Saturday, January 21, 2012

The night before the wedding

And although last night played out like a long single note, I had to change gears and get my ass on the fast train to Beijing. Beijing is so crammed with cars and people that the last digits on the car license plate dictate on what days the car is allowed to drive.

I met Muzi who was as calm as jade, and just two days before HER wedding she took me to a department store to get ME shoes. We ate these sticks with little crab apple type fruit on them dipped in melted sugar. I stuck my nose in a few tins of green tea.

We met Muzi’s family for a special and symbolic wedding night dinner. It was Muzi and her parents, Muzi’s fiancé and his parents and…me. Even though only Muzi and her Fiance spoke English everyone hugged me and laughed at my, now honed, larger-than-life sign language.

We went to a restaurant that had the “best Peking Duck in Peking.” It looked like a hotel. Each room opened into a private dining area. Our room had a large circular table, a large lazy susan, and menus as big as encyclopedias. The tea was never empty. We ordered: duck heart, bamboo, duck feet with a mustard that screamed through my nose, pea shoots, duck bone soup and three whole ducks.

The ducks had been roasting all day. The chef cut them in front of us. The skin on the chest, the choicest part of the duck, was cut into little slivers and served to the VIP (Muzi’s father) with a side of sugar. The skin was passed around. You dipped one side into the sugar, and placed it on your mouth and let it melt. It was like communion—just as holy anyway. Then the duck was put onto a pancake with sauce, scallions and cucumbers. There was so much to eat. I really liked the duck heart which was smoky and tasted similar to chicken liver. The duck feet was crunchy and cold and nubbly and I chewed and swallowed as fast as I could.

The whole bridal party was staying on one floor of a nice hotel near the venue. No one wanted to risk the Beijing traffic interfering with the ceremony. The following day was the rehearsal. We had another huge lunch and head to the venue. The hall was magnificent and palatial. Whole teams worked together to set the table, create the flower centerpieces and set up the stage. Tables had candies, roasted chesnuts, wine, and cigarettes for the guests. A large blow up photo of Muzi and her Fiance at the Washington D.C. Cherry Blossom festival was the background of the stage. We practiced our line up. Muzi was led down the aisle in her jeans and UGGs by her father. But then the song came on—The Rose by Bette Midler and I started to cry. What would I do at the actual wedding?!

At night the other two bridesmaids and I piled into the hotel bathroom and did facemasks “to make our skin prepared for the make up tomorrow.” Everyone calls me “cute” in this country. Because my eyes are big “like a baby!”
Suki (another bridesmaid) and I would be playing the guitar and singing a song dedicated to Muzi and her Fiance at the wedding. In front of 280 people! We combined my song-I’m Yours~John Mayer and her Chinese song and learned the chords and practiced all night until our fingers went numb and we were scared we would fall asleep on the stage.

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