Tuesday, July 19, 2005

San Francisco 4th of July Weekend
Part 2: A Traditional Lesbian Wedding

I’m not sure why my uncle arranged for a group rate at the Holiday Inn in Fisherman’s Wharf. Maybe all the out-of-towners would enjoy this touristy, expensive section of the city (parking was about $40/day -- probably cheaper to leave it on the street and get a ticket). Perhaps it was the hotel’s proximity to where la familia had a huge dinner the night before and the night after the wedding. But it certainly wasn’t close to the wedding itself.

They arranged for a bus, made to look like an old cable car, to take all the wedding guests from the hotel to the ceremony. Not a quick hop, skip and jump; we seemed to go all the way across San Francisco. I suppose it provided everyone a quick tour of the town, but I was too grouchy to appreciate it -- tugging at my collar in that damn suit, getting thrown around by that herky-jerky trolleybus which was not enclosed, so riding al fresco allowed us to feel the Bay winds dropping the air temperature 10 degrees every 10 blocks.

By the time we arrived at the place, I was fuh-ree-zing. Yeah, I know, Southern California life has made me a weather wimp. But I wasn’t the only one shivering outside, waiting for things to get started. And most of the guests were New Yorkers… so you can’t blame this on my thin blood. Blame it on the fact that a summer ceremony in San Francisco is gonna be colder than a winter wedding in Walla Walla.

Thank goodness for the booze. They had wine and champagne beforehand and an open bar after. I spent the evening trying to warm myself up from the inside, and needless to say, I got pretty smashed. So hopefully, I can still remember the rest of the details.

My cousin and her girlfriend looked fantastic. They’re both very pretty girls -- a real loss for the straight guys of the world -- and they make a great couple. Despite their own self-effacing jokes about the unconventional proceedings (“Black tie optional, Birkenstocks mandatory”), each wore a white wedding gown, no veil, their fathers giving them away, all that jazz. Fairly normal. Okay, another gay cousin acted as “Best Man”, though he preferred to call himself the “Maid of Honor”. And their dog Cody was the Ringbearer… a pitbull mix appearing in a custom-made tuxedo.

Aside from that, as my aunt said during the speeches, it was a “traditional lesbian wedding.” No, it wasn’t official or “legal”, and it was non-denominational -- their longtime friend conducted the proceedings. But she stated that no government, no religion, no one, can deny the love and bond between these two people… and then she went on to pronounce them, uh, wife and wife.

And I agree. The question about same-sex marriage… it’s moot. It’s a non-issue, largely argued by hypocrites who are quick to proclaim that they don’t want the government interfering with their lives, but try to dictate what kind of personal affairs are acceptable for others. Or maybe they think it goes against the meaning of marriage. By whose authority? Their religion? An ultra-conservative friend of mine said it has nothing to do with that; marriage is between a man and woman, as defined by the dictionary. Well, pal, American language changes. We’ve gone from dropping that stupid ‘u’ in ‘neighbor’ and ‘color’ (as in “love thy neighbor… even if he’s got a rainbow flag with lotsa colors”) to accepting “ginormous” as a new entry (as in “This moralistic debate is a ginormous waste of time and energy.”).

So while I have no problem whatsoever with same-sex weddings... I’m not a big fan of weddings themselves. Sure, I believe in love, marriage, monogamy, settling down and raising a family -- hope to do it myself one day -- but that whole formal procedure of a wedding, in which the two declare their undying dedication to each other… sappity yappity crappity… as the bride blubbers through her vows (in this case, two of ‘em)… gimme a break. And don’t say I’m not a romantic. When I’m crazy about a woman, she knows exactly how I feel. We tell each other things that would make your pancreas hurt. But it won’t… ‘cause that’s between us. Why is it anyone else’s business? I’m hoping to elope and avoid the schmaltzfest…

Still, the reception is a big party, and can often be a blast. Did you see Wedding Crashers? Hysterical. Whether you're trying to “Lock it up!” or just hang out with cool people, fill up on fine food and free booze, you’re bound to have a great time.

It was at the Chenery House (the picture above is from their website), a big mansion with a great view of the city, several dining areas, a pool room, discotheque, and indoor pool (my other uncle accidentally stepped in it, and the poor dude spent the next two hours drying out his shoe and sock by the fireplace). It was decorated with some interesting artwork -- some beautiful, and some, well…

There were several sections devoted to the owner of the mansion and his accomplishments. If the shrine in the library wasn’t enough, there was also a statue of the man with a button you pressed to hear a recording of his odd poem (full of forced rhymes) sung to you by the guy himself.

If I hadn’t been so tipsy, maybe that self-congratulatory theme wouldn’t have seemed so surreal. Maybe it would’ve anyway. Chenery House owner Robert Pritikin was an advertising mogul who wrote a book called God is an Adman and is also “world-famous” for his skills at playing the musical saw. As in the wood-cutting tool. The old man was there at the wedding, playing with the band, performing such standards as “Dancing Cheek to Cheek”, running a violin bow across the carpentry implement. I thought the ghost of my grandmother was there -- she sang soprano with the Long Island Philharmonic choir -- when I heard this high-pitched warbling: “Woooo-wooooo-woooooooooo!”

Yep, good times.

Next: Part 3: Guzzlin’ Cousin


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