Here Comes The Bride
I mentioned before that I went to two weddings in Japan last month. It was my first time to go to a wedding in Japan. Actually, come to think of it, it was my first time to go to a wedding, period. I came to Japan right after college, and during college I didn’t have any friends who got married. Quite far from it, actually.
Female Friend: So I was at this club the other night, and I met this guy, and we hit it off really well. We ended up going back to his place, and we made out and pretty much did everything except sex, because I’m not a slut y’know? Anyway, do you think he likes me?
Me: Um…no. He’s just trying to get into your pants dear.
Female Friend: No, I don’t think so, I mean, if he was only after that he would have said so, right? So, I’m gonna go out with him again tomorrow, and maybe this is too soon, but I really think he could be The One.
Me: *slaps forehead in frustration*
Now, if you think that convo is pathetic…well, it is. More so for me, for having been subjected to it. If it counts for anything though, after my Nice Guy Revolution I approached this convo with a much different attitude…
Female Friend: So, like, I was at this party…
Me: And you met this guy, you hit it off, and you ended up at his place making out?
Female Friend: …OMG! How did you know?
Me: Um, lucky guess.
Female Friend: So, what should I do?
Me: Clearly, it’s the start of a new, special relationship. You should have sex with him. Immediately.
Female Friend: You think so?
Me: Yeah. Because we guys aren’t able to detach sex from emotions, same as you women! If you have sex with him, surely he’ll fall in love with you.
Female Friend: Wow, okay, I’ll try that!
Me: Also, before he falls asleep after the sex, you should hurry into the kitchen and make him a sandwich. Preferably ham. Because nothing says “You’re The One” more than a post-coitus ham sandwich.
During the later years of college, I surrounded myself with more guy friends. But this didn’t exactly improve my chances for attending any weddings. Worsened them, actually…
Guy Friend: So I was in my CS class, and I noticed this cute girl sitting next to me.
Me: Did you talk to her?
Guy Friend: Well, I wanted to, but then I remembered that a new Counter-Strike patch was coming out today, so I had to rush home to download it.
As I said, I came to Japan right after college. While Japanese girls do move at LUDICROUS SPEED when it comes to relationships, most foreign guys I know also had fairly strong “IT’S A TRAP!” senses and would run for the hills when the ugly M-word reared its head. I did have one friend who got married while I was a JET, but it was a Japanese ceremony, and was only open to immediate family. Thinking about this, this is still a shock to me, because by the time he left Japan, this guy absolutely hated anything that was even remotely Japanese. Even the slightest thing was prone to send him off on another “I hate Japan!” rant. He had a running tote board counting down the seconds until he was leaving. So it was fairly shocking when, not even one year later, Mr. “I Hate Japan!” was all “I miss Japan”, and even more shocking when he got married to a Japanese girl in a Japanese ceremony in Kyoto, the old capital of Japan. Perhaps you had to know the guy to appreciate how much of a turn-around this was. The only thing I can compare this to would be if Hitler one day got up and said “The Jewish – such a wonderful and awesome people. I just want to find the nearest Jewish person and give them a big hug and kiss…”
There’s two styles of weddings in Japan – the traditional Japanese wedding, and the western style – in a church, with the white wedding dress and the preacher and choir and all that. Since I did not get to go to my friend’s wedding, I simply have no idea what a Japanese wedding is like. For all I know, they dress up in ninja outfits, throw sushi at each other, and then beat each other with Klingon pain sticks.
The western style is, well, what you would expect. I say that having never been to a wedding, but having seen plenty on TV. And if we are to use TV weddings as a model, then when the preacher asks “if anyone objects to this union, speak now or forever hold your peace…”, then almost certainly some old fling/unrequited love would burst through the doors, scream their objection, and as the groom/bride realizes their true feelings run away to form a new happy couple. Has anyone been to a wedding where somebody actually got up and objected?
Preacher: Speak now, or forever hold your peace…
Random Dude: Um, yeah, I wasn’t going to say anything, but actually I fucked the bride last night…
Random Dude: So I was thinking maybe this marriage shouldn’t happen, given the fucking last night and all…
Bridesmaid: Yeah, I was there too.
Why is this even a part of the ceremony? Not that I’m complaining per se, but if we’re going to have the Pheonix Wright “OBJECTION!” pause in a wedding ceremony, why can’t we have them during other times as well?
TV: And now, the Lifetime Channel presents, a 48 hour non-stop marathon of Sandra Bullock movies…
Men Across The Globe: …OBJECTION!
Supreme Court Justice: And now, I shall swear the 43rd President of the United States, George W. Bush, into the office he was elected…if there are any objections, speak now, or forever hold your peace…
Half of America, and 95% of The Entire World: ….*Ahem*…
So the Japanese western wedding tries to sort of imitate the American wedding. And much like all Japanese imitations of western things, it’s like they almost got it right…but not quite.
One thing I found interesting was that, at both weddings, the ministers were foreigners. I’m not sure if this is supposed to authenticate the “western” wedding, but I just found it a little odd. I guess we Gaijin have another super-power in Japan. A quick review –
– The power to “smash” our way through society
– The power to repel Japanese people away from us
– The power to freak Japanese people out so badly, they become incapable of understanding neither English or Japanese
– The power to join a loving couple in holy matrimony
The minister does the ceremony jointly in English and Japanese, which was funny because the English portions certainly fell on deaf ears. Like, he would say “amen” – now, I’m used to people in America repeating the amen, but here in Japan they just kinda stared at him and wondered what in the heck he was saying. Also, a few times he would say “Let us pray” – I’d bow my head and close my eyes, but then when curiosity got the best of me, I’d bat open an eye to see an audience of Japanese people staring at the minister and wondering why he keeps pausing the ceremony.
Neither ceremony played “Here Comes The Bride” when the bride came in. That to me was just weird – how can you not play this song? If its not “Here Comes The Bride”, shit, it might as well be anything. You might as well play Prodigy’s “Smack My Bitch Up”. Or how about the “Graveyard Symphony”, The Undertaker’s classic theme from the WWF? Or better yet, watch the confused looks on all the guests faces as the lovely bride walks down the aisle to “It’s Raining Men”.
Personally, I want my bride-to-be to come down the aisle to the Voltron theme song. Preferably running. And then I could hire Peter Cullen to do the narration in the Optimus Prime voice – “From days of long ago, from uncharted regions of the Pacific Ocean, comes a legend. The legend of Azrael, Defender of the Gaijin. A mighty Gaijin, loved by teachers, feared by junior high school boys…” And then the minister could say “Ms. Azrael, do you vow to activate the interlocks, to always connect the dynatherms, to ensure that the infra-cells are up, and to make sure that the mega-thrusters are go for as long as you shall live?” Would that not be the most awesome wedding ever? Any woman who can’t get on board with this is clearly not a woman I want to be marrying.
After many Japanese weddings is a sort of party called a hiro-en. I dunno how to describe it – it’s kind of like a “This Is Your Life” gathering for the married couple. Friends get up and tell stories, sing songs, make excessively long toasts, etc. K-san’s wedding didn’t have a hiro-en, but S-san did. I wasn’t invited to it, so I can’t tell you what went down, but all I know is that my girlfriend turned into a sniveling crying mess during the middle of a song, and during her speech. I can’t say I was surprised – she started to tear up the night before as she was rehearsing her speech. My only regret is that I wasn’t there to catch it all on tape. You never know when you’re going to need blackmail material in a relationship.
After the hiro-en is another event called the nijikai. Roughly translated, this just means “second party”. Its little more than a drinking party – I believe I’ve said before that the Japanese LOVE to drink. They will make any excuse to have a drinking party, and most certainly a wedding qualifies. I’m not sure if Japanese nijikai’s feature any Wedding Crashers-like hi-jinks, but the two I went to most certainly did not. For the most part, the groom invited all his male friends, the bride invited all her female friends, and never did the twain meet. At S-san’s nijikai, the most exciting part of the evening was the Jan-Ken Taikai – or, Paper/Rock/Scissors Tournament. I made it to the semi-finals, but was eventually bested by a small Japanese girl. …I trained so hard for it too. Clearly, she just had more heart than me that night. Oh well, I’ll be ready for next year’s Jan-Ken square-off.
K-san’s nijikai was a little more interesting. Whereas the drinks at S-san’s party were a bit watered down, here it was an open bar full of all sorts of wonderful alcohol. A few hours in, my girlfriend noticed the groom’s younger sister and brother, who’d been steadfastly downing cocktails all night. The younger brother was a bit suspect, seeing as how he was wearing a school uniform and all…
GF: Hey, how old are you?
Brother: Um, 16…
GF: Huh. *to the sister* Waitatic, how old are you?
Sister: Um, 19…
(The legal drinking age in Japan is 20)
GF: ….I see. Meh, whatev. Knock yourselves out.
Siblings: Will do, thanks!
The bride herself, K-san, also had a lot to drink. A LOT to drink. I mean, this girl was absolutely wasted. At one point she was talking to me, and she was so in my face, that if the Earth had suddenly lurched like a centimeter in either direction we would have ended up kissing. Now, I’m not sure where “kissing your girlfriend’s newlywed best friend” ranks on the ladder of social faux pas…I’m thinking somewhere in between murdering the family dog, or covering the family house in shit and then lighting it on fire. This is one of those things that even daytime talk shows can’t solve…
Jerry Springer: Now, on today’s show we have Az, and his jilted lover.
Audience: JERRY! JERRY!
Jerry: Why don’t you tell us why you’re so upset?
Ex-GF: Well, this douchebag kissed my best friend…
Jerry: Well, that’s bad, but I’ve seen worse…
Ex-GF: It was her wedding night!
Audience: Ohhhhhhhhh. Boooooooooo!
Ex-GF: You sack of crap! *flings herself at me with the power and fury only a Japanese woman can unleash*
Audience: YEAH! JERRY! JERRY!
Me: Ow! Ow! That hurts! Hey, Steve! Steve? Where’s Steve?
Jerry: …Actually Az, I think I’m just gonna let her whale on you for awhile, you filthy piece of shit.
The real loser was the groom though. Imagine having to take your new wife home, and she’s completely blitzed. You don’t even get to consummate the marriage! Well, I dunno, its a Japanese couple, so maybe they did…
(The Next Morning)
Her: Oh man, my head is killing me.
Him: Morning sleepyhead.
Her: Man, I had SO much to drink! Sorry about that. I guess I kinda blacked out…
Him: Yeah, you did.
Her: Sorry, we didn’t even consummate the marriage.
Him: Yeah, about that…we did, actually.
Her: …We did?
Her: Was I there?
Him: Yep. You weren’t awake, but you were present for roll call at least.
Her: Hey! That’s a little unfair, isn’t it?
Him: You wanna talk about unfair? You get wasted on the one day, the ONE DAY on which you OWE me tail. That is the ONE DAY in which you are obligated, as my little woman, to give it up, and Goddamnit, I’m going to collect, and collect I did…
Her: I know…I just wish I could’ve been awake for it.
Him: No way! The best part is how you never moved. By the way, you might want to clean out your eardrums this morning…
So there you have it. I go from zero weddings attended to two in less than one month. Seeing as how my girlfriend’s friends are now hitched up, and my friends are either already married or kinda far from it, the very next wedding I go to just might be…my own.
If you form the body sweetheart…then I’ll form the head.