May, 2011


24
May 11

The serious stuff

“You do know what it means to get married in the Catholic Church, don’t you?”

The priest fixed stern eyes on us both as he said these words.

“It is forever. There is NO divorce here.”

I tried to sneak a look a J, but he was staring straight ahead. Poker face. I had a sudden and terrible urge to laugh.

I didn’t expect it to be like this – the filing of our wedding paper work.

It was the second time we’d tried to do it, at the parish office which was handily five minutes walk from our house.

The first time had been comical. We’d turned up with the priest who was going to marry us, and he’d presented us to the priest in charge of the office.

“These two people are in love, and they want to get married,” he said, sweeping his arm towards us grandly.

“So?” asked the office priest.

“They want to file their paper work,” said our clergyman, looking a little puzzled.

“And?”

“Well, and nothing, that’s it.”

The office priest looked at us like we were all idiots.

“But they need two witnesses!” he said.

Turns out we were idiots.

Well we were back with our two testigos. Sarah – one of my best friends in Madrid – and Chucho – J’s fishing partner. And there was also baby Nikko – their cute little seven month old son. He cheered up the office priest no end.

So while Nikko munched through several rice cakes, unceremoniously spilling crumbs on the floor, we handed over our birth and baptism certificates and told him the info he needed to fill in the form.

Which was pretty slow going – but we got there – a good 40 minutes later.

Then came the moment when he sent Sarah and Chucho out of the room, telling them that he needed to see if we would “pass the exam”

I started to panic. What was this? Was he going to test us on the stations of the cross? The names of the disciples? Or ask me my favourite bits from the bible? This was going to end badly.

But no. He was just going to give us a good talking to on the seriousness of the lifelong vow we were going to make.

We happily told him that, yes – we understood perfectly. We were ready, we were legally able to marry and we came freely – no one was obligating us to get married.

Then it hit me – this man was the only person who had given us a talking to about the lifelong commitment that is marriage – a warning, if you like.

Probably he would be the only person who did so.

Is that because we’ve been together for a long time (well, six years at least, known each other for nine) or because we’re a bit older? Or is it because we’re so made for each other that no-one thinks we need a warning – it was obvious we would get married and live happily ever after?

I like the last option, myself.

In any case, we passed the test, so the priest called our witnesses in one by one to talk to them. I started to get nervous again.

They weren’t married. Would he care about that? Would he find out Sarah was divorced and call the whole thing off?

I needn’t have worried. He didn’t ask Sarah if she’d been married in the past, so she didn’t tell him. In fact, the priest assumed she was married to Chucho, on account of baby Nikko (That tends to happen a lot in Spain, she says.)

Not missing a beat, she informed him they weren’t married, and added: “but don’t worry, we can fix that in the future.” What a pro.

Before I knew it, everything was signed off, and we were one step closer to being married.

And J didn’t run for the hills after the priest’s stern words. Not even a tiny wobble. Well not on the outside, anyway.


11
May 11

Crying shame

One of the first weddings I ever went to was the joining in holy matrimony of my two favourite teachers, Miss Grehan and Mr Bradley.

It was brilliant – I played the drums in the orchestra and thoroughly enjoyed myself. It felt like a big occasion, like me and my friends had been let into the world of grown ups for a while.

 

But then it came to the big moment for them to exchange vows, and Miss Grehan couldn’t get her words out. She was choked up with emotion, and, well – she could hardly stop crying.

How strange, I thought at the time. Why would you cry like that at the crucial point on the happiest day of your life? What a strange thing love is.

Fast forward 15 years or so, and of course I understand.

I have become Miss Grehan – I am WORSE than Miss Grehan. I don’t know when I became such a soppy git, but it happened along the way somehow.

Not only do I cry at nature programmes (it’s so sad when the poor baby elephant follows his mother’s tracks the wrong way through the dust storm) and films (which are not even real life, for god’s sake), but I cry when watching the wedding videos of strangers on the internet.

What am I going to do with myself? I can’t blub my way through my wedding day!

I refuse to be a red-faced, red-eyed monster with make-up all over my face in all the photos, smearing mascara over anyone that gives me a hug.

I’ve looked online for advice. But nothing I found was very helpful. Lists on ‘how to stop yourself crying’ have suggested the following:

Cross your eyes (Oh this will look great in the photos)

Laugh (this will make me look like a total nutter)

Look up to the sky (ditto)

Eat ice cream (don’t think they let you say your vows while eating a Magnum?)

Yawn (might seem a bit rude)

Do mathematical problems in your head (this might make me cry more)

Go somewhere alone and let it all out or just jump on a trampoline (the first option might work if I could run off to the toilets for a sneaky cry, but the second?????)

Go outside and lie down on the grass and look at the clouds (what, and get stains on my dress?)

Further investigation – from real life people on message boards – did bring up some more helpful advice.

One person advised just putting the biggest cheesiest grin possible on your face. If you really stretch your cheeks and eye muscles, the redness and puffyness just goes away, they said.

Another person said they “just yell at myself in my head – ‘shut up, stupid!’ – that kind of thing.” That could possibly work.

A wedding planner had even posted her advice. She told all her brides to keep their tongue pressed against the roof of their mouth. If it worked for them I should deffo give it a try.

But then I read the following entry: “I learned this the hard way: if the tears come, and you just blink them back furiously, they have to go somewhere,” it began.

“That ‘somewhere’, in my case, was down into my nasal passage and out my nose.

“I discovered this when walking down the aisle at my wedding. I hadn’t expected to get so emotional. So I had a big trickle coming out of my nose.

“I’m just hoping it was dark enough in the church so that people couldn’t really see it, or else they have been polite enough not to mention it.”

Oh dear, a leaking nose is a much worse prospect than leaking eyes.

Maybe I should just have a good cry after all?

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