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[personal profile] rachelautumn
There was a request to describe the reality TV experience, so I described things so far below.
You asked about the reality T.V. It's really quite surreal. The wedding is odd for me anyway as my cousin is more religious than his family by a factor of ten and his parents were more religious than us by a factor of ten before that.

The A and E people are frothing at the mouth to get in on the "weird" religious customs and thwarted by the same. They wanted to film the part where his fiancee goes to talk to the rebbetzin about sex, for instance, at the micvah she does a few months before the wedding...but, yeah, they don't play that, especially since camera work is one of the most sexist professions on the planet so chances are they were all men and will never be allowed into a micvah, ever. Also the couple is expected to refrain from work for a week after the wedding...so no filming that. Haha.

There is a custom that the groom gets called to the Torah (The Aufruf. Yep, my German is invaluable for understanding the Yiddish my grandfather was so careful to forget. Another Haha.) This was at the local Chabad shul. That was awkward because my Aunt and Uncle raised Ben in a conservative egalitarian shul, so this was his home turf but not any of ours.

I've never been so glad to be oppressed. My father and brother had to squirm downstairs, while I got to remain safely anonymous in the balcony. No mistakes for me. Until I sat in the Rebbitzin's chair. Oops.

What a revelation that balcony was. It was clearly invented so that women can look at men. It was easy to see below who was handsome and who a frog, who was easy going and had lots of friends, who was taken away with fervor and who was thinking of the kiddish afterwards! It was also fun to see why the place is called "shul". The boys all sat at tables with the books piled on them that they were expected to be studying.

Jews care more about words than pictures. It became awful after a while to realize that while I could look my fill, I was not supposed to be heard. No one sang very loud. It didn't matter if we chatted and we could crane our necks all we wanted as Ben came up to do his Aliya, but even the Rebbitzin in her special chair hardly sang above a whisper.

It's traditional to shower the groom with candy. If you are worried that heckshered butterfingers thrown from a height of 20 feet might injure people below, so was I. It was OK.

I was glad I came in the end. And not just because you haven't lived till you've eaten pickled herring mixed with sesame noodles. If we hadn't been there, Ben would have been alone in a place that values community above all else. My husband's Greek family calls this your Parea, your gang of friends and relatives who make sure you have a place to sit at communal table. He looked up at me and smiled when he saw I was there, so it was worth it.

I'll spare you what the Rabbi said, though it was fascinating.

So the filming seemed very far away, after that. I was in shock when I walked into the kosher pizza place and I had to sign a waiver and we were outnumbered by people with cameras and microphones of unusual size.

One reason we were so few was that everyone hates kosher pizza...I mean, because the fiancee and her Parea weren't there. You see the bride and groom are not supposed to see each other before the wedding. MOre haha. That was the rehearsal dinner!

It was also on Mercer Island. Seattle is a narrow strip, crowded by two lakes. Mercer Island is in the middle of Lake Washington, both close to and isolated from the rest of the city. It's a little bastion of shameless consumption in the middle of a city that thinks it's better than that. I'd only ever canoed up to the shores before. Actually walking into some chilly, plate glass window place was disorienting. And I'm from the East Coast. I live in NY. Pizza parlours just don't look like that. They're grubby, warm, loud and small and they generally are run by Italians...Bah. Weird.

For hours the crew filmed Ben while we had a strained conversation. No one told us what to say at first but my Uncle and Ben both spoke a little loud and slow and kept to what I think were suggested topics. My grandmother, who stopped listening to her hearing aid 20 years ago, kept interrupting saying. "I forget. Am I 100 or 101? Finally I said,"Grandma. It's like the movie about Dalmations. You're 101."

That brought the attention of the owner of the restaurant who suddenly came zinging over. He has 3 Dalmations. (There is no accounting for taste.) When he found out I had a Spinone, he melted away again.

I have no idea whether they are going to use any of the things we said or did. My cousin Abbey, who is a huge loud mouth, coaxed everyone at the "younger" table to use curse words until the crew gave up and went away. She and her boyfriend did not sign the waiver. (He's your typical Seattleite, polite, correct, and can't remember if his ancestors are Norwegian or Swedish 'cos everyone's named Erikson.)

That left us older folks trapped in a conversation giving Ben advice about marriage and children. My grandmother told him to teach the children gently not to fight, which is hysterical as she famously went and cried in her bedroom while my dad and my aunt had WW3. The most authentic moment was when someone told him he would not be able to shower while taking care of a baby. "I won't be able to shower?" Genuine shock. Hope it makes it on the vid.

At some point, this exhausting performance was interrupted by some guy (director? Producer? Who were these people?) who said, "I hate to interrupt one of the most interesting conversations I've ever heard on this subject in my life, but do you think you could talk about what Ben is going to do professionally after he graduates?"

So, obviously the conversation is guided and also he is definitely from Los Angeles because no one anywhere else would be rude enough to pretend that sarcasm is a compliment.

Also, the job thing must be one of their chosen "conflicts" because my cousin doesn't have a clue. He is only 23 but seems much younger. He is the youngest of all of us -I'm the second- and is very aptly named Benjamin.

I said something rude about Whole foods when he expressed an interest in industrial psychology. I also very obnoxiously suggested that he was influenced by his sister (see Abbey above) in his interest in Psychology. Um. I was getting tired. I hope these comments are not featured as I realized somewhere in the middle of this portion that I SHOULD NOT HAVE SIGNED THE WAIVER.

The wedding is tonight. Monday! All so Ben's religious friends won't have to travel on a Saturday. There has been much gnashing of teeth over this because it meant everyone else had to take an extra day off work. (Today is a bank holiday, MLK day). This is the real conflict, of course. We're also all upset because these same friends were the reason why at his sister's wedding last summer we all had to drink boiled wine.

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