Tuesday, May 22, 2001

Love and culture: This past weekend my wife and I, along with another friend (see previous entry), attended the wedding of a good friend from college. Let me tell you, if you ever get a chance to go to a Nigerian engagement ceremony, go. It's fanastic. The bride's family gets to make the groom's family do all sorts of goofy things, including:

- begging to come into the house where the ceremony is;
- begging to come into the room where the ceremony is;
- begging to sit down;
- presenting the bride's family with the WORLD'S LARGEST YAMS;
- making the groom kiss the bride's mother's feet;
- making the groom prove his physical prowess via calesthenics;
- breaking into spontaneous Yoruba songs about the bride and groom;
- etc.

Also, people were wearing the PHATTEST robes/gowns on the planet. Andre of OutKast would break down and cry if he were to walk into a room full of Yoruba in fancy dress because he would no longer be the one everyone thought was so fresh and so clean (clean). More amusement was has by all when the bride's family attempted to palm random women off on the groom to see if he REALLY wanted their daughter, although it was somewhat shocking to see that one of them was MY OWN WIFE. (It was worth it to see the slightly shell-shocked look of terror on her face as they bantered back and forth over her, though. One could almost read the words, "What if they decide I'm good enough for the groom?" spelled out in beads of sweat across her cute little brow. Fortunately (for her), they decided that her exposed legs were disrespectful and sent her away. Tee hee.) Another bonus was that just when my stomach started to rumble and my eyes began to glaze because I couldn't understand a word of what was going on, they brought us heaping plates of Nigerian food. WE GOT TO GRUB DURING THE CEREMONY. This is a tradition that Western civilization needs to adopt post-haste. How much easier would it be to sit through that 3 hour Catholic wedding if the ushers passed out bags of Smartfood and Mountain Dew?

The Western ceremony paled in comparison, although we were complimented on our singing. (THAT was a SNAFU; we sang Neil Diamond's "Marry Me" a capella. Eek. Fortunately, my lovely and talneted wife flipped it on them with some Schubert "Ave Maria" [also a capella, but really purty] and Shania's "From This Moment On" at the reception. Crisis averted!) The one thing that the Western service boasted was the presence of about 700 of the worst-behaved kids on the face of the Earth. I have never seen a situation where spankings needed to be handed out like party favors quite like this one. Kids were running around screaming, crying, knocking over each other and random things, and being all-around terrors DURING THE CEREMONY. How did the parents handle this? "Shh. Shh. Shh, honey. No, I mean it. Shh. Look at the lovely wedding. Shh."


The day was capped off at the reception, which was a joyous celebration of dance and music with more good food and bad kids. A Nigerian band (made up of three singers, bass, guitar-wired-through-some-effect/MIDI synth control-that-made-it-into-a-keyboard, and a drum machine that seemed to be permanently set to "calypso") was playing songs that alternated between Nigerian stand-bys (and no, I don't know the names of any of them) and made-up songs talking about how wonderful the bride and groom were. Every time the couple would take to the dance floor, guests would jump onto the dance floor and throw money at them, almost like a dollar dance that never ended. (Never in my life have I wanted to be Nigerian more than at that moment. Visions of the new stereo I would have purchased after my wedding danced in my head as ones, fives, tens, and twenties littered the dance floor.)

We shared a table with a woman who had a pair of 21-month-old twins who appeared to be in a toddler biathalon competion that, as far as I can tell, consisted of attempting to put my eye out with a pretzel followed by a full-bore sprint around the reception hall. This woman turned out to be a good friend of the bride's sister, so I decided to let her live. (I'm being overly harsh; the kids were really funny. At least, they were funny until they winged me with the pretzel.)

It was a great trip and a great wedding. I wish Abby (aka "Mrs, oh, excuse me, Dr Thang") and Dayo all the best.