There was a time when fathers could negotiate a good deal for giving up a daughter. In ancient days (according to the Bible) and in some societies still today (according to television documentaries), fathers trade their daughters for goats, sheep, or camels. Nowadays, the tables have turned: unloading female offspring can cost a lot of money. But, a marriage also provides a means of gauging filial affection.
There is an old saying about gaining a son, not losing a daughter. I never felt that was true. But, I did get something out of the deal: they offered me presents that they did not want or need.
I suppose that I should be pleased to have been invited to the wedding, after suggesting for so long that they elope to Las Vegas, splurge on the cheapest wedding package, and send me a postcard. I should be even more happy about receiving unwanted wedding gifts. Moreover, I am thrilled that times have changed. What would I do with goats?
Fortunately, this is a role that comes to an end. It’s tough on an introvert to be sociable and hospitable for five days in a row. It’s nice to see relatives and friends, but weddings are a lot of work.
The white-dress ceremony and party were celebrated at a castle on the Rhine. History and opera buffs will recognize a location known for spawning all great German sagas. We’ll have to wait to see if this match-up will lead to arias or verse. If the day is any indication, things should work out, even without fat ladies singing praises.
I had it easy on the day. Beyond driving a van full of female relatives to the location, all I had to do was accompany my daughter down the aisle and then pretend to be friendly with any guest wishing my attention. After handing her over to the unfortunate guy now responsible for spoiling her and enduring her moods, I tripped over her train: she had not warned me that the dress had such a tricky device. As you know, no one is supposed to see the dress before she shows up at the aisle.
The ceremony took place in the castle park with a view of vineyards and the river. It had not rained in Germany for eight weeks prior to the day. The forecast was for partly cloudy with a chance of rain late in the day or even the evening. Guess when it rained? Yup, in the middle of the vows. The organizers responded quickly with red umbrellas, which added a nice touch of color to photographs. I told my daughter to consider it similar to a ship’s christening, which also includes moisture for good luck. Everyone took it with humor and rushed to the champagne reception, which was moved inside from the garden. People will remember the great wines from the godmother’s vineyards just up the river and the outstanding canapés. Another big hit was the cake, an arrangement of nine different flavors. My daughter had claimed that she married only to have a big cake. All boxes were ticked, as one is wont to say.
At the dinner, I was required to give a speech. I cannot recall much of what I said, but people seemed to like it. I do not remember anything that my daughter said to me over the years, but I do recall one statement she made at the age of 14. She told me that she would marry the guy she did. At the time, I did not take her seriously, but she kept her word. The party raged until four, but I pooped out at two. New shoes prevented me from holding out any longer, and I needed to be fit for the return trip with the women.
It all went by in a flash, so I am happy to have plenty of photos to remind me of what happened. This old fool would have liked to have a shot of a sunset from the hill above the Rhine, but there was none. Later in the night, the weather cleared to reveal stars and a moon. We would have preferred clear skies during the ceremony, but will settle for a great event, a happy couple, and the return of my solitude.
The first hurdle has been passed (if one could even call it a hurdle). My daughter is now married, having completed the civil ceremony in a lovely castle (mentioned earlier), surrounded by family and some friends. The big-deal, white dress, romantic affair takes place next week.
As with most such events, it was pleasant but anti-climatic. It is another example of controlling people through government fiat, elaborate ceremonial words, and manufactured illusion. Most people play the game, even if they have lived together for years without official sanction or start to squabble the moment the ceremony ends.
I could not help thinking of a Doris Day song from the distant past: Que sera sera. Because she used it as her theme song, it became implanted in many peoples minds. Few know that it won an Academy Award, because it was used for a Hitchcock film. The words relate a woman's lament about life not living up to her expectations and her disappointment at everything not meeting the illusions she has created in her mind. Once a milestone was reached, she noticed her mistake and decided to keep on dancing. Que sera sera. Whatever will be will be. The future's not ours to see.
I had no illusions about yesterday, but I'm sure that my daughter did and has plenty about the future. She seemed happy, which was the most important aspect for me. I have given up on illusions and take things as they come, for better or worse. Que sera sera...
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.