I fancy myself somewhat of a student of human nature, with a major in motivation. I’m fascinated by what compels people to behave in certain ways. I find myself devising plausible scenarios when people behave in an unorthodox fashion. That older woman biting my head off when I tried to be of assistance? Well, in my little fiction, she has just been informed by her ungrateful children that they are moving her into a nursing facility. She knows she can take care of herself and doesn’t want anyone suggesting otherwise. See? Isn’t that more palatable than “people are just nuts?” Of course some people are just that. Nuts. I don’t spend my days making up little stories about the man on my corner peeing into the telephone kiosk (it’s not just Superman that mourns the end of the booth, ya know.) I accept that there are those around us that live in an alternate reality. But most don’t. Most of us are socialized people living mostly well adjusted lives.
Like the good student I am, I conduct research (a.k.a. eavesdrop) and devour data to develop and support my theories. It’s not all drudgery however. For example, the wedding announcements can be fun and educational. These pages are to me, what petri dishes filled with rapidly multiplying cells are to a biology student. Where to begin?! A cursory glance (which may be dictated by a pressing Sunday morning schedule or hangover) of just the photos is a good start. About 40% of the photos don’t warrant a second glance. But the rest are a veritable National Enquirer of intrigue. My personal favorites are when the two can’t even stand to be near each other for the photo. Their heads actually crane towards escape. But fun as photo analysis is, and trust me it is, it’s for amateurs. The real meat and potatoes is in the narrative, that is where the cavalcade of clues convene. Thankfully, there are a fair amount of lovely stories that foretell great promise. I do enjoy trying to discern the family’s take on the nuptials. On average I surmise that every month, two of these families are sitting shiva. But far more often, after reading about the families and the intended, it’s seems the marriage was always an inevitable. The neurosurgeon/lawyer’s medical ethics professor daughter marrying the medical school dean/foundation director’s Doctors Without Borders son? Yep. There is even a seasonal predictability; those in their 20s-30s marrying in summer, more mature couples in fall and winter. The only real surprises are when the announcement mentions the couple courting while married to other people (wince.)
This past Sunday I read with enjoyment of the couple planning to marry at the Four Seasons. The gentlemen had been together ten years! Somehow, I gleaned from that they had been waiting for New York to legalize their nuptials. In my little (sorely misguided) mind, I had assumed that a restaurant wedding would be a sedate family affair to celebrate a well established relationship and their new marital journey. Wrong. I mean “sleeping through the final exam” wrong. Showing up to the wrong class all semester, wrong. The sedate wedding? For 650? With music by Aretha Franklin? Did I miss something? Should the biographies including a degree from the French Culinary Institute and some philanthropic work clued me in? In my defense, nothing about the serving on the board of the Highline or Wildlife Conservation Society, screamed Page 6 to me. I am left to conclude one of two things. 1) For some people a six figure wedding (including the cost of the publicist) IS a sedate and solemn affair OR 2) the wedding announcements are not a good primary data source. I am not willing to consider the possibility that it’s time I changed majors. It’s simply not an option. The study of human behavior is how I navigate the world. It is how I find my way and protect myself. I’ve no doubt that for the next few days I will be stumbling about my world in a mild stupor. In my fragile state, I will try to remember to steer clear of the phone kiosk.