I landed back in the Jerz on Friday night and headed immediately down to Cape May, a place best anchored in my memory as the site of my first jellyfish sting when I was about 8 years old. Ah the delicacy of youth that made such an attack a day-ending affair. I emerged from the water in hot tears, feeling like my leg had been ripped open and injected with salt, followed by my mom and grandparents rushing to seek the guidance of the nearest lifeguard, who basically recommended finding some Benadryl and sucking it the hell up for the rest of the day. If only I knew then how many more times I’d be stung by jellyfish in the ensuing years while surfing or swimming, including I think three times in one day on Hilton Head two summers ago. Funny how your perception of pain changes when there’s no parents to run crying to.
But that memory may now be supplanted by the weekend-long bender that was the Etan and Daphne wedding, with all its chair-hoisting revelry, debaucherous hotel balconies and the bad case of the Gottahaveits that seemed to infect many guests at the Hotel Alcott.
As is typical with these things, one of the highlights was the after-party, the place where the stuffiness and dancing-to-Steve-Miller-Band-with-grandma formality are left behind and the friends of the couple can let loose a little more. This one took us to The Boiler Room, a brick-lined basement bar lit with soft red light that gave it the feel of some underground jazz club from swank decades ago.
I took one glimpse of the band playing in a recessed alcove and immediately added another item to my list of reasons that reinforce why leaving Hilton Head was a good idea. They were a blues ensemble of four guys (give or take a few drinks’ worth of math) led by a man I can only describe as the black Indiana Jones. Then this man in overalls, presumably someone who works for the bar, got on the mike to thank everyone for coming. He was probably — outwardly, at least– the happiest person in the room, which is saying something, since the bar was full of both our wedding party and another wedding party also in wild full swing.
“This is truly the greatest country on Earth,” he told the crowd. “I love America so much. America is truly the place where all things are possible and all things can happen. I love America, and I love each and everyone of you white people out there and I want to hug all of you. This is truly is the greatest country God has ever created.”
It wasn’t until I got the pictures off my camera that I noticed he was wearing an Obama pin on his blue pinstriped overalls. But I had a pretty good hunch as to what he was speaking about Saturday night. Just as he was about to leave the mike and thank everyone for coming, he said: “I understand we have some weddings here tonight. Where are those lovely brides?”
Etan fished Daphne away from her table and the other bride was pushed toward the stage.
“You know you ain’t truly married until you’ve been kissed by a black man,” he said.
Holy crap, I thought, Sean Hannity was right all along– Do you see what happens now that Obama has been elected? Everything will be different! The fundamental balance of power in our society is shifting! What else is in store? Next thing you know, black people will be telling people they can’t burn crosses on the lawns of biracial couples. Madness has come to America. Hopeful, barrier-breaking madness.
When I sobered up the next morning, I thought back to all the spontaneous celebrations in the streets of America’s cities election night and the pure joy in this man’s voice Saturday, and wondered what the outcome would have been if Obama had added the “two brides for every man” policy to his platform.