Well, my sister’s finally got married, and I’m still recovering from the event. I lasted a lot longer than I thought I ever would. Since the reception took place near my house, I was given permission to go home anytime it became too stressful for me. Especially since the morning wasn’t particularly favorable for me. The night prior, we had a guest in the basement, so I couldn’t use some of the faculties there. I was hoping to use them the next morning, but that floor was taken up when my sister used it for doing her hair, dress and whatnot.
Then my Mother got upset at me for being in a sour mood while she fixed my corsage on my fancy-pantsy suit. (The place was still a madhouse, and I planned to get dressed once everyone was gone) Not to mention that she didn’t trust me to take my bike, since she was worried the chain might’ve gotten caught on the pants leg. I found this slightly insulting since I’d had a similar mishap with my regular pants - years ago, and developed a system to avoid that from ever happening again. Ever since then, I’ve never had an occasion where my pants have gotten stuck ever again. After I took care of my business in the basement, I went towards the reception hall (which was also the Community Centre), being doubly careful not just of my pants, but also a binder full of stuff I’d been preparing.
A week before the wedding, my Mother suggested that I gather a bunch of Wedding comics. I followed a prior request for my Father’s retirement from Government work. Since I have an uncanny ability to recall any comic that fits the bill, it wasn’t much trouble. But this task was much more daunting. There were SO MANY Wedding comics out there that I was worried I wouldn’t find them all. She reassured me that it wasn’t necessary, but I’m something of a perfectionist, and demand nothing less. If she’d made the request a month ago, I could’ve scoured through my archives much more easily, but with only a week left, I was pressed for time.
It didn’t help matters much that when I was in the process of looking for said comics, I was accused of not doing anything to help with the cleaning up. At the time, I didn’t know that my Mother had gotten a flat tire and was upset with me not putting away the groceries, but I felt pretty bad about it afterwards. So bad, that I almost blabbed out the project to my sister. I had no idea that it was intended to be a secret. My Father also almost spilled the beans himself when he talked about putting something in a speech my Mother prepared (which was also a secret)
Fortunately, my sister is deaf too, and missed these slip-ups, so she had no idea what we were talking about. (More on Mom’s speech later)
By the time I arrived, things de-escalated from there. Although the reception was planned fifteen minutes ahead of schedule, the wedding was still delayed by half an hour or so. The hallway was pretty sparse when I entered, but a few minutes later, the hordes moved in. It didn’t help matters that there was another wedding planned right next door. This wedding looked to be even fancier than my sister’s even though there were fewer guests - they’d giftwrapped their chairs and everything.
Then I found out that the seat that had been reserved for me (right up front) wobbled a bit. After much experimenting, I found that it wasn’t the chair itself, but that particular section of floor that caused wobbling. I had no choice but to take a seat a row back and hope nobody would complain. It was fine with me, since I’m used to watching interpreters from a distance rather than up close, and nobody sat next to me anyways.
Then after much delay, the wedding finally started, with what I called the groom’s funeral dirge. (Everybody moved very slowly, which made me think of death marches.) Then my sister made her appearance. I saw her dress before she wore it, and thought it looked like something a cardinal priest would wear - there was too much red. Then when she wore it, I noticed that all the red was bunched up behind her back, so it made more sense there. Of course, it took me awhile to recognize her since she had her hair all done up in a singular curl.
Then the reception started in three languages, English French and Hebrew. Even though she had a script handy, my interpreter was still unprepared to translated the majority of what was being said, so I lost about 1/3 of the vows. Fortunately, I was able to snatch the transcripts later so I could rehash what they were talking about. After the groom smashed the glass to smithereens (he had to stomp twice), he and the bride made a brief detour outside the door. At this, I replied to nobody in particular, “Okay, show’s over. We can all go home now.” Of course, it wasn’t over, and we had to stick around a little longer for the guests & food.
There were several people who’d been singled out that I was told might be worth talking to, and I brought the list with me. I find it easier to talk to someone if I have a profile on their current hobbies / jobs / interests, so I can instantly engage in conversation rather than find out secondhand. A few of them panned out, and some conversations went to a complete standstill. Even with preparation, I still wasn’t used to carrying on dialogues past a saturation point. It probably didn’t help matters much that there was a lot of background noise as well.
Fortunately, the longest conversation I had was with a relative whose baby boy had autism. I talked to her at length, conveying what little wisdom I felt could help her. I heard that my parents were greatly influenced after meeting a profoundly deaf man who was an inspirational speaker and motivated them to try harder, and that was what I was trying to convey. I was a little worried when she started tearing up because of guilt, but pressed on, saying “It’s not your fault.” I explained that my purpose was to help rise the level of her boy’s autism to Asperger levels. I also explained that forcing her boy to look people in the eye is the most painful thing one can do. Instead, tell him to look at people’s lips, since they make more sense. Eyes convey too much information - constantly shifting, pupils dilating, never staying still, but lips have a rational basis to them - they move when they’re talking. Although parents may worry that they’re not truly looking at the person’s face, the lips are so close to the eyes that hardly anybody notices.
After milling around with not much else to do but sample the breadstuff and drink pineapple juice and apple juice (I’m a total teetotaler - I can’t even tolerate fizzy drinks) I was wondering if I should go home for awhile, since most of the food served wasn’t to my taste. But then I wouldn’t get a chance to sample the cake, and isn’t that why everyone goes to weddings anyways?
Finally around 6:30, my Mother started her speech with the song “Is this the little girl I carried?” playing in the background. Her first line was that preparing this speech was extremely difficult for her, because my sister wasn’t able to help edit it for her. Later in the speech, my Mother mentioned that while my sister was growing up, her favorite Disney movie was Dumbo. (Mine too) She would watch it over and over, at least once a day. Most parents would go mad from so much repetition, but my Mother didn’t mind, since it was her favorite movie too. The reason being that it was about a baby animal being persecuted because he was different. And what was different about him? His ears.
At this, I got a little misty-eyed since, being deaf as my sister, I hadn’t made the connection before. My Mother went on, saying that Dumbo was able to use his handicap to his advantage and be appreciated for who he was. She said that she was extremely proud of my sister for being able to rise and surpass their expectations. Then she mentioned that I prepared a small collection of wedding comics, and if anyone was interested, they could come and take a look.
In addition to scanning the comics and organizing them, I also divided them by theme, starting with the proposal, going into wedding planning, the late arrival, the hesitation, the vows, carrying over the pedestal, and finally the inevitable outcome after the wedding, usually ending in divorce. I also thought it would be more interesting if several comics were mixed up in their storylines, so I had one week of Doonesbury followed by a week of Bloom County and three weeks of For Better or for Worse. I also organized the Hermans by narrative, trying to find a pace that would be consistent from one panel to the next. Lastly, I had to think ahead so that on opposite sides of the papers would be a similar theme. I had to do all this for about 50 pages worth of material.
Of course, the printing was compounded by the difficulty of the only working printer in the house be connected to a computer that had Windows Vista, and a low ink cartridge. Fortunately, we were saved at the last minute by a nice neighbor who allowed us use of her printer which not only printed out colour versions of my Sunday comics, but also made things easier since hers was a Windows XP version. On Vista, the only way I could print something in full was by opening it in Paintshop, then copying & pasting on a Word document. But with Windows XP, I just had to open it in Windows & Fax Viewer, press print and click enter five times. Then I noticed that the printed versions were dangerously close to the margins, so I had to re-edit all the comics again to make sure nothing would get obscured when I punched holes on both sides. The printing alone took two hours.
However, even though I’d been mentioned in my Mother’s speech, it seemed that I was just another footnote - my sister was the main attraction, and I was just a passing comment. If the molehills weren’t coming to the mountain, then the mountain was coming towards the molehills. It was left up to me to seek people out who might be receptive of my hard work. The interpreter certainly helped me gain the confidence I needed in talking to people.
Several people seemed confused, since they thought that since my sister was an artist, the collection of comics were done by me. I had to explain multiple times that I didn’t draw them, I found them and made copies of them. Others just flipped through the pages, not really looking or reading the material present. However, those who took a genuine interest in my collection, I gave them little slips of paper with my e-mail and blog address. (I have to do my own viral advertising) For those of you visiting, sorry it took so long - I was still recuperating.
I also had to be very selective about my audience, since the dimmed lighting made reading my works more of a chore than they should’ve been. There was one table that was encased in darkness, and I’m sorry that I never got a chance to show them. Eventually, all the faces started to run together, and I started showing my comics people who’d already seen them before. It didn’t help matters much when they got up and moved around and started to dance.
The most enjoyable comics were the Hermans which were easy to read. The Doonesbury and Bloom County comics were the most often skipped since the printing reproduction made the already small text virtually unreadable. Fortunately, the samples I’ve posted here should be more manageable.
By the time the dessert tray rolled out, I was amazed at my endurance - I managed to last all the way to 10:00 PM. I never thought I’d be able to last 8 hours straight. The most I can manage is 6 hours at work without a break. It was mostly the promise of food and wanting to spread my knowledge that compelled me to stay. By now, I was feeling rather full, definitely tired and decided it was time for me to cycle home. After making my wishes known to my Mother, she commended me on staying for so long without making a scene. Upon leaving, I made one last announcement of farewell and left to a smattering few who waved goodbye.
I left the binder containing the comics in care of my sister, since she’s also a comics fan, and greatly enjoys anything I show to her that’s not S-hero related. When she moved out of the house, it was a great loss for me since she was the only person in my life I could share my interests with. Now she’s married and her new hubby will take up whatever little time’s she’s got that’s not taken by finishing her last year of art school, looking for a new job and, y’know, sleep. So there’s not much chance of seeing her on a regular basis in the future, except for family events.
As impressive as the sampling of comics here is, there’s a lot that weren’t included or because of space, had to be left out. I’ll blog those in a future post.