From the Bride’s Father’s Notebook – Day 10 (part 2)

The Inn at Little Washington is a quaint collection of buildings in a tiny village (Washington, Virginia) with only a handful of houses, a few shops, and really one main intersection, all within sight of the Blue Ridge mountains.  I think the pastoral setting worked its calming magic on each of us.

Please indulge this brief tale about a bit of man-of-the-house pride.  When we were getting settled and set up in the fireplaced room in the small, 18th century cabin that was the venue for both wedding and wedding night, my own bride suggested we put my satchel out of sight in a safe place.  I proceeded to squirrel it away, not realizing I would be asked for five items from it (I love being prepared) in the next half hour: band-aid, screwdriver, sewing kit, reading glasses, and the one I liked best: headlight.  I don’t usually carry that very handy light I wear around my forehead in dark times of need, but in my worried over-preparing for the day, trying to anticipate all contingencies, I threw it in.  When my wife, who in a few panicked moments before the ceremony absolutely couldn’t fasten the bride’s dress’s clasp, asked for my help (imagine: the bride’s father in the dressing room and her, though all dressed, still not completely fastened; I felt like a privileged foreign dignitary in the home country’s embassy), “You don’t happen to have your headlight, do you?” I was able to be, for a minute, a central actor in a play I’ve mostly been on the fringes of these days.  

I don’t intend this to be a blow-by-blow accounting of the event, but just observations jotted down for posterity.  Eleven people (twelve including the officiant) viewed the joining of bride and groom.  The couple looked young and beautiful and optimistic and strong and confident and maybe slightly bewildered, which is every bit how a bride and groom should look.  I walked my daughter to the minister and the groom, a moment I had pondered and tried to foresee from when she was only a day or so old.  The thought of some so-and-so making off with my daughter had incensed me at the time.  I anticipated crawling under a rock afterwards to weep and blubber and mourn.  Now that the event was really at hand, I was nothing but supportive and happy.  In the days and weeks after the event I mourned the loss, or maybe the change.  I’m happy for her, for them, and I think when the dust settles, I’ll be happy for me, too.

The meal was a rich, lush fairy tale of food and service.  For a few hours we were the center of that little world of the Inn at Little Washington.  The Inn is a world-famous venue with one of the country’s most famous chefs.  How to describe the food, the event?  While still at the smaller house we were served champagne to toast the newlyweds, then gourmet nibblers such as fried Parmesan crisps.  I guess you could call it fried cheese, but it was as far from a carnival as you could get.  We also munched little appetizers, dainties with bits of fruit or meat or cheese or some odd, luscious combination of flavors and ingredients.

Then to the dining room, escorted like royalty to our tables, the continuing dream, but not a dream, the real celebration of this singular moment.  Before they delivered the first of four courses, we were served little boxes of popcorn with black truffle shavings.  That set the tone for the rest of the meal: common food served uncommonly.  We had salad, meat and starch, desserts, cheeses, but all were special, all handcrafted with care and skill.  Waiters and waitresses carried in each course, a little parade bearing eleven dishes of delicacies.  The wine steward had selected different wines to match the different dishes.  Though not a connoisseur, I enjoyed them all.

Better even than the food was the talk.  All of us around that table told stories about other weddings, how so and so met, humorous tales of family lore.  Like the food, we took our time with the talk, savoring the common human, the common family experiences we related.  I recited a sonnet I memorized for the event, Shakespeare’s 116th.  Before the dessert course, the restaurant’s master-of-ceremonies brought out a cute little ice-cream cake, shaped like a small gift box (complete with bow) and served under an amber, spun-sugar dome.  Would the coach outside turn into a pumpkin if we dallied past midnight?

At evening’s end, we were satisfied, all full, not just of food but of satisfaction, peace, gratitude.  The event was worth every dollar, worth every minute, worth, soaking in like a sponge, drops of joy and fun and love.

About literarylee

I sling words for a living. Always have, always will. Some have been interesting and fun; most not. These days, I write the fun words early in the morning before the adults are up and make me eat my Cream of Wheat.
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