Japanese Style Wedding
Picture 1: Stalking the nine eligible Japanese women
Picture 2: Making progress with Fumiko
“You’re a gay magnet,” Mum said to Greg, the groom’s mother’s boyfriend, on the train to Manchester.
“It’s true,” Greg said. “Wherever I go in the world men come on to me. I’ve just got one of those faces. Sadly, I don’t have the same effect on women.”
Detailing to Greg how Xena had removed a testicle provoked one of the universal signals to shut up from Mum: she kicked me in the shin.
It was noon when we arrived at the Midland Hotel, whose bomb proofing and architecture – red brick and brown terracotta adorned with Burmantofts and polished granite – are rumoured to have contributed to Hitler’s plan to headquarter the Nazi Party there upon conquering England.
The grand piano lay silent in the plush lobby where Yoko was under siege from a strobe light of camera flashes as she posed in a heavily-embroidered ivory wedding dress with a long elegant train. The groom, Kieran, a man known to have spent the bulk of his teenhood and some of his early adult years in a worn-out purple sweater, didn’t look too shabby either in a suit and a pink tie. But our hopes he had acquired some dress sense were soon dashed when Yoko divulged she had primped him for the occasion.
In the foyer to the Chester Suite my hands survived a nutcracker of a shake from Shunzo (Yoko’s father) and found their way to the nearest circular tray of champagne flutes doing the rounds thanks to an apathetic waitress with the name Peewee emblazoned on her blouse.
Lurking in the corner of the foyer, I drained the contents of my flute and waited patiently for the arrival of sufficient champagne courage to chat up at least one of the nine single Japanese women. It didn’t take long. I jumped right in, addressing three of them at a time to cover as much ground as possible, and within ten minutes I’d figured out which one I wanted to marry and spend the rest of my life with: Fumiko.
Other than her long velvety black hair, warm eyes and smile fit for a toothpaste commercial, I was particularly charmed by Fumiko’s bubble-blowing skills. On each dining table in the suite were numerous small plastic bottles labelled: CHAMPAGNE BUBBLES. I discovered a latent talent for blowing bubbles and was soon encircled by Japanese aiming video cameras at me. They were either under the impression that proficiency in bubble blowing comes with a fantastic repertoire of social talents, or I was crazy. Reading into their giggles, it had to be the latter – which was confirmed later on when Mari, the tiniest of the women, said, “Look. Crazy,” while holding up a digital photo of me grinning in a sinister manner at my bubble production.
The wedding speeches were delivered before the food and Fumiko translated after every few sentences.
Other than Kieran’s clothing, Yoko also organised the meal. Chargrilled vegetable terrine served with fennel and chicory salad drizzled with gazpacho dressing. Carrot, honey and ginger soup. Spinach tortillas with asparagus, oyster mushrooms, tomato petals, herb sauce, seasonal vegetables and potatoes. Vanilla, lemon or carrot wedding cake. Coffee and chocolates. I devoured my meal, then half of Mum’s vegetables, leaving only the mushrooms, which have frightened me since childhood.
Yoko’s brother produced a guitar and sang two Japanese love songs. A band played. Sliding a beer bottle along his strings, the guitarist played a tune similar to Ry Cooder’s theme to Paris Texas. It triggered my gooseflesh and captivated everyone. Then he played “Budweiser Blues.”
At 3pm, Yoko rustled by in a pink wedding dress followed by cameras flashing at rates only seen at the entrance to the Oscars.
“Do you like England?” I asked a Japanese woman with sozzled eyes.
“I like beer,” she said and ate a fish stick you could smell from a hundred feet away.
“Beer?” I said.
“Last night, we went to a pub. I tried Fosters. I like it but not as good as Sapporo or Kerin.” She flashed the smile of the professional partier and devoured another fish stick.
“How does the beer make you feel?”
“Like I have to say the same things.”
“You repeat yourself. In beer circles, that’s quite an achievment.”
“Yoko told me to drink today until I don’t care.”
“How much have you drunk so far?”
“Five beer, six champagne, white wine, cider. Here, try these,” she said, tilting the canister of fish sticks toward my nose.
After bonding over more bubble blowing, Fumiko regaled me with tales of Japan and when she had worked for a year at Disney World in Florida. She disclosed she was in the unfortunate situation of being single for one year.
Leaving the party, Shunzo and his son gifted us fans, origami and Japanese candy.
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Copyright © 2007-2008 Shaun P. Attwood