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, anotherfuckingwedding.com.
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!”