Polter-Cow (spectralbovine) wrote,

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National Bovine's Wedding Vacation: Catholics Tie the Knot Figuratively

One wedding down, one to go. Yeah, Ravi and Laura love each other so much they got married twice. They're so fucking married no god can argue with it. Except maybe Thor.

I cordially invite you to the wedding of Ravi and Laura. Again.

We managed to drag our asses out of bed before the continental breakfast closed. Breakfast was largely uneventful, and Jonathan (barilosopher) was able to snag some oatmeal for Emily (tigeremme).

This meant that a little after we got back to the room and showered, there was a knock on the door. It was Emily in her Juno shirt, which she was using as a sleepshirt, cuddling up with the totally boss Paulie Bleeker every night. This scene would be more interesting if I remembered the specifics of how she asked for Jonathan's presence, since I specifically remember enjoying it and identifying it as typically Emily, but I can't remember everything. She acquired her oatmeal and got ready to go off to a lunch at ASU.

Meanwhile, Alexis (polyhymnia), Jonathan, Ryan, and I set out on a mission across the street. Surprisingly enough, we were able to cross Shea on one go. Our destination was Barnes and Noble for Alexis to contemplate buying Scrabble and for me to buy a card for my wedding gift.

Alexis contemplated buying Scrabble but decided against it, and we simply admired the vast array of board games and the various special editions (like Shrek Scrabble, which had a very odd layout).

I spent a lot of time looking for The Perfect Card, but I couldn't find anything good. Where were all the funny wedding cards? I had to settle for one that had some lovely art on it along with Shakespeare quotes. You can't go wrong with Shakespeare, right? The others also found a card for a group gift (Dave had gotten his hands on a Wii!).

From B&N, we walked to Fry's...supermarket. I had no idea these existed, but there it was. Jonathan needed some medication (he was sick) and chapstick (Arizona was dry). The rest of us looked for party supplies, i.e. alcohol. We found a small bottle of vodka and some juices for mixers. Since we had a microwave in the room, we also got some kettle corn. Finally, we added cruncheties like Wheat Thins and my contribution, Doritos. It was going to be like Rice away from Rice!

The self-checkout was interesting, as it asked Jonathan to show the cashier his ID for the alcohol. And then she asked for everyone else's ID too, since we were with him, which I'd never seen before. She was even cool enough to give him the Fry's card discount back and just hand him an application that he never filled out. It saved him eleven bucks!

The coffee drinkers procured some coffee at the little Starbucks, and I carried the bags so that they could drink their coffee in peace. Surprisingly again, we managed to cross Shea in one go, even burdened with groceries and hot beverages.

Back at the hotel, we were once again waiting for someone to be picked up from the airport, and this time, his flight was delayed due to the crazy awful storm in San Francisco that I was glad I was missing. Jonathan introduced us to Wizard People, Dear Reader, which I found...odd. It seemed mostly...odd, rather than brilliantly hilarious, but I think it might play better from beginning to end rather than watching isolated scenes.

I also wrote a note inside the wedding card. It ended with the sentence "Plus, kissing!"

As soon as Dave arrived, we met him in the parking lot and headed toward a place called Pita Jungle, which Lauren's brother had recommended as a place with good vegetarian options (a substantial portion of our group was vegetarian/pescetarian). We had a very cute hostess with short black hair and tattoos, which only served to further confirm Shari's assertion about cute girls in Phoenix.

The menu was pretty amazing, and I was actually interested in a lot of the vegetarian options, but when I asked the waiter what he recommended, he pointed to things with meat. His favorite was the pesto turkey lavosh wrap, so I ordered that and asked him to please bring it out first. And, damn, it was the kind of thing that reminded me that turkey can taste really good. Also, I learned what the hell pesto was. And then we wondered who the hell decided to put in pine nuts, because it was kind of a non sequitur of an ingredient.

On the other side of the table, Jonathan discussed his work on truth in fiction, which dealt with questions like, "In an opera, are we to assume that all the characters are really good singers? Are the songs actually being sung in the narrative?" Yeah, who do you know who's getting a doctorate in philosophy? That's the Platonic ideal of a Ph.D.!

Once again, I had to cut out of lunch early, and Dave was nice enough to drop me back off at the hotel (Jonathan and Ryan accompanied to alleviate the vehicular crowding situation) so I could change into my tux. Thankfully, Ryan was able to explain to me how the hell to put on cufflinks and where the weird special golden buttons went and that the bowtie band was to be tucked under the collar so it would remain straight. Tuxedos are weird.

This seems to be the only logical time for Lauren to have come up to the hotel room, so this must be the time when this exchange occurred:

Lauren: "How are you?"
Me: "Fat."

I went down to the lobby to wait for Tim, who had my jacket and was taking me to the church (also, yes, I did have "Get Me to the Church on Time" in my head at one point). We parked in the right lot today.

In the groomsmen's room, I tried on my jacket. I couldn't tell whether it was still too long (according to the tag, it looked as if Neil had gone down to a half inch). Vikrant arrived and tried on his jacket, whose sleeves needed to be lengthened. Except they appeared to be even shorter than before. Tim's had been altered and come out perfectly. Vikrant and I did eventually switch jackets just to make sure, but that wasn't the problem. It looked like they'd lengthened my sleeves and shortened his sleeves. Good job, Men's Wearhouse.

Vikrant took out his cell phone, and I freaked the fuck out. Because HE HAD THE DRAGON PHONE TOO!!

He was the only other person I'd met who had one, I think. There may have been one random guy I saw one time, but what are the odds my fellow groomsman would have one?

The wedding planner/church lady came in with our whatchamahoozits, the flower-thingies. We had them pinned on. I noticed that Vikrant's bowtie was crooked, so he asked me to adjust it. With my hands so close to his neck, he disclaimered, "As a heterosexual male..." But this was not the last of our homoerotic interactions!

It was time for pictures. I had put my camera in my inside jacket pocket, which Neil told me to remove because it made a noticeable bulge. I took it out and put it in my pants pocket. I had so many pockets today in comparison to the day before. Neil also informed me that the bottom button was merely decorational, so I was supposed to button only the top button. I would screw this up repeatedly, remembering that only one button was supposed to be buttoned but accidentally buttoning the bottom one.

We groomsmen stood outside in a quasi-pyramid. Ravi's dad remarked that if he'd known about this formation, he would have had us wear all different-colored vests to make a rainbow.

Pictures were standard. Being a groomsman sure required a lot of smiling. In one picture, we were putting our arms around each other, and I had to ask to switch sides because I was physically incapable of doing it with my left arm. We also did a "fun" picture where Ravi (zetetyc) was running away and we were trying to hold him back.

Then we went inside to wait by altar for more pictures, but...they never wanted the groomsmen, just the ladies. We kept waiting, and people were beginning to file in, and some of us were asked to do a little ushing, helping the elderly down the aisle and such. They had also told us to make sure some specific family members were in the front pews, but we were busy taking pictures and hoped that they sat where they were supposed to.

We then had to hide out in the groomsmen room, as the wedding was about to start. Laura's dad was in there at one point, and we pointed out the gong that we had joked we'd accidentally knock over during the wedding (I had thought we could play it during the Wedding March: GONG! dum dum dum, GONG! dum dum dum...). The priest was prepping Ravi, and he didn't realize his wireless mic was on, so there was a point where the church was randomly booming with the sound of his voice. Luckily, he didn't say anything particular embarrassing.

Neil gave us all the once over again. Apparently, the camera in my pants pocket was also too noticeable. Tim had given his camera to Jennifer.

"Sunil, you need a girlfriend," said Neil. At first, I was sort of taken aback by the out-of-the-blue judgment, but as he continued to explain that I had surely heard this before, but I needed one now, specifically, I understood what he meant. Thankfully, it was only a few minutes later that my party arrived, and I ran to give my camera to Emily, my surrogate girlfriend. (As it turned out, my camera also passed into the hands of Shari and Jonathan, so I'm kind of a slut by proxy.)

We got in line and waited for our cue. When it was time, we walked out and stood by our pews. There was music now, unlike yesterday, and it must have thrown me off because I forgot to advance forward when Vikrant took his bridesmaid; Tim had to give me a nudge. I escorted Anjali down the aisle, using the music to set our pace.

Then Wagner's "Bridal March" played, and Laura's dad led Laura (dragon_gem) down the aisle.

I'll state right here that, this being my first Catholic wedding, I was entirely amused and surprised and confused that it was just like on TV and in movies! Like, that's how it really happens! With the walking down the aisle and the priest saying stuff and the vows and all that. I mean, the movies usually cut out all the filler (and, damn, there's a lot of filler), but the high points were so predictable.

After we sat down and the Father welcomed us to the wedding, there was the First Reading. There was a little bit of business here, as the program had the wrong name, since Andrew (the surrogate brother from last night) felt uncomfortable reading a Song of Songs passage that was very feminine, so he switched with Leah, who gave the reading nicely and fell on her way down the stairs. She was all right, but that was probably the most exciting thing that happened during the ceremony.

Then there was a "Responsorial Psalm." Like, a psalm in response to the passage? Was this like warring rap artists? However it worked, Anjali sang it, and I had no idea she was such a good singer!

Next was the Second Reading, from Romans. Not being familiar with the Bible, I wasn't really sure why the specific verses had been chosen.

So there was all this religious Catholic stuff with words and singing and gifts and stuff. After most things, I would hear an "Amen" from the left side of the church, the bride's side, the Catholic side. Sometimes, however, the Father would say some lines, and the Catholics would say some other line back to him, and he would continue, and they would provide the next line. I didn't realize a Catholic wedding had audience participation that involved your knowing what to say at specific points. It was like Rocky Horror.

The wedding party was called up to the altar to be witnesses for the wedding vows. Ravi and Laura used the standard vows, and they repeated after the Father. I couldn't see Ravi, but I could see Laura, and she looked so absolutely happy, yet trying to hold back tears.

Later, I found out she was having issues with her contacts.

When the rings were presented, the Father commented that only the ring finger has an artery that goes directly to the heart, which is why it was appropriate to put this symbol of love. He then added that he didn't know if that was scientifically true, but it sure sounded nice, didn't it?

There was a little confusion about how we groomsmen were returning to our seats. No one was making the first move. When we finally got our shit together, we realized that Neil was staying behind...to fluff Ravi's pants.

After some more religious stuff, there was, well, more religious stuff. Time for Communion! Father told the whole wine/bread/blood/body story and then offered Communion to those who came up. Laura feared this might turn wanky because at the rehearsal, Ravi's dad seemed to be under the impression that anyone could take Communion, which was technically true, but it was really a Catholics-only thing: they just wouldn't turn you away if you came up. The Father gave Laura Communion but not Ravi. A line began to form almost exclusively from the Catholic side; there was one white woman on our side, the girlfriend or wife of an Indian guy. This process took a while, and we groomsmen had stood up instinctively when everyone else was standing up, but Vikrant rightfully suggested we sit down after a while, as we weren't supposed to be standing. This whole thing was very confusing.

That was it! The wedding was over! (Laura's dad had jokingly wished for a Methodist wedding earlier: ten minutes and then you get to party) Play Mendelssohn's "Wedding March," organist! Watch out for Neko-sensei!

We groomsmen exited the pew and escorted our bridesmaids down the aisle, alternating sides of the fountain.

In a side room, I saw the marriage certificate, which had been signed before the ceremony had even begun, making it all kind of empty and meaningless. But, as I would mutter to myself before a toast later that night: zeros as placeholders. I...oh, fuck, I'm just going to quote it here because you won't click:
No one had toasted Abby and Bob at their little wedding, and that's what had been wrong, she believed now. No toast. There had been only thirty guests and they had simply eaten the ham canapes and gone home. How could a marriage go right? It wasn't that such ceremonies were important in and of themselves. They were nothing. They were zeros. But they were zeros as placeholders; they held numbers and equations intact. And once you underwent them, you could move on, know the empty power of their blessing, and not spend time missing them.
Lorrie Moore, "Which Is More Than I Can Say About Some People," Birds of America
The wedding photographer wanted more pictures, so we sneaked around the back while the rest of the wedding exited out the front.

"How's married life?" I asked Ravi.

It was good so far, he said. "Everyone takes my picture, I have an entourage everywhere I go. I feel like a movie star."

Inside by the altar, we positioned ourselves on the steps in various ways. After several pictures were taken, Dhea pointed out the bridesmaids were in order, but the groomsmen weren't. Sheepishly, we rearranged ourselves to match our bridesmaids.

Many pictures were taken, some with all of us, some with just the bridesmaids, some with just the groomsmen. Ravi tried to step down at one point, but Laura stopped him, reminding him that from now on, all (wedding) pictures of them were together.

"Now I want you to kiss!" said the photographer.

"What, me and Sunil?" said Vikrant.

Ravi and Laura kissed, and we looked at them in adoration or admiration or exaltation or some such thing. Then the photographer said to do a fun picture. Someone, maybe Neil, said, "For them, that was the fun picture." Unable to think of a fun pose, I locked arms with Vikrant.

Then it was time to cram into the limo! Yeah, the whole wedding party got to ride in the limo. I asked Dhea if there was any order we needed to get into the limo. She flailed both her arms in the air just to spite me for not being able to do so. It's always fun to make fun of someone's disability! It's a good thing she was the sister of my best Indian friend, or I would have given her what for! ...Nah, she was cute, it was all good.

So it turns out that limos, while long, are really cramped and small. We let the girls in first and then attempted to squeeze the boys in, leaving the two seats in the back open for Ravi and Laura. Whom we waited for, and waited for, and waited for, until Neil finally just opened the champagne in anticipation of their arrival. I grabbed a water bottle. Neil poured champagne into flutes for everyone and, when he ran out of flutes, switched to tumblers (who knew there were so many names for glasses?).

As the limo took off, Laura controlled the radio and searched for a good station. She was unsuccessful. No one had called in to some sappy show and requested something.

Meanwhile, Anjali got a phone call. She answered and talked to the woman on the other end. Apparently, she had won free laser hair removal! She was confused; Dhea reminded her they'd signed up for some contest at some place one time. Anjali kept listening to this woman, and she finally said, "I'm at a wedding."

The lady kept on talking as if she had made a joke. The whole call lasted three or four minutes; it was pretty hilarious.

Finally, we raised our glasses (and my water bottle) in a toast to Ravi and Laura.

It was a short ride to the reception at the country club, and we made it with about ten minutes left in cocktail hour.

We got out of the limo. Vikrant fluffed Laura's dress.

"Why didn't you have any champagne in there?" asked Anjali.

"I don't drink," I said.


"Because I don't...drink."

"That's cool," she said.

The wedding photographer was still going nuts, taking shots of everyone and everything. Every little moment would be documented!

I asked Dhea if we were supposed to enter in order. She reacted accordingly.

Inside, cocktail hour was flourishing. There was no one inside the reception hall. I heard my name being called, and there were my friends, now delightfully tipsy. I put the hanger to my jacket in Shari's purse. I had been carrying it with me since the church, along with my gift, which had now been put on the gift table. It sat there in all its lavender glory.

I asked Emily to take some more potential future wife pictures.

This showed that I was not averse to weddings, Emily said. When we were done, she had Shari take a picture of us that came out very well.

The reception hall was opening, and I had been told there was no assigned seating, so we all walked in. "You're a good groomsman," said Alexis for reasons unknown to me, perhaps because I looked smashing in a tux.

The round table was large enough to hold all of us...except for me, the lonely groomsman (Ooh! Someone should write an opera called The Lonely Groomsman!). The group agreed to split, and I joined the table in the corner of the room with Emily and Jonathan and Ryan.

My groomsman duties weren't over yet, though! Someone came and fetched me for The Entrance. We were escorting bridesmaids again.

Two by two, we walked in, to the tune of "Ants Marching. Neil and Emily the Bridesmaid, the last couple before the wedded one, did a little of the old Saturday Night Fever point-and-strut on their way in. Then Ravi and Laura entered, and we all clapped as they made their way to their special table in the middle of the hall.

Now, words cannot describe how awful the "host" was. He was so incredibly fake and irritating, and it was clear he had absolutely no idea who any of these people were. He introduced the splendiferously handsome Neil or whatever.

Neil began his speech about what an honor it was for Ravi to choose him as his best man (when...isn't it traditional for the brother to be best man? Doesn't he get first dibs?), and he sounded just like Ravi in not only the words he chose but the way he spoke. He spent most of his time thanking the various relatives who had traveled from all around the world to be there, and he also acknowledged the groups of friends, though not individually.

Then the host gave the mic to "the incredible, the beautiful" Emily the Bridesmaid (I rolled my eyes at Emily Not the Bridesmaid, who replied that she was, wasn't she?). Emily began by telling a story about watching Ravi watch Laura singing in the choir. "She makes funny faces when she sings," he had said, but not in a mocking way, in a way FULL OF LOVE AWWWW. Et cetera. It was a very nice speech, and she ended with some advice for the coming years. Awesome, she said that they should laugh (and I had given them 20 hours of hilarity!) and used the phrase "happily ever after" (which was what was inside my Shakespeare card!).

After the speeches, they did this weird thing where they would pick names of couples and make them kiss. Presumably, these were people registered as couples, but it was so odd. Vikrant and I gave each other looks. Erik, sitting next to me, informed me that he had put in our names.

We were the last table to be called for dinner. Until then, we entertained ourselves with much conversation of indeterminate topic. Vikrant was at my table, too, which was cool. That made it the Non-Best Man Indian Groomsmen Table.

The dinner line began with some salad. There was something that looked like peppers stuffed with lentils, I was pretty sure. I put one in my plate and, since I was holding the tong things anyway, put one in Emily's plate as well. She thanked me and then admitted that she felt guilty sometimes that she liked being a girl.

"Because guys do nice things for you?" I finished.

She asked me whether we liked doing nice things for girls. I assured her we did. "It makes us feel useful."

Then there was something that looked like chicken but was actually fish, which made sense since that's what Ravi had said they were serving. Salmon, in fact.

I thought back to my conversation with my brother. Everyone assumed I ate fish anyway. It was a new year. It was a time for new meat. There was no better time or place than right here, right now.

I put some salmon on my plate.

As I walked back to my table, I passed Ravi and Laura and announced to them that I was going to be eating fish for the first time. They had heard the salmon was really good.

I had a little bit of salad and some bread first. I wanted to lead up to it. Emily was waiting to see what I thought.

I cut off a piece. The first thing I noticed was that it wasn't nearly as tough as chicken.

I took a bite. My first reaction: "It tastes kind of like melty chicken."

Emily, indignant: "It does not taste like melty chicken!"

The more I ate, however, the more the actual flavor presented itself. It had a very nice flavor to it, in addition to the lovely texture. Salmon got a thumbs up. OMEGA-3'D!

Since we were the last table to have been called, we weren't quite done when the host decided to move on to the next item of the night. He told us to, on his signal, point to the loudest person at the table.


Erik, Emily, Ryan, and I were all most likely pointing to Jonathan. Many of the others, seeing our consensus gravitated toward Jonathan as well. Vikrant pointed to me.

Jonathan was told to pick up a salt shaker.

Then the host told us to pass the salt shaker from person to person until he said to stop. We did so, switching directions at one point just for kicks.

The salt shaker stopped on one of the online gaming friends, who had to go to the center of the room and get a chair.

As the host began to set up, I recognized the game. It was a scavenger hunt I'd seen on cruise ships, and it was generally pretty fun. Except this guy sucked, so it ended up being pretty lame. The first item was a napkin, and, after the first round, our table was full again. The second item was trickier: a Hawaiian dollar bill (just a regular dollar bill). Jonathan called foul on that one, but I thought it was clever enough. It was the kind of thing I like to see in these games. He did do the classic "man wearing lipstick" gag in which you get a bunch of men wearing lipstick only to hear that he never said the lipstick had to be on the lips. Other items to be retrieved included a man's shoe and a salt shaker.

We couldn't really see the game from back where we were, so it wasn't until near the end that I saw that Keith was one of the players. I had someone to root for! He made it to the top three and got to give his name to the host and the room. But then he wasn't able to get a picture of Ravi and Laura in time.

The final, game-winning task was square piece of tissue paper, which had two kids running to the bathroom, but only one was declared winner!

Meanwhile, I finished eating.

"Clean your plate, young man!" said Emily. "Or you'll never find a wife."

Erik and I reminisced about our first play together, Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet). Well, he did once I reminded him what play we'd done together.

"There were six people in that play!" I cried.

"But I was playing six roles!" he replied.

There was also some talk of Butter Battle, a comic opera Jonathan had written based on The Butter-Battle Book and using Gilbert and Sullivan songs with new lyrics. It was how I was made to sing. I was in the chorus, but I was also Dr. Zook. I recited my final line: "No more butter is to be consumed in all of Zookland!" (Um, spoiler warning?)

Emily couldn't believe I hadn't remembered the second doctor I had played...except neither of us remembered when this whole conversation about doctors I had played came up. And then she couldn't remember the other doctor I had played. I reminded her: Dr. Jason Posner in W;t.

Erik also brought up wigi, a term Jonathan hadn't heard in years. You see, in the old days, Jonathan had somewhat of a catchphrase in that he would randomly say, "When I grow up, x," in response to things. (When I grow up, I want to be consumed in all of Zookland.) We called each individual one of these a wigu for short and then decided on wigi as the plural because...it sounded cute. This is why I love my friends.

While we were having a good time, the host was going around making people kiss again. Weirdo.

Then it was time for the first dance! The host declared with great sincerity that the couple had chosen the beautiful song "Everything I Do, I Do It for You" by Bryan Adams. Aw, man, I was hoping for "Baby Got Back."

After the happy couple had their turn on the floor, it was time to fill the floor with good luck, but it was a slow dance, and I had no one special to bring. I noticed that Vikrant had played the groomsman card and taken Allison. I saw Emily the Bridesmaid sitting at her table but didn't know whether she wanted to dance or not, so I didn't approach her. Instead, I took pictures.

Once they switched to some more upbeat tunes, I...still wasn't crazy about dancing, but it seemed the others were amenable enough. At least it wouldn't be just me out there. And how could I resist such classics as the Electric Slide and the Electric Cha-cha, which told you exactly what to do! Even though Jonathan was confounded that, when told to "Turn to the right," everyone repeatedly turned left.

Most of the time, it was your typical reception mix, except at one point where the mix finally acknowledged that half the people there were Indian and it switched to some bhangra-type music, which I could actually dance to, although it's quite taxing to do so in tux shoes and a jacket. I gravitated toward a circle of girls including Anjali, thinking I could perhaps impress them with my sweet moves. A wedding is a good place to find a nice Indian girl, right? Sadly, no one noticed I existed, which is true in general.

Then the music switched to a garba beat, so the girls started the garba line. I think Jonathan attempted to join first, so I came in too, observing the steps, which seemed a little different from ones I'd seen before. It was your basic diamond plus a few extra steps backward, it seemed. I got behind Anjali and followed her lead as we circled the floor, jumping forward and backward. After I thought I got the hang of it, I tried to help out a girl behind me who was trying to pick it up.

By the end, the floor had almost entirely cleared of people who couldn't handle it. Anjali and Neil ended by clasping both their hands together, leaning back, and spinning around in a circle until they broke apart and Anjali was left spinning on the floor.

It was a lot of fun, but it made me very sweaty. Shari suggested I remove my jacket, which was a brilliant idea. They'd shifted back to American music, though.

I love this picture.

Emily, upon seeing this picture, immediately requested a copy. She does look particularly interesting.

They randomly switched to a slow song later on, and Shari had someone to dance with but didn't want to be alone out there, so I grabbed Dhea, who was nearby, and pulled her onto the dance floor.

I tried to get my arms and feet in the proper position. I hadn't slow danced since Buffista Prom 2006, and I had forgotten everything Nutty had taught me. I quickly got the 1-2, 1-2 part down, so then I was fine. I had learned yesterday that Dhea was 16 now, so she was just a little younger than my little sister (and Anjali was just a little younger than my little brother). She was quite little sister-y. We had a really nice time dancing, even though I now can't remember what all we talked about. Or, I think it was mostly Dhea talking and me listening.

Later, there was a slew of Grease songs, which I stayed out of, even though Shari thought "You're the One That I Want" was the greatest song ever.

I went out for some fresh air at times. I called my brother to tell him I'd eaten fish, so at least I'd have done something before he did (although he had had that bite of tilapia...curses (but I'd totally accidentally eaten tuna before!)). While I was on the phone, Ravi approached me, so I let my brother talk to him. Ravi said he sounded like he did when he was tired and confused.

They also did the Macarena.

Shari thought I should continue removing articles of clothing throughout the night. I teased her by unbuttoning my vest when I saw that Neil, who could tell when my sleeves were three-quarters of a goddamn inch too long, had unbuttoned his vest.

I did go and talk to Keith on the other side of the hall (again, all the way across from our table!). Ravi was going around trying to figure out how to get tuxes returned, since so many people were leaving early the next morning. Keith was driving, however, so he was given the duty of collecting tuxes; someone else would get them returned to Men's Wearhouse. It was a complicated gambit.

I found Emily and Jonathan resting on a couch by the bathrooms. I rested with them. A woman passing by said, "Wimps!" We tried to explain that we had totally been dancing before, but she wouldn't hear any of it.

"I feel chided," declared Jonathan.

In one of my sojourns outside of the hall, Ravi found me and presented me with my gift for being a groomsman: a totally sweet PRODUCT (RED) iPod Shuffle with "Laura and Ravi's Wedding 2008" inscribed on the back. I am one of only four people with such a device!

There were two more ceremonies to be performed: the throwing of the bouquet and the removal (and subsequent throwing) of the garter!

All unmarried women went onto the floor to catch the bouquet, and all I could think of was Ryan batting it away from Kelly.

Then there was the removal of the garter!

Ravi did not use his teeth.

At first, I thought it useless to participate in this event because, as I said to Emily: "I'm getting married next!" We already knew that part. But was this garter lucky in any way? Would it perhaps guarantee me a good marriage or just any marriage? Ravi suspected the latter, so it was good that a little boy named Ravi caught it.

Finally, to close out the evening, the host put on music that we were to sing along to. The first song was "Sweet Caroline," which is one of fifty thousand popular songs that I'm supposed to be familiar with but had never heard before. Jonathan, a baritone, joined in, and Anjali encouraged him. The next song was "Day-O" (which is apparently actually called "The Banana Boat Song"?), which I could sing by channeling Beetlejuice. There were hand motions too; I copied Anjali and Dhea. I uninhibitedly joined Emily and Shari in "Time of My Life." And there were some other songs too, I'm sure, but I've forgotten.

All in all, it was a far more fabulous time than I'd been expecting.

When the lights went up, however, it was time to leave! I ran around saying goodbye to Dhea and Anjali and Ravi and Laura. It had been great to see them again, especially Dhea and Anjali, who had grown up to be pretty cool people. And I was glad to learn that Ravi and Laura were going to be living in Dallas, which meant I could see them when I visited home.

I said bye to Ravi's mom, who hadn't really had time to catch up with me and thus used this opportunity to do so. I talked to Ravi's dad, too, about how interesting and fun it was to see everyone again after so long, how Dhea and Anjali had changed.

"And you are a different person too," he said. "You've grown up and matured." And he didn't say it like he was trying to compliment me; he was just making an observation. A statement of fact.

I gave him my business card, proof that I had grown up.

Ravi's mom asked if I was going to be having one of these soon. I said that my parents had started looking. And would I go with whoever they found, or was I going to find someone myself first?

"At this point," I said, "it's pretty much a race."

Outside, I was able to say goodbye to Neil and his girlfriend.

We squeezed into Shari's car and went back to the hotel, where I immediately changed out of my tux so I could give it to Keith on the first floor.

Amusingly, Tim opened the door, having returned his tux as well. Keith and his girlfriend were setting up to play Magic. While there had been talk of our playing Mafia, which Keith would have been interested in, it had apparently fizzled out. I invited Keith to come play Monopoly, but he wanted no part in that. He said to call him if we weren't playing a "loser game." Oh, burn!

As I waited for the elevator, I noticed Anjali on the couch in the lobby. She said she was incredibly bored, so I invited her up to Monopoly. She jumped at the chance to see the great Jonathan in action.

We consumed the food and drink bought earlier at Fry's. I learned that Alexis shared my love of Doritos.

We listened to mostly opera from Jonathan's music selection, though he later expanded it to include more musicals. At one point, Emily was unable to identify the opera a piece was from, and when she found that it was La Traviata, she reacted with distaste, as she thought it was a stupid opera.

I asked her how it went, and she summarized the plot very snidely. It did sound kind of stupid.

"At least Rigoletto has a hunchback!" I said, which cracked everyone up, especially Anjali, who can no longer look at the title "Rigoletto" without laughing.

The Monopoly game itself was bizarre, as it took fucking forever for anyone to land on Vermont and Boardwalk, which remained unclaimed for nigh half the game. Alexis and Shari were knocked out early, which was convenient because they had to sleep early anyway; Alexis was leaving on an early flight the next day. Anjali, seeing that the game could go on for a while, decided to go to sleep. Minutes later, I went bankrupt.

It was down to Ryan and Jonathan and Emily, who almost bankrupted the bank itself. There were housing shortages, forcing houses to be auctioned. High rent exchange hands. It was an epic battle. I lay down while Emily scritched my back. When she was knocked out by Ryan, as we all were (there was a little graveyard of pieces beside the greens), she took care of Jonathan's money. Toward the end of the game, Ryan and Jonathan started rounding everything to the nearest ten to avoid having to deal with ones and fives and math.

Please note the time. The game ended about fifteen minutes later, with Ryan declared the winner. And once again, it was the result of an ill-fated trade I instigated that gave Ryan the green monopoly at a time he had a lot of cash. It's a brutal game, Monopoly.

While there is one more day left in this saga, I close by offering you the opinions of an unbiased observer outside of time:

Anjali: you are all a whole lot more... sedate isn't the right word.
Anjali: maybe it is.
Anjali: the wildness that one associates with college has faded from all of you
Sunil: Jonathan said we were all cooler versions of our former selves, but I think you have a point.
Sunil: Right, we've all sort of grown up.
Anjali: that was very evident during monopoly
Anjali: of course, and rightly so.
Anjali: and all in a good way, as well.
Anjali: jonathan also has a point.
Sunil: Which one was very evident during Monopoly?
Anjali: well a bit of both.
Anjali: my primary observation was how incredibly chill everyone seemed relative to how i remember you all.
Anjali: however there is definitely an element of cool in there, too.
Sunil: Heh.
Anjali: but not cool like a wide-eyed middle schooler thinking wow-you-guys-are-cool
Sunil: Just regular cool.
Anjali: just that there has been a clear maturation progress in a good way. regular cool.
Tags: being indian, buffistas, desi arranged marriage notification, family, food, girls, i am so awesome, music, my year(s) of (new) meats, omg dance, personal, pesceducation, pictures, pimpings, real life friends, rice, shakespeare, such is life, theatre, vacation
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