Marriage

The weddings

I have never owned a personal calendar. Years ago, in my younger days, I kept all my appointments and telephone numbers in my head, and the system miraculously worked. As my brain muscles have gradually weakened over time, and “senior moments” occur more often, chaos has become my new companion. Why I stalwartly refuse to accede to the new realities of my age is beyond my ken, but the truth is that my mental filing methods need serious upgrading. Consequently, mishaps and misadventures regularly ensue. Two weeks ago on a Sunday, I was ill with a virus—chills, muscle aches, non-stop coughing and severe laryngitis—when I suddenly remembered that I had a chasunah that night at Ateres Chynka. I really felt too sick to go, but I had missed the baalas simchah’s previous wedding, and felt that it was incumbent upon me to try. I pulled myself out of the bed in which I was languishing, rustled up some elegant duds, skipped my ten-minute wedding makeup routine and instead, half-heartedly smeared one black slash under each eye and dabbed a little color on my lips, staggered to the car and drove myself to the hall. I was surprised to see that the kallah and the machatenestas were not out yet, so I found an available seat and waited, shivering from the cold that pervaded my body.

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It took about 45 minutes until the band struck up the auspicious music and the wedding party strode through the doors. I was rushing towards them when I suddenly halted in my tracks. Wasn’t the kallah blonde and short? This one was about five foot nine, with coal-black hair hanging to her waist. Okay, she could have been wearing a sheitel that was a brand new color, but she couldn’t have suddenly grown seven inches in five months, could she? You can’t have a sudden growth spurt at 25, can you? Oy! I wondered why I hadn’t recognized any of the guests. And where was Yidis (Judith)Leventhal, my “Small Miracles” co-author, who had been invited to the same wedding? I dialed her cell. “It’s on Wednesday, you idiot!” she shouted in exasperation (having often been the unwitting victim of my calendar-less ways). Uh-oh. “How is that possible?” I blinked. “I’m sure I looked at the invitation on the fridge and it said Sunday.” Back home, I checked the fridge and saw that she was right. Wednesday, not Sunday. I collapsed into bed, vowing to buy a calendar.

Wednesday, I was still sick, but going to this chasunah had become a veritable mission. I pulled myself out of bed once more, looking even more bedraggled than I had on Sunday,and returned once more to Ateres Chynka, my new stomping grounds. This time I got it right. Right hall, right date, right kallah, and yes, she was still blonde and short. “Thank you so much for coming,” her mother graciously said. “Twice!” I responded. *** This was not the first time I had gone to the wrong wedding. Once, my husband (This time it was clearly his fault) told me that a neighbor’s chasunah was at Viznitz Hall, and I arrived early for the reception. The line to say mazal tov to the kallah was orderly but exceedingly long, and I waited patiently for my turn. Meanwhile, I looked for my neighbors, but couldn’t seem to find anyone I knew. I was a little surprised that no one else on the block had turned up yet, but even more puzzling was the incongruous composition of the crowd. My neighbor is die-hard yeshivish and had only made strictly yeshivish shidduchim in the past. But at Viznitz Hall all the men were wearing shtreimels and the women were bedecked in shpitzels.

Something didn’t seem quite right. I assume that someone a bit more grounded than I would have already done the math, but in my head I only lauded my neighbor’s openness in agreeing to such an obvious “intermarriage.” The line inched slowly towards the kallah, and I must have stood in place for at least a half hour. Finally, the person in front of me moved forward and at last it was my turn. As I love my neighbor very much, my arms were already open wide for a big embrace as I stepped enthusiastically towards the dais, where I suffered a small shock. The kallah and the two mothers were complete strangers to me! I may be dense, but even I realized at this point that my husband also needs to buy a personal calendar! It was too late to retreat. I warmly embraced the two machatenestas and the kallah —none of whom I knew—showered effusive blessings upon all their heads, and fled. They looked a little stunned, but I’m sure they all concluded that I was from the other side— whatever side that was. Meanwhile, I called my husband, who rolled with laughter as he double-checked the invitation on the fridge, and redirected me to Ateres Chaya! Was my face red!

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