Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Most Unusual Wedding

I hate weddings. They bore me, receptions deafen me. The noise from usually bad dj's wreak havoc upon my senses, setting off episodes of irregular heartbeats, trying to keep pace with the drumbeats. Most of the food at the buffet table is too salty or too high in fat for my heart problems, so as I savor a cold shrimp dipped lightly in cocktail sauce, I do it with trepidation, hoping it will not lead to an ER visit , hooked up to a ventilator for Pulmonary edema, a fancy word for too much salt. It has happened before so it is a real fear, yet hunger and food lust forces me to sample that shrimp and a few other delicasies, hoping the lack of salt or food before the wedding, plus an extra diriretic will save me. So far I have been lucky. But I am playing with fire. This wedding , on a Friday afternoon, was not one I looked forward to with any kind of anticipation. How little I knew! It was held at Ste. Rita's Catholic church in Neward, New Jersey. That should have been a clue. Nothing good happens in Newark and no one goes there unless they have to for some important occasion. Like a wedding. It is a city rife with crime, poverty, pollution, and drug traffic. To those living there unscathed thus far, I offer my appologies for my reprehensive view of your city. But hear me out.We got lost, of course, and like the old cliche, the men with us would not ask for directions. That and heavy workday traffic, made us late for the wedding. I was not unduly upset over this-the later the better, I thought.One of my three daughters and her husband rode with us, guys up front, women in the back. Just as well, as it spared us the illegal u-turns made my insignificant other, aka the driver.By the time we pulled up to the church, we realized it was not possible to enter, due to at least 30 police cars, city and state, ambulances, search and rescue trucks, helicopters hovering overhead, swat teams, and armed police swarming the area. "Perhaps the groom changed his mind," I quipped. We passed the church, turned around and my husband maneuvered his almost new Dodge Durango, through long lines of police cars and on-coming traffic on the other side. Pulling into the church parking lot, we saw the limo with the bride pull up, late as well. There was an armed guard in front of the church and a helicopter droned overhead. The officer explained there was a suspect on the loose. Overkill, I thought, never having seen such an arsenal in my life.We slipped in right before the bride and sat down in the back. Very few made it to the church since it was a work day. The bride walked down the aisle beautiful as are all brides, to meet her groom, who had in fact showed up. The church was the most exquisite I have ever seen. Marble pillars, marble walls, an arresting, (pardon the pun) statue of St. Michael the Arch angel wielding a sword, and high, arched ceilings with paintings resembling the Sistine Chapel in Rome. A beautiful ceremony was officiated by an elderly white-haired priest, apparently used to such events in his Parish.As we followed the newly married couple out of the church we asked the family what had happened and were grateful we were late. Two suspects had high-jacked a car and assaulted a police officer. One of them had run and hid in the church. As my sister-in-law was coming out of the church rest room, she walked into a hoard of armed, bullet-proof-vested swat team members brandishing rifles. Typically, she asked, "What did I do?" and then joined the rest of the entourage who had all been removed outside while they captured the perpetrator. It could have easily turned into a hostage situation.The limos and shuttle buses pulled away as we stood talking out in the parking lot, catching up , until my brither-in-law a mild-mannered man, asked nervously if we could please continue the conversation is a safer place. Noting the helicopters circling and the armed men all over the place, it seemed like a good suggestion. The reception was held at The Tides, a magnificent building with huge glass windows, winding staircases and chandeliers of near indescribable beauty. The cocktail hour served the most delectible food, all capable of easily killing me. Yet the ambience was a perfect ending for a wedding that will surely be told of for many generations to come. It is one wedding I will not soon forget. It almost made me forget that I really hate weddings.

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