Tuesday, August 07, 2007

My Big Fat Polish Wedding

I have only just stopped sweating vodka after this one. What follows is reconstructed from fragments of records I attempted to keep of the event. Bear with me, it was a marathon.

2:00 pm
We are late already. Jola is still at the hairdressers, I have put my suit on too early and now it is getting creased from sitting.

2:45 pm
Getting even later. No taxis to be found anywhere. Service is supposed to start at 3pm

3:10 pm
Made it. Luckily just as the bride was arriving, snuck in the back afterwards. They haven't finished building this church. I am always surprised at the need for enormous new churches in a country with so much requirement for decent housing. This one has double glazed stain glass windows, devotional and practical.

3:45 pm
Stand up, sit down, kneel, stand up, kneel, sit down. We haven't even got to any kind of bit to do with the bride and groom yet, who is this day about? This is only re-affirming my loathing of the Catholic church. Hurry up and marry them already.

4:00 pm
Finally some rings are swapped... but what's this? no kissing and wild celebration. Oh, I see, it's time for communion. A bell rings and everybody kneels again. Fun.

4:15 pm

Outside at last, confetti, smiles... hang on, that's not confetti, they are throwing money, coins even. That's got to smart. OK, now we give them some flowers and its off to the reception in a mass horn blowing convoy.

4:30 pm
Everybody into the reception with a glass of booze in hand. "Sto Lat!", glasses smashed on the floor, time for food. Hope they manage to get the glass off the dance floor before the band starts.

5:00 pm

Hmm I may have to do something to slow down the pace of vodka intake. A shot every 5 minutes is just not going to be sustainable. I know, I will studiously avoid eye contact with anybody holding a bottle of vodka, harder than it sounds seeing as there is by my reckoning a bottle per 3 people set out.

The spread of food and drink is truly tremendous. There seems to be a constant stream of plates of various meat brought to the table with no sign of it letting up. Jola is in her element.

5:15 pm
At regular intervals a loud chanting issues from the tables near the bride and groom. They are being urged to neck more vodka and snog for the assembled masses. They really ought to combine this enthusiasm with the church service, would be far more fun.

The dancing has begun. The band do not disappoint, they are exactly what I expected. Be still my cynical heart. Luckily the vodka will dull my outraged sense of musical taste. Nobody else seems to mind.

6:30 pm

Now I understand why the dance floor is so full. Anybody sitting has nothing else to do but drink more vodka. By dancing one is able to reduce the intake to a shot every 20 minutes or so. The band play for 4 songs or so then have a break to allow themselves and the dancers a chance to get a vodka in. Thoughtful.

7:30 pm

I have given up trying to take pictures. If I can't focus how can I expect the camera to?

9:45 pm

The food is still coming. I have just been presented with a whole pike. It was not what I really wanted to see in my rapidly-becoming-more-delicate state.

11:00 pm

I need a lie down. I don't think I can take any more of this. I honestly believe my cousin is attempting to murder me via alcohol poisoning. I am going to find a sofa in the back corner somewhere and hope nobody finds me for a while.

01:30 am

Pawel found me, demanded I drink more vodka with him and his brother (the groom). Luckily as the vodka was being poured his mother needed him for some kind of errand. A lucky escape.

02:00 am
Escape was but a dream. I really think I may throw up at any moment. Perhaps I should, maybe it would be better for me in the long run.

03:00 am
Going home to bed, escorting aunt Terenia is the premise.

09:15 am
Good Lord my head hurts.

1:15 pm
Woken by telephone call, Terenia will pick us up in 45 minutes. It's time to start again!

2:30 pm
Tripe and vodka. Not quite the breakfast I was hoping for after last night and I am dismayed to see that the pike has found me again also. Christ just bring me a coffee and some aspirin. Oh God, the band have started up again. Where did I leave that especially small vodka glass?

5:00 pm

I have been hiding outside in a deck chair round the back of the restaurant trying to snooze in the sunshine and take on water but I have been discovered and ordered to dance. With the dancing comes of course more vodka. There is no way to avoid it. The only thing I can do is drink the damn vodka and hope I either pass out and they leave me alone, or they pass out and I can sneak off again.

7:00 pm
I have discovered the secret of Pawel's remarkable vodka tolerance. He has given me some tablets that - according to my understanding of the label - increase the metabolization rate for alcohol. I am reminded of the time when I would take speed to take the edge off the acid. Thought I had left that kind of shit way behind. By my reckoning I will die tonight with or without the tablets so I may as well give it a shot.

8:00 pm

Stone me! These magic beans of Pawel's seem to do the trick. The real proof of the pudding will be in the morning of course, but for now It's full steam ahead. I have since learnt that just about all of my male relations here are necking these things, it has all become clear.

9:00 pm
I have a new found respect for the band. By my reckoning they have been playing for 18 hours now with only a few hours for sleep and minutes between numbers for a swift vodka. Neither their nor the crowd's enthusiasm seems to have abated.

12:00 am
This party is winding down. Finally. The band are playing their final number after 21 hours of performance! That deserves a round of applause. All we have to do now is find somebody sober to drive us home.