Nice was nice

6/5/06

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There are three types of weddings: yours, other people’s, and a third kind that is sort of a spiritus mundi, a gathering of souls like-minded and cool enough to spin its own gossamer nets of sweetness. The marriage of Jiffer Bourguignon and Ingo Zamperoni was just such an event, and though traveling with a one-year-old is challenging (even with a kid as rampantly cool as Lucy), we are SO GLAD we did it.

First, a sidebar. I said it a few days ago, I’ll say it again: the rudest people in France are Americans. The French themselves, straight down to the guy working at the Esso gas station at the airport, have been absolutely delightful to a man. This crap about impoliteness and “not being funny” and all that is the biggest bunch of post-Iraq-war-freedom-fries hoo-hah I’ve ever heard in my life. The French are not only nicer, but they dress better and their espresso is to die for. But I digress.

The wedding itself was held at an ancient church in Cabris, a little mountain town just north of Nice and Cannes. The planned details were perfect, but the weather was even better. Jiffer, as usual, was both radiant and Wisconsin proletariat, only this time in a smashing dress. And let’s just say that Ingo is one of the few people, like Abraham Lincoln, that can pull off a top hat, even if he didn’t. As a couple, they are cover-of-Land’s-End-Catalog beautiful.

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I talk shit to Tessa, Lucy, Allison, Zia, Jiffer, Anna, Laura-Julie, Dee, Eva and Seth

You’ll be glad to know the UNC contingency was well accounted-for, even if it was left to me to make the reception speech. I’ve got many Jiffer stories, most of them either surreal or R-rated, but mainly she was famous for stealing all of my food, especially my cherry Pop Tarts. I finally resorted to padlocking my kitchen cabinet. In my toast, I gave her the combination to the lock – ten years later – and told her she could steal my Pop Tarts anytime, which is true. I mean, I can afford them now.

Can’t say enough about the people at the wedding without boring you all, but seeing all the Carolina people from my third generation (1994-1997) was amazing. Especially old housemate Zia, who was my roommate at the Pink House. She has blossomed into an amazing person, and hanging out with her and her husband Warren was more fun than I deserved; the second night I went to bed at 6am. God bless Tessa the next morning for taking care of the Li’l Pumpkin Pie.

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The reception was at a medieval castle (la Napoule) right on the Riviera, and it was resplendent, drunken fun. I made a key decision a month ago when renting our car – even though I’m a pill-popping leftist stooge, I chose a minivan SUV because I knew I’d be driving, want to come back to the hotel a little early, and that two or three people would want to come.

Turns out fifty or so wanted to. One of the buses hired for the event messed up, leaving a fourth of the wedding guests stranded at the castle until 6:30am the next morning. Not the case for me and the nine intrepid, infinitely contortionist souls who stuffed themselves in my car four hours earlier. We rock the mike, yo, and did it at 130 kilometers per hour.

If you put a thumbtack in a map of Cabris, France – and then drew lines to the point of origin of every guest, you would have a vast, unthinkable web extending to every forgotten country, every cranny, every proto-indo-european language in the world. Jiffer and Ingo’s friends work in Sierra Leone, the South Sudan, Hamburg, India, New York, Green Bay and everywhere except Antarctica, doing humanitarian aid, tsunami rebuilding, TV reporting, parenting, artistry – it’s a humbling crowd. That we all came from every nook in the globe to pay witness to their ceremony is one of the most telling, wonderful statistics they’ll ever get. To paraphrase that awful bumper sticker from the ’80s: those who die with the most friends wins!

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