On Sunday 29, 2008 I performed my 310th Christian wedding ceremony since doing my very first one in June of 2004. It’s an enjoyable part time, weekend job. I take it seriously and put a lot of feeling into it to deliver a good performance. Because that’s what it is. It’s a show. I like weddings where there are babies or children in the audience, because they cry or make noise that acts as a kind of comic relief that takes attention off of me. Because, even though I have done hundreds of ceremonies by now I still feel very nervous before the start of each one. I am hyper sensitive to the ridiculousness of me speaking in Japanese that I only partially understand, and command of which I definitely lack. So, concentrating too much on the sound of my own voice while I am doing it can throw me off and contribute to mistakes. (And occasionally being asked to use a small, clip-on microphone does not help. Amplifying my voice amplifies my sense of self-ridiculousness.) But I don’t make many mistakes these days. Almost every ceremony comes off perfectly from my perspective. Sometimes I have trouble with the pianist/organist if it is a new girl, or a woman who hasn’t worked with me very much. But the ladies I work with the most, and I, know enough about watching each other to look for cues to keep the timing right. That’s very important.
Once a ceremony starts, though, and I open my mouth it becomes much easier, like I’m on a roll, and even if I make a mistake - unless it is a serious one - there is no stopping once I start. I shouldn’t worry too much about small mistakes, anyway, because the congregations probably cannot recognize them.
Wedding congregations are interesting. I feel like a primate anthropologist - a primatologist. The bride’s side of the chapel is monopolized by young women - single friends, I guess - and the groom’s side is monopolized by young men - also singles, I guess. Both sides are spotted with married couples in different stages of their lives - siblings of the wedding couple and married friends with young children, then go up in age to the parents of the wedding couple and their aunts and uncles, then age up even more to the grandparents, and so on. It’s a snapshot of relationships between the sexes as they age and a kind of portrait of a human lifetime.
I feel like Jane Goodall observing wild chimpanzees in the Tanzanian bush.
The young, single men who dominate the groom’s side tend to be annoying. I mean they often talk loudly even after I begin speaking to open the ceremony. If it’s just too bad then I look, or glare directly at them so they know I can see and hear them. They have a habit of laughing. Maybe it’s a mechanism to expel their jitters. But why should they be jittery at someone else’s wedding? Maybe they feel shy, or ribald about the public spectacle of one of their own going off into the sexual adventure of a married life, leaving their ranks of free-ranging males forever.
From a physical/deportment standpoint the difference between the young men and the young married men, and then the middle aged married men is interesting. There are many things: the long hair, dyed hair and earrings that give way to the expanding waistlines and thinning hair, plus the baby tote bags. The fathers - even the young ones - are a lot quieter than the young single males, and much more conservatively groomed. Maybe they’re just more mature, or mellowed from family life, or trained by their wives. Who knows.
The young, single women also appear much different from the young married women, the young mothers, and then the older women above them. The young women stand together in groups while the older ones stand/sit with their men. Their young woman’s fashions are perhaps the most noticeable difference because, like the men, the older women are consistently more conservatively dressed. Their behavior is not nearly as rowdy as the single men’s, though. I feel like Jane Goodall observing wild chimpanzees in the Tanzanian bush.