Thursday, March 11, 2010

As most of you already know......

....(via myself telling you directly, hearing from friends of friends, stalking me, Facebook or whatever other medium), I got married a couple months ago and we gots a shortie on da way. So last week, I was at my wife's parent's house during a gathering of the family on the anniversary of my wife's grandfather's death. ONLY NOW are they just starting to celebrate birthdays in Viet Nam as, in the past and still today, it is important that all family and friends of a deceased relative gather together on the anniversary date of the death of said relative.

I had first encountered this when I was in my homeland of Portlandia and I was going out with a bunch of co-workers of mine back when I worked for the City of Portland. I had enquired as to where one of my co-workers was, a Viet-Kieu (Vietnamese-who-resides-overseas) and why she hadn't joined us. I was told that she is with her family, as this was the anniversary of her grandmother's death.

Knowing nothing about Vietnamese culture at the time, I was aghast - "How fucking morbid is THAT??? Jesus, that gathering's gotta be a laff-a-minute!" I thought to myself.

Well, having been to a few in Hai Phong, it kinda is, actually. Basically, what occurs is a feast is prepared and placed before the family altar and incense is lit and prayers are said......

.....and then everybody goes downstairs and eats like a porker and smokes packs of cigarettes and drinks beer and does shots of vodka. This is no shit! And it's usually scheduled around lunchtime.

Now, our foto albums of both, our engagement ceremony and our wedding both reside at Tam's parent's house. So folks were browsing through them, and the discussion came to the subject of weddings.

Now, in Viet Nam, the way it goes is that the gypsy fortune teller advises the parents of the bride and groom the LUCKIEST DATE on which to hold the engagement ceremony and the wedding. Then, you have an engagement ceremony. Then a few months later, the wedding is held at a restaurant, usually during The National Nap time (11:00AM - 2:00PM), and people come and eat like porkers and drink like hell.....and it's all over around two-thirty or so. The only weird thing is that the bride and groom and parents have to personally visit each table to make sure the guests are having fun and then the bride and groom hafta stand at the door for about an hour saying good-bye and thank you until EVERYBODY has departed....then the family and very close friends retire upstairs and drink and eat on their own!

So, during the hanging-around-and-drinking part of the gathering to honour Tam's grandfather, one of Tam's uncles had asked: "What are wedding ceremonies like in the U.S.?"

Now, one of the many things that I love about my wife is her ability, through translation, to make The E appear to NOT be such a complete asshole when, without translation, his statements and actions go straight past the highest limits of the ole' Asshole-O-Meter.

Example -

E: "Hon, tell this wankshaft that there is noooo fucking WAY in highest hell that I am going to (do/say/pay) that! Tell him that he can go straight to hell and that if he has a problem with my (actions/statements/offer), then I will (no longer shop here anymore/go to the relevant authorities/kick his ass)!!"

Tam [speaking in Vietnamese to the other party]: "I am very sorry, sir, but, it is with much sadness that my husband feels that he must gently disagree with your position. Perhaps a suitable counter-offer can lead to a mutually satisfying agreement and much happiness for all involved :-)"

So, after several pints, in response to this question, I had answered to her uncle: "Ahhhh, yes, the American wedding. Well, sir, I have been to many (actually, I haven't missed a single one that I have had the honour of having been invited to), and they can generally be broken down into two components. The first being 'The Suffering' and the second being 'The Fun'. The suffering is where you get all dressed up in a monkey suit and you go to a church and you endure anywhere from one to three hours on a painfully hard wooden bench and, for some of that time, depending on the religion, kneeling on a hard wooden ledge, all the while listening to some guy preach to you about what a fuck-up you are. This is meant to make you feel like you are taking part in an actual re-creation of the same degree of suffering that the Christian icon, Jesus Christ, is said to have gone through."

"Then, much like how religion in America says the afterlife is, after the suffering, you get to attend 'The Fun' as your reward for your eternal patience and unyielding faith!! 'The Fun' is where everybody departs from the church and goes to a very large room and eats like porkers and drinks like fish. IF the bride's family (since all of this is on their tab) is of the true genuine Christian spirit of giving, the drinks will be gratis. IF they are heathens disguising themselves as Christians, then there will be a ca$h bar.....but either way, a good time is almost always had by all. There is much merriment, and entertainment is provided by a person we call a 'disc-jockey' who will play a sacred song called 'The Hokey-Pokey' where everybody stands up and gathers in a circle and performs a bizarre ritualistic dance to this song. Additional entertainment is provided later in the evening when the best man mysteriously slips off somewhere forra couple hours with one of the bridesmaids (whilst his wife frantically asks everybody if they have seen him), and when a fight or near-fight breaks out, and the bride ends up in tears."

Tam translates this to her uncle.......

....and I have NEVER seen a Jerry Brown look on a Vietnamese person's face until that time.

A strange and awkward silence permeates the room forra few minutes, and then her uncle tells us that he is very sorry that he could not attend our wedding, as his daughter got married on the same date in Hanoi (must have the same gypsy fortune teller as Tam's family).

"Oh, gosh! Don't need to apologise! Of course we understand." I said. "That is wonderful!!! Congratulations!!!"

"Yes, it was." He responded. He then proceeded to whip out his digital camera - "Here - here are some photographs of her wedding."

He hands me the camera, and I have a look at all the foftgraffs. Something seems off, though, about the whole thing....can't figger out WHAT exactly........

......then it comes to me: His daughter got married IN A CHURCH!!!

"Errrmmm.....Hon??? You....uhhhh....didn't translate what I just said to your uncle in verbatim, did you?"

"Yes, of course, Honey....why do you ask?"

I could tell that she was just loving this.......the twinkle in her eye......the smirk on the corner of her mouth........trying not to laff whilst observing the look of panic on my face......

A total horseshit website that I saw that really pissed me off, beers with the Dali Lama, and headin' outta 'Nam.....coming up in a few days....


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