Honeymooning bacchanal style at the Key West Fest
I must admit I have to stifle a hearty guffaw whenever a friend announces his or her impending nuptials.
“Haha!” I say. “You poor thing.”
It’s not the institution of marriage at which I scoff. It is the planning that goes into The Big Day By Which All Others Will Pale. My girlfriends have it the worst, although their mothers would have you believe The Big Day is the best thing that has ever happened to their social calendar.
Most mothers try to take over the whole event, planning everything from the rehearsal to boarding the plane. Some have been known to try to accompany the newlyweds on their honeymoon.
But this Saturday, a friend I’ll call … “Jim” is getting married.
This will be no simple ceremony, which is why I have agreed to shell out a lot of money to attend the festivities in Utah. His fiancee is a Vietnamese woman named Yen who, for anyone who knows Jim, doesn’t know what she’s getting herself into.
I’ve met Yen once, and she’s a very nice woman. Too nice for Jim, that’s for sure. She was not sure what to make of Jim’s drinking buddies the day he gathered us all together for a “meet my friends and decide if this is what you really want to experience for the rest of your life” gathering last month. She merely sat there and sipped her lemon-laced hot water.
But Jim’s determined to make this work, despite all the things not going in his favor.
It’s going to be a Buddhist wedding, complete with a skewered pig and several changes of clothing. There will be people from all parts of the Earth, most of whom don’t speak English, thereby allowing us “nothing-but-English”-speaking Yanks ample opportunity to make complete fools of ourselves.
It will happen; that much is certain. Jim has much to fear, and he comes up with more possible scenarios every day.
He is afraid his mother and stepmother will get into it and fall into the pig roast pit. He is afraid his brother will hit on Yen’s little sister.
And until recently, Jim most feared a certain man would show up and make a toast … “to all the people gathered here today, regardless of the differences in their religions and nationalities. If we can do it, folks, then what is stopping the people in the Middle East?! “All we are saying … is give peace a chance!’ C’mon, everyone! All we are saying …”
Forget the caterer not showing up. Forget the trichinosis the guests could come down with by eating undercooked swine. Nope, forget even the scandal that could ensue with the “Boys on the Short Bus.”
It’s far, far worse than any of those scenarios. Jim and his lovely bride are going to Key West, Fla., for their honeymoon. Something quiet, something away from people, he said. Swimming, wining, dining, enjoying the sun.
He called me last week, said a friend told him there was some festival going on in Key West the same weekend he and his bride would be there.
“Doesn’t sound good, Jim,” I said.
We both got on our respective computers: Search: Key West fest … Up pops a slew of Web sites with bold-faced words like bacchanal, carnival, naked, topless, festival.
“Hey, look at this! It’s called the Key West Fantasy Fest,” I said. “Ohmigod, look at the photos. You’re arriving when?”
Oh, Jim and his lovely bride are in for an eyeful!
“Uh-oh,” Jim said. “I’m in trouble.”
Yup. Day two of Jim’s married life will mark day three of the 25th anniversary of the Key West Fest. Tens of thousands of revelers. Parades, coronations, nudity, parties in the streets. Requests from police to keep clothes on and hands off. Hedonism Central.
“Seventy thousand people?! I haven’t booked a hotel room!” Jim said. “I’m in so much trouble.”
Past year festival themes include “Va Va Voom,” “Junglemania” and “Fright Night on Bone Island.” Events include the Headdress Ball, the Hog’s Breath Homemade Bikini Contest, Sloppy Joe’s Toga Party and Pretenders in Paradise: Gay, Gaudy and Gauche.
“Uh-oh,” Jim said. “I am in trouble. Big trouble.”
“Haha,” is all I have to say to that. Welcome to the world of wedded bliss! He’s never going to live this down. Especially with the in-laws.
Jane Stebbins can be reached at
(970) 668-3998, ext. 228, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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