In fulfillment of 2012 Resolution #9, I flew up to Rochester to witness the wedding of my friend Dr. As I’m A Bassi and his lovely bride. They had two ceremonies to honor their religious backgrounds: one Catholic, one Islamic.
The Catholic ceremony, honoring her side of the new family, started at 9:30 and was by far the earliest wedding I’ve yet attended. It featured a mass, liturgy and Eucharist included. I continued my lifelong tradition of not taking Catholic communion– not out of principle or objection, but out of fear that they’ve got scanners up there that’ll recognize me and hit me up for thirty-some years of back-tithing. I did say “Peace be with you” to a few folks and shake their hands. All in all, good show.
The Muslim ceremony started at noon at a nearby gazebo. Dr. Bassi wore an off-white robe with gold inscriptions, a gift from his parents which he will next wear at his children’s weddings. He wore sunglasses up until the ceremony, and someone commented that he looked like he belonged in The Matrix. Hopefully, that same someone got a picture of him in those sunglasses. The newly minted Mrs. Bassi and her bridesmaids wore colorful ceremonial gowns, prompting Baby Mole to give them names like “Princess Red,” “Princess Black,” and “Princess Green.” (I lost track of the actual colors.)
The presiding imam, a professor of Catholicism at nearby Nazareth College, took a few moments to explain the sermon (sunna khutbah), the marriage ceremony itself (nikah), and the prayer (dua’a) to the mostly non-Muslim crowd. Both sets of parents took part in the ceremony and had to sign a wedding certificate. The imam moved the proceedings along quite nicely due to the heat, and it was on to the food.
Food is of course the most important part of almost everything, which leads us to the title of this post. The night before the wedding, I got to talking to some of Dr. Bassi’s friends about Chicago-style pizza, Chicago-style hot dogs, and Italian roast beef sandwiches. (Before you ask, why wouldn’t those topics come up?) I mentioned that my favorite restaurant was Portillo’s, and then Dr. Bassi said that they’d opened a Portillo’s nearby, which of course would be where I’d spend the remainder of the evening.
Twenty minutes of frantically-searching-the-web-for-the-Rochester-Portillo’s-address later, Dr. Bassi announced that he was actually thinking of Pontillo’s, a pizza and Buffalo wings place. “My bad,” he said.
I grew faint. I saw visions of Sinon covered in boils, and traitors encased in ice, and the faces of the Adversary gnawing on Brutus, and Cassius, and Judas.
Thankfully, Dr. Bassi’s redemption began almost immediately. At the post-rehearsal party they served sub sandwiches that I think were from Wegman’s (which is so far superior to your everyday grocery store that even calling it a super-duper-market would diminish the meaning of the prefixes “super” and “duper”) and the best buttered tandoori chicken and basmati rice I’ve had in ages, if not ever. I did my part to make sure three large portions of the chicken and rice disappeared, and washed it all down with a roast beef sub.
At the wedding reception (valima), the tables were named after the couple’s favorite movies. I was assigned to the “Wrath of Khan” table, which featured a framed black-and-white photo of a gleeful and murderous Ricardo Montalban on the bridge of the Reliant. I wept a little, and was not ashamed. At said table I feasted on chicken parmesan, Sicilian olives (if they weren’t Sicilian, they were close enough), and vegetarian lasagna. Shockingly, the vegetarian lasagna was the highlight of the meal, and I harangued my friends into eating as much of it as possible. Dr. and Mrs. Bassi’s menu selections had saved the day.
Thus was the rift fully mended. God willing, he will never again mistake Pontillo’s for Portillo’s.
Congratulations to Dr. Bassi and his beaming bride, and may they enjoy many joyful and fruitful decades together!