Thursday, September 07, 2006

Scenes from a New Jersey Interfaith Wedding: ACT III

ACT III: Enter the Whack-Job, aka Grandma

Scene 1: A hotel hospitality suite, around 9:30 PM on Saturday night (after Brother J~ and Lawmommy’s great massage chair coup)

I am having a conversation with my cousin A~’s new girlfriend, S~, who lives in Montreal. I have expressed my undying love for her city, and for the culinary masterpiece that is poutine, and my deep desire to move my family to Montreal and my frustration in that they (the government of Quebec) will not allow me to practice law in Quebec.*

The Whack-Job enters, stage left, with her hearing aid turned off. She manages to get me into a corner and goes on, ad nauseum, about how I need to sue the State of Ohio on her behalf, and about the nefarious and treacherous employee at the Department of Motor Vehicles stole her driver’s license away from her maliciously and vindictively. She tells me (again) how her hairdresser warned her not to go for her test at that particular DMV office, and how her hairdresser has seen so many other people have their licenses pulled by this same spiteful and underhanded civil servant. “I should have listened to my hairdresser,” she is screaming at me, because, with her hearing aid turned off, she cannot hear anything, including her own voice. “You should interview my hairdresser,” she screeches in a decibel that makes my hair curl. (Yes, the unassailable expert testimony of the hairdresser – THAT’S THE KIND OF EVIDENCE I NEED to prove malice on the part of the State of Ohio.) Grandma’s inability to hear even herself also means that she cannot hear me, but, it’s kind of irrelevant in that she doesn’t really want to hear anything I have to say, unless it’s “yes, of course I will sue the State for you and get your driver’s license back.” (Not. Gonna. Happen.) At the point that she tells me the whole thing is my brother J~’s fault, because, she alleges, J~ wrote a letter to the State and told them that she doesn’t have any friends (what???!!) and that is what caused the police officer to pull her over and take her license away (not, um, the fact that she drove over the median of a divided highway), I begin to suspect that my head will actually explode if I have to listen to another minute of her demented ramblings, and I tell her I have to find the ladies room and sneak off to my hotel room, where I watch Law and Order and resent the hell out of the fact that I cannot visit with my cousins, because the second she sees me again she will begin to rant and rave about her driver’s license.

Scene 2: A hotel breakfast atrium on Sunday morning

I am attempting to eat a waffle and some over cooked-scrambled eggs in peace with my mother. Neither of us are morning people, and we are both quietly nursing cups of coffee. My mother and I have a deep and meaningful relationship that does not require mindless breakfast chatter and we appreciate this about each other. Enter the whack-job, from the elevator. She comes over and sits down and starts in. AGAIN with the driver’s license. After about 10 minutes, I lie and say that I am full (not even close, but, she is ruining my appetite for the free breakfast buffet.) My step-father asks if J~ and I are coming with him and my mom to go see where Washington crossed the Delaware on Christmas Day of 1776, which is widely considered to be the turning point in the Revolutionary War (my step-father being an American history buff.) J~ and I discuss our options (sit at the hotel or go out sight-seeing) and decide to go along. Somehow, magically, considering that she so rarely has her hearing aid on, Grandma overhears this and says, “Well, I think I will come along with you. Tell R~.” (R~ being the family member who actually traveled to New Jersey with the Whack-Job, and I feel very sorry for him having been stuck on a plane with her for 2 hours, because the woman does not know the meaning of the term “companionable silence.” And her voice could frigging break glass.) I contemplate inventing a stomach ache to avoid riding in a car anywhere with this woman, but, settle instead, on sitting in the last seat in the van in the very back, and insisting that she ride in the front seat.

Scene 3: At Washington Crossing State Park, New Jersey

The Whack-Job corners a New Jersey state park ranger and proceeds to tell him, “You know, the Jews are basically responsible for all the evil in the world.” NO. I am not making that up. I wish. I wish I was. I am sure the park ranger wishes I was, too.

Scene 4: After sightseeing, sitting outside a Target in Princeton, New Jersey while my mother and brother J~ run inside to try to find some last minute things that are needed for the wedding, which they are doing at the request of the BRIDE and her PARENTS.

Whack-job to Lawmommy: “Why can’t your mother get her shopping done on her own time??”

Scene 5: A Sunday Afternoon Interfaith Wedding

The service is gorgeous. My mother does an amazing job. The bride (my cousin M~) is absolutely stunning in a slivery-grey sheath wedding gown. The groom is beaming in a stunning tuxedo. All the men have pinned silvery-grey yarmulkes on their heads. (The ones who didn’t come wearing their own yarmulkes anyway.) The bride circles the groom seven times. The ketubah is read. Episcopal vows are exchanged. My cousin Gwen does an incredibly moving reading from Song of Songs. My mother gives a homily about true love and finding peace in each other and what it means to find one’s other half. My mother sings a Hebrew blessing over the wine, and the bride and groom drink from one cup. A Navajo blessing is read (no, no one in the wedding party is Navajo. They just thought it was pretty.) Rings are exchanged, with the phrase, “my beloved is mine, and I am my beloved’s.” As Anglican tradition sometimes calls for, my mother ties the bride and groom’s left hands together with her shawl. Bach is played by a string quartet. The bride and groom kiss. The groom smashed a glass beneath his foot, and we all call out, “Mazel Tov.” Lots of guests are all teary eyed. It’s lovely. The bride and groom walk back down the aisle.

Whack-job turns to me and says, “her grandfather [meaning M~’s grandfather, who was an Episcopal priest] is rolling over in his grave with all this Jewish stuff at M~’s wedding. And why is everyone wearing those stupid hats??”

I begin to sing a mantra silently to myself, “It is wrong to hate the mentally ill, it is wrong to hate the mentally ill.”

Scene 6: A Chinese Restaurant that has set up a banquet for the 80 wedding guests. All other patrons of the restaurant are Chinese.

I have blessedly been placed at a table FAR AWAY from the Whack Job. I am sitting with my brother and some distant cousins and having a great time eating 20 amazing (very tiny) courses of mouth-watering food – ranging from dumplings (two kinds) to noodles to prawns to scallops to pork with black bean sauce. I was unimpressed with the pig intestine and also the tapioca soup, but, beyond that, every morsel is delicious. I get up to use the ladies room, halfway through the meal, and I am stopped on the way back to my table by the whack-job, who asks me, “Are you eating all this gook food?” GOOK. (Oh, how I wish I was making that up.) Again with my mantra, “it is wrong to hate the mentally ill. Wrong.”

Scene 7: A Wedding Reception

We dance the horah, and the funky chicken. We lift the bride and groom on chairs above our heads and dance around with them. (The bride looks like she might throw up from this.) I turn around and I realize that THE WHACK JOB HAS A PIECE OF WEDDING CAKE. She has cut the WEDDING CAKE. BEFORE THE BRIDE AND GROOM. The wedding cake is from a very famous bakery in Manhattan. It is a masterpiece of dark chocolate and Grand Marnier (sadly….for me, anyway…I hate Grand Marnier and I hate the flavor orange with chocolate, but, it’s a stunning chocolate spectacle). Another family confronts the Whack-Job about cutting the cake, and she states, “I couldn’t eat any of that gook food and I was hungry.” !!!!!!!!

Scene 8: Later, at the Wedding Reception

Someone has given the Whack-Job a glass of red wine. (WHO?!! Who would do that?? White wine ONLY for crazy people! White wine! Who doesn’t know that rule?!?!?) She promptly dumps the red wine on a guest who is wearing cream colored silk.

Scene 9: Later still, at the wedding reception

Whack-job approaches the groom, who is a professor at Princeton. “You know,” Whack-job says, “Princeton is a nice school, but, it’s no Harvard. We’d be real proud to have a Harvard man in the family.” (Again, nope, NOT MAKING THAT UP.) Amazingly enough, the groom merely gives her a funny look and introduces her the best man, who, curiously enough, teaches at Harvard. (The collective IQ of the wedding guests was probably staggering. I don’t think I have ever scene so many physicists in one place at one time.)

Scene 10: Lawmommy deeply engrossed in conversation about Vietnamese adoption and Norwegian fiancés with cousin Gwen (Gwen is engaged to a man from Norway).
Enter the whack-job. AGAIN with the driver’s license. Over and over. AGAIN. I down the glass of Pimm’s punch that I am drinking and head out searching for more. I am AGAIN sought out, for further discussion of the *&$%$*(* driver’s license, and further discussion about why Whack-Job is upset about “all this Jewish stuff”. Unable to stand anymore without my head actually flying off and spinning around and monkeys subsequently flying out of my a**, and also tired and tipsy from the hastily downed punch, I take the shuttle back to the hotel.

Scene 11: A van headed back for Ohio, Monday morning

Lawmommy, Brother J~, mom and step-dad, get in the van and head west, off into the Sunset. Exhausted, we watch 18 consecutive episodes of Arrested Development, which is a good way to pass 9.5 hours stuck in a car.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this production of “Scenes from a New Jersey Interfaith Wedding.” Copyright 2006 by Lawmommy Productions. J


Anonymous Christina said...

Oh. my. gosh. No kidding, this would make a very (very!) funny movie. I see Hugh Grant in a starring role. And maybe Joan Cusak, because she makes such great facial expressions. LOL.

Thursday, September 07, 2006 3:43:00 PM  
Blogger Nicki said...

Hahaha. The whole thing was great but Act III really takes the cake (pun intended - har har). Who invited her to the wedding?!?! You poor things! Unbelievable. I am suddenly thankful for own dysfunctional-but-not-insane family!!

Thursday, September 07, 2006 7:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Heather said...

I was laughing so hard when I read this post... I haven't laughed like that in so long. Thank you for the much needed diversion. By the way did your cousin (the bride) notice the gaping hole in the cake?? I hope Grandma cut it from the back but somehow I doubt it.

Friday, September 08, 2006 12:48:00 PM  
Blogger LawMommy said...

She is the bride's grandmother too, so, that's why she was invited. (Quite technically speaking, she is my step-grandmother, and maternal grandmother of the bride.)

We managed to salvage the cake for the photos, but, the bride and groom did notice. They were upset but dealt with it graciously.

Friday, September 08, 2006 1:21:00 PM  
Blogger -Jenny said...

That is the best story I have hear in a long time. Laughing over here....

My great aunt was the same. Soo funny how it is ok to just say whatever the heck you want to for that generation.

My goodness though, I would have been PISSED about the cake. And I don't think I have ever heard "gook" what is up with that.

Well, at least you can laugh...

Friday, September 08, 2006 2:55:00 PM  
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Blogger mom23 said...

Oh my word- sooo funny.

Monday, September 11, 2006 8:26:00 AM  
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