Only In Japan

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Wedding, schmedding

I guess I'm getting old: over the last few years, my friends have been getting married left and right, having kids, investing in real estate... And asking me when I'll be doing the same. When I feel snide I tell them they should be happy I'm still single, since that means I'll have time for them when they're recovering from their divorce. They just laugh in a carefree sort of way that makes me feel that actually, we're still young.

But anyway. Last Sunday, I went to a friend's wedding, at the Ritz-Carlton here in Osaka. Although I'm almost 30, it was the first time I attended a wedding, and I was a little nervous: this being Japan, there's bound to be rules I don't know, faux-pas to be made, and polite speech expressions I had never heard before. But relax, I told myself, you've made a fool of yourself many times before in this country, one more time won't kill you. My friends also did their best to reassure me, the general advice being "go with the flow, and everything will be fine!"

I got there early in my nicest suit and tried to smile to everyone, eventhough I only knew three people out of the 120 guests: the bride, her sister, and the sister's two-years-old kid. The kid started crying the moment he saw me, but that didn't faze me. Being gawked at by most guests didn't faze me either. After six years in Japan, you get fairly thick-skinned! So I just smiled, looked at the beautiful kimonos and party dresses, and waited for things to kick off.

Finally, sometime before 11:00, we went to the chapel, and the show began. Some blond dude was playing the priest with only the slightest hint of embarassment, but it took all my self-control to keep a straight face when that faux priest started marrying the non-Christian bride and groom. Around me, the bride's friends were crying softly at the beauty of the moment. Needing to cool down, I tried to think of something horrible, and the first thing that came to my mind was George W Bush. It did cool me down... Until I started remembering some bushisms ("they misunderestimated me!"), and it was back to square one. Fortunately, it was time to read psalms, which I had never done before; concentrating on the archaic Japanese the psalms were written into took my mind off the comedy that was taking place onstage. Then the bride and groom exchanged rings and kissed. It made me feel warm and fuzzy inside, because that meant we were going to have lunch soon!

Boy was I wrong. After the schmaltzy chapel show, we had an open air photo session, a throwing-rose-petals-at-the-bride-and-groom session, an indoor photo session (I skipped that one), and then a short break to get a drink. It was actually so short that by the time I got my liquor we were already being summoned to the next stage. I guzzled it quickly, and well right was I! The next step was to line up for 15 minutes to sign our names in the wedding register. It wasn't that bad; I finally got to chitchat a bit and got introduced to a few nice people.

And then... Will our hero finally get lunch? The answer next week!

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