A dilemma: must an anecdote involving wine be a story or it's OK for it to be a moment? I'll recreate a moment. I ain't brave enough for a story at the moment, cowed by memory. What can I say? Maybe this.
I abhor weddings. The concept is off: you get drunk, loose, and then what? Everybody is a relative, so you can't react to the urges, if there are any. So there are no urges, and I sit resentful that people want me to drink and dance. No, I shall do neither. I remember a wedding my cousin, eight years elder, had in Daruvar. He was the first rock musician in town, a lead guitar, with flared jeans, an irrepressible smile, long curly black hair, and cowboy boots with exceedingly high heels as he was short. I don't remember the bride. I remember only vaguely that she was good looking. But she was family already, so better not look. Ike and Tina Turner sang on the vinyl, In the year 2525, if man is still alive, if a woman can survive.
I was fourteen. A lot had already happened. Jimmy Hendrix had died and shortly afterward, another Jim, Morrison. My father had died before all of them. My world was shattered and strangely it opened up with blinding sunlight. Cousin Mrvica (Crumb) was getting married. Anyhow, I observed dancing, and thought, Why are Jimmy and Jim and Father dead? They could play more provocative music. But maybe they couldn't. In the year twenty five twenty five was apocalyptic. In the year 7510, "I guess it's time for Judgment Day." The song sent a shiver of doom down my skin into my narrow Italian shoes. My balding and flushed uncle was playing the guitar and sweat sparked off him. His blind wife smiled revealing big white teeth and one gold one and swayed in the rhythm. My female cousin, with amazingly thick black hair, married to a Hungarian welterweight boxing finalist from Argentina, who was no longer welter-weight, danced, drank and laughed.
I had no idea, that only Mrvica, I, and Sonyi, the boxer, would be alive a few decades later. My cousin Nina died in excruciating pain from lupus a few years after the wedding. Mrvica lives alone. Most of the party was felled by horrifying luck. And somehow I had the idea. I sat there, gloomy as a night forest in November. Very few of my other cousins were there, although we were a very cousiny family—I had 30 of them. Drago, my red faced uncle, a fine singer, who very soon afterward would die in a drunken bout of a massive heart attack, slipped me a glass of wine, and winked, conveying it all to me. The wine was sweet, terribly sweet, like one of those Kosher wines, Menshewitz. I drank the glass, and felt all the worse for it, and decided I wouldn't make such a mistake again. I wondered why wine was such a standard element in weddings, why even Jesus turned wine into water for a wedding. Did he drink at the wedding, and how much? It seemed at Mrvica's wedding, the wine disappeared, and people drank Selzer water in the end. I am glad, I am glad, I am glad, sang the Cream. So this is it, this is the joy that awaits you, miserable weddings and communist party meetings, I thought, conversing with my alienated self, and thought, get me out of here. And guess what, I am not out of here, and I am sort of glad for it—actually very glad.