Monday, May 17, 2004

White Weddings

I went as my mother’s guest. My mother went as la jefa, the boss lady of the mother of the groom. The groom is Guatemalan. The bride is Italian. They already have a four year old child together.

Weddings make me think. They make me deconstruct. They make me think about gender, race, class and privilege. Weddings make me sad.

This wedding was all about showing off. The parents of the bride paid for the affair overlooking a bay. There was fog and lasers and at least five video presentations including a show of baby pictures of both the bride and groom. There was a choice of four entrées and the Viennese hour began with the lights being dimmed and four tables aflame with torches and sparklers being brought out to the song “Eye of the Tiger”.

I am 27 years old. According to some standards I am at perfect marrying age. According to other standards I am past perfect marrying age. Some would say that I am outright unmarriable because I am a single mother who had a child when she wasn’t married. My aunt refers to every man I bring home “un candidato”, a candidate. My mother tells me I need to start thinking about settling down and finding someone who can provide for my daughter and me.

I thought I found that person. He was older. He had a stable good job. He had been married before and had a child. He also had a house in suburbia and he was white.
His racist jokes and relatively sheltered life were things that I swallowed for the sake of security. My mother would advise me to tone down my radicalism. He was the ideal candidato.

They called all the single women to the dance floor. My mother elbowed me. I reluctantly walked to the center of the room and joined half a dozen other women. I hated the feeling of desperation that accompanies this moment. Women throw themselves on the floor and on each other for a bouquet. They all want to be the next one to get married, to live the fantasy they have been prepared their whole life for. It is sad really. The bouquet of white flowers including calla lilies falls near my feet. My mother loves Calla lilies. I stare at the flowers. I don’t pick them up. In fact none of the women I am standing with dive or even lean toward the arrangement. The room falls silent. I don’t want to get married. I have no one to marry. I’m unmarriable. The man I am dating isn’t in love with me (yet?). We just started seeing each other. He won’t even call me his girlfriend. The man I thought I would eventually marry had a midlife crisis and left me, his younger exotic girlfriend. Now I am starting over. I look at the bride who is looking at us single women with a mixture of horror and confusion. I cal almost read her mind.
“Don’t you want this?” her eyes ask us.
A part of me wants to jump on the flowers and stomp up and down on them. I want to throw a tantrum.
“No I don’t want your fucking flowers, your storybook ending!”
Doesn’t she realize that some couples can’t get married? Yes my mind starts thinking about all my gay and lesbian friends that can’t get married.
The other part of me wants to snatch up the flowers and run home with them and put them on my altar along with my candles and incense and pictures of my ancestors and mentors who have passed. All of them were married.
I want to cry.

Finally another single woman steps in front of me and picks of the bouquet. I can hear the bride sigh. The guests cheer. I step out to have a cigarette.

I hate weddings.

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