Thursday, June 20, 2013

Weddings in the land of the truly vulgar

My sister sent me this story, which happened in Ontario (Hamilton, I think), but is starting to get noticed elsewhere.
Allow me to paint you a picture. Imagine you're asked to attend the wedding of a former colleague, and suppose you say yes. Instead of giving a more traditional wedding gift, you decide to go rogue by curating your own gift baskets filled with culinary delights like marshmallow fluff and Jolly Ranchers. You attach a note that reads, "Life is delicious...Enjoy." You are clever, and you enjoy the satisfaction of yet another wedding gift well done. Then, out of nowhere, your fun daydream is interrupted when you receive the following text from one of the brides:
Heyyy I just wanna say thanks for the gift but unfortunately I can't eat any of it lol I'm gluten intolerant. Do u maybe have a receipt
It gets better. After another exchange of texts, in which the gift-giver obstinately refuses to take a hint, the "bride" lays her cards on the table:
I want to thank you for coming to the wedding Friday. I'm not sure if it's the first wedding you have been to, but for your next wedding... People give envelopes. I lost out on $200 covering you and your dates plate... And got fluffy whip and sour patch kids in return Just a heads up for the future :)
And believe it or not, that's just the beginning. I didn't mention that this was a lesbian "wedding", but that really doesn't strike me as the biggest problem here. The comments that follow, both on this site and the original newspaper, are filled with comments by people who aren't homosexual, but basically AGREE with the sentiments of the complaining gift-getters. They just deplore the rude tone, or the crassness of openly brandishing a calculator and braying about actual dollar figures. THAT is going too far, they concede, but they don't question the basic right of the host of a wedding party to exploit her guests for financial gain. And they blame the gift-giver for not conforming to this very basic rule of the jungle.

This is so removed from my idea of propriety, I feel like Rip Van Winkle, waking up to inexplicably find myself in a wholly alien environment. I can't remember actually receiving lessons from my mom on how to behave when receiving a wedding present. I think I'd been trained from a young age through smaller events like birthdays that a present is a present, and you always say "Thank you", no matter what you may privately be thinking. I suspect that started with Christmas presents of socks and underwear, when a kid's natural reaction would be "BUT I WANTED A SPIROGRAPH!!!!!" and that impulsive statement had to be suppressed to preserve family peace.

By the time we got to weddings, I think I had the rule down pretty well. But even if mercenary thoughts tried to creep into my mind, I could put them down by reflecting on the serious and important event the gifts were honouring, and that is what I see completely lacking in these wedding imposters.

Maybe it's inevitable. For years, decades now, weddings have shrunk the solemnity of marriage while aggrandizing the material festivities that adorn it. When normal people see weddings as an excuse for exhibitionism and acquisitiveness, how can we really be surprised when people who don't even have the example of tradition and nature shove their way into the picture?

So many things in life have become separated from their reasons for being. Decades ago, when homosexuals began lobbying for the right to inherit their deceased partner's pension benefits, I wrote a letter to the editor pointing out that people have completely forgotten why these survivor's benefits exist in the first place. They were designed to provide for *widows* - married women who'd damaged their own earning ability by leaving the work force to have children. It was a logical rule: society had an interest in encouraging women to marry and have children; they'd be reluctant to do so if they feared that they could be left destitute in their old age, so it was agreed that their husband's pension would continue for the rest of their life. Yes, this ended up benefitting some people who didn't really need it: married women with their own careers, or without children, who could actually have their own pension. But there was no good reason at all for extending this benefit to two men, both capable of earning their own living, and neither of whom had to sacrifice a career to have and raise children.

But such a common-sense reflection is entirely beyond society today. Instead, the survivor's benefit is considered as a sort of consolation prize for the loss of a bed partner, and is extended to people who don't deserve it under any other name. Indeed, I think that properly married people today have probably forgotten why this benefit was instituted in the first place, and wouldn't be able to describe why they get it, except that it's a sad thing for a spouse to die and the money might make them feel a bit better.

So now we have two women without any of the old, natural undergirding assumptions that go with marriage, and they have no idea why anyone should give them presents when they announce that they're going to play house together, but they're just determined to get as big a pot of gold as they can anyway. Do they ever wonder why people receive gifts at a wedding, and not when they're on a date? I don't think it's ever occurred to them that a young man and woman getting married would soon have a lot of expenses because they'd probably have a baby within a year. So money to buy a house would be useful, and things like toasters and cutlery would be welcome because they could save the money they'd normally have spent to buy them to save for the baby. No, too practical. Instead, these parasites on a dying culture don't know what they're doing, but they see other people going through these mystifying rituals so they must too. No wonder such shallow, stunted people would focus on the dollar value of gifts and food. If chickens could talk, I wouldn't expect to hear anything more enlightening than the greedy squawking for loot in this article.


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