Thursday, August 9, 2012

M&M's Quality Wedding

It was approaching midnight, and we were escaping from the Yonkers ghetto.

It was all my fault. If only I had taken the commuter rail to Crestwood (home of St. Vladimir's Seminary) instead of Yonkers (home of the aforementioned ghetto) we would not have gotten into this mess.

An hour ago, Stefan, summer kid and future seminarian, rolled up to the station in John's 89-year-old great-grandmother's Mercedes Benz. John Kasarda came out. "Quick, John! Let's go!!!" Yonkers was no Ipswitch, clearly. We hustled into the car and drove off. The streets were hard to navigate, and soon we heard the siren. We pulled over.

"Did you know that you were going up a one-way street?" Said the policeman at our window.

"No, officer, I'm not from here, I'm from Denver. I'm not familiar with the streets around here," Stefan said.

"Don't they have one-way street signs in Denver?" The officer went back to his vehicle.

"Don't they have one-way street signs in Yonkers?" Stefan muttered.

Thankfully, the police officer let us go with a warning, and after many twists and (wrong) turns we were at great-grandma's house. Prababushka Kasarda welcomed us with three huge steaks which took us a while to take care of. We couldn't understand two-thirds of what she said, and the misunderstanding was mutual, but she welcomed us warmly. After the midnight dinner, we were put up in the attic, which had a kind of 70s Brady Bunch feel. Old family pictures and, inexplicably, Richard Nixon, were on the walls.

It was the end of a very long day. I began the day singing in the final conducting exams for the Summer Music School. After it all ended, one of the students kindly gave me a lift to New Jersey, the first leg of my journey to the wedding of Michael Perekrestov and Maria Wolkow. From there, I had to take trains to Grand Central in Manhattan, whence I got on the wrong train.

As an aside, Misha invited me to the wedding several weeks beforehand, but for John and Stefan, their invitation came later. Apparently it involved wooing the bride (and her babushka) with flowers and chocolate. A a "legit" invitee, I got to go to his bachelor party, which involved going to a brewery, swimming at the Glimmerglass, and inventing Bastille Ball (2012 Official Rulebook forthcoming), which replaces a regular soccer ball with an empty water jug.

Back to Yonkers. The next day, we got up too late. It was Sunday morning, but the distance from any church and the tight schedule made it impossible to go to liturgy. So, we took it easy and had some breakfast. Great-grandma and her Slovakian cousin then dropped us off at Crestwood, where we made our goodbyes.

From Crestwood we arrived at Grand Central and a brief walk to Penn. At Penn, we had to take a train to Sea Cliff on Long Island, where the wedding was. For a moment we were upset, because the direct train to Sea Cliff wasn't leaving until much later. But after consulting with some people, we took a train to another station which was a short 15-minute drive away from the church.

I got there just in time for the middle of choir rehearsal. Nicky was conducting, natch. Thankfully we had some other strong First Basses, so it was easy to follow along.

The actual wedding was beautiful, although I actually didn't see a thing from kliros. Along with a bishop leading a platoon of clergy, the church was packed with wellwishers. It took quite a while to greet the bride and groom at the very end.

The reception was held at a nearby country club. Cocktail hour was so fancy that it was almost better than our main courses (duck or filet mignon). And of course there was dancing!!! I stayed on the dance floor most of the night, and took heed from one of my favorite deacons, who reminded me of his earlier advice. "Remember John, no mind!" John and Stefan ended up having a good time, too. I reconnected with lots of old friends and had fun with new ones. The wedding toasts were also pretty hilarious. My favorite was that of Mitya, the best man, who related how he and Misha took a cross-country journey. Needless to say, Misha expressed an interest in more than neo-classical architecture, and the trip proved a pivotal one in Misha and Masha's relationship.

Afterwards, John's date Liza called her dad to take us home, or rather to our motel. John, Stefan and I spent the night at the hotel, and the next day checked out and had a decent sushi lunch at the attached restaurant. We then took a train to New York and parted ways.

All in all, it was an awesome wedding. Misha and Masha, like Nic and Victoria, seem to be two people who are simply made for each other, something nice to see in this crazy mixed-up world. May God grant them many, many years!

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