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Life and Times of an itinerant slacker in Sacramento. Thrills, Spills Galore coming soon. Not to mention lots of opinions.

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Sunday, March 08, 2009

My Big Fat Gay Quaker Wedding

My early music recorder group had the pleasure of playing music for a Society of Friends (i.e. Quaker) wedding ceremony for two guys who had a civil ceremony last summer. We provided about ½ hour of music prior to the beginning of the service, which was similar to a regular Quaker meeting, with a short break for vows and signing of the Sacramento Friends Meeting House's marriage document.

The wedding was a real experience. We played pretty well, with the strengths and weaknesses in our playing that we always experience. Recorders like to wander in and out of close tuning. The crowd seemed to enjoy the music, even the poor souls who came in last and had to sit about three feet in front of us. I think we added something to the affair. Several people complemented us, so either we played well or they are a very polite Meeting of Friends, or both.

The ceremony was totally a non-ceremony, like, what vows? what ceremony? That’s pretty much how Quakers, being the masters of British antiestablishmentarianism inspired understatement, like to do ceremonies. (antiestablishmentarianism, WOOT! I have waited my entire life to use this word in its proper context!)

The grooms processed at the end of our last number, a Marin Marias rondeau, not the Masterpiece Theater rondeau but equally appropriate for a Louis XIV era procession. To be completely honest it really wasn’t much of a procession. As we were winding the down, the grooms walked in the Meeting room and sat down in two chairs in the center, in front of a card table holding the very large Marriage document.

The Meeting’s Clerk read the rules, one hour of silent meditation, where we each are free to speak if so moved. Do these guys know how to party or what?

The ceremony was the same as a regular Sunday Quaker meeting, except for the couple of minutes when the grooms stood, made very short vows (about 5 words) and signed the certificate. That moment felt more like applying for life insurance than a typical protestant wedding. On this festive day, many were 'moved to speak', including a member of the California Assembly (Mariko Yamada from Davis, who officiated their civil ceremony). There is great concern right now, as a court is drafting its decision on the validity of Proposition 8 ,which may prohibit the State’s recognition of same-sex marriage. No one knows how this decision might impact existing marriages, whether the marriages will continue to exist. One of the guys had some community activism in his background, so given the timing of this wedding, some who were moved to speak might be accused of political grandstanding. However most who spoke said nice things about the guys, as it should be IMHO. They seem like decent guys. I cannot begrudge the politically motivated speakers, since much of my motivation for playing is that this is the most constructive way I can thumb my nose at the 51% of California voters who are far less enlightened than I. I hadn’t even met the grooms before the wedding.

Seriously, check out Proposition 8,the Musical for something very strange and only about three minutes.

BTW the guys were rather large-bodied fellows in their mid 50's. They both seemed rather quiet types, and were dressed in slacks and loose fitting short sleeved shirts. One of the grooms looked a little bit like a darker Rush Limbaugh, the Herman Goering of the New and Improved Republican Party,but only from behind. They looked like your typical fifty something civil service office workers. They seemed like a good couple, given that the guy who is a Quaker early on had agreed to unload a lot of his book collection (someone said something about 20 cartons of books) so both guys could fit their stuff into one house, and the other guy, who is not a Quaker, agreed to put up with this ceremony.

The silences were pretty long. I found that each time I began really working at meditating someone would be moved to speak. At that moment, I needed to stop my meditation, and focus on the speaker. I found it difficult to meditate when anticipating an interruption at any moment. I must admit that it seems those whom you wish wouldn’t be moved to speak are so moved.

We stayed for the short and informal reception, where we signed the Society’s marriage certificate. All who attend the meeting are considered witnesses. I spoke with one of the grooms and several of the friends. It was a friendly crowd of Friends. One of the friends thought I would be an excellent addition to the meeting, after hearing about my slackerly existence. I amnot sure whether to take that as a complement or a slam. There were sandwiches and some homemade chocolate-dipped strawberries. They didn’t have any oatmeal anywhere, nor did anyone resemble the Quaker oats guy in any way, except perhaps in girth.

Assemblyperson Yamada and I spoke for about two minutes as we were holding our plastic champagne glasses filled with apple juice and waiting for the toast (did I mention that these Friends really know how to party?) Of course, we became immediate best friends for that moment. You've got to love that about politicians. She seemed very nice.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

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I must enjoy shouting into a vacuum, but I think about getting my act together one of these days. My mom says I am very handsome and intelligent.

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