DAILY BRIEFING
Moron Agonistes

Aug. 29 - There are two Danish wedding traditions left to describe before I wrap it up on this whole drawn-out business.

I've already described both of these traditions more or less the way they were described to me, so you're just as misinformed as I was. Here they are again:

Tradition: at some point in the evening, the groom is lifted aloft, his shoes are removed, and the toes of his socks are clipped off.

Tradition: the couple's first dance is a traditional Danish waltz and must be danced before midnight. They will be encircled by friends and family who will clap in rhythm, gradually moving in on them until there's no room left to dance. The couple must then kiss.

Unfortunately, I missed both of these events at the wedding I attended the week before my own. (For reasons you can deduce on your own—I was self-medicating my gout with medicine that came out of a keg). Consequently, I was only familiar with these traditions in theory. Their practice remained a mystery.

Like most American guys my age, I waltz about as well as I watusi. The DMB—Trine—and I had hoped to take a lesson or two before the wedding, but our plans had been made on the assumption I'd be capable of standing upright. It's hard to waltz when you can't even walk. In the end, on the very morning of our wedding day, we decided that I'd hobble up to Trine on the dance floor, we'd put our arms around each other, then kind of jerk around spasmodically and flail my crutch around until we'd elicited enough sympathy to end the waltz.

(It was a pretty good plan—we're certainly going to be a formidable couple.)

As luck would have it, I wasn't in much pain the night of the wedding. I don't know if it was the magic of the wedding, the magic of the wine, or the sorcery of the painkillers, but I was actually gimping around pretty nimbly without my crutch for most of the night, so when it came time to waltz I thought I'd give it a whirl (so to speak).

Anyone who's tried waltzing on cobblestones while debilitated by gout, and under the influence of wine and synthetic morphine, can probably guess how that dance went.

But they'd only be close.

It would have been difficult enough as it was. But because I couldn't waltz worth a damn I had to keep muttering, "one, two, three, one, two, three," which distracted my hideously sandaled feet and compelled me to stub my gout-inflamed toe repeatedly against Trine's feet and shins. After just a few bars of the waltz my mantra had changed to "one, two, three, ow!, (sorry!), one, two, three. ow!, (sorry!)..."

The crowd apparently mistook my grimaces of agony for ecstasy. They smiled, they clapped, they laughed—and they moved in for the kill. That's how it felt, anyway—this malevolent ring of tormentors closing in around us, mocking my suffering, inching closer and closer as the pain went from bad to searing.

And then they were no longer around us but beside us, pressing into us, engulfing us in their demonic ritual; I squeezed the DMB—Trine—with the last of my strength, and, remembering the tradition in a sudden epiphanous flash, kissed her and waited for the throng of madmen to pull back, give us air, and stop stepping on my toes.

Alas, the kiss subsided but the crowd did not. Instead I suddenly felt myself falling backwards. Too much pain, I remember thinking, I must be passing out. Fortunately there was some unseen soul behind me to break my fall; unfortunately, he broke the fall by catching me in a reverse arm-lock. He used the leverage of his position to hoist me up on his back. I was no sooner balanced precariously on this erstwhile benefactor's back than the satanic ritualists around us began grabbing at me fiendishly. I was too terror-struck to speak, and watched mutely as my own best man emerged from the mob to my right and raised a sharp and shiny instrument into the air—there was more fiendish laughter and applause. I remember watching the moonlight glint off the business end of the blade and trying to remember if Trine had ever said anything about wanting an Aztec wedding, when my speculations were interrupted by the sensation of hands at work on my feet, undoing my sandals, pulling the ends of my socks away from my toes, and then the terrible snip! snip!—and I was lowered to the ground at last.

I stood there blinking stupidly, trying to gather my wits. The crowd had finally pulled back a little. They were cackling with delight, pointing at my feet and laughing. I glanced down and saw that the toes of my socks had been cut off.

There's an old Danish saying that encapsulates the whole episode succinctly: "If you won't hear it," they say, "then you're going to feel it."

Next time someone starts telling you about their quaint little traditions, pay attention.

* * *

That's going to have to wrap up my wedding blogging, because frankly it's been going on for two weeks and I think I better get my tongue out of my cheek before my lovely bride yanks it out.

Enjoy the weekend.

2003, The Moron's Almanac™

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