Sunday, January 17, 2010

All aboard the Bridal Terror

From the Parkville Luminary

At every wedding I have ever attended, I have secretly been laughing under my breath at the hapless fathers of the bride. These pitiable souls not only have to shell out tens of thousands of dollars for the wedding, but also undergo more stress than a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.

As the parent of only one son, I thought for sure I’d be immune from the world’s most expensive roller coaster ride, The Bridal Terror, we’ll call it. I’ve been told by dads who have ridden the Bridal Terror that the ride is so nausea-inducing and gray hair-producing that the dads even wish, at times, that the Bridal Terror would mercifully careen off the track and into oblivion. At least that way, the pain would be over.

I remember the Bridal Terror from my wedding 21 years ago. My bride to be wasn’t exactly a Bridezilla, but she wasn’t exactly Mary Poppins, either. My poor wife’s dad uncomplainingly clamored aboard the Bridal Terror, knowing full well what to expect, since it was his second ride in about a year. Still, I remember thinking how beaten down the poor guy was by mini-Bridezilla and mom-of-mini-Bridezilla. There were times I wanted to use our honeymoon tickets to take my future father-in-law and I away from the chaos. I decided against this approach, however, since I wanted to live.

Well, now things have come full circle, and I am paying (literally) for the bad karma I generated through my schadenfrude (delighting in the misfortune of others). What goes around has come around. You see, I am the father of the bride.

The bride, in this case, is Ana, one of my Moldovan “daughters”. We are host family to a number of Park University international students, mostly Moldovans and Azerbaijanis. Well, Ana decided to get married, and since her real dad is in Moldova, that means I am more or less the father of the bride. All aboard the Bridal Terror!

My status as a foolish virgin Bridal Terror rider has been confirmed over and over again during the last several weeks. First, I innocently offered my home for the reception, an offer that was snapped up quickly since renting a hall now costs more than the gross domestic products of many small nations. What I didn’t know is that this would involve a complete takeover of my domicile, done Vietcong style, meaning that it began a week before the reception with small incursions, infiltrations, if you will, and ended up with the Ho Chi Minh trail winding through my living room. Incidentally, the trail had three end points—Costco, WalMart, and Gomer’s.

The other night, I cowered in my bedroom as the Vietcong decorated the house. Now, they did make the house look pretty, but this involved the decorators (the bride’s friends and the groom) removing every knick knack and trinket, covering much of our usual d├ęcor with white cloth (her color was white), and setting up a sound system loud enough to be heard by passing jetliners at 35,000 feet. They tested this sound system while I huddled in my bedroom, attempting in vain to watch a football game. I wondered if fans could hear annoying techno music emanating from our new sound system at the football game in Los Angeles.

The wedding day, however, nearly made up for my Bridal Terror roller coaster ride. Ana was lovely, and I was very proud of her, just the way the father of the bride is supposed to be. She is a fine young lady. Her groom, Eugene, is a great guy with a big heart—someone who I would select for Ana if I had a vote. (I didn’t). At the reception, we were reminded again and again informally (with hugs and thanks) and publicly (multiple toasts) by Ana and Eugene how wonderful it’s been for them to have a real American family. However, we are really the lucky ones. Our lives are richer, even blessed, by having Ana, Eugene, Valera, Ilie, Simona, Nadia, Aziz, Orkhan, Parvahna, and Leyla as part of our family. Indeed, as I told one party-goer, as host parents, we have received much more than we have ever given.

I will have a chance to build my father of the bride credentials again soon. One of my other Moldovan daughters, Simona, is engaged and planning an early summer wedding. Wish me luck. I know I’ll need it.

--For updates on Peace Journalism, see my PJ Website.

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