It's hard to describe

August 19, 2002

It’s hard to describe perfection. Beyond the assertion that
something was “perfect”, there’s very little grounds for description;
descriptions are by their (and our) nature comparative and a perfect
moment is a rare gem, subject later to lame, rambling anecdotes
that conclude with a limp “You Had To Be There”. That last bit is
the fundamental truth of the thing, of course; you can’t experience
something by proxy, and even “being there”, completely immersed in
the moment, doesn’t give you a full understanding of an event. You’ve
only got one set of eyes after all, and if they’re working as
designed they can only be looking at one thing at a time.

I think I’ve had a chance, these last few days, to
participate in something that’s been as close to a
perfect day as I’m likely to see. Antoine and Alethea’s wedding
came together extraordinarily well. It’s hard,
see above, to describe an entire day in which thousands of
little details, major decisions, circumstances beyond mortal
control and a handful of curious coincidences all seemed
to line up like a Roman Battalion, shields burnished and
helmets polished, and march unstoppably over the Known World
in lockstepped precision at the bride and groom’s whim and
pleasure. A small handful of these include:

  • The rain, threatening and ominous, held off until we got all the
    outdoor pictures taken. It subsequently opened up and poured,
    a real 40-days-and-nights-of-this-would-just-about-do-it pour,
    that stopped and broke up right on time for us to get some very
    nice sunny breaks during the wedding proper.

  • We all line up, the traditional wedding music begins, we
    all march in. The very last person to walk in is the bride,
    and the music ends immediately before she’s supposed to walk
    in. Sean, who was on the absolute top of his game as a
    CD-player-play-button-pusher, pushes the play button, and
    “Here Comes The Bride” starts up anew a bare fraction of a second
    before Alethea steps in and starts walking down the aisle. The
    priest running the show, a man who radiated good humor and gravitas
    in equal measure, is heard to mutter “perfect” under his breath.

  • Antoine’s sister Valerie’s children, charged with the absolutely
    critical duty of blowing bubbles as the bride and groom left
    the stage, hesitated for the barest instant it took to get the
    happy couple to stop and look down at them while they got their
    bubble-action on, and it was really, really cute – it’s going to make
    for a hell of a photo, I’m sure. In a related and crassly financial
    point, if somebody figures out what Valerie and her husband have
    been feeding to, saying to or otherwise impressing upon those
    kids and manages to put it in a bottle, they are going to make a
    trillion dollars. When a six-year-old and a three-year-old,
    for crying out loud, can show enough sense of dignity and occasion
    to sit quietly until it’s time to blow their bubbles, there needs
    to be an immediate investigation.

  • Traffic on the DVP, and indeed everywhere, could have been a
    backbreaker – Antoine and Alethea had to hustle into town for the
    traditional tea ceremony, and it’s not like everyone else involved
    didn’t have stuff to do. It wasn’t the ten-minute sprint you can
    make at three in the morning, for sure, but it was a lot closer to
    that than the knuckle-whitening parking lot it could just as easily
    have become.

  • The staff at the Metropolitan Hotel are consummate pros. ’nuff

An old poem contains the line “Beauty is truth,
truth beauty, – that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need
to know.” One image that’s going to stick with me for, I hope, ever,
was Alethea’s face framed to my eyes by Antoine’s shoulder and the
audience behind her, seeing one tear roll down her right cheek
and listening to her wrestle her voice under control while she
made her vows. I’ve known pretty much everything that moment had
to teach for a long time but watching all that emotion crystallize
in front of me like that was beautiful, in the classic sense, and a
profound pleasure to have witnessed. I understand that Antoine did
precisely the same thing, but I missed it; he was facing the other
way and besides, I already know that he feels the same way
about her.

As I’ve said, shaky nerves don’t often rack up enough frequent
flier miles to make the trip up admittedly short Hoye spine,
but this week they’ve managed to score a free trip to Chateau
Medulla-Oblongata-Mike, with enough points left over for
complimentary drinks and a seat upgrade. My exams, they ain’t
no thang. They’re graded out of whatever, and you can get it
three-quarters right and one-quarter wrong, and still walk away
with your chin up. You can even blow off an assignment, if you’re
feeling particularly ornery, and hey, no biggie. The toast and speech
that I had been asked to make at the wedding, though, were tasks
of a slightly higher order; there are some things that absolutely
cannot be delayed or screwed up. Being chosen to be the best man
was and is a tremendous honour, and like all great honours leaves
very little room for error. I checked the pocket with the rings in
it maybe twice every five minutes once we left the apartment; they
were there when I walked down the aisle, they were still there when
I was asked if I had them, and I’d like to express my gratitude to
any deities that might have been paying attention or even just in
the neighborhood at the time.

Boy, if I’d botched that I would have disembowled myself with
my multitool right there on the podium. It would have been the
only right thing to do.

Both the toast and the later speech,
I’m told, and were well-delivered and well-received. That’s good,
because I was so nervous at the time that I can’t clearly remember
exactly what I said. Sean said that the speech was good enough that
he could probably repeat it verbatim if he had to. I might get him
to do that; it would be kind of nice to know what I’d said. I mean,
Christ – when you go that far back with somebody, a man whose first
selfless act of many was convincing me not to eat the contents of my
sandbox – how do you distill that down to two or three minutes?

I wonder how I did.

I’m going to have to cut this short. Suffice
to say that in all other regards, the evening and the next day
proceeded with a well-oiled smoothness that I’ve come to regard as
the hallmark of things that Antoine has planned out in advance. In
their vows, Antoine and Alethea said something interesting, promising
to be each others’ “closest ally and greatest adversary”, and I’m
glad they had to promise that to each other, because there aren’t
very many people in the world who’d be up for that job.

thanks go out, over the course of the weekend, to Kat and Mika, who
put Mehmet, Sean and I up at various times – Kat for one evening,
Mika while she wasn’t even around, having flitted off to Ohio for
another wedding (Mental Note: There are apparently both people
and things in Ohio
). Mika even went so far as to leave me in
the care of her boyfriend Colin, whose debonair man-about-townness
was more than sufficient to keep me free of the chronic boredom and
near-starvation that would surely have beset me in that blighted
wasteland. No, seriously – he’s a hell of a guy, and he knows some
neat places to get sushi, Eggs Benedict and coffee. Many thanks to

More news soon – must do actual work.