My cousin Sal recently married his longtime girlfriend Lauren. It was the first time in my adult life I had been invited to an event where the host knew I would be accompanied by my male partner. It was a big deal for me being a first generation Italian American. Although I come from a loving family it is implied that what goes on behind closed doors, remain behind closed doors and not in plane sight. Most times I felt my own close family preferred I remained closeted for the sake of maintaining peace. Ruffling feathers and creating drama is something any Italian knows very well. As a people, we rarely shy away from confrontation and in fact we invite it, thriving on its energy as a source of inspiration to propel us through our otherwise mundane lives.
Arriving at the Venentian in Garfield, New Jersey just before 7:00 p.m last Friday night, the Spinelllis arrived in two cars. I drove my mother’s cream Jaguar accompanied by Chad and my sister, Maria, who flew up just for the wedding from Alabama with her 13 year old daughter Madeline. This weekend excerusion was a surprise gift to her granted by her father who gave her permission to attend the wedding because she was the flower girl to the groom’s sister nearly eight years ago. In the other car, jettisoning perillously like a slalom skier through the careening traffic was my brother-in-law, Joe driving my other’s sister, Josephine’s blue BMW325 with my overly sequined mother in the back seat. They were not without their own backstory. Josephine was once married to a man related to the groom and his entire extended family would be present.
It was a big night for all of us. Themes of betrayal, homosexuality, fury and alliances rang out long after the church bells. Ultimately, little happened. There was no table flipping, no glasses of wine thrown into faces or worse, actual pushing and shoving. The wedding was simply just that, a union of one young man to a beautiful young lady. Of course we had our own internal dialogue. I’m sure one of my disapproving cousins had something to say about Chad’s presence as likely my sister’s ex had something to say about my her current husband. I know we had lots to say about his wife. The only spillage was when I knocked over a glass of wine at the table and the server had to set a new place setting next to Chad after removing the chards of glass. I suppose you could say that the body count was kept to a minimum as Italian weddings go.
It took decades for me to be invited to a wedding with a male partner. At the same time it made me consider when I might marry myself. As another Italian, Governor Cuomo is pushing through legislation to allow gay marriage, it made me proud to be part of a culture that was so passionate about issues whether they be pro or against it. If this should happen then maybe this time next year, cars will be jettisoning over bridges and tunnels from Queens, Staten Island and Brooklyn… and even Alabama to attend the union of this doctor to his own primary care physician.
Time will tell.