…is usually the one thing I look forward to when I’m dragged off to a wedding. The French have a no-holds-barred mentality when it comes to letting the good times roll, and lets face it, these days I need all the free booze I can get (especially with the continuing saga of the Nightmare House—but that’s for another day).
So we followed the happy couple, in the bride’s father’s Chrysler complete with American Flag, to the reception, tooting our horns and making mayhem as is the norm here. (The French have this interesting tradition of turning this journey into a parade of sorts, and honestly it never ceases to make me happy to the point of tears. Everyone following the couple blows their horns and makes all kinds of noise, and the folks we pass along the way all wave and smile and cheer.)
We found a pretty good place to park and then tried to figure out how to cart around both monkeys, who decided to fall asleep on the quick drive over. After packing them into various carriers/strollers, we filled in the card we picked out for the couple, wrote in a quick check, and headed over to meet up with S&M and Vi & Mô.
We said a quick hello to the couple, their parents, etc., and made our way over to The Table—you know The Table, the one where all the food and alcohol is to be found. I grabbed up a big fat glass of sparkling crémant d’Alsace, served in a red wine glass (hooray!) because they’d already run out of champagne glasses. Oh hurt me—more space for mind-numbing bubbles! We all munched and drank inside for a while until the heat and (for some of us at least) dire need of a smokey-treat overtook us.
Outside the weather was just short of perfect. We formed our little group near the trash cans where I eventually set Piglet’s play pen up (yes, right in the middle of the road, but hey, it was blocked by the caterers’ truck and besides, it’s got wheels, so if we needed to evacuate we could do so quickly and without problem). We joked and carried on as we usually do. One thing about Marc’s friends, no matter how long it’s been since they last saw each other, all that time evaporates in seconds and they pick up right where they left off.
We made occasional forays inside to restock our provisions—especially those little pizzas they had which were some kind of yummy—and refill our glasses. And then we heard the big announcement.
I was standing right next to Vi at the time—the two of us cracking jokes and singing the SNCF song and carrying on in our unintelligible mix of English, French and Southern (yes it is a language all its own, thankya) when we heard over the PA “…spectacle américaine…”. Vi and I both made eyes at each other like “What did we do?” followed by the inquisitive, “What do they want us to do?”. But it had nothing to do with us. A band took the stage and all those folks with their fringe-y leather and cowboy hats started line dancing.
Vi and I were instantly transported back to our youth, one full of rednecks and Freedom Rock? Turn It Up, Man! We couldn’t bring ourselves to go have a look-see, so I don’t know if they danced well at all or not. I did notice though, on a food run, that they were doing the Electric Slide to Lynyrd Skynyrd which just seems wrong, ya know.
Vi & Mô and S & M had been seated at different tables, but managed to get that sorted out with the bride. Having the crew together is dangerous, but having them apart is somehow worse. Marc and I, because he got roped into being the Best Man-thing, were stuck up at the big table in front of everyone (good thing I got my hair cut) and like nine miles from the Fab 4. Woe is me! And yes, I spent a little over five hours complaining about that fact. (Not only were we far from the buddies, but I was stuck at the end of the table, alone—grrr!)
The menus were rather cryptic, and it took us a while to figure out what we were going to eat that night. Things finally settled down, and we were able to put our guesses to the test. The only thing we missed was the gratin served with the roast beef, but hey, I need to back up a bit.
We started with a cocktail of sorts, served with Bugles. Vi and I were a bit aghast to see them placing plates and plates of Bugles on the tables, but given the flag on the car, all that fringe, and the Skynyrd-slide that we’d already witnessed, I’m not even sure why, in retrospect, we even noticed Bugles on the table.
After the toasts were made, and a rather moving speech by the father of the groom about how they chopped wood to send their kids to university and now the son who had just married and works for Trésor Publique was going back and tracking down all that wood they never claimed on their taxes, blah, blah, blah, we got down to the business of eating.
We were then served soup, cream of white asparagus soup to be exact (I had to ask), which really wasn’t bad. In fact, it was good enough that I had seconds. But the tastiness of the soup didn’t prevent me from running over to the Fab 4 and giving my politically incorrect color food commentary. (I won’t share here because Vi told me it was wrong, just plain ole wrong to say things like that, even though she almost blew champagne out her nose with laughter.)
After the soup, we had scallops and other dead sea creatures mixed with cream and chopped up veggies and burned up under a grill, followed by what most of us in France have seen listed as a Colonel on menus—a bit of lemon sorbet with vodka poured over the top—this is to cleanse the palate you know, because while we can line dance to Skynyrd, dude, we still got some class. Still, anything with vodka is a good thing in my book—not that I needed any more alcohol in my system at that point.
The main course was roast beef with grilled veggies on a stick and gratin dauphinois. The beef was actually very tender, tender enough to surprise the hell out of me as I always find beef here to be rather leathery. They then gave us a nice plate with five different cheeses and a bit of salad that had a garlicky sauce on it. Mmm. Wine, bubbles, vodka and now garlic. Who was a happy camper?
By this point I’d fallen in good with the sister of the groom, the other Best Man, who cracks me up. She is a bit rounder than I am and she showed up with these Shocking Pink splotches in her hair. She is Shocking Pink, though, and we had a good time laughing about everything (and almost everyone for that matter).
The band had started back up again for the beginning of the dinner. They played classic rock from the 60s man. CCR, Skynyrd, Clapton—you know, good wedding music. I tried, unsuccessfully, to get Vi to come sing while I stole someone’s guitar, but she was having no parts of it. The band wasn’t actually that bad, and the singer had a half way decent accent and as much as I laughed at them (because I did—a lot) I was sad to see them go…especially after the DJ took over. Because he kept hitting the up button on the volume control all night long. Have you ever heard music so loud it made you nauseous? That’s how loud it was. And my kids were in there!
We eventually packed the kids off to the car, which we pulled around to the back door so I felt a little less like a horrible mother abandoning her kids in a parking lot. They fell asleep right away and we had cake.
Yep, the bride and groom finally got around to that bit of work somewhere around 1 in the morning. There was chocolate and some other fruity flavored kind, and they were both OK. I’ve had better. I’ve also had worse.
We all left around 2. Vi and Mô headed home, but not before passing me some Kool-Aid and a buncha books Squishy sent back on Vi’s last visit home. S & M, Marc and I headed back to our gîte and we had no problem getting the kids to bed. Amen. Oddly enough the boys didn’t feel up to playing cards again.
Sunday there was the after party lunch with all the out-of-towners which fortunately didn’t last long. See, I had a touch of food poisoning. Touch? More like I got back handed. Apparently so did Vi, and Marc wasn’t excused either. Ugh. Fun stuff. So after puking all afternoon and evening Sunday, I woke up Monday morning feeling much better, though wrung out, and we packed the car back up and headed home to drop off the kids and make the drive to Besançon to see the lawyer. And here folks, is where I’ll leave you for today. I just can’t fathom any more of the Horrible House business today, and besides, you’re probably bored stiff by now. I’ll save my rant for another day