Jordanian wedding, part three: the big event

Note – I apologize for the delay, and also for the quality. This one’s not as good as the other two parts because I typed the whole thing and then lost it, thank you internet.

You walk up the steps into the womens’ section of the party. Your host mom disappears, and you take the moment to take in the room. The parquet floors, the crush of round tables with white linens pressing into each other on both sides, the two rows of chairs facing each other in the middle with one wide aisle between them, the platform on the other side with white and purple linens and three chairs that look like something Marie Antoniette would’ve sat in if she had felt like slumming it a little. For some reason, all you can think of is “80s bat mitzvah,” which makes no sense as you never went to a bat mitzvah in the 80s. There must’ve been a movie scene that looked like this.

Your host mom reappears, sans coat and hair covering. Picture it, Jordan, 2011. She is wearing the blue Bea Arthur dress that may or may not have appeared at some time previously on this blog. But you digress.

She leads you to a chair and plops you into it. The woman next to you is talking to you. Apparently you know her. Quick, pretend you remember her. Music is playing now; when did that start? It’s awfully loud. The great mass of women is growing in the center of the aisle. This aisle is far too small for them to dance in, are they really planning that? They are. There is a swirl of skirts and the traditional debka dance begins. You are impressed that so many women can dance in such a small space, but not so impressed that your feet are being stepped on even though they’re under your chair.

This awkward dance has gone on long enough. Perfect timing. The music quiets, and the lights dim. The mass of women gushes towards the side of the room, and a light emerges from the ceiling. Two pairs of feet follow it. Wait, what? Yes, you saw that right. Two pairs of feet emerge from the ceiling. They are attached to two sets of legs, it would seem. The bride and groom are coming down from the ceiling in a glass elevator. It stops just above the women-mass’ heads for all to marvel. Wait, but there’s a man in that elevator, and these women have their hair uncovered. You assume it must be ok at weddings, because everyone will be too plastered to remember that a man saw their hair. And then you remember that nobody will be plastered because this is a Muslim country and Islam forbids alcohol. So you have no idea why it’s ok, but apparently it doesn’t matter.

The elevator lurches downward again, and stops at floor level. The woman-mass crowds around the door as the couple emerges, and hovers around them as they slowly make their way to the platform to sit in Marie Antoniette’s poor cousin’s chairs. The music restarts, and the debka-ing does as well. But the newlyweds don’t join. Why not? Oh, they are being photographed. They could at least smile. The photographs are done, and the unhappy-looking couple is now entering the “dance floor” (aka aisle). They are swallowed up by the woman-mass for their couples dance. They’re only five feet away from you, but you can’t see them because the women are so crowded around them. How can they even dance like that? Or, how could they even dance like that? Because the dance is already over, and they are slipping back to their chairs to watch the woman-mass debka.

Your host sisters is tugging your sleeve now, and shoving a piece of wedding cake in your hand – or at least what is passing for wedding cake, but is really crappy dimestore cake you had at a birthday party last week. Now someone is smacking into you, and there’s no more cake in your hand, but there’s plenty of it on your shirt. You sidle your way towards the bathroom to clean up, and as you exit, a host cousin plops two more slices of cake into your hand. But now there’s only one piece in your hand, because someone is smacking into you again and the other piece is on the floor. No loss.

Your host sister reappears. “Eat, eat, it’s delicious!” You smile. “Eat it right NOW,” she commands, and you do. Blech. The music changes to a heavy march, and the woman-mass heaves itself towards the door. You are going down the stairs. Now you are in the five-seater car with eight other people, and you have deja vu – kids hanging out car windows, honking, screaming joking – as you begin the ride home.

You arrive home, and change into clothes that are actually your size before joining the family. “How was it?” your host father asks. “Fun,” you reply. “Did you drink pepsi?” You didn’t. “No.” “Why not? There was pepsi. You should’ve had some. It was free.” “Oh, well, I didn’t,” you offer. “But it was free. There was pepsi. You should’ve drunk it.” Umm, but you didn’t. No loss. “It was free. Really you didn’t have any? How about fanta?” You didn’t have that either. “Somebody get her a glass of pepsi, she didn’t have any at the wedding!” “No, no, it’s ok,” you assure him, “I’m fine.” “No, you didn’t have pepsi! It was free!” Yes, you got that. “You should’ve had pepsi, it was free, you know.”