Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Wedding and A Londoner

My good friends got married on Friday. Yes, they had an 11-11-11 wedding. And I was super happy for them. Their wedding on the other hand? Folks, I promise you if I ever get married and have a big fancy wedding (which it will be big and fancy because along with football fanatic, I am a princess), I will have a wedding planner to make sure shit runs smooth. You need to have someone take care of all the ball busting on the day of the wedding, to make sure people are in their place and things are running on time, because you're too busy being happy in love. Or whatever.

Wedding ceremony was at 1 p.m. Which means I show up at 12:45 because being late is the HEIGHT of rudeness as far as I'm concerned. But the ceremony doesn't even really start 'til 1:30. I thoroughly enjoyed the ceremony. It was at the Zen Center in San Francisco, performed by a Buddhist priest and as un-sappy as I can be, I really liked the "be centered here now" message he started with and the tenants of loving peacefulness. I think I'll borrow some of that for my fictional, imaginary wedding and eschew the whole Catholic rigmarole (which will cause my mother fits, but we'll cross that bridge when we get to it...if ever).

After the ceremony, at around 2:15, there was tea and cookies in the communal room so they could take pictures.

Michael, who I was pretty much accompanying to the wedding even though we get our separate invites, which is what you do when you're the single girl and he's your gay BFF, peaced out of there around 2:45. Because the reception, which was a Chinese banquet, was in Emeryville. That meant navigating the Bay Bridge on a Friday afternoon. In the rain. The reception was scheduled to start at 4:30 so there was quite the break in action. You know what else is in Emeryville? The original Trader Vic's. If you haven't been following for any length of time, my absolute favorite drink is a well made Mai Tai. And since Trader Vic's invented it, we were headed there. And for some appetizers because the bacon and eggs I ate at 10:30 a.m. before getting ready for the wedding were long gone. Plus I was driving so whatever I say goes. Chuck had to stick around and help clean up and do stuff, but I did not. So Michael and I enjoyed ourselves at Trader Vic's, as soon as we started talking about European vacations and he stopped complaining (love him, he knows he does this).

My dear friends that got married had sent out a meticulous schedule of events. More than once. We were to arrive at the Chinese banquet at 4:30, take sunset pictures (which didn't happen because it was raining), get wine and cheese, and be served at 5:30. Their meticulous schedule went out the window as soon as we got to the restaurant. People dilly dally around, show up late because of traffic and rain, the tea ceremony they were having starts late, the bride has to change from her white wedding dress to a traditional red dress. It's now 6 with only cheese and crackers in sight. Which I find out later, my other friend had to lobby for, telling the bride there was no way in hell you could have people sitting around drinking that whole time without providing them something to eat.

Now, mind you, I'd been clever enough to have some appetizers in between and I was STILL starving. And sober because I was driving, as I stopped drinking after the 2 Trader Vic's Mai Tais. My friends who hadn't had snacks were miserable.

It's now 6:30 and there is no food in sight. I'm trying to practice my zen principles and be happy for my friends who are undoubtedly enjoying themselves and thrilled to be married but if I don't get some food, I'm gonna cut someone. I'm tired, as this has now been a whole day of wedding events, considering the time it took me to get ready, etc. I'm stone cold sober, it's kinda cold and I'm in a dress and heels. Just starting to get a little cranky.

Finally, at almost 7, food arrives. Have you ever been to a traditional Chinese banquet? Unless you live in an area with a large Chinese population, probably not. I have previously been to one, many years ago for my grandfather's dear friends 50th wedding anniversary. I was traumatized by eating jellyfish there. Yes, jellyfish. This is not your Panda Express Chinese food. Or what we call here "round eye" Chinese food (seriously, this is what I am told at Yeut Li every time I order chow mein). Here is some internet info I found on Chinese banquets and what we were served, with my notes:

*The menu should include 8 courses, with a 9th course for dessert. 8 is the luckiest number in Chinese culture and the word for ‘9’ sounds like ‘dragon’. - Yep, that's how many courses we were served, family style on a large lazy Susan.

*Start the meal with ‘dragon phoenix plates’: cold appetizers like jellyfish, nuts and sliced meats. - There's your jellyfish. I did not eat it. Chuck took one bite of it and spit it out because of the texture.

*The second course should be Shark’s Fin Soup, which is a delicacy and a symbol of wealth. - Shark's fin has been banned in California. As such, we got thick porridge like soup with lots of tofu and little shrimps in it. I ate the broth, abandoned the rest. I was willing to be somewhat daring and respectful of someone else's culture, as Caucasians were clearly in the minority at this event, but I'll only go so far.

*Serve all animals and fish in tact with head, tail, etc. This is a sign of the wholeness of marriage. - Yep. Nothing like looking at the chicken's head to remind you what you just ate. So off-putting. And I'm not usually squeamish about these things, nowhere in the vicinity of vegetarian. At all. But eww.

*Offer take-away cartons to your guests. Allowing them to take food home shows that they enjoyed the meal and is a compliment to the couple and their families. - This also happened. It felt odd, as that's something considered so gauche in our Western culture.

*Around 20 minutes after the last course has been served is the time to escort your guests out. The couple should stand near the exit and thank the guests as they leave. Often, the bride changes her gown one final time before this exit ceremony. - As soon as people got done eating, they peaced out. This was not your traditional Western reception. It's a banquet, so everyone eats, takes to-go cartons, and leaves. That's it, your done. No dancing, no mingling, and really minimal amount of drinking too, actually. The bride did change into a third dress but it was after the tea ceremony and before dinner.

But we're done around 9:15. So yay! But let's go through a quick timeline, shall we?

10:30: bacon and eggs, get ready which takes forever because I'm female.
12: leave my house to pick up Michael
12:45: arrive at ceremony site
1:30: ceremony
2:15: tea and ginger cookies
3:30: 2 mai tais, small snacks at Trader Vics
4:30: arrive at restaurant, crackers and cheese (I didn't eat cheese, actually)
6:45: dinner
9:00: done, but still needing to drive back across the bridge

That's a full day of wedding festivities. I was exhausted. But dressed up. Which, ya know, me in heels and a dress is a rarity. Might as well use it while I can. I had told Cheryl I'd go out. But then was about to change my mind, as I could have just curled up on the couch and watched a movie and been happy. I was talked into going out. I met her in the Marina and we went to Bar None.

Bar None, when sober and tired, is really not where I should be on a Friday. I defend a lot of the Marina but the run-ins I've had with people who are the epitome of Marina cliches lately has me second guessing going there. On the upside, my bar tab at Bar None was exactly zero so, ya know, the sacrifices we must make.

We sat at the part of the bar near my bartender BFF. It was pretty empty. A guy came and stood near me to order a drink and I heard a very definite Australian accent. He wanders away. The bar gets packed with obnoxious dude-bros and their equally obnoxious girlfriends. But we have a corner out of the way, a full pitcher of cider and are mostly being left alone. Accent guy comes back over to talk to us about the bar and what to do in SF. He's from Australia, as I had noticed. He's traveling with his gorgeous British friend. Gorgeous. Like out of a male modeling catalogue gorgeous. Way out of my league. Far. Beyond. Several stratospheres above.

But we end up chatting with them for the entirety of the evening. The gorgeous Brit's name is Adam, him and his friend are here on vacation, had been in L.A. before coming to SF, and are on their way to Vegas. Adam, from what I can gather, is fairly successful, charming (though that may very well just be a function of the British accent), funny. We talk about all sorts of random topics, from where to eat in SF, to why this bar in fact is kinda awful, to British chefs. I wasn't ever sure if he was interested in me or not but the conversation about an adoration of Nigella Lawson and generally curvy girls should have been a hint.

He stood by as I almost got into a fight with this guy who would not stop bumping into me and thought that grinding his ass against me as I sat there was okay. It's a long stupid story that basically involves me being tired, cranky, and still sober after three pints of cider. It also has to do with me trying to figure out how to stand up for myself lately and thinking that being unnecessarily harassed by some frat boy was unacceptable. It escalated to the point where I was threatening to have them kicked out of the bar (a power I'm not entirely sure I possess) but they apologized and backed off. I'm sure they called me a bitch under their breath but I really don't care. I'm glad I stood up for myself, even if being bumped in a bar is a weird place to assert some authority. That said: Dear men: you can not unwantedly touch women in a bar just because you feel like it. And if this is part of some bizarre mating ritual, know the only acceptable behavior is to say, "Hi, my name is __ " instead.

I, in my generally clueless way, still couldn't believe that laughing and chatting endlessly with this ridiculously handsome stranger, discussing cars and the crown jewels and disaster insurance and EPL and British imperialism and me doing an awful fake accent on demand but a damn good Eliza Doolittle impression, was at all interested in me. When I mentioned that I could not in fact do shots with them because I was on a scotch sabbatical, he asked why I couldn't drink scotch. I told him it's because it makes me crazy. "Crazy how?" he asks. "Ummm. I get reallllly flirty." "Let's get you some then, yeah?" I laughed, demurred and told him no. I'm...clueless. (Though, just to hedge bets: I might not be clueless. He might have just been a nice, chatty Brit in a bar and I'm reading into things that weren't actually there and he wasn't interested at all. There really should be light up signals or something to decode the behavior of the opposite sex.)

Right before last call I walked to the bathroom and discovered my brother's friends were at the bar. Our new best friends had wanted an authentic experience so I walked them over there and we hung out with my crew of Americans for ten minutes while everyone got kicked out of the bar and then we had to go too. We were standing out front talking and they asked me how easy it was to get a cab. I said it was impossible in the Marina at that hour, but I'd drive them, it wasn't a problem. Sober me mentioned that their hotel (7th and Mission) was nowhere near where I was going but I would do it. Drunk me would have insisted. They said absolutely not, they'd get a cab. Sober me saw them actually manage to flag down a cab and get in it, not before super hot British guy gave me a hug and disappeared inside it. He said, "See you soon!" as he did. I laughed and said, "You're going back to London!" As soon as their cab disappeared down the street I looked at Cheryl and realized, disappointingly, that since I just had a wristlet from the wedding and not my usual boy scout worthy purse full of stuff, I'd never exchanged information with them and didn't write down all the restaurants I'd mentioned to them. I didn't tell them I had no plans for Saturday and could show them around the city. I never said anything clever in that vein. Ijiot. Funny how sober me didn't say the things that drunk me wouldn't even have blinked at. Ironic like.

Yeah, sorry, that was a pretty anticlimactic story by my standards. I woke up still kicking myself, pondering heading to North Beach where I had pointed them, in hopes of accidentally on purpose running into them. But that's silly. And I can't really explain this but it wasn't really like that? It wasn't the guy I want to hook up with thing? I more had visions of a British pen pal in my head and someone to have tea with next time I'm in London (like that's a regular occurrence).

I told Lindsey about my disappointment at this missed connection and she said, "Well. It happens. Think about it: if you had, you would have named him." I wanted to argue the point but with trans-Atlantic email visions in my head, I realized she was probably right. Le sigh.

BUT! Lesson time: 1) I can have great conversations with ridiculously charming boys at a bar while not drinking myself to obliteration. There were a few pints of cider involved, sure, but compared to my most recent states? This was nothing. There is hope for me without all the social lubrication in the world. Maybe I shouldn't be as insecure as I often feel? 2) The near misses are encouraging. It's like I'm getting closer to something? Maybe? I hope so. That'd be a nice change of pace.

Though if Adam from London who hung out at Bar None somehow stumbled on this and let me live out my email/pen pal fantasy, that wouldn't be the worst of things...

1 comment:

  1. I'd comment, but I'm pretty sure it'd be taken as a complaint! ;)