Dear everyone,

Jameelah and I have been engaged for a week, and it feels like we’re baby angels wrapped in cotton-cloud blankets (in the words of our favorite show, Psych). I was especially elated because I thought my work was done and I could just show up at the wedding, and that until then, I could get back to what I was doing, which was surfing google for bitter rants against Facebook, which is a time-sucking vortex of festering evil. All ye who use it, repent! Repent and find something constructive to do! Such as blogging…

But no. Apparently we have to determine a date, mainly because people I meet scream “When’s the date?!” It’ll probably be in the Spring of 2011, under some cherry blossoms. This will give us time to go around to different restaurants, propose, and get free stuff. There’s no point getting engaged if you can’t get free stuff from restaurants.

Last weekend, my father met Jameelah’s for the first time. Now that we’re engaged, we thought they should meet. I was nervous. Her father has a shaved head and tattoos on both of his arms. His ears have at least seven holes in them, filled with studs and rings, one in his left earlobe big enough for a large pencil to pass through. I’ve heard rumors that he’s killed a rhino with his teeth alone. But scariest of all…he wears Crocs, which are ugly rubber shoes that rank up there with bathroom mold and that guy as some of the most repulsive things on earth. We were horrified to see some children in Vietnam wearing them!

It was a little awkward. There we were at a Vietnamese restaurant: Jameelah, me, my Dad, J’s dad, my little sister, J’s little sister.

“Look at all the tattoos you have,” said Dad, “Very nice.”

“Thanks,” said J’s Dad, rolling up his sleeves. “This one has a skull and some thorns piercing flesh. And this one over here is barbed wires ripping through bleeding flesh.”

There was some general chit-chat, during which time I told Dad we were engaged. Things started getting complicated. I had forgotten how difficult my father can be sometimes. Here’s what our dialog sounded like.

Me: So, uh, Dad, did we tell you we’re engaged?

Dad: I know. Your sister told me.

Jameelah: Were you surprised?

Dad: I thought it was about time.

Me: We’re going to have a vegan wedding.

Dad: No you’re not.

Me: Why not? It’s our wedding, we’re vegans, it’ll be a vegan wedding.

Dad: If you came to someone’s wedding, they would have vegetarian food for you. So if they came to your wedding, you should have meat for them. You must accommodate your guests.

Me: I guess we can talk about that later. We’ll keep the wedding simple.

Dad: No you’re not. It’s not as easy as you think.

Me: Why not?

Dad: My friends will laugh at me if you have a simple event. They’ll say, “That family is too poor to afford a real wedding. ” When your Mom and I were your age, anyone who wanted to get married had to buy enough bricks to pave 5 meters of road for the village. Back in those days, we had to make our own bricks too, and we had to walk five miles in the snow to gather the clay…

Me: What? Why?

Dad: That was the tradition. You don’t have to do that nowadays, but we will have to slaughter a live goat for your wedding ceremony.

OK, I exaggerated the last couple of lines a little bit. The conversation was slightly alarming, making me feel foolish and ignorant, and slightly annoyed by the growing layers of needless complexity. (“You have to invite all 300 of our relatives in Vietnam. None of them will be able to make it, but all of them will be insulted if they don’t get a fancy invitation, and one of them will probably hex you.”) We’re sticking to our guns about the vegan food, though. I’m not even going to tell him about the glowsticks, lest he rains on that parade too.

After a while, I was grateful to J’s Dad for pulling my father outside for a smoke. We saw them talking and laughing. Later he would report that J’s Dad is “Scary-looking, but nice.”

Are we wrong to want a simple vegan wedding with glowsticks? Vote now:

  1. No, it’s your day, you should do whatever you want, including spitting in the face of traditions
  2. Yes, a wedding is not just about you two, it’s about families and communities, and they have almost as much of a say. They also have a say in the honeymoon.
  3. Uh…Is your Dad paying for the goat? If so, that’s fine. Goats are expensive, and if he pays for it, then what’s the problem?
  4. Dude, did you say glowsticks? Partayyy! This will be AWESOME! I’m bringing a keg.
  5. You should just elope and escape to a place so removed from civilization that no one will be able to find you. Such as New Jersey.
  6. I’m an omnivore, and I find your idea of a vegan wedding reception offensive. For decades we meat-eaters have been subjected to ridicule, forced to scavenge for food at ridiculous vegan events. No more, I say. My brethren, rise up and tear down the tyranny that is veganism!

Ooh, I better go. Someone just walked by in Crocs. I’m going to make sure it’s not Jameelah’s dad, and then I’m going to throw rocks at him.



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