two and down them in several unattractive gulps like a dying man.

 

More and more guests are arriving, and a bridesmaid shows me the handcrafted felt flower bouquets that Samantha had made. She is also handing out fun flags and streamers (handmade as well) for the guests to cheer with. A few parasols are tied to the gates behind where the couple will stand, and life-sized photo cutouts of their pet bunnies (Carrots and Clover) complete the waterfront altar.

 

Finally, Ricky and Samantha arrive, pausing at the top of the stairs before joining the crowd. Samantha was petite and positively radiant in a strapless white gown with layers of taffeta and lace, while Ricky was sharp and classy in a crisp black suit. Despite the volume of the surroundings, they were no match for a heavy metal frontwoman, and I was able to deliver the service loud enough for at least the first few rows of people to hear me, and managed to elicit smiles and laughs from those that could. Afterward, the newlyweds warmly thanked me, then reminded me that my husband and I were invited to the party later that evening in Flushing. As if I would forget that I was going to my first Chinese wedding banquet in, oh, EVER. Yeah, right. This was gonna be awesome!

 

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Several hours later, I was facedown on the banquet table, praying to die and literally begging the waiters to stop, please stop, for the love of all that is holy PLEASE STOP BRINGING FOOD before my stomach explodes like the fat guy’s in Se7en, the only difference being that no one had been holding a gun to my head and forcing all of that deliciousness down my throat, therefore making me far more gluttonous and disgusting. Ricky was already in the bathroom throwing up, having added roughly 9 or 10 Maker’s Mark Manhattans to the more than 10-course meal that we’d been served over the course of the evening.

 

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Ricky and Samantha, meanwhile, were the only two people in the cavernous room who *weren’t* in a food-induced coma; they had, after entering the hall to the strains of The Muppet Show, had their first dance, posed for hundreds of photos, performed an ancient Chinese tea ceremony, thrown the garter and bouquet and cut the cake. Samantha changed outfits several times, including a traditional red wedding ensemble and a lovely purple gown. She had just changed into yet another dress as I peeled my husband off of the bathroom floor and said my goodbyes.

 

At home, I put Ricky to bed as I scrolled through the pictures I had taken. And while the photos of the food made me more than a little nauseous, the pictures of the park, my couple, myself, and even total strangers brought me great happiness. It really is honor, I thought, to be able to share such a joyous, life-changing moment with someone. Not only that, but to have played an important role in contributing to and amplifying that joy. An honor, truly.

 

See? There is *nothing* about this job that sucks.

 

Except the bouts of bulimia that a few more feasts like today would almost certainly inspire.

 

*barf!*

 

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