For the past several days, my Jewish friend Rachel has harassed me constantly to write about her wedding, which took place last Sunday. Each day I get twelve text messages, each one increasingly more aggressive and vulgar. So I should write about it, lest she drives down here and stabs me on Rosh Hashanah, or worse, makes me eat gefilte fish or something.
But first, the bachelor party. Her husband, Eli, wanted to go to a strip club, so his Engineer friend, Stan, and I took him to one, which reminds me of a great joke that started with “An Asian, a Jew, and a nerd walked into a strip club…” but we’ll save that for another day.
Anyway, this was my first bachelor party, and also my first strip club. Luckily, I had cleared this up with the fiancée and Rachel, so it was all kosher. (Kosher. Get it?!) Eli, going all wild, ordered two appletinis. We watched the dancers on stage, and I was quite amazed. First of all, the women were all very talented and athletic. I dare any of you to try to cling upside down naked at the top of a metal pole using only one leg while tossing your hair seductively. I’ve only done this once, and let me tell you, it’s not easy, considering the high potential for friction burn.
Second of all, it’s very hygienic. After every third performer or so, the mirrored wall was thoroughly sprayed with Lysol and wiped down, erasing all traces of hand, foot, and cleavage prints. If it weren’t for the constant stream of undergarments and dollar bills being artfully scattered, I bet the floor would be clean enough to eat off.
The women were very nice, coming up and asking if we wanted personal lap dances. Eli had a couple. I respectfully declined, somewhat awkwardly, not really knowing how to talk to strippers. For example, one dancer, whose skimpy outfit fluoresced neon green under the black light, came up to me and introduced herself as Jasmine.
Jasmine: So, what do you do?
Me: I work for a nonprofit. What about you?
Jasmine: I’m a stripper…
Wait wait, it gets even more awkward. I really need to polish my strip joint conversation skills.
Me: So…how do you like working here?
Jasmine: I love it! Wouldn’t be here if I didn’t! Are you all having a good time?
Me: Yes, thank you. Uh…we really appreciate all your hard work.
Anyway, at the end of the night, the two Appletinis and one Lemon Drop finally hit Eli, so we walked him home. Two days later, Jameelah and I drove through a fearsome rain to get to their wedding. This was our first Jewish wedding, and we were very excited and extremely ignorant. “So they stand underneath this piece of cloth called the Chuppah,” said Jameelah, who had been with Rachel for a simultaneous bachelorette party while we guys were at the strip club. My only exposure to Jewish culture comes from episodes of Seinfeld, so I imagined there would be someone being lifted on a chair, and people saying stuff like “Oy, no gefilte fish? What kind of a meshugah is this?” (Please don’t stab me, Rachel, Gwen, and other Jewish friends).
We arrived in time to see Rachel circling Eli seven times, gazing lovingly at him. They looked so happy, underneath the white Chuppah, which was held up at each corner by a pole carried by a friend. The ceremony was fast and painless, accompanied by the soft whisper of the rain and the gentle rumbling of the waterfall a hundred feet away. The setting sun cast a golden glow on the bride and groom, illuminating their beaming faces. It was perfect. Then the rabbi had them drink from a wine glass, and Eli smashed the wine glass with his foot to represent that their vows would never be broken, and that his shoes are strong enough to smash glass, which means he is able to afford shoes and thus is stable enough to provide for his family (OK, I made this second part up, but it sounds plausible). Rachel looked beautiful and glowing and not at all mean like usual.
The reception was small, about 50 people total, and very elegant. You know a restaurant is elegant when your food is tiny yet tastefully presented. Jameelah and I were excited when the servers brought us our special vegan entrees: four grams of delicious roasted vegetables, delicately presented on fine China. The free-flowing wine was especially appreciated. I didn’t drive, so I accepted the refills each time the server came around, which was four or five times.
The bride and groom cut the cake, a cute and very tasteful cake, and then everyone went outside for crazy circle dancing, during one song of which the married couple were carried around on chairs. It was the most wild, happy, fun experience you can ever having without involving a Karaoke machine.
For some reason, I didn’t remember anything else that transpired that night, except arguing with one of the other guests about the merit of having blank white walls in a house (why hang anything up? It just ruins the beauty of simplicity). Must have been tired. I woke up the next morning and got a text from Rachel: “Blog!!”
So what is the lesson from all this, you ask? Human beings are very interesting animals, and the concept of the bachelor/bachelorette party just proves it. Having such a party seems to say “This is your last chance at pho; after this, it’s just rice forever.” What sort of sane person, realizing the restrictiveness of marriage, would ever agree to it? And yet we do it all the time. The bachelor party, then, in a way represents the realization of and the surrender to one form of inevitable death: the death of romantic freedom. But after seeing how happy Rachel and Eli are, maybe not all surrenders are bad, and sometimes accepting an inevitable restriction of a freedom can itself foster the attainment of a higher form of that freedom. Don’t you agree?
Mazel tov, Rachel and Eli! Now stop texting me!