Friday, September 14, 2007

It's a Nice Day for a White Wedding

The story so far: Our hero [that's me folks] has embarked on a 7-week trip to Germany in the summer of aught-seven to spend with his girlfriend of [now} 2-years, the OFOMOL. They have spent time in crappy Pforzheim and visited Strasbourg, France. They are back in Dresden.

We were invited to a wedding of a friend of the OFOMOL in Berlin. They were in the same undergraduate program and she was getting married to an American with the same name as me! Pretty crazy! So we took the train (have I mentioned how much I love travelling by train?) to Berlin. We had already done the tourist trip there last summer so we didn't need to see all the sights. While on the train, slightly before we arrived in Berlin, the OFOMOL asked if I needed to use the bathroom. The rational of this is that when we got to Berlin the bathrooms in the main station would charge to use the bathrooms. It has been documented here before how much I HATE this concept of paying for the bathroom. It ain't right! I didn't need to use the bathroom (at the time) and sat contently as we rolled into Berlin.

We arrive and we stop at the OFOMOL's favorite coffee shop, Starbucks. I am working (slowly but surely) on learning more German and I felt comfortable enough to order our drinks in German. I do this and feel proud of myself and then the barista says "seven eruos please." D'oh! I work hard to talk in German and she speaks English back to me! Not only that she asked for my name twice (for our order) and when it arrived they called out "Paul" (which certainly isn't my name). They were supposed to be two medium (no Starbucks sizes for me) vanilla lattes but I know my tasted like it was sans-vanilla. Oh well, we took the cups for Paul and were on our way.

Then (maybe it was the coffee, it is a diuretic) I realize that nature is calling and I will need to use said bathrooms in the main station. I mention this to my beautiful girlfriend and she says "oh no, I told you to go on the train!" and rightfully so, she raises her voice and tells me I am a little kid. Probably because she told me to go and I didn't and she knows how much I hate paying for the bathroom. OK Ok, she gets over it but tells me I have to pay for the bathroom. I get my money out and realize I don't have enough money and must borrow some from her to use the bathroom. Oh the irony!

So we make our way to one of the suburbs outside of Berlin to attend the Poltabend. I would say this is a bit analogous to the rehearsal dinner for American weddings, but it was so much more. Since the groom is American his family and some of his friends came over. After a couple of weeks in Germany it was nice to converse with Americans. The food was great! Fresh grilled wurst, steaks, all sorts of salads, and of course plenty of German beer! But that wasn't all! After dinner we gathered around near the door to the house. Everyone was supposed to bring some sort of ceramic plate/dishware. All the guests then throw the plates/etc on the ground near the door. The belief is that the noise of the glass breaking will scare away the ghosts (polt, ie poltergeist) the night (abend) before the wedding. The OFOMOL's mother gave us a stack of plates to take -- I thought it was excessive, that was until I broke a plate! It was pretty cool. I mean, really, how often do you get to break plates on purpose? Everyone had fun doing it. That is not all though as before the bride and groom get married, the have to clean up the glass into some container. Anyone, however, can go and dump the shards(sp?) of glass out at anytime. So as the bride and groom were shovelling the glass into a wheelbarrow a couple of times someone would go and flip it over and they had to start over again. There are stories of people dumping it out in the middle of the night and on the steps of the church so they have to clean it up before the ceremony! It was a really good time and it is something that can definitely be incorporated into an American Wedding.

The wedding itself was heald in a little vacation area. There was a lake, horseback riding and the place we were staying had unfinished wood. Gives it that cabin/rustic feel to it. The big difference between American and German weddings is that they have to be conducted by an offical person who does weddings. Church weddings are not recognized legally in Germany. While the ceremony was nice (it was outside), it had a bit of a regimented feel to it. The rest of the stuff was like any other wedding I've been to. Well there was a lot of crappy Euro/German-pop music -- even the natives complained about the song selection.

One aspect that is unique to German Weddings is the kidnapping of the bride. Since we were on a lake, a group of people took the bride out on a boat in the middle of the lake. The DJ started playing the music from Pirates of the Caribbean and the groom was like "hey! What's going on?" He promptly grabbed his best man (yet another American married to a German) and they rowed out to save his bride. Upon rescuing her and returning to shore he said "I saved the flag" as they had an American flag and then stated "and I found this girl." Hehe.

I know I've written a lot for tonight, but it was a fun time. As I mentioned before, I like experiencing these different cultural things. Since dating her, I've come to appreciate the differences we all have.

1 comment:

OFOMOL said...

What a nice post! I had a great time at that wedding too. However, you forgot about the cutest story of all. On Sunday, before we were ready to go back to Dresden, we went again to Starbucks. The MOL ordered again...just as he always did during his stay. With the coffee, we wanted to have a Chocolate muffin. So, he ordered the coffee and the Starbucks girl asked for his name to put it on the cup. The MOL - still developing his German skills - answered "Schokomuffin". Ahh...might be a cheesy story...but still my favorite (as the girlfriend).