DISCLAIMER: The following story involves an activity that some folks might consider traditional or commonplace. It isn’t my intention to belittle the activity, merely to describe my unexpected involvement in it.
In my memory a lot of my wedding reception is shrouded in a fog of non-specific happiness. I was so thankful for my new wife that, to use the well tested expression, I spent the time floating on a cloud. My figurative feet didn’t touch the figurative ground for literal hours. Ironically, one of the few parts that I remember clearly was when my actual feet didn’t touch the actual ground: I spent some time floating on ninjas.
It started as my wife and I were rounding the reception hall, greeting our numerous guests. (I’ve mentioned before that my wife’s family doesn’t skimp on pageantry. That we could reasonably hope to greet every guest in a single day shows that my wife had mercifully conceded to my more reclusive constitution.) Suddenly the deejay summoned us to an open area of the dance floor, in which he’d placed two innocuous looking chairs.
He told us to sit facing each other; we sat. He waxed philosophical about something possibly related to marriage (or baseball); I smiled goofily at my new wife and didn’t hear a word of it. Then I was surrounded.
I’ve mentioned before that my wife has studied martial arts. (She taught it too, just to give you more evidence of her awesome prowess.) It had been such a significant part of her life that the members of her former dojo all received invitations to our wedding. I hadn’t met most of them before, though. My first glimpse of them came when they encircled my chair like a sinuous black-clad prison made of manliness and tigers.
Granted, the black-clad part was from tuxedos, but black is black. Also it’s possible that one of them, being a Catholic priest, was actually dressed as a Catholic priest. Still, black is black. The tiger part is metaphorical; none of them was actually dressed as either a tiger or a Catholic tiger.
There are three stories of what happened next.
A High Chair for the Groom
A certain sort of peace accompanies the acceptance that everything is going to be strange. (This doubles as good marriage advice.) As a case in point, I had already accepted that my wedding reception would involve festivities and traditions beyond my experience, so of all the people present, I was the least alarmed when the fierce and dangerous men surrounding me picked up my chair and started carrying me around on it. I thought to myself, “Oh, this must be something her family does,” as opposed to something more like: “I wonder if they’re going to hurl me into a volcano.”
I even had the opportunity to marvel at how effortlessly they accomplished it. I’m neither small nor light, but they maneuvered me around as though I weren’t much more than a beach ball. I suspect this comes from decades of experience punching through brick, or elephants, or whatever ninjas do to train.
When Spiders are Preferable
Meanwhile, when we were called to the dance floor, my wife suspected that a particular sort of folk dance was about to occur. (Try though I might, I can’t glean any good marriage advice from that.) For months her sister had been begging her to include something called “La Tarantelle” (or the tarantula) in our reception plans. It’s supposed to be lively and fun, although being named after a spider doesn’t seem to me to be the best way to make that connection intuitive.
In any event, as she sat in her appointed chair and her bridesmaids surrounded her, my wife assumed that La Tarantelle would follow. Instead, her bridesmaids lifted her chair and started carrying her around on it. My wife is both small and light, but apparently bridesmaids don’t train by punching through things. My wife describes the experience as being both uncomfortable and terrifying. The whole time her mind stubbornly repeated, “I thought they were going to dance for us!”
No Room for Terror
Of course we were both so distracted by our unusual perspectives that we didn’t appreciate the larger situation: we were being lifted toward a ceiling brimming with fans. My new mother-in-law noticed this and little else. She thought to herself, “They’re going to chop my daughter’s head off!” It’s possible that she had mistaken them for some sort of food processor or overly-complex death trap, but naturally she decided to intervene. (It is pretty good parenting advice not to lift one’s daughter into a ceiling fan; more on that some other time though.)
Unfortunately, she wasn’t really tall enough to do anything herself. Instead she had to recruit someone else, which involved a frantic attempt to alert anyone else to the danger she saw. Whether or not he appreciated our peril, my wife’s cousin did eventually agree to help. He rushed in front of our comic procession, being instructed the entire time about both the method and urgency of turning off fans.
* * *
Thus, amid my mother-in-law’s frenzied rescue, my wife desperately balanced on her chair while I bobbed blissfully along nearby, imagining that I was involved in some sort of long standing tradition. That’s the story of our slightly crazy wedding reception. I was attacked by ninjas. My wife was nearly decapitated. People were running around and screaming. In short, everyone had a good time.