On Snake Oils –Blatant Forgetfulness - Weddings – and Funerals
Copyright Vladimir Kagan, September 29, 2011
Have you ever seen the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”? If you haven’t you should. We’ve laughed through it two or three times and are ready to order it again on Netflix…. Poppa’s cure-all for everything that ailed you was Windex…. In our house, “Mama” Erica’s cure is Neosporin! Actually, Erica is a little more ecumenical…. She swears by Vinegar Socks (socks soaked in vinegar) for fever (the room smells horrifically not unlike Windex) but the fever inexplicably goes down…. Gargle with a dissolvable aspirin for a sore throat (even if you choke in the act)…. Soak your feet in Johnson’s Foot Soap until they shrivel and turn white for anything else that might ail you. Miraculously, all her remedies work! There are three generations of Kagans that now follow suit.
I have a strange affliction in one of my left toes. So far no one has been able to diagnose it. A nerve twitching that has become more annoying over the last six month…. A Palm Beach Podiatrist sloughed it off… the only positive result at the time, was a darn good pedicure…. Recently, I went to my GP in Nantucket with the forewarning that this may be one she can’t cure. Sure enough, that’s how it turned out. She recommended I see an off-Island Podiatrist (there are none in Nantucket). I am awaiting my appointment with baited breath. In the meantime, (Dr) Erica has immersed me in her Johnson’s Foot Bath and Neosporin regime. And guess what? It is working. At least it has alleviated the annoying pain at night when trying to go to sleep. (Probably the result of a good foot-massage)
The truth is; Erica knows everything better… from household plumbing, to car repairs to what ever ails you…. inside and out.
This past weekend I was severely humbled. We were invited to a fancy wedding in Nantucket’s most beautiful church, variously known as the Unitarian Meeting House, The Old South Church or the Second Methodist Church… in its ecumenical role; it even hosts Jewish services every Friday night.
As usual, we were late! (…. only by ten minutes) We arrived at the back of the church following in close lock step with the father of the bride walking his daughter to the alter. Part of our dilemma was no parking space. We drove on for a ¼ mile up the hill until we finally found one. In haste to get to the Church on time (sounds like a refrain from “My Fair Lady”) I dashed out of the car…. not only leaving the key in the ignition but leaving the engine running! An hour later we returned to a car engulfed in steam and puffing like an old locomotive. Friends who passed the car before we arrived, not knowing it was ours, commented, “Well they’re from NY… serves them right!” A total stranger came up and drove us to the reception with plenty of time to kiss the bride.
Weddings: If you are unlucky, you are invited to the rehearsal dinner as well as the wedding. This is a two-day celebration of your best friends kids’ new life together…. It can cost a pretty penny in travel and accommodations, (plus, of course the obligatory gift.) We were lucky; this one was in our back yard…Nantucket. We are longtime friend’s of the Groom’s family… this gave us top priority for the Rehearsal dinner in a charming location on the waterfront, complete with a Raw Bar, ample finger food and lots of booze, the dinner was a barbecues… Though these occasions can be tediously boring, they are usually filled with grandstanding speeches; this one was remarkably funny and succinct. And we were in bed by 10 O’clock.
The Wedding Reception is a much grander event…. It is there to empty the pockets of the parents of the bride. (This one sat 250 guests at the Yacht Club). If you look at the curriculum vita of the guest: Half are from the enemy camp. We affectionately refer to them as The Outlaws… Chances are, you’ve never seen them before and in most likelihood, never will see them again.
Hopefully you are seated with some old friends and get into a pleasant conversation, unfortunately, interrupted frequently by still more speeches, (extolling the virtues of the new couple, mostly heard the night before)….. And then there are the young. A good-looking cheerful lot, the girls totted up in their finest 4” heels and short dresses and deep decollte (this portion of the ceremony is not all bad). After the first few requisite Irving Berlin and Cole Porter tunes, (just enough time for the Bride and Groom’s parents to trip over each others feet in the obligatory “getting to know you“ dances… the band (or D.J.) launches into Rock and Roll and the oldsters are expected to fade from the dance floor. (Of course, there are always the few that wriggle and jiggle to the bitter end)… All that’s left to do is check the Bride’s electronic wish list on Williams Sonoma or Tiffany to fulfill your obligations.
To Erica’s dismay, I ducked out before the wedding cake was cut, thus depriving her of the raison d’être of the evening…. Poor Erica!
Funerals. I may have a jaundiced take on weddings. (In a macabre way, I enjoy funerals – morbid as it may sound). Here all the mourners are old friends saying farewell to a loved one. If you are lucky, you can avoid the Funeral Home, the religious service and the open casket and get directly to the Wake or reception where you can dig right into the Hors d'oeuvres and booze. This sad occasion eventually can turn into a congenial afternoon reminiscing about a beloved friend. …It is over within a few hours and you go home happy to be among the living!