Friday, May 23, 2008

wedding weekend

So here we are back in the real world after last weekend’s sojourn into the realm of the super rich. It’s ok, we were invited.

Mary and I were on the privileged guest list for the wedding of our son’s best friend since their preschool days. Dom was really another member of our family during all those years of growing up. He spent nearly as much time with us as he did with his mother. His father was only sporadically involved in Dom’s life, so he became another son to me. I tried to fill in the gaps as best I could. Dom spent many a holiday with us and joined us on many family vacations. Like I said, part of the family.

So it stands to reason that when his wedding day arrived, he included us in the celebration. His bride, Marie, is a wonderfully intelligent, sweet, and lovely young woman. And she has the added advantage of being the only daughter of an excessively wealthy father. Thus our brief peek into the world that we could only dream about before.

Jack, the bride’s father, was intent on giving his daughter the most lavish and unstinting wedding ever imagined. And he was generous enough to make sure that all those invited were treated with the same lavishness. He provided accommodations and all meals and entertainment for the entire weekend at the Post Ranch Inn on California’s Big Sur coast for everyone invited to the wedding. All we paid for was the plane fare to get there.

To say the staff at the Inn was attentive and accommodating to our every need is an understatement and does them a disservice. I could get used to being treated that way very easily. The accommodations were beyond what any human could ever wish for. Our suite, with a wall of windows facing the ocean, had a very private patio and a bed with a mattress so thick I needed a step stool to get up onto it. And the view from our “room” of the craggy Big Sur cliffs tumbling into the endless Pacific was beyond imagining.

We arrived Friday late afternoon after driving down from SanFrancisco in time for the barbecue hosted by Dom’s mother. That is, they called it a barbecue. But I have never been to a “barbecue” that sported a phalanx of chefs, their toques bobbing in the breeze, serving up five star cuisine instead of hot dogs and bratwurst and hamburgers. I’m sure the delicacies they presented to us had names that only a Frenchman could pronounce or understand. And not a ketchup bottle in sight.

Saturday morning we were treated to a breakfast prepared by another line-up of whltely clad chefs whose only mission in life was to prepare the perfect omelet to sit next to the perfect waffle on a dinner plate that weighed more than my first car. They succeeded. That breakfast was consumed in the restaurant that provided a heart stopping view through a wall of glass of that same Pacific Ocean that was last seen from our bed that morning, when the glittering water was reflecting off a fog bank well below our lofty perch on the mountainous shore. That freakin ocean was everywhere. And more beautiful each time we looked.

After breakfast Mary and I got the hedonist’s dream treatment when a pair of masseuses (masseusae?) set up shop on our patio overlooking that same ocean (once again) and proceeded to knead muscles in our bodies that before then had been lying concealed below our comfortable padding of, shall we say, excess avoirdupois.
Such a lovely mugging. For me that was all I could handle for the day and I was ready to pass out happily on the 18” thick mattress that managed to lull, enfold, and caress all at the same time, but I feared that I might wake later to find it was all a dream and that the ocean and the rocky coast I had been marveling at were really a pile of rocks and a driveway puddle outside my window at home. So I stayed awake and refused to give chance to such a possibility.

The wedding itself later Saturday afternoon was, of course, beautiful and emotional and full of love, just as all weddings should be. After the ceremony and the obligatory hugging, congratulatory handshakes, and thousands of pictures, the bride and groom were trundled away to the reception dinner by a horse drawn carriage, which was led down the mountainside to the meadow below by the bridesmaids who threw flower petals in its path. A little excessive, but it beat walking behind the horses.

All we mere guests had to settle for a ride down that same path in one of a squadron of black hybrid Lexuses (Lexi?). The wedding dinner and reception were held in a tented pavilion of copious enough proportions to suit a major Rajah. The chandelier twinkled, the flowers scented the air, the orchestra backgrounded quietly, and the champagne flutes contained happy little bubbles that just wouldn’t quit. There was an excess of wine glasses for each place setting and the place settings themselves involved more utensils of various sizes than our entire silverware drawer at home. The wine glasses were of a dizzying array of shapes and sizes and, through the course of the evening, put to good use, although after the third glass full I lost track of how many different wines I actually tasted or even what color the wine was that I was imbibing. It all tasted good so who cares. I ran out of fingers counting the courses served for dinner and was only mildly dismayed that I couldn’t pronounce most of the names on the menu. It may have been the wine clouding my ability to decipher the printed words there or it may have just been beyond the capability of my high school French. I did notice some words that looked suspiciously like snails and truffles and I’m quite sure that caviar appeared somewhere on the menu. After four hours of fine dining, interrupted occasionally by the newlywed’s first dance, the bride’s dance with her father, the groom’s dance with his mother, the parents of the bride dancing together, the father of the bride and the mother of the groom dancing together, and any number of variations that you can imagine all dancing, dancing, dancing across the floor, I was so sated that I never wanted to see another morsel of frenchified hooha.

By ten o’clock in that overstuffed evening, when the orchestra retired and the raucous blarings of the DJ took over, I was ready for that big old comfy mattress that waited patiently to swallow me up in its embrace. I managed to hold out for another hour, even venturing out onto the dance floor amid the gyrating young bodies there. I used my cane to clear a space for my Parkinsons shuffle, which was surprisingly in sync with the beat of most of the hip hop songs vibrating the air. I may not be the greatest dancer, but I can still keep a beat despite the sometimes dissynchronous twitch and tremor. It’s not like anyone was paying attention to me, so I had a great time. Especially when the music slowed down and I could embrace my own bride of thirty-nine years and stroll across the dance floor with her just as we did at our own wedding so long ago.

We left the party with still an hour to go and with the younger revelers still with energy to burn and retired to that mattress. But not until another bit of hedonistic indulgence in the whirlpool tub in our suite. I’ll spare you the details, but we were very friendly and very wet. You can take it from there.

Sunday morning came too soon, but that ocean was still there, impossibly blue and shimmering, dazzling our eyes while the breakfast chefs dazzled our palates. Sunday’s breakfast was one last occasion to wish the newlyweds well and to thank Jack for his generosity and hospitality. Dom, now a doctor, and Marie a Masters candidate in International relations, are bound off into a new and exciting time. They have such a bright future. We all wish them well.

Mary and I then drove back north to the Bay area and a chance to visit our daughter, Carrie, and her husband, Jeremy until our departure for home on Monday morning. The fact that it just so happened to be Mary’s birthday made that visit even more special. Carrie and Jeremy treated us to a birthday dinner at a Tapas restaurant with a good bottle of wine and candles in the dessert. That was a perfect cap to the great weekend.

The flight home was on time and uneventful and now here we are wondering if it was all a dream or did that weekend really happen. We are left with some fine memories (the views, the food, the good company, and, oh yeah, the whirlpool) and realization that this was a once in a lifetime experience. But in looking back, I realize that maybe it was all just a bit over the top and a little too excessive a display. Spending several hundred thousand dollars on a wedding seems like a cool thing to do, but I am left with the uneasy feeling that all that money could have been spent more wisely. Dom and Marie could have gotten married before a Justice of the Peace without all the hoopla and they would be just as married. And all that money could have fed how many children……….?


Michael Manning said...

Ah, but a massage! Good going!!:)

Carrie said...

I think they should have used the money to pay off my school loans. They still would have had plenty left over to pay for your massage, as well as keep the Sudanese in clean water for the next century.