Sunday, September 05, 2004
Wei's wedding stuff
First, an aside - whatever bonehead decided that closing down the Charles/MGH T station and making everyone riding the Red Line between Kendall and Park Street today transfer to a bus on a holiday weekend with the Red Sox (and the World Science Fiction Convention) in town and roughly ten thousand college students arriving for the fall semester would be a good idea... Well, I've already used the word "bonehead". I should also like to use the words "idiot", "pain in the ass" and "truly bad idea".
Okay, venting over. Wei's wedding was pretty cool. I'm not yet enough of a girl in mind as well as body to cry at these things, or dream about being the one in the white dress, or the like, but I can recognize that it's a good thing to have a ceremony to mark that from here on out, the life of these two people is different, that even though Wei Chang is keeping her name, she and Jim are now a new legal and social entity and they plan on maintaining this new status quo for a long time, so get used to it.
I know, that's a decidedly non-spiritual way to look at it, but I'm not a terribly spiritual person. I do recognize that these rituals perform a psychological service, though, and think most people would agree. Heck, if (and more likely when) this sort of mental cross-body transferance goes public, I think there should be some sort of ceremony for it. It would make things easier.
So, after the ceremony we headed across town for the reception. Chinese and American food, wine, and music for dancing - the whole gamut of eat, drink and be merry. I was seated with some people from Wei and Jim's workplace; Wei apologized for dumping me with strangers, but I said it was okay, since it would be awkward for me to sit with people I knew but who didn't realize they knew me, or at least part of me.
It actually worked out, though - I just said I was a friend of Wei's, they weren't interested in how we met or anything like that. Not knowing anything about me before I came in the door, they didn't think it was odd that a receptionist-cum-waitress was conversant in science or foreign movies or anything else. And even though they knew each other, they were good about including me in the conversation so long as I could keep up, which I more or less managed. Always good, since the wait to be served never fails to seem longer than necessary.
The only part that seems longer is the four or five dances after everyone has tucked their entrée away. The bride and groom. The bride and her father. The bride and groom with their in-laws. The parents. It just goes on and on until finally they cut the cake and open the dance floor for everyone.
I danced a lot. Both Wei and Jim's families and friends suffered a bit of a male-female imbalance, and while I wasn't looking trampy or anything, I can clean up nice and my dress didn't try to camoflage my figure. Nobody wants to cause a scene at a wedding, so a quick "got a boyfriend" snaps guys in line if their hands start wandering from back to butt.
I exchanged a few words with both the bride and groom, even though it was loud and busy. Wei hugged me and said she was glad I came, no matter what I was calling myself or what body I was inhabiting. I'm not sure what Jim's usual opinion of me is, but he said that if what his male friends and cousins were saying was true, I could have a pretty pleasant evening. I laughed and said Doug was only out of town for the weekend, and besides, he just wanted to be secretly amused by anyone who bragged about a wedding hook-up with me. He laughed, pled guilty and said that as much as he admired my ability to adapt, he was glad that his wife didn't always have first-hand knowledge of what went through a man's head..
Eventually I caught a break and stumbled to the bar. It was too loud for me to hear someone coming up behind me until he also reached the bar and started talking. "So, I guess you don't think weddings are a scam any more?"
"Well, Kurt, I'm not renting pants anymore."
"Oh, I guess that makes all the difference."
"Nah." I took a sip of my wine and smiled at him. "It's still a scam. It starts with a guy being pressured to spend three months salary on a carbon crystal dug out of the ground by slave labor, whose price is kept up by a cartel as ruthless as OPEC or many drug cartels."
He picked up where I left off. "Then the bride's family has to organize a big event, with catering and musicians and rented facilities even though the average person doesn't know anything about that and will get ripped off by professionals who have honed their craft for years."
"And then, on top of family members and friends having to spend money on bridesmaid dresses they'll never wear again, the happy couple expects each of us to get them a present before they go off on a vacation they can't afford. I believe in marriage, but weddings are a scam."
Kurt had actually been smiling for a bit, though that left his face. "Martin used to say 'having to rent pants'."
"Yeah, well, times change. Besides, I took a look at dresses when my friend Jen told me she got engaged, and it's worse than the tux rental. And there's a good chance of looking like a dork."
He granted that may be the case and got another Mike's. "So, are you and this Doug guy going to be doing one of these any time soon?"
"Well, he hasn't exactly asked, but that's okay. I figure you've got to know each other pretty well to get married and I'm still not sure I know myself yet. How about you and...?"
"Crystal? Haven't talked to her in a couple of weeks." He gave me sort of an angry look. "After your litte party, things got weird."
"Yeah, I must be the worst ex-girlfriend ever. I'm sorry."
He thought that was too glib. "You should be. When I think about you and me... I mean, sometimes I actually get sick."
"You shouldn't; I mean, you didn't do anything wrong. You couldn't have known, and I don't mean that in an 'Oedipus couldn't have known, either' way. You met a hot girl who liked a lot of the same things you did."
"You've got a high opinion of yourself."
"Hey, it's the truth and we both know it. But even if you're thinking, hey, she's not just a girl... Well, you and I both think of Wei as the next thing to a sister but that didn't stop either of us from trying to date her at some point."
"You're not helping."
I suppose I wasn't. I sighed. "Look, come dance with me."
"Come on, we're both here alone and have a history. You can stare at my breasts and I won't mind. Just think of me as an ex, and decide whether or not you want to forgive me for not being totally open with you while you hid your other girlfriend from me--"
"Oh, so it's my fault?"
"You broke up with me, remember? You chose Denise over your best friend inside what you yourself called a centerfold-quality body! You--" And I just stopped. I put my drink down and said, you know what, I'm not going to do this. I mean, look at me, I'm mad at you for dumping me even though I know it was a weird and probably unhealthy relationship.
We both took a drink in silence, thinking. Then he stuck out his hand. "Hi, I'm Kurt. I went to college with Wei."
I laughed, and told him that was a sweet gesture, but not what I was looking for. "It's Martin's life as well as Michelle's body that made me who I am today. I'm not going to pretend they didn't happen. I am who I am, even if I was built out of other people."
"So what are we supposed to do?"
"It's a party; we dance. After that, maybe we hang out and talk. I get caught up on your life for the past year, you learn about mine, and maybe we wind up friends again."
So we danced together for a couple songs, but he got caught up with someone he hadn't seen for years, and we never wound up talking. I think he was trying too hard, trying to force himself to enjoy being around me to make Wei happy.
Still a pretty good party, though; I didn't get home until late. It was one of those fun events that puts a smile on your face. Even if you realize the whole thing is a scam.
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