RSS

Tag Archives: wedding

“I Missed the Wedding?”: My Thai Christmas

To elaborate:

“Tor, what the hell do you mean they’re already married?”

“Man, they already married. Happen already.”

Tor, unable to escape his Thai accent, is in the habit of calling dudes ‘man’ with a quickly rising tone. It adds a certain idiosyncratic charm to the moniker, except when he tells you that you missed his sister getting married. At 6:30 p.m. on the day of her wedding. When you’ve been with Tor, his sister, and her family since 1 p.m.

The word already is normally translated from the similarly defined laew, except laew is reportedly used a lot more often in Thai than in English, so discerning exact past-tense time frames can be confusing.

Resting against the stand-up table, admiring the warmly-lit stage adorned with flowers and candles after further scanning the buffet for more vegetarian options—I had a mound of fruit and spring rolls in hand—I began to absorb what I had heretofore tried to choke with food: this was the motherfucking reception.

Kind of par for the course, really.

“Oh, that’s right. This is the engagement ceremony,” I said under my breath, simultaneously remembering my presence among the families.

At 12:57 p.m., I had run into the engagement ceremony at the Plaza Athenée in Ploen Chit, Bangkok. Thanks to traffic and a particularly slow-moving BTS train, I had to sprint from the sky train to the high-end hotel, thanking any and all Powers that I chose to wear a black, and therefore sweat concealing, shirt.

Luckily, the wedding was a wedding, so everything was running well behind schedule. I had to time to settle in as Tor performed last-minute duties and schmoozed with his family. I was told the wedding would be jam-packed with friends and family.

I’m no mathematician, but the seventy-ish other people there hardly packed the room, and certainly were not jammed.

As it goes here, traditionally, there’s an engagement ceremony sometime before the wedding itself. The couple is ‘engaged’ before the ceremony, but this event is a way to bring the two families together before the actual wedding—as well as maintain leftovers from the days of dowries.

(Please pardon the BlackBerry pictures)

This ceremony is pretty exclusively meant for the closest members of the families’ coteries. I, no matter how one sliced it, was neither close nor coterie.

They are family.

Indeed, my invitation to anything more than the reception was rather fortunate. Fortunate because my friend Tor is a damn sweetheart.

A general invitation to the reception was extended to all farang in Tor’s social circle: this wedding needed a party, and no one should be excluded from a party. The engagement ceremony and reported wedding, on the other hand, were another matter entirely. These two were by invitation only.

But this was a Christmas wedding and I planned on fishing for a Christmas miracle—or, you know, a Christmas invitation to a wedding.

Before the wedding, all of my friends were working on plans to go to a hotel for a lavish and entirely too-well stocked food and booze buffet. Their plan sounded great, but the buffet ended at 3 p.m.; I’ve been hungover before dinner and that shit blows. Besides, I hadn’t been to a wedding in six or so years, and I didn’t want my Christmas in Thailand to drunkenly pass me by.

Drunkenly pass me by before 8 p.m., at least.

The Christmas miracle proved easy.

“Yea man, come to engagement party,” Tor said.

Easy.

So there I stood, clutching Tor’s camera while a woman with a microphone, the planner, narrated the proceedings, seemingly down to the tiniest detail.

I felt like a dick in a yard.

The family was wonderful and hospitable and affable and charming. I thanked them endlessly for allowing me to come to the entire day’s events. They didn’t hesitate to shut me up and say, “Of course,” “No problem,”or“ It’s a pleasure to have you.”  They were nothing if not affirmingly delightful.

But still: dick in a yard.

Exhausted

The engagement ceremony went about ninety minutes too long. The gift-giving, picture-taking, and tireless MC made sure that the whole schedule would need to be adjusted.

People were getting antsy. They waited for the appropriate time to spill out for the coffee-and-snack break, but they nevertheless did spill out. Tor and I separated from the crowd, concocting what to do between now, 3:45 p.m., and the alleged wedding at 5:30 p.m.

In the end, we did what any two guys would do while waiting for a Bangkok wedding to recommence on Christmas Day.

Mexican food and beer.

Delicious

Three-quarters deep into my rice bowl and at the bottom of my Heineken, Tor looked at his watch.

“Shit man, almost 17:15.”

We hurried back to the hotel and sauntered into the large hall.

Motherfucker, this doesn’t look like where a wedding happens, I thought.

There was food laid at both ends of the long room. People, now approaching packed but not yet jammed, had their ties loosened and dresses shortened. The stage, which looked like a chode version of the letter T, had an eight-tier cake at the end and was topped by Ken and Barbie. On the room’s three screens was a looped video of the bride and groom: a campy narrative, set to music, of how the two doctors met and fell in love.

Tor and I still had time to shoot the shit before the other farangs arrived. We nursed watered-down whiskey and sodas—a Thai specialty—as he introduced me to members of the family.

Why not cut the cake like pirates?

I felt comfortable here. There were no (always acceptable and understood) sideways glances at my unexpected and maybe displaced farang body. Old ladies smiled and little kids didn’t give a shit. They were here for a wedding and I was of no consequence, except to be greeted and welcomed.

Tossing the bouquet

The groom rockin' out

At some point the other Americans showed up. At some point the whiskey and sodas got stronger or coordinated a bull rush. At some point there was a lot of group dancing—but only the farang group—to the only English-language song the band played. Don’t ask me what song. Before that, though, all of the old people had left. After that, though, a Thai man almost 100% fluent in English tried to right my vegetarian wrongs. He even used the word paradigm, albeit incorrectly. During this talk, he almost tipped backwards. I did my best not to register any notice. After those, my friends, who booked a room in the hotel, had two ice blocks that were used as decoration brought to their room. Somewhere there, I exchanged BlackBerry pins with Tor’s cousin whose name I remembered thanks to the pin. During this, we almost ran out of whiskey. At the end of the scare, Tor came in with four boxes of Johnny Walker Red. After refueling, there was a dance fest with the bride and groom. Towards the end, two of my friends had absconded—can one abscond if I’m too drunk to notice?—and worked the ice blocks into ice luges. After doing one, I faced a bottle and did a lot of drunk texting.

After it all, I was involved in a rolling brownout in the back of my cab, whose driver was asking for directions.

“I’m sorry. I’m a little drunk,” I told him in Thai.

That room, those hors-d’oeuvres, Barbie and Ken, belied what was to come.

Scanning the place, figuring out when I’d hear the I Dos I hadn’t heard in so long, I didn’t realize I hadn’t grasped it yet.

Don’t get me wrong: I was loving the food; I was loving the crowd; I was loving the couple’s music video; I knew I was about to love the whiskey and sodas that were to follow the one in my hand. But something was amiss. If nothing else, we were an hour passed the reported hour of the wedding.

“Tor, when do they get married?”

“Man, they married already.”

Did I miss something?

“Tor, what the hell do you mean they’re already married?”

“Man, they already married. Happen already.”

Nope.

Langauge barrier?

“What do you mean ‘married already’? Are they husband and wife yet?”

“Yea, man. That what I said.”

Nope.

Fucking with me?

“Tor, are you fucking with me?”

“No man, not fucking.”

Nope, although a direct object would have been comforting.

“How did we miss them getting married? Why did we get Mexican food if they were getting married?”

“Man, you can’t see that. After engagement, parents say, ‘Goodbye,’ and Oat and Pueng [groom and bride] go to their room together. They marry then.”

Oh.

“Oh.”

 
1 Comment

Posted by on January 16, 2012 in Happiness, Thailand

 

Tags: , , , ,