Kentucky wedding meet the Dutchpublished: 2009-09-27
My aunt is wearing a Dutch traditional headset, orange coloured clogs and a red-white-blue sash as I enter her hotel room. She is flushed and confused, the way a child can be flushed on seeing all the effort she put into a drawing thrown into a trash-can. On the couch sits my American cousin’s (ie the groom’s) best-man. He is a bodybuilder and clad in black. His one arm shows a tattoo of a cross, the other an anchor. He is going through the blue-print for the wedding this evening. And he is trying to understand what exactly we are planning to do for my cousin, when we haven’t even figured it our ourselves. My mother continues to sew the sashes, as if nothing were wrong, while my Dad gets increasingly irritated. My hungover cousin (not the one getting married) throws in a few ideas, to which we all have opposing reactions. See, we’re all hung over. My son runs around pulling at things and whining. My uncle scowls. I am trying to understand what the master of ceremony is telling us, between the lines? It seems what we’re planning to do (whatever that may be) is not appropriate?
What we’re dealing with here, is a classic case of culture clash.
The best-man tells us he’ll be giving up on his speech so that we can do our Dutch skit. And my Dad tries to say “no we shoyld give up. He can’t give up his speech for us?” I try to explain that it’s a casual thing, we’ll do it at the party, or in between courses, for fun, that kind of thing. But weddings do not allow for improvisation, so the best-man keeps repeating, “no, I have decided this is important, you need to do this. It’s a Dutch tradition.” Suddenly Dutch traditions are becoming awfully weighty. So now I’m thinking: “if we’re going to hold up the wedding for a fun little Dutch skit, then it better be pretty damn good.” At which stage I opted for us to just wear our costumes? But then there’s my poor aunt who had spent weeks working on various lyrics to Dutch tunes. She had even practiced a dance.
Within 10 minutes, we all end up shouting through eachother and at eachother. The best-man leaves the scene for a few minutes. Half of the Dutch connection decide they have headaches and needed to lie down. The other half stays to work on that skit. And by and by, it’s become a kick-ass little 2 minute skit. The best man returns and we somehow manage to come to the conclusion, “we’ll just do it during the party.” To be more precise: 15 minutes after the first dance, as has been decided by the best-man. Now was that so difficult?