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Aunt Delia Sings Again
By Flo Fitzpatrick
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Rated "PG" by the Author.
Be wary of Wedding Sabotage.
Aunt Delia Sings Again
If I had the talent to embroider, I’d stitch a ‘sampler’ with these words:
“Thou shalt not sabotage thy wedding with thy music.”
In simpler terms, this means choosing the both right song and the right singer. Neglecting to be prudent in this matter is nothing short of Wedding Sabotage.
What am I talking about? Picture a cathedral, gently decorated with pink and white roses, with the only illumination candlelight. The groom stands at the altar with the best man, both elegantly attired in black tuxes. The back door opens and the maid-of-honor begins the processional. The bride is stunning, as all brides should be, in her white organza and lace gown. She steps forward to take that all-important first step down the aisle - and the music changes. Instead of the organist hired from the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra easing into Pachabel’s "Canon," we hear the sounds of the bride’s ninety-five-year old Great-Uncle Joey bellowing "Just the Way You Are" - a cappella (sans accompaniment.) Heads bob and lips are bit as the guests try not to howl - either in pain or from laughter. This is a wedding disaster. This is something to avoid.
My first experience with Wedding Sabotage came with my college roommate’s nuptials. It should have been a beautiful celebration. Her folks had a place in a rural area of Texas that made one think of Tara. Decorators and florists had tirelessly worked to turn the garden into something to rival Versailles. My roommate Julie, had found a pattern for bridesmaids’ dresses that was flattering and had the possibility of future use, which is a major perk for all bridesmaids. Julie herself looked gorgeous in an anti-bellum style white lace gown. Nature had kindly given Texas a break this morning from 100 degree temperatures so the guests sitting in the garden were comfortable. And those guests were prestigious. Former senators, congressmen, judges. The family was politically connected and the politicians were out in full force. Julie had also invited my parents, who weren’t political but whom she dearly loved since she’d spent half her college weekends at our house.
My biggest worry parading down the garden path was that my escort and I would look ridiculous. He was the groom’s father, about forty years older than I (I was twenty at the time) and a good foot shorter. But he seemed fun and unself-conscious about the height difference so I decided not to let it worry me.
We made it to our place and waited for Julie to do the wedding march bit. She did. She’d made it almost to the makeshift altar when suddenly the groom jumped out from behind a bush and began to sing the "Hawaiian Wedding Song."
Hysterical laughter threatened to burst out of me. I subdued it, doubtless to the eternal detriment of all my internal organs. I was inwardly congratulating myself on keeping my composure when I made the fatal mistake. I glanced at my dad, sitting next to my mom in the second row of wrought-iron chairs. Pop looked at me. I began to shake. He began to shake. My mother stuffed a handkerchief in his mouth to suppress the cackling. I squeezed my escort’s arm in an attempt to refrain from falling down and pounding the earth. He looked at me with concern. “Are you having a seizure?” I couldn’t even gasp out a ‘no.’ I just shook my head, simultaneously crying and laughing.
The groom actually had a nice voice. But the jeté from behind the bushes destroyed any credibity or hint of romance. To this day, my entire family still loses it whenever the words garden wedding, bushes or Hawaii are mentioned.
A worse Wedding Sabotage occurred during a family friend’s wedding a few summers ago. Please notice I said “family.” I mention this because it meant the whole family was invited. The whole family accepted.
Selina, the bride, had told us that her aunt was flying in from Spain just for the wedding. Aunt Delia would be singing and the song would be in Spanish. No one had a clue what the song was to be but we were looking forward to hearing it.
I was sitting with my parents, one brother, plus two teenage nephews. Disclaimer. All of us are musical. My dad had played for a dance band back during his college days. My brother plays more instruments than I can count, as do my nephews. I’m a dancer/singer. Every last one of us was blessed - or cursed - with near perfect pitch.
We sat quietly as a professional singer delivered a beautiful rendition of the "Ave Maria" with the string quartet. Then it was Aunt Delia’s turn. She began to warble "Ah,Sweet Mystery of Life" - in Spanish. I must interject here that my whole family also loves the Mel Brooks’ classic Young Frankenstein. Madeline Kahn belting out "Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life" during a passionate moment with the monster had been firmly imprinted on our psyches the first time we saw the movie. So Aunt Delia’s choice of that song alone was guaranteed to send waves of mirth throughout the family pews. But - the clincher? Aunt Delia could not sing. Whatever key she thought she was in wasn’t one I recognized.
My dad choked and snorted. My brother’s neck turned bright red. My mom wisely avoided my eye. My “middle” nephew, about age twelve a the time, spun around to look at me with a far too gleeful twinkle in his eyes. I hissed, “Don’t you dare!” then prayed we wouldn’t be evicted for unbecoming hysterical behavior.
We survived Aunt Delia. The Wedding March emanated from that skilled string quartet and the proud father escorted his daughter down the aisle. The vows were exchanged. All very moving and very elegant. We were safe - we thought.
Then Aunt Delia got up to sing again. She was accompanied by the cellist from the string quartet. Jeff was an amazing musician who’d switched over to guitar for this number. Aunt Delia had chosen "The Wedding Song," made famous by the Sixties folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary. Jeff began to play. Aunt Delia hadn’t a clue as to the tempo or sadly, the melody. Jeff had the same expression on his face as that of my older brother the year he was seventeen and been suckered into playing drums for the high school Glee Club while they sang "Little Drummer Boy" one Christmas. That look can best be described as acute embarrassment mixed with ultimate patient suffering.
Selina, forgetting that mikes had been placed close for the video taping, commented, “This stinks! Delia should have practiced or chosen a song she knows or just let Jeff sing the damn thing instead. Gag.” Obviously, this is one tape Delia will not see if Selina cares to keep peace in the family.
Having relatives who want to sing but have no talent is always tormenting for the listeners. It’s also often humiliating for the non-singing aunt or cousin when the wedding guests begin ducking their heads under pews or hiding faces inside purses.
Still, it’s hard to be tactful when Aunt Delia or Uncle Joey offer to sing a favorite. Hauling out an old poster stating, “Just Say No!” is one deterrent. It’s crude, but explicit. Saying you’ve booked Josh Groban or Enya is an option. Booking Groban or Enya is even better. Explaining to Delia or Joey that this is a Russian theme wedding with songs only in Russian is another option. Unless Delia or Joey are Russian. Then you’re stuck.
Even if the performing relative or spouse-to-be is a talented singer, timing and song selection are crucial. Jumping out from behind a giant bush to sing Hawaiian tunes at a Texas wedding is cheesy. Consider waiting for the reception if you or your new spouse wish to express your feelings through musical solos. There are enough reasons to be nervous during the wedding ceremony - don’t add the stress of entertaining guests before saying your vows.
So, the wedding day has arrived. Despite your best efforts in plea bargaining, Aunt Delia sings "Viva Las Vegas", your groom and his pals serenade you with a "Big Time Rush" number including choreography, and your fifth-cousin-once removed, Ferdinand, rides a donkey down the aisle strumming a Britny Spears medley on a banjo.
Take comfort in technology. The DVD player will skip and ‘fast forward.’ Television sets have mute buttons. And the VCR comes equipped with Erase.
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|Reviewed by J Howard
|love your funny sense about life and the jokes life offers unconditionally.|