Learning Curve

Aug. 4 - The DMB and I attended a wedding on Saturday. It was the first Danish wedding I've ever been to. It was also a valuable learning experience for me—my first and only chance to observe Danish wedding traditions before plunging into them myself this coming Saturday.

Hopefully my own wedding will be very different in at least one respect: hopefully I won't have gout.

Yes, I've got goddam gout.

I'm 38 years old, I eat well and exercise regularly, and yet (therefore?) once every year or two my right foot swells up like a purple balloon and renders me completely useless for three to five days at a stretch. (Which isn't to say I'm at all useful the other 360-364 days a year, just that I'm especially useless when the Gout hits.)

It hit Wednesday of last week, and it was pretty clear by lunch-time Saturday that it wasn't going to clear up in time for the 2:30 wedding.

So I ironed my nicest shirt, put on my nicest suit, gingerly pulled on my least revolting black socks, and limped out our door in a pair of ninety-nine cent Walmart flip-flops.

The DMB and I stopped at a shoe store on the way to the wedding and I spent about eighty bucks on the only pair of shoes that I could wear without weeping in pain. Beige sandals. Didn't quite match the suit, but gimpers can't be choosers.

In case you've never looked ridiculous attending a wedding in a foreign country at which you're the only foreign guest—at which you'll be meeting some of the most beloved friends and family (many of them for the first time) of someone you'll be marrying the very next week... Well, you've certainly missed out on something.

But enough about the Gout.

It was a church wedding held at Frederiksberg Church, just across the street from Frederiksberg Garden and Frederiksberg Castle. It was a short ceremony conducted entirely in Danish. Two psalms were sung, the pastor delivered a brief homily appropriate to the occassion, the marriage was performed, two more psalms were sung, and that was that.

It was all very lovely, but there was a moment in the cermony that struck me as a little discordant. At the points at which an English-speaking bride and groom would say "I do," the Danes say only, "Yes."

But, being Danish, they say it in Danish.

The Danish word for yes is ja, which is pronounced exactly the same way as the American yeah.

So here in this beautiful old church, in the middle of this lovely ceremony, the earnest and emotional groom is asked by the kindly pastor the usual sort of question—will you love and cherish, til death do you part, etc—and the groom, all aglow with love, stares deep into the adoring eyes of his bride and says, "yeah."

And she, this radiant and wide-eyed beauty transported into some kind of bridal rapture, she too, in turn, gazes into the adoring eyes of her groom and utters her own heartfelt, "yeah."

It seemed a little anticlimactic.

* * *

I've already mentioned the Danish affinity to break into song. They sing at their holiday lunches, they sing at their picnics, they sing in their bars and cafes and at their sports matches. Hell, you're lucky if you don't get a whole aria when you ask for directions. But all of that is nothing beside the kind of mania for song that takes hold at a Danish wedding reception.

And in between the songs come the speeches.

I think we sat down for dinner at about six o'clock. It was at least four hours before the meal ended. This was not four hours of eating—it was three hours and forty-five minutes of songs and speeches interspersed with a few stolen moments of chewing and digestion.

The songs and speeches were of course beautiful and romantic and lovely—tributes to the bride and groom, to the story of their love, to the bright hopes for their future. That's what I'm told, anyway, and I have no grounds for skepticism: I saw the watering eyes and heard the choked-up voices myself. But I have no idea what anyone actual said, or sang, because first of all it was in Danish, and second of all I'd been doped up out of my mind.

Very deliberately and mercifully doped up, in fact, by two of the women at our table—close relations of the groom and well-beloved by the DMB. They had witnessed my suffering and wanted to help me. They were healthcare professionals, and they had pills.

In case you've never looked ridiculous attending a wedding in a foreign country at which you're the only foreign guest—at which you'll be meeting some of the most beloved friends and family (many of them for the first time) of someone you'll be marrying the very next week, and washed a few painkillers down with cognac...

Well, you've really missed out on something.

* * *

I'd like to close with a shout-out to the doctors, nurses, and staff of the Frederiksberg Hospital emergency room, where I spent an anxious hour Sunday afternoon before being reassured it was only gout, after all, and that if I laid low a couple of days, took Ibuprofen for the swelling and synthetic morphine for the pain, there was no reason I couldn't be waltzing at my own wedding.

I'd say my first experience with Danish healthcare was a smashing success.

* * *

The DMB and I are getting married Saturday. That means the next week or two will be very interesting and rich in blogging material. It also means I probably won't have any time to blog it.

Expect sporadicity.

Holidays and Birthdays

Today is Independence Day in Burkina Faso and the late Queen Mother's Birthday in Great Britain.

Today is also the birthday of Jeff Gordon (1971), Roger Clemens (1962), Billy Bob Thornton (1955), Louis Armstrong (1901), and Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792).

Happy Monday!

2003, The Moron's Almanac™

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