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POINT: My Wedding Was Incredibly Special and a Triumph of the Human Spirit

I would like to say, in front of the entire world, congratulations. Of course, the question naturally comes up . . . for whom? ME. I am now a married man, as many of you know. Thank God I am not trying to run some game on my wife, since that information was printed in the Harbus last week. Nothing like a wedding announcement to rain on a player’s parade!

If my wife ever reads this, you KNOW that I am just kidding. I only have eyes for you, Jalonne Newsome.

Now, I will proceed to answer the question that so many people have asked me since getting back: How was the wedding? (You could tell who actually cared to hear my answer as it elicited a response of sheer dread and amazement from them and only a polite “Hmmm, nice” from those who did not.)

Well, as it turns out, the wedding itself was very special. It was the two or three days before the event that caused the problem. My favorite response to this year’s version of “What did you do this summer” is five words: Detroit, August, 17th, blackout and wedding. Since half of the entire student body worked in Manhattan in some capacity this summer, each and everyone knows about the blackout that paralyzed the stretch of land from New York in the east, to Michigan in the west and to somewhere in Canada to the north (I know it’s a huge country, but I don’t know how far north Eh?). Imagine my thoughts as I am coming to pick up my parents at the airport and all of a sudden, blackness. With one little surge on our state-of-the-art transmission network, Smackover, Arkansas, suddenly became more technologically advanced than both the financial center of the world and the motor city. And while people throughout Detroit were worrying about looting and clean water, I was considering how in the world this wedding was going to happen.

The next 48 hours were a weird mixture of survival in urban wilderness, lessons on why people tend to keep their cars more than 1/4th of the way full with gas, and the conquest of the human spirit during situations as emotional as weddings. At first, I felt glad the blackout was happening since I needed something non-alcoholic to ease my nervousness before going down the aisle. As the lights stayed off, I did not feel that way for too long. What changed my mind was how many people made tremendous sacrifices to get to Detroit for the wedding. I can not tell you how many folks had to convince their loved ones that they were not crazy for going into the blackout. People caught rides with strangers to make it in time for rehearsal. All of this without even talking to me, since that keep-the-car-full lesson actually extended to charging the cell phone as well. Detroit resembled a war zone during the blackout, as people lined around stores during the day and hid during the night. Of course, a city that has no lights is no place about which to get excited; however, several people, some of which are on this campus, refused to let fears of mass looting and the lack of flushing toilets keep them from my bachelor party.

How is THAT for the human spirit!

COUNTERPOINT: Hughey’s Wedding Was a Barely Averted Disaster
By Omar Abou-Sayed (OH), Groomsman

They say, the worse the wedding the better the marriage. If that is true, then Hughey and Jalonne’s marriage is destined for great things.

It’s Thursday. My drive from DC to Boston has been beautiful. My radio is tuned to NPR when, somewhere near 4 o’clock, I hear about it. The Blackout. NYC, black. Cleveland, black. Detroit. Oh crap, Detroit. I pick up the phone.

“Hughey?”
“Yeah.”
“Holy @#&%%!”
“Yeah.”
“So what’s up? Is the wedding still on?”
“Oh we’re GETTING married. Not sure if anyone will BE here, but WE’LL be married.”
“Okay, I’m on my way.”
You see, I was one of Hughey’s groomsmen. (Aside: I thought being asked to be a groomsman indicated a special bond between me and my friend. I would later find out that every 5th wedding invitation came with the offer to be in the wedding. More on that in a bit.) One of my responsibilities as a groomsman was ensuring that there be a bachelor party. So if Hughey said that there was going to be a wedding, I would be damned if there wouldn’t be a bachelor party.

Cut to Friday. I have flown to Chicago and rented a car to drive INTO the blacked-out Detroit. My mom thinks I am crazy, as does the rental car agent. “Be sure to get gas before Ann Arbor,” the agent warns me. “You’ll be screwed otherwise.”

Jump ahead seven hours. I have driven on a deserted freeway while passing utter gridlock traveling the other direction. I have checked into my hotel, which lacks both air conditioning and running water. I have gerry-rigged my toilet by using a trash can filled by the sole trickle of water that was dripping from the shower nozzle. I have been in touch with key members of Hughey’s crew, and confirmed that, Yes, there will indeed be a bachelor party. Detroit being a war zone, we needed to find another city, one with power, food and, ahem, entertainment for our party. So I hopped in my rental and drove to one of those generic Canadian border cities whose economy revolves solely on American youths playing “drinking age arbitrage” and smokers buying cheap cigarettes and Cuban cigars. Surprisingly, I found the city had power and I made arrangements swiftly. It was on the return trip to the US that I should have realized what a bad idea this all was. Surely, somewhere in the back of my mind, I must have know that trying to cross borders in a rental car while in the middle of an international crisis as an Arab WITHOUT my passport was a bad idea.

Flash ahead another 7 hours. We have partied our fill in Canada, the groom surrounded by his boys. Despite now being low on gas and having endured another painful border crossing (maybe it would have gone more smoothly if I had, say, been gagged and bound in the trunk?), we have had a great night. Little did we know, this was only the eye in the middle of the storm.

Flash ahead 36 hours. Wedding day. The most beautiful day of Hughey’s life. A day that set the stage for his and his family’s happiness for all the days to come. A day you wished the hot water were working. The day got off to a late start, which is easy to understand given that there were, I kid you not, at least 50 people in the wedding party. There were bridesmaids (15), groomsmen (14), junior groomsmen / flowergirls (6), attendants (10), ushers (4) and juggling midgets (hundreds). Okay, there were no midgets, but only because they got stuck in Manhattan.

I was keen to keep my boy well fed. The time was pushing 2 o’clock and I did not think that Hughey should go into what was a two hour ceremony on an empty stomach. Pleas to the wedding coordinator produced a late lunch of KFC. One might be concerned with feeding a groom pure grease nearly a half hour before his marriage, BUT clearly the coordinator knew what she was doing. This evidenced itself in the fact that 14 groomsmen, three junior groomsmen, four ushers, the priest and the groom were given one bucket of twelve pieces (including wings) to share. The risk of overeating was, needless to say, minimal. Furthermore, the wedding started a full hour and a half late, giving us plenty of time to digest.

Of course we had no idea why things were so behind schedule. It was now 4:15 and we were almost two hours behind. We would later find out that the delays had been caused by (1) the bride’s dress being forgotten, (2) the bridesmaids’ shoes being temporarily lost, (3) the makeup artist not showing up and (4) grandpa disappearing. Yup, gramps had given up and had driven himself home. He was found with the bridesmaids’ shoes and summarily brought back to the church.

The ceremony was beautiful. For all, that is, but me. I, on the other hand, had to endure the whole thing behind a candelabra that had magically appeared in my space sometime between the rehearsal and the ceremony. More than just obstructing my view
, it almost set fire to my rented tux on at least one occasion.

I will wrap, but needless to say, whether it was a horse evacuating its bladder AND bowels in front of the door to the reception, the absolute shellacking I took at the casino later that night, or the fact that the new couple was traveling from Michigan blackout to Parisian heat wave for their honeymoon, the wedding was almost a total disaster.

Which made it all the more special.

September 29, 2003
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