Pot Luck Anniversary
It was so romantic. No, romantic's not the right word. More like rofrantic. Loud and unruly. You know, a typical family dinner, only by candlelight and with a tiny, messy wedding cake as the centerpiece.
Richie kept singing "Happy Birthday" at the top of his lungs. The dog licked au jus off of J.J.'s toes. The cat stalked us the whole time, smelling meat and thinking it was us.
"Let's play the guessing game!" Johnny announced. "What has eyes but is not an animal?"
"Tigers?" I guessed, playing along.
"No, it's potatoes," Justin answered, matter-of-factly. Good job, honey.
Justin asked what the fastest animal was. The raptor, Johnny guessed. A discussion followed on whether dinosaurs qualify as animals. I think they are monsters. But that's just me.
I asked what candles were made of. Wax, in case you were stumped on that one.
It was Richie's turn.
He asked, "Who is throwing cake?" as he tossed a little chunk across the table.
"Uh, you are?" Justin guessed.
"No. Booty in the butt," Richie answered, laughing in a deep, country music singer cackle.
You might ask why we chose a family dinner over a comparably romantic getaway to--say, a Municiple Auditorium wrestling extravaganza. It's because, judging by the Oprah Whinfrey Show Debt Diet, cheap is the new thin, and we are on the Atkins diet. We only spend money on meat.
Anniversaries are wierd to me. You're standing by your bed, matching socks and you think, "Six years ago at this time, I was freaking out. Shaking in my boots. Steadied only by my future husband, who was not nervous at all, never has been nervous and never will be nervous. Except, curiously, when leaving messages on answering machines."
We were married in Woburn, Mass. in the midst of a beautiful dinner put on by Justin's parents. Justin's mom made the cake--which I tried to copy last night, in a miniature version, to no avail. A year later, we had the wedding blessed in the church in Kansas City and had a beautiful reception put on by my parents. The cake was covered with sugared fruit. I didn't replicate that version, either. In between those two events, we had our first son, Johnny. Technically, he attended both weddings. It wasn't exactly a traditional set up. Not by post-Queen Victoria standards, anyway. But wonderful all the same.
Weddings through the ages have run the gamut on traditions. In Biblical days, a couple went into a tent and came out married. I don't think we have to ask what went on in that tent. It's pretty obvious that they ate s'mores and told ghost stories.
You know the saying "tie the knot"? That's not a bad saying. It refers to an ancient tradition in which the couple loosely tied twine around their wastes during the wedding ceremony as a symbol of becoming one.
Even the white wedding dress was a trend set by Queen V. Prior to her wedding, women wore whatever color they liked--or had in their closet. Who could afford a new dress? But people made little traditions--whatever they could afford to ensure good luck and fool the demons lurking around every corner in those days.
We have the demons to thank for bridesmaid's dresses. They used to all wear the same style dress as each other and the bride. If a demon had his heart set on kidnapping the bride, he'd have to figure out which one was the bride first. You think that's silly? Superstitious? Well, consider this statistic: Not a single bride was kidnapped by demons while that practice was in place. And to this day, bridesmaids still dress sort of like brides, wearing long dresses as opposed to cut off shorts and tube tops. Still no kidnappings. Coincidence? I think not.
You might wonder how I know all this. By pulling it out of my butt, of course. No, sorry, that was Richie talking. I actually did an article on wedding traditions for a magazine one time.
I love weddings and Justin and I were blessed with two. We even have two anniversaries each year--which comes in handy in case one of us forgets one of them.
Pot luck, by the way, was the wedding feast of the peasants in the middle ages. You brought a blackbird pie or whatever and that was your entrance fee. Then you feasted and played games and basically it was a great big Renaissance Festival, minus the strange subculture of the workers, who heckle you relentlessly as you try to slay the dragon.
Can they not see that the dragon is pretend? That everyone around them is wearing jeans and a t-shirt as opposed to velveteen frocks? That they are the only ones talking like pirates and making inappropriate cleavage references? And yet they stay in character all day--even all year--long. I see them marching at the St. Pat's Parade. Carrying the "king" in a hand held carriage while "his highness" yells at them. I'm like, he's not the real king. You will not get beheaded if you set him down and say, "You know, Larry, I just don't feel like there's a lot of room for growth in this position. So I'm pursuing a career as an Elvis impersonator."
Okay, neither here nor there.
So maybe a pot luck is not such a strange anniversary meal. Everybody brings something to the table. Just like friends and family at wedding celebrations.
Watching our wedding video--and yours, too, maybe, you see this play out on the dance floor. First the moms and dads and aunts and uncles and second cousins and friend's parents dance to oldies songs and they're your foundation, your role models. Then your friends, after having a few beers, are out there, dancing like the Beastie Boys to my Midwestern eyes. And they're, well, they're your friends. You'll watch them get married and the friendship will change but not the love, hopefully. The camera flashes to younger brothers and cousins and you hope so much for them. And then you get out your pen and rank everyone at your reception according to their dancing abilities. The top ten, anyway. I'm sure everyone has that list tucked inside their wedding album somewhere. Okay. Maybe not.
At our wedding, Justin and I danced to Nat King Cole's song, which goes, "The very thought of you and I forget to do the little things in life that I ought to do. I'm living in a daydream..."
This love-induced stupor sounds so different from the chocolate cake crumbs and pot roast juice of family life. Where people feel free to yell in agony because their socks are bunched up in their shoes. To pinch someone just to give their hands something to do. To throw cake as a punch line that no one but themselves and their baby brother thinks is funny.
And yet, this is how I still feel. The very thought of my husband and I forget to do the little things in life that I ought to do. Or maybe I'm just an airhead.
Anyway, romance is the perfect precurser to family life, when you pretty much have to forget all the things in life that you ought to do: dishes and dust and weed control--and deal with the thing that you need to do. Which is loving a family. And saying things like, "Mark my words, Richard Kenneth. If you throw one more morsel of cake, I will take it away from you. And that goes for the ice cream, too, mister. "