Have you ever attended a Greek Orthodox wedding, for a Polish bride and her half Greek, half Italian groom? Nope, nor had I until Saturday.
This was the marriage of the girl who sits near me at work. The one who has been on the milkshake diet for 13 weeks in order to be thin for the wedding. Now, that kind of extreme weight loss – not based on good nutrition and a healthy amount of exercise but rather on starving oneself – has always seemed to me to be the very definition of insanity.
In this particular case, which I was able to witness from close quarters every day, I soon began to notice that, while the fat was certainly reducing, there were other, less attractive concommitant effects: her hair became lank, her skin broke out and her nails were increasingly thin and brittle, and covered in those little white marks that are indicative of vitamin deficiency.
I tried to encourage her to stop the milkshakes and eat a healthy balanced diet at least for a couple of weeks before the wedding, to improve her hair, skin and nails. But she didn’t seem to mind about them, which I simply couldn’t understand – wouldn’t she want to look her best for the Big Day?
Of course she did, but I had failed to appreciate one of the greatest differences between her cultural background and my own: namely that she was expecting to have her hair dressed with about 2 cans of hairspray, and to have her features caked in full makeup and to have entirely false nails attached. So, as long as she was skinny the rest of it didn’t matter to her because it wouldn’t be visible.
Most of the rest of the female guests looked the same way except, instead of a beautiful white gown, they were all in very, very short and very, very low cut dresses, covered in sequins and bling as though they were on the way to a nightclub. Which again seemed strange to me – weren’t they all good Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox girls? Why were they dressed like Kings Cross hookers? What on earth did their parents think?
Anyway, I have never felt more Anglo-Saxon in my life. Even in India and Africa I have felt more kinship with people than I did on Saturday. I can’t even begin to imagine what they made of me and my boss, in our [I like to think] elegant knee-length dresses and pearls, minimal makeup and un-laquered hair.
Now that I’ve been a bitch, let me also say that it was a beautiful ceremony – one could easily imagine the same rituals and words having been performed pretty much identically for over a thousand years – and the reception was lovely, Aggie has spent months organising it all and she’s done a wonderful job. Dancing to Zorba the Greek with a room full of actual Greeks, Italians and Poles was fun, too.
However, there is almost invariably a drunk Irishman at a wedding. And he always finds me and always makes a nuisance of himself. Its like a Cosmic Law. Saturday night’s example kept pestering me with questions about exactly how tall I was and whether I was Russian, of all things. *rolls eyes*