To continue: As humanity continues its downward spiral into madness, certain formerly agreeable rites and rituals have gradually evolved from sweetly sentimental heartfelt celebrations into massive vulgar orgies of conspicuous consumption that would beggar the spectacles once staged in Rome’s Circus Maximus. Baptisms, circumcisions, christenings, confirmations, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, quinceañeras; all of them have been whipped up into a loony meringue of excess, frequently leading to severe financial hangovers and years of indebtedness. Does it make sense? Of course not. (Any supposed religious overtones are steamrolled by the tsunami of expenditure; the Almighty cannot be invoked as a raison d’etre for this nuttiness.) So, what bizarre out-of-control engine is driving this crazy train?
Simple: I believe that the motivation behind such displays is nothing but plain old one-upsmanship, but taken to an extreme that is so far gone into the Twilight Zone that no one even realizes it anymore. Overindulgence has become the norm. By golly, if Larry down the street stages an absurd five-thousand-dollar extravaganza for his sweet sixteen princess, then Moe is damn well going to spend ten thousand bucks on his princess and make Larry look like a tightwad until Curly spends twenty thousand dollars to bury them both in humiliation and cause both their daughters to despise them for being such cheapskates. On and on it goes on, a never-ending carousel ride of rampant avarice, growing ever more outrageous, teaching the impressionable young greedsters to equate love with a willingness to abuse the plastic.
You know, I remember many, many years ago reading a story about some demented Miami businessman who rented the entire Orange Bowl for his son’s Bar Mitzvah. The Orange Bowl! I recall thinking at the time, “Whoa, that kid is seriously hosed.” Yeah, sure. More likely he’s a hedge fund billionaire battening on the corpse of our economy and perhaps renting Antigua for his kid’s Bar Mitzvah.
Now, for pure runaway, bloated, maniacally costly overkill, nothing comes close to the modern wedding. Have you watched some of those wedding shows on television? Setting aside the monetary devastation, the level of angst and hysteria is so stratospheric that it absolutely astonishes me that anyone emerges from the process with their sanity intact, let alone happy. Months and months before the ceremony, the bride is reduced to a shrieking basket case by endless anxieties about the dress, (“Twelve thousand bucks and I look like an effing COW!”) the reception, (“I don’t care if Uncle Mario is doing life in Pelican Bay, we have to invite him and his family!”) the color scheme, (“Goddamit, I want purple and mustard, okay, and that fag wedding coordinator can just bite me!”) the flowers, (“Cricket Feldman had six thousand camellias, and she’s a cheap slut!”) the music, (“I don’t want a bunch of old farts playing songs from a million years ago!”) the bridesmaids, (“Courtney and Sarah are such bitches, I hate them!”) and of course, the mothers. (“Can both of you just please shut up before I lose my mind?!”)
The groom, naturally, is almost entirely excluded from these proceedings, since he is irrelevant. Every once in a while he’s collared and dragged into the mosh pit to be “consulted” about something or other, whereupon he offers a doomed grin like that of the male black widow spider, who knows full well what’s in store.
The crowning –and pitiful– irony of this lunacy is that a huge percentage of these marriages implode rather quickly, because wasted money is no guarantor of happiness, and in fact may even kill it. Sometimes it seems that the more outlandishly-priced the affair, the quicker it ends in ruin. The bride shows up in a flower-bedecked carriage drawn by twelve white stallions, the groom helicopters down in a Sikorsky, the guests slug down Piper-Heidsieck by the gallon and devour enough Beluga caviar to sink a barge, and five weeks later the joyful couple separates, citing “irreconcilable differences”.
The Beatles (anyone remember them?) had it right: “Can’t Buy Me Love.” Perhaps the song should be played at every one of these atrocities, until folks begin to remember why they get married in the first place. Hint, sweethearts, from your old Aunt Lannie: It isn't the par-tay.
Until next we meet,Be at peace.