To the 9s

by Jinryu

[CM] and I went to a Chinese wedding last week. We went with a number of her highschool friends. The bride was also a highschool friend.

I use the term “friend” in a different way from CM. Her version of friends often coincides with what I’d call an acquaintance or, perhaps more accurately, someone who I have history with but don’t actually like being around all that much.

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The wedding was impressive. The food was great. I had never been to a wedding this extravagant before– one that served over 7 courses of food, not including a selection of 5 different deserts. There were over 500 guests. Each table had fresh flowers, almost as many as the boquet that I had bought for CM for her graduation (which wasn’t cheap).

I was thinking to myself: how much does this all cost?

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People can spend what they want on what they want of course. I just wonder if I’ll ever understand all the inefficiency that comes with Chinese people making a huge fuss over looking good in public. Actually, to be more accurate, I don’t even understand how women can claim to want freedom when they still insist on wearing uncomfortably heeled shoes– and it’s not that I don’t understand why they do it, so much as I don’t agree with the philosopy behind fashion to begin with. So maybe my gripes are not tied with the Chinese specifically, so much as they are with the great lengths we go through to impress people whose opinions we shouldn’t give a damn about, at the expense of being able to make more meaningful investments of our time and energy.

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A wedding is a happy occasion– it’d probably be happier if I knew the person who was getting married, or if anyone at the table had anything particularly nice to say about the bride. One of the people at my table was looking up the bottles of wine on the internet to check how much they were worth. If the taste isn’t enough to make you enjoy it, maybe you don’t know much about enjoying wine?

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CM every now and then tells me that she wishes that I’d watch what I say before I say it. I realise that my actions reflect upon her because she’s my partner. I know how to be exceptionally polite and put on my “networking” face, controlling every little thing I say so that I can work a crowd. But I also know that unless I have a good reason to do that, I might just say whatever I want and let people take me as I am.

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It’s an ongoing initiative of mine to push CM to give less of a damn in general about what a bunch of shallow rich kids (not specifically referring to the wedding, just generally) think about us. We run into a fair amount of them in all sorts of situations just because of med school and law school.  She knows I’m doing this, and she knows that many of these people have toxic enough personalities to warrant more than one punch in the head when they say the kinds of things that they do.

There’s a difference between CM and I though; it’s fundamentally part of the reason why she is a doctor, and I’m in law. That difference is that she gives second, and third and fourth chances– whereas I hold people responsible for what they do. There’s a place in society for both of us, but perhaps more importantly, there’s an incalculable importance for her sort of optimism and her perspective more generally in my life.

It doesn’t stop me from wanting to punch people though.

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That said, it was a grand event and, all things considered, the way it was done took really good care of the guests– in many ways, much better care of the guests than many of these guests probably deserved.

Parents can’t help but be proud of their children. And I’ve no doubt that the people getting married are in love as I envision what “love” means. In many ways, the celebration is just as it was meant to be. All the best to them and congratulations to the bride and groom and their family.

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When CM and I get married, we’re going to keep the guest list to people that matter to us. And we hope that the only people who arrive are people who think we matter as well.

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