Thursday, April 11, 2013

Given the choice, I'll take mourning

According to both King Solomon and David Crosby, there is a time to dance, and a time to mourn. Given a choice between going to a wedding (dancing) and going to a cemetery (mourning), I'll take the cemetery.
Last night, Builder and I went to a wedding (Yeah, I know, it's sefirah, but it's also Rosh Chodesh.)  I would have preferred to skip it, but since it was Builder's old friend from yeshiva who was marrying off a daughter, I had to put on my velvet cloche and go.
Although Builder, and everyone else, thought the wedding was beautiful, I thought it was overcrowded, overpriced, and overdone.  A 20-piece band?  Sequined tablecloths?  Although the lighting that covered the walls with roses was original, and I can't argue with sushi, the rest just seemed like too much.  Not to mention, I can't stand going to events where I don't know anyone.  Fortunately, my sisters-in-law were in attendance, so I didn't have to spend all night staring into space.  And, I've learned to bid a hasty retreat when the dancing starts, and stay out of range until I can no longer hear the music through the floorboards.
And then I thought about cemeteries.
I love cemeteries, the older the better.  I love the quiet.  I love reading the tombstones and thinking about what the people buried therein have seen.  There was a cemetery in Wellesley with graves that pre-dated the American Revolution.  Here in New York, there are plenty of old cemeteries, including one near my house.  I have to wonder what the deceased had seen.  Ellis Island?  The Triangle fire?  Pogroms in Russia?  I know it's bizarre, but given a choice between circle dancing to an ear-busting rendition of "Od Yeshama" or reading the epitaphs on a crumbling tombstone, I'll take the cemetery.


  1. I'll be right there with you in the cemetery. I can't stand events where the music is too loud and I don't know anybody.


  2. You know you're just paraphrasing Koheles, right?

  3. Weird.
    I LOVE weddings, because I love finding out that two people have gathered the courage to try to build a life together. That's a pretty scary proposition, because so much can go wrong. But courageous adults know that things can go wrong--and things can go right. The most important thing is to keep the lines of communication open throughout the marriage and talk about your feelings. That can take even more courage than prancing under the arches after the yichud room experience. Sometimes it takes a little yelling, sometimes a potch up the back of the head. But it can be done--folks have been doing it for at least 5773 years!
    And as for the wedding experience itself: Sure, the music can be a little too loud, the table settings tacky, the chicken rubbery, the lighting obscure. But personally, when I say a wedding is beautiful, I'm referring to the vibes from the couple and the good wishes of friends and family. The rest is superficial. If they (the couple, in-laws, whomever) want to hire a 10-piece orchestra--or a 100-piece orchestra--that's their business, not mine. I just go with the flow. And you went with your husband--lucky you! I usually go alone. Given Jewish Geography, I always find at least one person I know, someone to wish a "mazel tov" before being swept up into a circle dance. You went with your husband. When you do, do you ask him to identify people who could at least talk with? Sometimes you think you have nothing in common, but after chatting for a few minutes, you find out you have at least some interest in common, enough for a little idle chatter until the rubbery chicken gets dumped on your plate (which is why I usually eat before going).


I'm not Monty Python. I hate SPAM.