I forgot to RSVP to a friends wedding a while back, but luckily I met an old acquaintance of mine who was friendly with the kallahs father and was just there to show his face and had no intention on staying for the meal, I took his seat and was introduced to the world of wedding tables for unknowns.
I have come to the decision that one of the hardest parts of planning a wedding is deciding where everyone will sit. If it were up to me I may just let everyone sit wherever they wanted, but of course that creates frenzy and always leaves a couple tables with a bunch of random people who don’t know each other. I can imagine the couples parents arguing about who has what political leanings and hashkafas and deciding that based on the figures most of the relatives may not get along with each other. Maybe that’s why speeches have been cut out of weddings, to shorten the time that hateful relatives had to see each other and pretend to be happy by wishing everyone mazel tov.
So instead of a massive free for all seating at frum weddings has been designed in a very special way. There are always 3 tables with the same number for the single people. There is always a table full of Rabbi/Kollel type dudes, and then you have the old folks together and cousins and so on. Many weddings will also have the token, strapless gown white teepee satin yarmulke cousins sit together. Then you get to the nomadic wanderer tables where they are made up of a random collective of people who do not know anyone at the wedding besides for the chosons father in-law who went to yeshiva with them for one year, or maybe they know the kallah from when they were in Gan Izzy together as 4 year olds and after seeing the engagement on Only Simchas they became reacquainted.
So I’m at this wedding and this is where I am placed, I happen to know the chosson and his kallaha and about 3 other people there, so I guess I may have been placed there anyway, though I am sure I would have been placed at one of the three table sixteen’s that were filled with raucous single dudes and though I may not have known anyone I would surely have been more at home then with the crowd I was with currently.
The table was pretty much a bunch of guys with slowly graying beards, black hats and wrinkled suits. Though most of them looked to be married and far removed from the world of manner-less yeshiva guys I noticed that many of them had not used their knives or napkins during the entire meal.
I was bored until the rapid fire Jewish Geography started, when people have nothing to do they drink, smoke or fiddle with their cell phones, at simchas they talk about who they know. It started with someone doing the introduction that always leads to a round of JG, one of the men will introduce himself as Moishe Horrowitz, from Flatbush to the next guy and immediately the requisite questions of where in Flatbush, Monsey or Five Towns, what do you do and how do you know whomever is getting married. More detail gradually makes its way into the conversation and it usually takes the form of the table players telling of their driving skills and how many cops they evaded on their way to the hall. This wedding happened to be in Toronto, so of course making fun of Canadian money was also part of the conversation which was made up of folks from Brooklyn it seemed.
This sort of JG always lightens the mood up because until then everyone at the table was learning some sefer, fooling with their blackberry or trying to figure out if the cup of sauce was for the fish or the salad. Even I got into the mess and admitted being from New York so I could play along and not have to pace the room while waiting for the soup course, and the shtick to start.