My day began with my brother's unceremonious arrival in my hotel room at the ungodly hour of nine in the morning. I was tired because I had been for a lot of the night watching the Snooker Grand Prix. Tell me why, exactly, this sport hasn't caught on in America? It's awesome.
I had breakfast in the hotel restaurant. Most of the wedding guests had arrived by then. Several stopped by our breakfast table to remark to my father that it was obvious that my granddad had already arrived. This is because they saw a car in the parking lot parked like this:
Apparently my granddad has a reputation for not being the best or most accurate driver.
After breakfast, I went back to my room and went to sleep. Eventually, our parents made us get out of bed for lunch. We were able to fend them off for a while, but around two we left for lunch. Only to find that lunch was not being served anymore at the pub down the road. Our only choices were: a, go back to the hotel restaurant that wouldn't serve me my dinner last night; b, starve; or c, find another pub that was still serving lunch. We chose c. The lady at the pub recommended a pub down the street called the Durham Ox.
The Durham Ox was a very upscale pub. We knew this because the ceilings were higher than six feet and the tables came with silverware. Also because they served things like the "Vermicelli Salad with Crispy Duck," which I had, which was very good.
My brother went back to sleep, and my parents and I took a walk around the hotel grounds. There was a big pond with ducks in it, but all I could see when I looked at the ducks was a Vermicelli Salad with Crispy Duck. Mmmm.
And soon it was time for the second biggest night of the trip: my parents' 25th anniversary party. They didn't want to look like they were trying to one-up my uncle's wedding the next day, so they went with a low-key affair in one of the hotel's smaller party rooms. A buffet table would provide a selection of appetizery foods to eat. Food-lover Julian was very upset because apparently, in the earlier stages of party-planning, my dad had sent out a menu for the night that included chicken with asparagus. Although another email was sent telling everyone to disregard the previous menu and providing the current one, Julian had printed out the original menu and put it in his pocket, so that he could pull it out and ask my father where the promised chicken and asparagus was.
Great Uncle Jim, too, was upset, because many of the dishes had cheese in them and he can't eat cheese for some reason. Actually, he didn't really care. Great Aunt Muriel, though, examined everything he brought back to make sure there was no cheese. There was a spot of trouble when it turned out that the egg sandwiches and the cheese sandwiches looked almost identical, but fortunately, Jim consumed no cheese.
And then the champagne flutes came around, which meant it was time for the long-awaited toast. The only person who was really awaiting it was my father, who insisted that I, as the oldest child, bore the responsibility of making a toast. I made sure to slough half of this responsibility off to the oldest son and we spent the day, when we weren't sleeping, writing our little speeches.
And here is mine:
Today is the day before Rod and Tracey's wedding. And today, twenty-five years ago, my parents got married. Again (the story goes that my dad was about to get deported, so my parents got married in a town hall. A few months later, they had a real wedding ceremony). Two people from different countries and backgrounds and they managed to get together, stay together, and raise one amazing child together. And Ryan's fine too, I guess (and here is where the room laughs at my cheekiness). If I had been around, I probably would have said it wouldn't last (and here is where the room chuckles at my rapier wit). But it did, and I think it's because they truly are each other's best friends (and here is where the room goes "awww," because I have said something touching). Their marriage is an inspiration to me, and I hope that one day I will have something like they do. And thanks to them, I know how.
And then my brother made his speech.
And then I did the toast:
You've had your kids around for most of your first twenty-five years together. Well, we're pretty much gone now, so you get to spend the next twenty-five years with just each other. Good luck!
I forgot to say cheers but everyone toasted anyway.
Then Uncle Greg stood up to make his own speech. He talked about how my father has always been a voracious reader and said he calculated that in twenty-five years of marriage, he has read between four and five thousand books. He then produced an extremely well-read copy of a book he found that used to belong to my father, and said he was going to read a passage from it and see if anyone could guess what it was.
"Is it Lord of the Rings?" Nanny immediately asked.
It was. But Greg read the passage anyway, during which he was interrupted several times by people guessing it was from Lord of the Rings, and then he gave the book to my dad.
And then my dad stood up and made speech, and my mother graciously thanked everyone for coming, but didn't make a speech, because public speaking is not her favorite thing to do, and my Granddad also made a speech, but I wasn't listening because at this point, Nanny had started telling me about when she came to America to see my parents' wedding.
Nanny was very excited, as she had never been on a transatlantic flight, or maybe any flight, before. She had everything worked out: she was going to walk up the stairs to the plane, and then when she got on the top of the stairs she was going to take a picture and then wave good-bye to England, just like she had seen The Beatles do. But when she got to the airport, they made her walk down a long tunnel and then, all of the sudden, she was on the plane. So that was disappointing, but she was still looking forward to seeing America for the first time.
They landed at JFK, where Nanny was yelled at several times for stepping over the white line in the customs line. She said she was not impressed with America.
I spent the rest of the night learning how to speak Swedish, thanks to the teaching stylings of my cousins. If I ever find myself in Sweden again, I'll be all set because I know how to say "Sara wants a beer" and "Sara wants a donkey."
Tomorrow: It's time for the wedding. Why does the vicar keep talking about beer and football in his little speech thing (the answer to this will not be revealed, as I still don't know)? At the reception, my brother and I are separated from our parents and placed at the Naughty Table, where Julian's love of food threatens to send us all to Hell. And is Rod serious when he says a Freddy Mercury impersonator will be providing the evening's entertainment?