If you’re like me, in your late-20s, your summers are probably tent-poled by the celebrations of your friends love-contracts, their fiestas of legally bound love, if you will. I had four last summer, three this summer, and god knows how many I’ll have next year. Just this week, I returned from the nuptials of one young Ben Winkleblack, an old high school drinking-and-smoking-and-talking-about-hip-hop friend. Wink, as we still call him, is far more grown up than I am, these days. He has a job doing something Jewish, he owns his own house and, obviously, he just legally committed himself to the love of his life. Hell, even after ceremony, there’s was much talk of how the couple plan to have kids in the very near future, which to me, sounds like a threat, but to them, well, I guess they’re excited about it. Needless, say Wink is a grown man.
I’ve now been to enough weddings to know what to expect, more or less. Sure the menus and venues might be different, but the experience is generally the same; fun, festive, and slightly weird. Well, maybe it’s just weird for me. I’ve started to notice a pattern in my own behavior and wanted to provide an inventory of what happens when I got to weddings, you know, just in case you’re thinking of inviting me to yours.
I will defend my choice for not having gotten married yet. This happened a couple times this last weekend, and, as long as I stay un-engaged to my long-term girlfriend, I presume it will keep happening. I have to remind myself to keep my answer, when people ask me about getting married, to more bland, ‘I dunno, I just don’t think I’m ready yet;-types of answers, as opposed to shitting all over the institution of marriage and the silliness of wedding ceremonies. Last weekend, during one of these conversations, with a couple very close friends, whose (lovely) wedding I attended last summer, I think might have said something to the effect of: “All the sincerity and I love yous, I just don’t think I could take it. When’s someone going to figure out a way to have an ironic wedding?” As you might expect, stares were blank in return.
Note to self: Keep the commentary to your blog, buddy. Nobody wants to hear you shitting all over the idea of weddings AT A WEDDING.
Someone will point out that I’m losing my hair. I am. I know. I get it. Who are you, my barber? The only people who are allowed to mention my thinning hair are people who are already bald or balding. Everyone else will get a furrowed brow and icey stare until they move on. Dicks.
I will dance and sweat profusely. I’m an energetic drinker. Some people, when they get to drinking, get to moping, slouching in their chairs, staring at a screen, and talking shit. Not me. I get excitable. I get into arguments. I wave my arms around a bunch. And that makes me exceptionally interested in getting on the dance floor at weddings. I mean, the main reason old people look forward to weddings so much is (probably) because they never go anywhere where they can dance these days, and if they do, they’re never drunk enough to enjoy it. Weddings let them cut loose. At my friend Poolman’s wedding last year, I literally sweat through my entire suit on the dance floor and most people were impressed, rather than grossed out.
This wasn’t exactly the case at Wink’s wedding last weekend. Wink’s old friends were not so much into dancing (read: they were all high), so I was pretty much the only person I knew on the dancefloor. And the bride’s friends not exactly impressed with my frenetic, non-coordinated style of dance. So be it, I thought, “I’ll dance with the old people.” They were also scared of me.
I will not have brought a present. I’ve been to a bunch of weddings in the past couple years and I never bring a present, partly because it seems weird to go online to bedbathandbeyond.com and look up what your friend asked for, to help them mass all the consumer supplies they’ll need for their house. It’s like you’re saying, “Everytime you use this immersion blender, remember that I wore a suit that one day when you got married.” And that’s a weird thing to say. I mean, if you just want money, I’ll give you money, no problem, but I don’t want to buy you the dish-towel set that will perfectly match the potholders your second cousin gave you.
However, since I’m usually coming from across the country, I often take the Kanye approach of saying, “My presence is a present, kiss my ass.” (I only say this to myself)
I’ll probably laugh myself to tears talking about what dumb shits we all were when we were young. Speaking as someone who has twice dislocated his knee dancing, who was once found puking into a sink with his pants down, who once woke up in a hospital with no idea how he got there, who has fallen off his bike drunk a half a dozen times, there are a lot of good stories about me out there, especially from people who have known me since before I was 25. Getting a group of old friends who are similarly pre-disposed to drunken monkeyshines generally guarantees there will be a complete inventory of every dumb/funny thing any of us has ever done. And it will be awesome.
I will be an obnoxious snob at about the food. I can’t help it, but something in my subconscious makes me want to show off about food when I’m around my old friends, and it’s just terrible. At one wedding last year, I was nearly laughed off a table because I asked a waitress where the salmon was from. And I didn’t eat it because it was Atlantic salmon, which, while it’s fair to say that Atlantic is almost always unsustainably fished, what the fuck is wrong with me? Anyways, I kept it to a minimum at this wedding, which was at Blue Hour, one of the fanciest/hippest restaurant in Portland, but I still couldn’t help but comment that the Washington oysters weren’t as good Point Reyes kumamatos. Luckily, the friend I remarked this to was already drunk, so she probably doesn’t remember. Still. Come. On.
I’ll be annoyed if a speech, either during the wedding or during the reception isn’t funny. Or, failing that, if it’s waaaaaay too long. That’s fair, right? This is a special day in almost everyone involved’s lives. So best man, maid of honor or parent-of-the-bride you’re not gonna fill your toast with laughlines, at least have the decency to not drone on. This one isn’t on me. It’s on them.
An alternate title for this essay was “How to be an asshole at your friends’ wedding,” but when I was writing it, I realized that I’m only part-asshole. I think a good wedding is an awesome experience, and I’m thankful to all my friends and family who’ve asked me to share the experience of their commitment celebration with them. I only think parts of the whole tradition are silly (or possibly bullshit). So, friends, keep getting married, and keep inviting me to help you celebrate and I will try to reign in my dick-ishness. Just keep the ceremony short, keep your mom from droning on with the speech and make sure the DJ bangs the hits.
Henry Goldman is the founder of yr an adult. And yes, he’s available for weddings, graduations and bar mitzvahs.