love on a farmboy’s wages


My friend Carrie McLaren, another Chapel Hill person bursting with immeasurable talent, runs Stay Free! Magazine, probably the smartest collection of hilarious and pissed-off writers this side of the Algonquin Round Table. She’s been at this zine for years, and all of you should be daily readers of the Stay Free blog, which features writers like the puzzle-master/cartoonist Francis Heaney and your very own Jason Torchinsky.

I bring this up not only because Carrie’s periodical is probably the only zine to survive the heydey of 1993 (complete with Archers of Loaf single), but because she is about to get married to Charles Star (who happens to work for Axiom Legal, which is run by… my housemate Alec from UNC. See? LIGHT BLUE MAFIA!). In doing so, Carrie and Charles started a blog called, wonderfully,

And here’s where it gets a little mean-spirited. Several commenters on both the Stay Free blog and the anotherfuckingwedding page have taken the engaged couple to task (read this page so you can see the vitriol) because they don’t approve of the way they’re going about it. Stay Free, you see, made a name for itself by trying to take down Walmart, distributing “The Grey Album,” going after SUV drivers, and basically being anti-voracious-consumerist. Which means several vocal critics are horrified that Carrie is spending $15,000 on her wedding.

To quote Nina on that page, “Weddings are one of those American Sacred Cows, along with Television, Christmas, Cars, Meat, and Makin’ Babies.” She meant that in a bad way, of course, but she is right about one thing: if you dare express an opinion on any of those topics, you will get shellacked by your audience.

Dooce almost shut down her blog because of all the vicious commentary she got when people didn’t like how she was raising Leta. People never tire of ridiculing vegetarians and lambasting their militant cousins, the folks from PETA. And when it comes to weddings, people just can’t seem to shut the fuck up.

Before there was a comments section on this blog, I happened to get married. I posted this entry showing pictures and coming clean about certain emotions, and what did I get? An entire message board, complete with other links, savaged the whole thing. Apparently, Tessa is too pretty to marry someone like me, and I’m goofy-looking and my tux was ugly. “Two fucking preppies in love = BARF” said one poster. And I discovered this whole thing on my honeymoon.

Here’s the facts: there is no event with more potential for schadenfreude than a wedding. Everyone thinks everyone else’s wedding sucks, or at least, ripe for high-handed commentary. We’ve all done it, even if it was just in the back of our minds; the difference is that some people like to say so on the internet.

Were we two preppies in love, and am I too goofy-looking to marry someone like Tessa? Well, DUH. By my tux was gorgeous, I’ll stand by that.

As for Carrie and Charles, is their $15,000 wedding hypocritical? If you know anything about American weddings, you’d know that’s a paltry sum, even by lefty let’s-not-make-this-a-big-deal standards. But sure, they could be more “anti-consumerist” by having a druidical gathering of eight friends in the middle of the forest and a picnic lunch.

But why should they have to? Certain things in life demand pomp, demand ritual, demand circumstance, demand gravitas. You don’t have to buy into the American Wedding™ ideal, but ensuring a special day takes money. We spent a fuckload of cash shoring up our barn so that 175 people could eat on the second floor without the threat of falling into the pig troughs below.

We all are hypocrites when it comes to the ones we love; we gladly throw away long-held notions when the alternative is such bliss. If a tradition doesn’t actively affect you, even your heroes can be granted a day when they are not held to your standards. It’s none of our business what Carrie does for her wedding, even if she is the progenitor of one of the East Coast’s greatest anti-establishment screeds; hell, I’d hire the Blue Angels to fly over.

I love the Passover question “what makes this day different than all the others?” because, for me, the answer is, “it’s the day you shut your piehole about my tux!”


0 thoughts on “love on a farmboy’s wages

  1. dhh

    Ian, keep your chin up. It is the American dream to go to UNC, subsequently marry a pretty girl while wearing a bad rented tux. You did it and I proudly belong to the same club. May God bless the Tessas and Jenns of the world for marrying poor UNC schleps like us.

  2. Laurie from Manly Dorm

    Ian! Why didn’t you tell me about Carrie and her blog and her zine months ago! She is a woman after my own heart. Thanks for the tip — now I have another great blog to help while away the hours at the Insurance Job. And, congratulations to Carrie and Charles.
    I think that the anonymity that the Internet provides allows people to be their meanest and ugliest. The evil that lurks within. Eek. Sometimes I just don’t like people, you know what I mean?
    That wedding photo of you and Tessa is gorgeous. You both make such a stunning couple! You can be as self-deprecating as you wanna be — you complement each other beautifully, and you know it. No wonder Lucy is such a beauty!
    Um. Hollywood news? If you are not ready to divulge, . . how about some Chopin news? How does he like Cali?

  3. Just Andrew

    I have a theory on the flamers. Beautiful women date the jocks and athletes for a while, but eventually they are willing to trade them in for some long term stability with someone who can carry on an intelligent conversation. People like to label it as ‘marrying up’, so the flamers are the old jocks and athletes with nothing to show for themselves but some old high school stories and then had to marry that cheerleader from high school that is no longer trophy material. So now they complain and flame.
    Congrats to Carrie – I knew her at XYC and we actually went to a date to the state fair once. She’s cool as all get out, but we weren’t exactly compatible. I never did understand the Madonna thing. Didn’t know what she was up to – glad to hear things are going well for her.
    I believe she was also instrumental in the Madonnathon at the Cradle all those years ago, in which each band was asked to cover a Madonna song. The final headliners were Metal Flake Mother – they had never done a cover at that point, so we were all wondering what they would do. Then, in typical fashion, they chastised the other bands for being invited to a Godzillathon and nobody had played any Godzilla songs, so they invite Bicycle Face on stage and all together they play the greatest version of Blue Oyster Cult’s Godzilla you ever heard.
    Oh yeah, I married up too.

  4. chip

    I was at Ian’s wedding, and he looked terrific, and IIRC, not only was his outfit not rented, it was selected in consultation with Rick, who has one of the best eyes for style out there.

  5. tregen

    Marriage is the union of two divinities that a third might be born on earth. It is the union of two souls in a strong love for the abolishment of separateness. It is that higher unity which fuses the separate unities within the two spirits. It is the golden ring in a chain whose begin ning is a glance, and whose ending is Eternity. It is the pure rain that falls from an unblemished sky to fructify and bless the fields of divine Nature. -Kahlil Gibran-
    ….I can never articulate these ideas as well as Kahlil. Be glad, be happy, and enjoy those people in your life who enjoy your happiness.

  6. Anne D.

    LOVIN’ the tux. Woo-hooo!
    This isn’t a brag, but I did have the anti-“American wedding” back in (eek) 1975, more out of personal preference than any moral conviction. My beautiful, long, pale-blue embroidered designer dress with matching fitted jacket cost me $45 at a consignment shop and was probably the prettiest thing I’ve ever worn. Hubby wore one of his regular suits. My 18 year old brother was the official photog. We had 10 people at the church, all of them close family members, then went to my parents’ house for munchies and gifts, then out to dinner at a local waterront restaurant. Cake (gorgeous) was baked by a friend of my mom. The end. Oh yeah — it rained, and my grandma said that was good luck. Worked for us (30 years and counting); seems to have worked well for you and Tessa too, Ian.

  7. Kevin from Philadelphia

    Yes, I rather like the tux as well. And I think that your and Tessa’s looks compliment each other well. I’m not really the “marrying type”, but should D-day ever come, I hope that she will compare favorably to Tessa.

  8. scruggs

    I would think in NYC its hard to find just the place alone for under $3-5k. Folks, she’s buying dinner, drinks, and tunes in celebration of her wedding, not giving furs taken from live animals, diamonds mined by 8 year olds, and barrels of oil as wedding favors. Please, a little perspective for those judging her (I’m sure our pal Gary Birdsong would say to take the plank out of your eye before criticizing the speck in another’s!). Also, its her business. Heck, $15k only buys you 1/16 of a real party at Scores. :-)
    Your pal should be glad she doesn’t live in The South where you have to invite every cousin and your cousin’s cousin. Thanks to my mother (who was payin’ and plannin’), we had 550 people show up at our wedding shindig in SC. No clue who some people were, but the soft core cleared out once the groomsmen got the DJ to put on the “We Be Clubbin'” cd they had brought to the proper, southern dinner club reception.

  9. emma

    As an addition to Scruggs comment on how in the South you have to invite cousins and cousin’s cousins, get this. It is a tradition in my NC hometown (pop. 10,000) that wedding invitations are not sent out locally, you simply publish the invitation in the newspaper for anyone in town who feels the need to attend the wedding.

  10. Scott M.

    I guess I’m working against the goals of the Light Blue Mafia idea because I’m a UNC grad and married a Dukie.
    But hey, we’re both really happy together so it was definitely worth it.
    As for marriage, we eloped in Lake Tahoe and I wouldn’t change a thing. It was perfect for us. I try to understand people who want the big wedding, but I just can’t imagine spending that much money on one day. It is fun to attend those weddings though, especially if there’s an open bar and good music at the reception. :)

  11. gina

    Emma – “locals” publish the wedding invitation in my hometown, too. My wedding “planner” (who is also the home ec teacher at school, and does the wedding planning for free because she loves it) said that it was best to put the announcement in the paper — so none of my parents’ friends would be offended if they weren’t invited. It makes some sense in a small town on that level, but it does make it hard to anticipate the food needs at the reception!
    Ian — love the tux!

  12. Greg from Winston Dorm

    Or you get the specs on what it would cost per person to invite the 600 people you know and, realizing that your budget would mean only Happy Meals for the guests, you shelve the State-side plan and get married in Jamaica . . . mon.

  13. k

    Who’s kidding who here. You’re both gorgeous.
    There will always be critics and assholes opining on the internet. Admittedly I can sometimes be both. But not towards my peeps, and that’s who’s loving what you’re writing – your friends & familia. We already know that you’re both preppies, and we like it AND your tux.

  14. cullen

    Hey, my wedding must have cost a small fortune back in the late summer of ’94, but it was a LOng Island, NY wedding blast party pinncacle for me and many of my southern kith and kin, so we lived it up.
    There should have been an internet blog to document that wacky weekend which included a groomsman cousin’s sleepwalking incident that led him to mistake a parking curb for a pillow (seriously) and a rehearsal dinner night false fire alarm at a local Marriott REsidence Inn that solicited the following response from already hung-over western North CArolinian guests, “WE’ll evac-ee-ate when we smell smoke! !”
    WEddings are personal man, that’s why we got the video montage of ours. L’Chaim.

  15. Andrew

    Had to comment again about the tux because I am astounded that anyone could have ever said it looked bad.
    1. Double brested 6 over 4. Not your everyday cut, but in the right situation, a man’s jacket cannot look better.
    2. A true tux is not black, but rather deep navy. You can only tell outdoors. Looks navy to me.
    3. Even though the tux is navy, the tie is always black. Unless white tie is called for.
    4. The tie is always a real tie. No clip under the tie. Tie it neat but not tight. Have to be able to untie cooly and let it hang late evening.
    5. Collar is by choice. Wings can be too showy. Fold down is classic. Cannot go wrong.
    6. Kercheif should command attention but not be overblown. Don’t just show the points. Got balls to wear one, then show it.
    7. Flower should look like an afterthought. Don’t pin it on perfectly straight like it is your first time. Put it on and go.
    8. Hair….always tassled.
    9. Only thing to add would be pearl shirt studs if you wanted studs.

  16. Ian

    Andrew, great list on the tux, dead on. It was actually chocolate brown with cream slacks – I wanted to do a 1920s thing, and Rick Gradone made it happen (by way of Ralph Lauren). Worn different variations of that tux a few times since.
    LFMD – That is indeed Chopes with my sister Michelle in the background. We left the other 170 guests at the top of the hill to let them get a little rained on. Good luck, right?
    Chip looked sharp at our wedding, as always. He looked sharp at his wedding too, come to think of it.
    General note – the press release for our project hasn’t been vetted by the studio yet, so I can’t say anything, but I will write about it when I can!

  17. LFMD

    Lyle — yep, that’s me. I am just a random corporate tool in a big ole cubicle farm. Actually, ever since they dragged Saddam out of the ground, I lovingly refer to my little home away from home as my Spider Hole. I thought it was appropriate.
    Ian, I am not hip to the biz lingo (I only understand Dilbert corporate lingo these days), so I don’t know what “vetted by the studio” means, but I appreciate the update and will try to be patient. Although patience is not one of my strong points!


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