Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Marital-Industrial Complex

This weekend I was listening to Click and Clack on NPR…..absorbing my vitamin B (as in Baah-stn) the way secretaries in New York cram in their vitamin K by frying their faces with foil reflectors at lunchtime. A caller wanted the boys to decide for him whether or not he and his bride should drive from the church to the reception in his Tacoma or in a limo. A no-brainer, really….unless the poor schmuck wants to go down the Terry Bradshaw Road to Marital Hell (Terry spent the night of his wedding to Jo Jo Starbuck playing pool with his buddies…..and you thought he just acted dumb on TV). In the course of their advice, one of the Tappet brothers lamented the power of “The Marital Industrial Complex”. What a great name!

I was having a cup of coffee at the Carmel Valley Coffee Roasting the other day and accidentally sat next to a florist going over wedding plans with a bride and mother-of-bride. The florist had a thick notebook full of pictures of arrangements. As she flipped the pages, she took notes. Each page seemed to be about $500: corsages, bouquets, aisle decorations, standing pieces, cake flowers, etc. There were lots of pages….and the look on the clients’ faces was what GWB was looking for in Iraq: Shock and Awe. And that is just the flowers. My friend Tom O’Neal is a marvelous photographer: his fee starts at $5,000. The place settings alone at The Bee-ochh Club start at $30…… food with that, just silverware, plates and napkins.

And the cake. I think the cakes run around $7 a slice, which puts most cakes in the thousand dollar category. Our bakers are among the best in the country (Gerard Bechler and Parker-Lusseau), but even at a grand a pop, the stuff goes mostly uneaten now matter how glorious……even by my 20 year old soccer player workers with the metabolisms and appetites of sheetrockers.

We have had creative brides try to work around this. The most unfortunate choice is to substitute a cheese course: “Time to cut the…..uh, time to…uh, SERVE the cheese!!” Worse was the bride who had Gerard Bechler make a series of small cakes that looked like fifteen or so different French cheeses. Everyone wanted a little of each, and I actually had to have the Ray-diator intervene to stop me from stabbing a six year-old flower girl.

Cupcakes were kind of a fun option: infra-dig, low cost, really easy on the caterer, and a huge hit with the kids…..who are, let’s face it, the real consumers of cake.

Say goodbye to cupcakes. Martha has discovered them, perhaps in The Big House. Now cupcakes have gone designer. They are no longer cup cakes, they are miniature cakes, or individual cakes…..and they are at least five bucks now, and going up. There are websites.

Our bride next weekend has a new plan that I love: a wedding piñata! She hates cake, and hates the idea of dropping a grand on one, just because….So, she and her intended are going to smash up a piñata, and the kiddies can scramble for the goodies…..We will pass brownies and strawberries. Yay! Now to figure out what shape the piñata will be…….ex-boyfriend? Controlling mother-in-law? Karl Rove? Dalkon Shield? Wait till the MarthaPeople get ahold of this one. The day of the $500 piñata cannot be far away…….

This all brought back memories of our last piñata experience, more than twelve years ago. The scene was a wedding at Rancho San Carlos in the pre-Wendie Bloatie era. We did a Mexican fiesta, with lots of stations, mariachis and so on. The crowd was full-on Cypress Point. The highlight for me was serving a goat and cactus taco to a thousand year-old Yalie in a seersucker suit, saddle shoes and a straw boater. Credit due: he ate it......

Anyway, we decorated up with lots of piñatas. For some reason that now escapes me (probably that damn anarchist gene again) we decided not to fill them all with candies. The likelihood of Cypress Point fogies whacking piñatas was slim to none, so my dearly beloved ex, Loretta, went around to all the sleazy bar and gas station bathrooms and drug stores and bought mass quantities of condoms, French ticklers, little packages of anti-cum cream, faux Spanish fly and the like. The mere presence of these sleaze filled piñatas during the festivities was a huge morale boost for the crew.

Brendan was working the party, and as it goes, someone let slip to the hostess that it was his twelfth birthday. He was cute as hell, and busy and skilled as hell, so sure enough one of the guests got the bright idea of having him whack a piñata. People gathered around, a ball bat was produced somehow, and Brendan was blindfolded.

Now, Brendan was always a soccer guy…..not a baseball guy. I had a faint hope that he might just bruise the damn piñata and we would escape unblemished. Right. On his first swing he channeled all his Irish hurly-playing ancestors and completely destroyed the thing. French ticklers and penis enlargement cream rained down upon the crowd.

Ever hear the term “Pregnant Pause”? How completely apropos. The awkward silence was finally broken by my ancient Yalie: “My word, this chewing gum is awful!!”

Swear to God……


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11:41 PM  

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