Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing...

The search for our ceremony officiant continued last weekend. After the Cantor Debacle, I immediately scoured the Internet to see if I could find the name of someone who might work for us (i.e., not sing sporadically throughout our conversation and/or take the time to learn how we met, our profession, and other things one might presume the person marrying you would be interested in).

One name popped up a few times, which seemed to me to be a good sign. I mentally filed it away in the cerebral wedding Filofax and began asking around for a couple names at work (the upside to working at a law firm, no shortage of Jews to be found). Lo and behold - the same name comes up again. Well obviously this is a sign from God. Sending me an officiant through the Internet. How tech-savvy of the savior.

So I took the plunge and sent an email out to this stranger requesting that she participate in The Big Show. Which is exactly what it feels like when I take a step back (or 10,000 steps back). I have realized that planning a wedding is a bit like casting a high school production of "A Chorus Line." (Perhaps more like "Fiddler on the Roof" in my case, but you get the gist.)

I audition tons of hopefuls for my ensemble, with of course a few starring roles (The Florist! The DJ! And in the lead...The Catering Hall!!) and then the equally important, supporting actors - Calligrapher, Linen Company, and Many More!

And like a high school theater production, at first you try to make every last detail perfect - from the complexity of a practiced dance routine to the addition of perfect lighting for each scene - until finally it occurs to you that you are a complete and total amateur and that all of the parents sitting and beaming in the audience will give you a standing ovation no matter how the damn production goes off, and you just rush to get the whole thing done (except for the costuming because that is always hands-down the best part and it is always fun to dress up even when the sets are falling down around you). And then presumably, the curtain comes down, you take your final bow, and you're married. And wearing tons of pancake makeup so you look a little like a TV star and/or drag queen.

Gosh I miss high school theater. (And no, I have NOT seen "High School Musical." Though yes, I guess I am morbidly curious.)

Anyway, I dashed off the email to Cantor Version 2.0. Incidentally, I have become increasingly adept at emailing complete strangers over the past eight months. (In fact, I actually have a form letter that I cut and paste at this point.)

She responded to me that she would be happy to meet with us and see if we were a good "fit." But there was a zinger: she wouldn't be able to meet with us for a month, i.e., until the "High Holidays" were over. (For the non-Jews among you, the High Holidays are not multiple days spent under the influence of pot (though I know a few people who go with that interpretation). They are the Jewish New Year and the Day of Atonement - the latter is actually not an Ian McEwan novel and/or movie starring Kiera Knightly and the former does not involve champagne and all-night partying, but instead a large meal featuring apples and honey. I guess you can see why some people prefer the bongier version (though I suspect the large meal and apples and honey has a place there too).)

Technically, I could wait the month to meet with her, so I agreed to do so.

That being said, I spent the last month mentally fast forwarding to the moment when the holidays would be over. But unfortunately, the more I attempt to not think about something, the more I think about it. So I found myself thinking about it every day (wash hair, think about whether Cantor will be evil, cook dinner, ponder whether officiant will make me cry, pour glass of wine, think about how much I love wine, wonder if Cantor loves wine too).

Finally, the holidays were over, and she agreed to meet with us. As we drove through the suburbs I began to have flashbacks of the previous meeting.

We pulled up in front of a quaint townhouse and I knocked on the door. The door opened and the Cantor ushered us inside, gesturing for us to take a seat on the sofa in the next room. And as I looked around, I knew at least one of us was immediately sold on the Cantor. She had set up an enormous tray of mandelbrot (basically homemade Jewish biscotti) and had set up tea, coffee, and Snapple.

Mr F had eaten three cookies before we even started talking. He was sold.

The Cantor gave us a big smile and began by giving us an overview of what she generally does for couples she marries. And then she said "Now why don't you tell me a little bit about how you two met?"

YES! This is what I was looking for.

And then she asked about our second date, and third date. And about what we thought about children, and finances, our occupations, and about our respective childhoods. She wanted to know us. And I was happy as a clam.

Although I had to interrupt before this got too far to ask one thing.

"Cantor, I think you're just wonderful and this is exactly what Mr F and I want - someone who is getting to know us, but I just have to ask - what do you think we must have in our ceremony to have it be a Jewish ceremony? Do I have to say things that Mr F doesn't and do we have to mention Abraham, Moses, and/or Issac? And do we have to have Hebrew...or, uh, chanting?"

And she smiled, and said, "You can have anything you want in your ceremony."

Sweet. I dug in to the mandelbrot with the relish of a rescued castaway.

With that squared away, I began to relax and as I nibbled on a second piece, she went on to talk about not "judging anyone's path" and believing God is in everyone and isn't necessarily a "he" or "she."

OK, so it's a little hippy dippy, and there's definitely a part of me that believes she may secretly be pulling for our recessional to be to "Uncle John's Band" and I am absolutely placing a $50 bet here and now that she shows up in a tie-dyed tallis (the big shawl that Jews wear to temple), but who frickin cares? She could do a reading by Joan Baez if it means that we don't have Hebrew or chanting. I like classic rock and I'm all for peace, love, and a cute pair of fringed boots, so I'm all for her.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have found ourselves an officiant. And she serves cookies.

The role of plucky and open-minded officiant will be played by Cantor Freebird. And thankfully, the only thing singing that day was my heart.

As a postscript, a few days after our meeting Mr F was tasked with calling Family Friend Cantor (Cantor 1.0) to tell him that we would not be having him marry us. I felt terribly for him since this was not an enviable job. Afterwards, Mr F told me that the conversation went very smoothly which I thought was fabulous and unexpected. Then I thought about it for a moment and asked what it was that he said to make the conversation go so well. His response:

"I told him that you were crazy, that you insisted on having a female officiant, and that no one can argue with what a woman wants for her wedding."

Fair point.


EliandMe said...

I love the wedding/high school production analogy, funny and so very very true.

For what its worth, I enjoyed High School Musical. I hear High School Musical 3 is even better. Don't bother with 2 though, it's pants.

Kristy said...

Hooray! That's got to be such a relief. And I bet she does like wine.

Jaclyn said...

I think your fiancee's plan was brilliant! I'm so glad that everything worked out for you. Ironically, I just had a meeting with my potential rabbi today too, and she was the sweetest person ever. But she also kept forgetting things - she asked us four times during our meeting where we lived, and what we did. It was a little scary, and our saga continues. But I'm so glad that yours had such a happy ending!

keyla said...

I'm happy for you but even happier for myself that you wrote back. Please, I know you're going crazy with the wedding but don't forget about your readers. I love reading I hate...

And mazel tov!

Engaged and Enraged said...

hey keyla! thanks for the nice words...i actually didn't post for so long because i was away on a spur of the moment vacation to san diego (without internet access - the horror!). i hope i will get back on my two-a-week posting habit now that i'm back...!!

Autumn Witt Boyd to be said...

Hooray for something going right!!! Hope you enjoyed a little time away :)

Desaray said...

that's it. your writing is hilarious. this is my new favorite.

Marina said...

Just found your blog. You give me hope. My jewish-officiant-finding experiences haven't been as terrifying as yours, but they've been a bit traumatizing none-the-less. So. Yes. Thank you.