Till Death Do Us Part, Never Ever

17 May
church wedding

church wedding

It’s just a tiny bit heartbreaking when your dearly beloved goes around acting as if the mere idea of getting married were like hanging upside down strung up from your thumbs for the rest of your life. Granted, it’s not like he’s said “I’ll never ever marry you;” it’s more like, “I’ll never ever get married, even to you.” Still, acting as if the whole “till death do us part” thing were a fate worse than death is not exactly endearing.

I am not a huge fan of marriage myself, so it’s not like I’ve pressured him, or even actually asked him to marry me. But we have a kid together, we want to have more kids together, we regularly confirm to each other that we’d like to stay together “forever” (I have a hard time with that word, but forever works for him), AND it would make both of our immigration situations a million times simpler (still not simple, but simpler). So, would marriage be a practical and realistic thing for us, a couple who love each other and have a long-term committment- to do? Yes. Would it be nice to get together with family and some friends and publicly, formally, maybe slightly romantically, announce that we super mega extra love each other? For me, yes. For my sweet introvert Conan, not so much.

Neither of us feels a dire need for the church or the government to put their seal of approval on our relationship. But philosophy is not even the main problem for Conan. The problem is his incredible shyness. He doesn’t want to be the center of attention for a whole day. He hates to dance, he buckles under major social pressure. He doesn’t even like parties for other people, typically.

“Plus,” he says, eyeing me suspiciously, “have you seen how they embarrass the groom?” Once, long ago, he tried to describe to me some of the horrors that befall a groom on his wedding day, but that was before I even considered marriage with him, and I only giggled hysterically at his surely exaggerated details.

And then we went to a wedding here. First of all, the bride and groom don’t really get a chance to enjoy themselves, or at least not if what they are supposed to do isn’t what they want to do. They have the mass, then they walk through town to where the party is. A large part of the time they’re just sitting at a table, and people come up and give them gifts and congratulations.

Then they do the waltz. The good side to the waltz is that most people give the newlyweds money while they’re dancing the waltz. The downside is that it is an eternal and awkward dance. The newlyweds don’t dance it together, they dance it with every family member on earth, including every distant cousin and great aunt on both sides of the family. They call them up two by two, for example: Paulina Lopez and spouse. Then the 2 people called dance for a minute or two and then they call the next couple. Even Conan had to dance in place of someone else at this one wedding, since they called out the name of the bride’s brother who’s currently in the U.S. (oops).

paulina and me dancing at a wedding

paulina and me dancing at a wedding

The bride and groom also have to dance nearly every single other dance so that the guests feel good about dancing. And they don’t get to end the party at any reasonable hour. It’s not over till the guests decide it’s over, which surely leads to a slow start to a honeymoon. In general, it’s a lot of stress, there are a lot of strict social rules, and it is exhausting, I’m sure. In many ways, I imagine weddings in the U.S. are very similar. But that’s not all Conan warned me about, wide-eyed and weary.

I have to admit, Conan had to elbow me at one point because my face was doing that thing where one eyebrow is raised and my mouth is hanging open- not a very appropriate look for a wedding. I think that was when the bride and the groom were standing on chairs about tie-length apart, and a few people stand around each of them to protect them. From what, you might ask? From a congo-line of first women, then men, who “dance” around and try to knock them- really just him- over. Inevitably the congo line of men knock the groom over and then hoist him up and take him off somewhere to dunk him in a tank of water. “Don’t they have bachelor party’s there?” you might ask, and I would agree that this sounds more like behavior for a party than for the wedding! (They do have bachelor parties and I can’t imagine what goes on there) To each culture their own, though….

The groom returned from that debacle wet and without shoes and then they borrowed somebody’s baby and a bottle. That’s for the dance where the bride and groom walk/dance around in a circle, the groom holding the baby and the bottle and the bride “hitting” him with a belt from behind. I don’t even want to know what face I was making at that point. Don’t get me wrong; I’m all for some consensual kinkiness with belts or whatever else they might be into, but maybe not so much at their wedding, and surely not with a baby in arms.

And then, the more I thought about it, it actually irritated me. The song they play for the baby/belt spectacle talks about the guy being a “mandilon”- which loosely translates to something like “(male) apron-wearer”. As I read it, the idea is that this is the day for the bride, so we’re gonna act like now she’s domesticated this man via holy matrimony, and he’ll have to cook the food, give the (future) baby a bottle, and sweep the floor or something. (There’s also a dance with the groom holding a broom for further “humiliation”). But just to be sure it’s clear that there’s no pride in that role or those activities, the bride is cast not even in a masculine role, but in an abusive, machista role, hitting him with a belt.

“I think that after going through this on the wedding day, men here spend the rest of their married lives taking their anger out on their wives” I told Conan, sort of joking, but not. And indeed, the bride looked more uncomfortable than the groom, who grinned through it all. Maybe he agrees, that he’s about to make her pay for this moment for the rest of her life. Too bad I don’t know the newlyweds well enough to inquire politely about it.

We left the wedding long before it was over. For one, Lucia has an early bedtime. For another, it was imperative to get Conan away before they made him drink more tequila. This is another facet of weddings and other parties here that I loathe. The brand of binge drinking that happens I imagine to be akin to what goes on at frat parties, minus the keg stands and such. (Although I admit I’ve never actually been to a frat party.) The social pressure to drink yourself stupid, even among some normally responsible adults, is astounding. At a birthday party once, I observed how those who tried not to accept shot after shot after shot of tequila were called rude and other ugly things, how those who tried to not finish their shot or pass it to someone else were then “punished” to drink double, how one woman got a shot poured over her head because she refused to drink more. (I escaped all this thanks to nursing Lucia, but even if I weren’t nursing I could not have gotten plastered and taken care of my kid. I haven’t come up with a socially acceptable refusal tactic for post-nursing yet, but I’m working on it.)

The behavior from that birthday party is pretty much normal drinking behavior for any celebration here in this town- not the whole country or even the whole state, mind you. And somebody Conan knew was kindly sharing his bottle of tequila (these things get handed out at parties), so that meant polite refusal was out of the question. Hence we had another reason to leave early, although I missed out on seeing the other supposed horrors that Conan promised about weddings.

As we left, I told Conan that I am almost ready to forgive him for repeatedly telling me he’ll never ever marry me. But not quite, since he should know better than to think if we did get married that he and I would do anything traditional, especially if it involves one of both of us being miserable on a day that’s supposed to be for us. At the end of the day, that’s one of the best things about our multicultural family; we get to reject all kinds of stuff and incorporate the stuff we like and make up new stuff all our own, tending and crafting and creating our own family culture. Sure, other people can reject parts of their culture as well, but we have better excuses than they do!

So maybe we’re never ever getting married, since over time Conan has offended me enough with the never ever getting married thing. Now I’m the one who looks doubtful and scathing when he mentions marriage. But if we ever convince each other, it’s sure to be a fabulously unique event. We’ll be sure to invite you, too. And don’t worry, it’ll never ever be traditional.

One Response to “Till Death Do Us Part, Never Ever”

  1. exiletomexico September 7, 2016 at 5:07 pm #

    Bless. I was just re-reading this and thinking about how difficult it can be for extroverts and introverts to be together sometimes. Hehehehe. Glad we convinced each other, because our wedding was way coooooool, and so not traditional.

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