Monday, August 15, 2005

We are the hollow men. We are the stuffed men.

And women.

I was at the most fascinating sort of wedding the weekend before last. It was a civil service, but filled with all sorts of inexplicable sacramental cameos: the couple exchanged their vows under a trinity of fluted, glazed white windows; they both symbolically sipped from something the Justice called the "Cup of Love,” containing, I think we can be certain, red wine; their hands were ceremoniously wrapped in his lay stole before their official presentation as man and wife to the (tattooed, it seemed—all of them) congregation. The semi-spell only broke when they signed the registry to strains of Broken Social Scene’s “Lover’s Spit” trebling through the hall; and as they processed out: Coldplay’s most recent single.

Very strange stuff.

But not the strangest. Time came for the evening’s speeches and the best man—nervous and fine as a best man should be—made his way to the stand and proceeded to list all the groom’s great virtues. (Such was his fealty that he could say nothing to the negative; no stories of drunken misdeeds shared, of embarrassing moments past; no roast.) He said that the groom was a mentor to him. He said that he was adaptive. He said he was driven and focussed. He said that he was established ...

Somebody’s playing a joke on the poor ass, I thought. They’ve switched his speech with the groom’s CV.

The banter droned on. Indeed, repeated itself a couple of times: mentor, adaptive, driven ... No light bulb lit over the fellow’s painfully sincere head. This was his speech.

It ended, finally. Mother of the bride then stood, said many of the usual things. The word cherish seemed to be her safe ground and she never strayed too far from it. Love, I think, came up once or twice. But then, strangely, she told us that the bride and groom had “the courage and the skills” it took to do … something. I forget what. To make it, one assumes, or do it right, or take the world by storm even. Didn’t seem too important, at the time—I just couldn’t get past all this obtuse skill’s set listing.

At what point--and how, and why--did management speak become the new formal? The new serious and meaningful?

This is the dead land
This is cactus land
Here the stone images
Are raised, here they receive
The supplication of a dead man’s hand
Under the twinkle of a fading star.