So here I am, married in the eyes of the American government, married in Korea, and awaiting my wedding ceremony in America. The one in America was the difficult one, my mother was raised Catholic and my father was raised Mennonite so religion has always been tricky. I compound the problem by not being Christian and my wife is kind of sorta of Bhuddist. By which if her mom nags her enough she'll go to a temple and stick some incense on the altar.
A quick side story on Buddhism. In China there is this General, Guan Yu, who made it into their pantheon of divine beings. He was a rather famous general in Chinese history and you ask him for help with military success. There are other gods you can approach for things like health and grades, Guan Yu just handles conflict mostly. Or so my host said. In modern China members of organized crime will pray to him since he helps those who have a code of brotherhood. I was in China and was dragged to a Buddhst temple. I'm outside killing time when I notice a massive paint of this guy on a cloud, wielding a sword and calling the lightning down on some army. So my Chinese friend explains his backstory to me. I had some incense and some RMB, so I start to head his way:Wife: What are you doing, you're not Buddhist. Me: Silence woman, you'll anger gangster Buddha. Wife: That's not the proper way to refer to him.
I was given incense when I entered the temple and figured I should lay it somewhere and toss in a little cash to cover the upkeep of the place. So I go over to Guan YU, bow down three times, lay my incense on the alert and then tell him who I am and what I want There is also a little slot that I can stick cash in. So I'm there doing the ritual when these two massive Chinese guys, one of them covered in tattoos come up and kneel down on either side of me. They start doing the ritual and then pull out these massive stacks of 100 RMB notes (~15 dollars each) and stuffing them in the slot. It takes while since the stacks are at least as thick as the slot and they're forcing them instead of breaking them up. When they're done I pull out the 50 RMB I was going to donate to temple upkeep and stick it in. The guy covered in tattoos looks at me and in broken English tells me that isn't enough, reaches into his pocket and pulls out another stack of notes, hands them to me, and tells me to put them in. I do, thank them, the guys nod, and then head off to do the seven laps around the main Buddha you have to do.
As we leave my wife looks at me and goes "What did you ask for?". "To beat Ohio State and something bad happen to the Sweatervest like how Woody went nuts on that Clemson player". Since Guan Yu does things related to the field of battle and all that I figured football counted. Later that year the free tattoo scandal hits.
My wife often complains about how much time and money her mom wastes on Buddhism. To which I now smugly reply that I've had great success working through gangster Buddha. My wife gets all offended over how that's not the proper way to address him (I'm not sure why she cares so much, since he isn't even a figure in Korean Buddhism). I just point out the Vest is gone and I haven't been struck by lightning yet so apparently gangster Buddha and I are cool. When I visit China is fall I'm taking plenty of cash for the temple and buying one of the Guan Yu statutes from the temple to bring back and build a shrine around him. I just need to find a tasteful statue of Bo to toss in there with him.Wife: I can't believe you want to erect a shrine to a Chinese god. Me: No, I'm erecting a shrine to the deity who got rid of the Vest. Consider yourself lucky local zoning laws and the state of my savings account prevents me from erecting the Guan Yu version of Touchdown Jesus. Wife: You realize it's complete coincidence that happened right. Me: This is much too important to take chances with.
Even before my success with Guan Yu (which actually occurred post marriage) I'd been aiming for a Buddhist wedding in America. That would offend all my relatives equally and thus peace would be maintained since I hadn't played favorites. Of course then I discovered that Buddhism considers marriage a civil affair and doesn't have a ceremony. Out the door went that idea.
We return to America with no clear plans, but at least we have the dress. I also return with Little Sister, the white elephant of my wedding gifts. My in-laws were heading off to Norway for six weeks and since I was now family, I could be tapped for baby sitting.My father in law: I'm sure you'll be busy with wedding plans, she can help out around the house. Me: By which you mean drink all my liquor. Father in Law: *glances to make sure his wife out of hearing range* Pretty much. Look we can't leave her home alone here and we need the vacation.
The really reason I got Little Sister is her parents were looking to break up her dating operation. She had three boyfriends, all of whom bought her nice things like Prada and Gucci handbags in exchange for not much. Two of them discovered each other and Lil Sister played it off as if the other one had led her astray. It ended with a fight between the guys outside of school and Lil Sister being shipped stateside. She admitted to me she actually had five boyfriends at one point but was scaling it back until the heat was off her operation. I've taken to referring to my wife as Gizmo and Lil Sister as Stripe. Since neither of them ever were exposed to 1980s American pop culture I can get away with it.
The fun starts with Little Sister walking up to the customs agent at SFO and handing him her passport. Sitting on the shelf there is her bag of duty free purchases, which include three bottles of liquor. The agent calmly stamps her visa, glances at the duty free bag, and waves her through. Little Sister of course is 18, as clearly stated on her passport. I'm next, hand the agent my American passport and get chewed out for having crappy handwriting on the customs entry form. I'd been sitting there smugly expecting to get grabbed by Homeland Security and have her liquor taken away. Instead I'm told to go write a new entry form and the liquor continues on its journey.
I strand Lil Sister at home. She can't drive stick yet, so neither of our cars are usable by her and I refrain mentioning we're a three block walk from AATA Route 2. I figure her wandering around campus while my wife and I are at work is just begging for a minor (or major disaster). She's fairly happy with that state of affairs since I give her password to my computer and I have a massive collection of games on Steam for her to play around with. I also reup my Word of Warcraft account and give her access to my Level 85 raid geared Ret/Prot paladin. I come home watch to find her cackling maniacally as she slaughters low level characters. Her main compliant is the game won't let you taunt them via the in game chat console (if you haven't played, you can only talk to people on your team). She solves that problem by logging on my wife's account via a laptop, and logging into a Level 1 Horde character to taunt those she kills.
That keeps her busy for a week but then the novelty of being able to play games for 8 hours a day without mom and dad yelling at you starts to wear off. We have some ongoing drama in my neighborhood in that a possibly rabid groundhog bit my neighbor's dog. The vet wants the groundhog so he can check it over for diseases. The owner of the dog had some animal control company come out and set up traps but the groundhog hasn't taken the bait yet. It's been spotted a few times and seems to be acting weird. My neighbors are starting to worry because some of them have dogs or toddlers as well. I mention I have a a lovely little .177 air rifle and if no one has an issue with a pellet or two being fired I can provide a groundhog corpse in short order.
A few of the wives aren't so sure about killing it, but the husbands all support the death penalty for the rodent. So I take the air rifle and set it by the door (without pumping it up) and tell my wife and Little Sister to let me know if they see it. My neighbors have my cellphone number to text me if it turns up in their yard.
Monday morning comes with Little Sister sitting on my couch, bored and channel surfing while I'm at work. She's apparently finds Rambo on AMC or something and starts watching that. Midway through she decides she likes what she sees and decides to go stalk the groundhog. She raids my stash of deer hunting gear and ends up wearing a bandana as a headband (in honor of Rambo), my camp jacket (even though it is roughly six million sizes too big for her), and her urban camo short shorts that she brought with her for some reason. She also spots my big deer skinning knife and puts that on her belt. After that she finds some how to operate an air rifle videos on Youtube and manages to arm the rifle. She sets some cans outside and practices on them.
At about 2 pm I get a text from her "Which house did the dog who was bit live at?". Knowing Little Sister my danger sense starts tingling. Her cover story is that she wants to take some dog treats over the dog. I figure that's nice enough and give her the address. I later discover she showed up in the getup I described above, knife on her belt, air rifle slung over her back, and wearing my leather work gloves (since it occurred to her the groundhog might have disease). The dead groundhog is double bagged in a pair of Busch's paper bags since she couldn't find the garbage bags in the garage. The stay at home mom who lives there opens the door, turns white, and screams. Turns out Little Sister didn't get a clean kill on her first shot and had to walk up and finish it off execution style, which is messy when you use an air rifle that shoots .177 hollow points at point blank. Her quote justifying this entire exercise was "It drew first blood". I blame her love of 2NE1. She was rather proud of her kill and even posted photos of the dead critter on her Cyworld.
After that we start taking her to campus, since as my wife says "Better on campus than at home trying to pick the lock of the gun safe".
On the wedding planning front I hit the one snag I didn't want to hit, my great uncle got involved. He's rather rich and my mother is favorite niece. Both of his sons died young and he always liked my mother since she was the oldest of her siblings, just like he was. The issue is he didn't like my grandfather (he is the brother of my maternal grandmother) and whenever he can he likes to mess with that side of the family. My grandfather is now deceased and personally I never had a problem with him. He also was an officer on a submarine in World War II which lets me mess with my wife.Wife: *complaint against American Imperialism and our massive military, despite the fact she works for the military-industrial complex* Me: Do you speak Japanese? Wife: No. Me: You're welcome. Wife: *glare of death* (can't say anything since my grandfather actively fought the Japanese and I can claim credit based off that)
Of course she's gotten smarter and replies we used up all good karma for the liberation when we had the CIA install Syngman Rhee as President of the ROK.
Anyway my great uncle is well into his 90s and not entirely lucid all the time. So being the relative who lives the closest to him I tend to drop in once a week for a visit. His brain does tend to work on monetary matters though, so when the wedding comes up he has all kinds of solutions.
To give you an idea of what I'm dealing with, over dinner my wife, Little Sister, and I are regaled with a tale of their wedding. The wedding was at the Grand Hotel at Mackinac. With the bride and groom arriving via yacht. Of course this was a traditional one where the groom can't see the bride ahead of time. So two yachts are needed. Luckily some good friends had just bought a new yacht and of course my great uncle owned one, so that gave them their two. They would then land at the dock and be conveyed via carriage to the hotel. However disaster struck when my great aunt got on the bridal yacht and discovered the deck wasn't real teak. She absolutely refused to be conveyed to her ceremony on a deck made of pine. So my great uncle's yacht, which had a teak deck, was recalled. He and the groomsmen hid in the boathouse while my great aunt got on the other yacht. This entire switch put them about an hour behind schedule. My great uncle then points out he owns a yacht and he'd be happy to place it at my disposal (and yes the deck is teak). At that point he gets up from the table to get the number of someone he knows at the Grand Hotel because he's sure he can get booked even if it is kind of last minute.
My great aunt meanwhile goes on a rambling lecture about how it's so nice society has become progressive and white men can marry ethnic women although she can't understand why a white woman would marry an ethnic man. I eventually managed to switch the conversation over to Michigan football.
My wedding actually would have been much easier had I waited. It would have been a simple call:
"Hello Michigan Athletics? I'd like to rent the Big House for a wedding. Also how much more to have Coach Hoke officiate? No, I don't want a priest, I want Hoke. What do you mean he doesn't do weddings? Well what about Mattison or Borges?"
Sadly this was during the RichRod years and RichRod running the wedding would have mandated a weapons check at the door. "Yes Uncle Tom I know he lost to Toledo, I was there. Just give me the deer rifle. Also the Colt duct taped to your leg. I know you have it down there."
Instead my Great Uncle is now hellbent on handling my wedding for me (and picking up the tab). In part because he likes me and in part so he can spend a large sum of money on it as a middle finger to those relatives he doesn't like. I manage to him talk out of the Grand Hotel, only to have him point out he bought the Catholic Church a new slate roof a couple years ago and they owe him one. Luckily my wife kills that idea by refusing to married in a Catholic Church because "To hell with Notre Dame". My great uncle being a huge fan of Bo quickly agrees the Catholic Church is out.
Thus begins the hijacking of my wedding though. My plans of a tasteful ceremony on the banks of the Huron River, followed by a nice relaxed reception (BBQ, volleyball, dancing, etc) is brushed off as "You deserve something nicer [read: more expensive] than that". My only really grandiose desire was to use my wife's USAF connections and get a flyby. I was aiming for "You may kiss the bride" followed by a pair of jets screaming over the tree tops at 80% the speed of sound. The guests would not have been made aware of said flyby ahead of time. Some people make their wedding memorable via destination vacations, I tried to do it via surprise jet fighters. Sadly the USAF does not do weddings, nor does the Michigan Air Guard.
Little Sister further compounds the problem by selling me out. Someplace in East Asia, I think China, came up with the idea of matching cars for the wedding. So the family will go out and rent 20 or 30 identical luxury cars to convey everyone around (or if you're really rich, buy them). She saw one of those processions once and liked it. My great uncle instantly likes that idea. She's in the middle of explaining that idea when she lets out a yelp due to my wife kicking her under the table.
Word gets around since my great aunt is a major hub of gossip and soon my family is taking an active role in this. Don't ever think "Yeah we'll just get Memphis Blues to come cater some BBQ, my old roommate's band to play, and rent space in a park or something" is an acceptable wedding plan for your older relatives. Instead it starts devolving into a full on power struggle between various factions. Also one of my mother's good friends, who asked her to be the godmother to his children, used to deacon at Saint Mary's Church and my mother wants the ceremony there to keep the peace with him.
Even better Little Sister is reporting back to mom and dad about the progress and they're moving to match my great uncle dollar for dollar. Even though they did a lot to cover the Korean wedding, they feel they need to match my great uncle's insane budget ideas to keep face. I also lose the card I was playing. I was telling people "We want to do a full renovation on the kitchen and master suite, so we're keeping wedding costs down". With my great uncle trying to cover the tab, I can't use that one. Rich relatives can be a pain sometimes.
In short order my wife and I are pushed off to the side as the entire planning thing devolves into a power struggle between my great uncle and a rather rich aunt (well she isn't rich, but her husband is a corporate attorney and has money) on the other side of the family. It moves from my wedding to a continuation of the wars fought at the family reunions. In fact the only consensus that both sides reach is we'll skip the family reunion this summer and instead make my wedding the giant family social event of the summer. Since I'm the last of my generation to get married and it will be a while before my cousins kids reach marriageable age, I'm the last wedding for at least 6 years (assuming someone gets married at 18) and thus center of attention. Hooray.
To make it worse some of my family thinks the desire stems from an evil plot by my wife to not be "fully" married to me. To them despite the fact we're already legally married, it isn't real until you do it in a church. So anything that deviates from tradition is a plot. For example tradtionally Koreans don't wear wedding rings. My aunt takes me aside and suggests this is a plot by my wife to cheat on me (since she doesn't have ring, she carries no sign of being married). I point out that A) She could just take the ring off to cheat, B) I'm not wearing one either, and C) It really is a Korean tradition. My aunt just frowns at me and lectures me on how she's trying to protect me.
I also get the entire thing about being married properly in the eyes of god. I'm just thankful it never occurs to those people that actually my wife was never baptized nor confirmed so she isn't even eligible for the traditional Catholic ceremony. Plus we started living together before we were married, so I've been living in sin and not in good standing anyway. They definitely don't consider a formal dinner with the family and then a party at a bar to be a legit wedding ceremony.
By the way, the whole no ring thing is excellent. My engagement and wedding ring budget was instead converted into a pair of commercial grade dishwashers in the kitchen. You fill one up, run it, and then remove items as you need them. Stick the dirty items in the other dishwasher. Run in when it is full. It lets my lazy ass go months without having to ever empty a dishwasher (since you can just transfer it) and is really useful when you have big parties since you can load them both up and run them.
This this getting long, so I'll just wrap this installment up on a lighter note. One of our other tasks was to teach Little Sister to drive in America. Considering the two cars we own both make at least 400 pound feet of torque this seemed like a bad idea to me. She was at least incapable (for now) of working the heavy clutch on the GTO which means she got destroy the clutch in my G8 (which is still under warranty at least). Apparently she stalled out on Dixboro and and some guy in a manufacture plated Hyundai flips them off and yells something as he goes around them. My wife jumps in the drivers seat and takes off after him. She follows him to the tech center, with apparently the genius in the Sonata attempting to elude the much faster American car. She gets stopped at the gate but makes a big fuss in Korean which prompts a Korean manager to come out. I come home and find three giant bags of free Hyundai swag in the living room.
My experience teaching Little Sister to drive was taking her down to the track and teaching her to launch. She was stalling out on launches and posting 17+ second passes with the car and getting laughed at, which got her competitive ire up. She finally gets a good launch but immediately panics when she feels that much power and slams the brakes on. That just gets her laughed at more. So she comes around for another pass and this times gets it clean and slams it down to wide open throttle and holds it here. Posts a 12.7 second time which is respectable for a rookie driver. The run though ends with me in the passenger seat screaming at her to hit the brakes, because she screams by the end of the quarter mile with the gas pedal still on the floor. We overshot the turnoff and end up coming to a stop ten feet from the sand pit. At least that justified the money I spent on nicer brakes. I fully expected to be kicked off the track off that debacle, but the track boss thought it was hilarious that we came to the pits with her grinning over her time and me an entirely new shade of white. The next morning I get up early and my wife kind of sleepily rolls over and goes "Why are you getting up so early?" "I want to put new brake pads on the G8 before work." "Oh that's a good idea."
Oh and if you live in Ann Arbor and were ever cut off by a blue G8 GXP with a block M on the plate and two Asian girls in the front seats, mea culpa.
The honeymoon phase, post Korean wedding, was if I came home to nothing worse than some missing beer, burned out pads on the car, and dead rodents, I figured it was a good day.