I’ve been in the US for the last two weeks, first in Arkansas to see family, then in California to be in a dear friend’s wedding. The time flew by; lost in wedding land, doing arts and crafts projects, and running around trying to help with logisitics, I forgot to do a lot of things I should have (and didn’t get to see a lot of people I wanted to.) Just a couple hours after the wedding, I got on the plane. Two red-eyes and a 12-hour layover later, I’m finally back in Budapest.
There were a lot of great things about this wedding—besides seeing my oldest friend get hitched—dancing with friends’ mothers, watching people who haven’t seen each other since high school hook up, crying a lot, laughing a lot. Our Top Stories:
At the rehearsal dinner, Sunshine, the best man’s wife, told elaborate stories about hallucinating on her wedding day. Sunshine remembered feeling like everything around her had expanded to enormous proportions, that objects were far larger and denser than they appeared, and everyone was moving in slow motion.
The morning of her own wedding, Mel told us she was feeling absolutely normal, almost disappointingly so. Our preparations passed quickly, and suddenly it was time for her to go get married. The bridesmaids rode together in a rental car, and Mel sat by herself in the back seat of the fancy wedding car, in her wedding dress and veil, for twenty long minutes, up, up, into the hills.
We finally reached the wedding meadow and piled out of the car to check on Melissa. She looked radiant, wide-eyed, and juuuust a little, well, off.
“How are you doing, Mel?”
“I thought I was getting ready to go on a space ship…” she said in a curiously musical voice, laughing a little,
“but I don’t have a space suit…I really felt like I was going into space…deep breaths…” Laura and I exchanged looks: Daaaammmmn!
Luckily she was completely together by the time she walked down the aisle, and a goood time was had by all.
Ryan, the groom, is a magician and Capoeira brown belt. The highlight of the wedding, for me, was when a Brazilian drum corps showed up and rocked the reception. Ryan has a lot of great magic stories, but his latest may be my favorite.
Ryan belongs to the Magic Castle, a members-only magicians’ club housed in a spooky old LA mansion. It can only be entered by secret passage, and only by those who know the password. One of the Magic Castle’s main attractions is a piano played by a ghost. To prove it’s not just a player piano, the ghost takes requests, and claims to know every song ever written.
Not too long ago, Ryan brought a bunch of Brazilian friends to the Magic Castle. They loved the idea of the ghost, but doubted that it actually knew every song every written. What about Brazilian songs? Would it know those, too? The Brazilians spent a long time huddling, brainstorming a song guaranteed to stump the ghost. Finally, their spokesman hurried up to the piano, glowing with excitement, and blurted out: “Girl from Ipanema!”
Needless to say, the Brazilians were amazed when the ghost knew their song. Ryan tried to explain that it’s a popular song in the US, too, but they just kept insisting “But that’s a Brazilian song! A very famous Brazilian song!”
Seeing Old Friends
I haven’t seen Joan in a long time. As always, she had a million crazy stories about her life (driving around Europe doing street performance out of a converted ambulance, for example. You know, the usual.)
The Story of How Joan got her Famous Chicken:
When Joan and I lived in New Orleans I was terrified of her chicken. (Chickens who live alone with people are often scary: See “Rooster in Love With a Boot, Rowan’s.”) I never knew why Joan owned a chicken, but at the wedding it all came out: she bought a rooster in order to teach it to play piano. Of course.
“I wanted to teach it to play piano, like in old state fairs, you know? Where you put mirrors or whatever on the keys, and it plucks them. But I fed my chicken regularly, and so it was not musically inclined. I had to work with what it was already good at, which was eating.”
So Joan made the chicken her fortune-telling partner. She’d ask an audience member to put its hand on the chicken, and the chicken would start shaking. Then the chicken would walk over to a big box of fortunes, pick out one, and bring it back to mildly impressed client. Add some witty banter, a couple chicken jokes, and a crazy outfit, and you’ve got yourself an act. After the fortune was read, and the client tried to pay Joan, she’d tell them, “I didn’t do anything, pay the chicken!” The chicken would take their dollar, walk back over to the fortune box, and throw it in.
“That was the beginning of four years of bad behavior,” Joan sighed.
“On the chicken’s part?” I said, remembering its beady little eyes peering out at me from behind her screen door.
“On my part,” said Joan, “The chicken behaved quite well, once it got a job. There’s nothing like understanding the value of the dollar to make a chicken get in line.”
5 months ago