Weddings: A Natural Comedic Venue (or maybe it's me)
The American woman in question was my old next door neighbour from London. She was living next to me on one of the streets in West Hampstead with a very broad socio-economic spectrum. She was recently widowed and had a charismatic son name Zach (on whom my son Owain epically projectile vomited blueberry porridge in one splendid babysitting episode).
I took it upon myself to organize a horah for them. I have a very bad habit of organizing interesting things at weddings (well, two things but impressive: a low-speed car chase in Maine which ended in a choral mash-up of Lullaby of Broadway into We Will Rock You and a bride kidnapping under the nose of the secret service in Lafayette Square in Washington which involved a small army of Berliners, four locations and the entire bridal party sprinting up Connecticut Avenue)
At my wedding, which was a Welsh American to a Welsh guy in Wales, there was an impromptu modified Horah danced - they put us in chairs for Summer Nights from the Grease soundtrack. It was a perfect mash-up of cultural traditions and it was a happy moment. Happiness for me is hard to come by, so I remember.
I love weddings because they feature Champagne and because no matter where you are in your life, you are there in that moment to celebrate two people trying to be happy and to lift them up and wish them well. You can be happy at weddings. (I think it is stupid and evil that law and religion prohibit everyone who wants one from getting one.) Weddings are good. And funny things happen in weddings. Like a 41-year-old WASP American blonde trying rally enough people to carry the chairs and consequently attempting to explain the intracies of the Horah to an increasingly drunk and decreasingly multi-lingual bunch of Dutch guys. Then there was the issue of the band (who were fabulous) not knowing Hava Nagila. They actually called a break to have a sit down meeting with me and my husband in a conference room adjacent to the museum. The room was littered with their various groupies. It felt very authentic. Since they didn't know Hava Nagila, I just asked them what song they really liked playing and we picked Mustang Sally. Look, Hava Nagila means Let Us Rejoice and ain't nobody rejoicing if the band isn't playing a song they know. Let the band rejoice, I guess, too. They said they would play it in about an hour.
With an hour to hydrate and worry, I starting thinking about the relatives. Having made every substantive decision concerning the plan and having executed it to my reasonable satisfaction, I asked for input from all older Jewish relatives in attendance that I could find. Then, since things seemed to be going so well I decided to push my luck by trying to get Dutch women to lift up Linda with me. I mean, I thought that the shifty, burly and maybe a little tiny bit drunk Dutch guys could lift Adrie and Linda but I don't think it's the right message if it's all men lifting up the bride and the groom. The women lift them up too, of course. So I play the feminist angle to these impossibly glamorous Dutch women near the bar and they say they are in.
The music started, Rhys and I got the chairs out, we sat them down. The dance went off reasonably well. The success is down to Rhys. He basically did the waist to shoulder dead lift of 280 pounds. And I did it for Linda, but I only had to jerk about 87 pounds including the chair. If I have one small quibble with the execution, it is that a lot of the women were putting a symbolic finger on the chair rather than shouldering the weight. But actually, the whole dance went great. Better than reasonably well, because it was a physical manifestation of the ritual of a wedding: a raising up of the bride and groom in the hands of the people who wish you well. So it was wonderful and people caught on and got in the dance. I always pull reluctant people onto the dance floor and it is an obnoxious party fascist habit (My roomate of many years Tracy gave me the name Party Fascist and she was right - damn right - Fascists are efficient) I pull people who look like they want to dance onto the floor (I once did it to an entire bar we walked by in Key West) and I don't regret it, never ever. We circled them around each other and then paraded them around the dance floor. Then the circles formed. It was good.
The next morning, I eavesdropped on all the older relatives. They were all talking about the horah. Look, I am usually a big hater and don't want to come across like some kind of hippy freak, but that wedding has got me on a happy buzz that has lasted until Tuesday.