What better way to ring in the new year than to go to an Arab wedding! I received the invitation about a week before. I talked to a girlfriend about it, knowing that she would be invited since she is one of the aunties. She told me, “This will be an Islamic wedding.” I looked at her with a confused expression on my face and I said, “Uhh… we live in the desert… aren’t all the weddings here Islamic?” She laughed and laughed.
In strict Islam, music is not allowed, nor belly dancing. “There will be dancing, but it will be to drums.”
Finally, a wedding where the music isn’t blaring in my ears and giving me a headache! I thought. Fat chance. True, there was no music. The auditory enjoyment was provided by a selection of drums with different tones, and there was still a singer, but the lyrics of the songs were changed to be more religious. Too bad they didn’t try to alter Beyonce’s “Shoulda Put a Ring On It” – If you want to be holy then go to mosque, if you want to be holy then go to mosque – oh, oh, ohhhh…
The sound system was still set to the maximum. Unfortunately, someone hasn’t shared the wisdom that cranking all the levels to 10 doesn’t really maximize the sound quality. My girlfriend leaned across the table to tell me something. After a couple of failed attempts, I finally shouted, “I’m sorry. I can’t hear you over the not-music!” The difference really seemed to be splitting hairs, in my opinion (much like their take on interest, and yet the banks here still make money).
The bride arrived with a huge entourage of girls walking before her with lit torches. I always find the bride’s entrance so interesting because each wedding has a creative touch. As we waited for the bride to enter, I saw the girls preparing to light the torches. I saw the intent to light, I saw the low hanging material, and I thought, “This is going to end badly,” and I began to plot my escape route. Just as I expected, the torch was lit and the girl lifted it high. A huge chorus of screams rang out, as more women than just I had noticed the potential tragedy. Thankfully, she didn’t cause the material to catch on fire. One of the relatives, though, jumped from her seat and gave a stern warning. From then on, all I had to worry about was dying from the fumes of the burning kerosene as the procession s-l-0-w-l-y made it’s way along the catwalk.
At around 10:00, they began to serve dinner. Each woman received a large tray with hummus, an eggplant puree, flatbread, a plate filled with spiced rice and 3 different types of meat, and a plate with 3 different types of dessert. There was no way that I could eat that much food! I think even my husband would have had trouble with such a serving. But that’s Arab hospitality. Serve more than necessary to avoid anyone leaving unsatisfied.
I was pleased to not miss my chance to once again show off my dancing skills on the lit catwalk, but this time, my number wasn’t as spectacular without my girl Beyonce belting out her notes. By 11 p.m. the groom had still not arrived, and we were all tired, so we headed out the door.
I was home before midnight, with time enough time to cuddle up beside my husband as we waited for the clock to strike twelve. The minutes drew close, but we weren’t sure exactly when the year actually turned for us. My watch, my husband’s watch, my cellphone, and my husband’s cellphone all reported different times. We finally arbitrarily decided to begin the countdown, and so began our 2010: glamorous, low key, sweet, and in charge of our own destiny.