After spending 30 minutes in front of a mirror perfecting my best Tammy Faye look, my face was appropriately caked up for a traditional River City (our city’s pseudonym) wedding. Since I am the pastiest shade of puerto ricans living or dead, I always skip the ever important skin whitening powder worn by just about every female wedding guest in all of Central Asia.
Upon arrival, my friend and I were taken into the bride preparation room where we watched the young bride transform into a celebrity. Her hair was masterfully piled and pinned up to her head, and her makeup, not excluding the whitening powder, was the perfect picture of local trendiness. Little boys and young girls pushed and shoved their way to the window to catch a glimpse of the transformation.
“Come watch the dancing with everyone else,” the groom’s aunt commanded us. My excitement turned to embarrassment as we found our places in the crowd. For varying reasons, foreigners are sometimes treated as the honored guests at weddings here. While the other guests sat on the pavement to watch the dancing, we were put in two lonely chairs smack dab in the middle of the crowd because, apparently, our lack of language fluency and overall foreign looking-ness just wasn’t weird enough. I chatted with a few local girls and conversation was the usual- the fact that I’m nearly 27 and only have one child (and that I need to hurry up and have a son), what I think of the burqa, if I love my daughter more than my husband or vice versa… you know, the usual. I asked them their names told them how beautiful I thought they all were. The five of them were all related, and their wide smiles and identical laughter made it obvious.
The time soon came for us to leave, and we said our goodbyes to the groom’s father, both of his wives, and no less than 30 daughters and nieces. It was a lovely night.