I don’t know how it happened. One minute I’m saying goodnight to the bride and groom, the next I’m sliding across the dance floor on my back, air-guitarring to AC/DC.
We were at my wife’s cousin’s wedding, and earlier in the day, believe it or not, I had performed the ceremony. It was the second wedding I’d officiated after becoming an official minister last spring.
It all began one night when a good friend of the family called and asked if I’d ever considered filling out “one of those online minister things you see in the back of Rolling Stone.” Five minutes and a couple clicks of the mouse later and – POW! – I’m a man of the cloth, much to the chagrin of some friends of mine who had spent years and incurred large debts completing rigorous seminary programs.
What can I say? I took the express program.
I had a great time performing that first wedding in San Francisco (see photo) and felt honored to be such an integral part of it; however, I really didn’t have any plans to continue marrying people after that. One and done, that was the plan.
But when Cassie’s cousin asked me to do her wedding, I figured—why not? I was going to be at the wedding anyway. Might as well earn my wine.
The ceremony itself went off without a hitch, except for me mispronouncing the newly married couple’s last name. (Minor detail.) Afterward we congregated at a local hall to celebrate. Being a minister, I tried my best to behave, limiting myself to just six glasses of wine.
Eventually it was time to call it a night, so Cass and I made our way out to the dance floor to bid adieu to the bride and groom.
Just then the opening notes of “Shook Me All Night Long” – a western-PA wedding staple, along with “Shout”, “Celebration”, and “Y.M.C.A” – echoed throughout the hall. It was at this moment when I locked eyes with a 6-year-old boy in the midst of an air-guitar solo. Suddenly I felt reinvigorated, the red wine pumping through my veins. So I pulled out my own invisible axe, and just like that the battle was on.
Immediately the guests formed a circle around us, cheering the two of us on as we duked it out with our pretend six-strings. I would do my best windmill strum, and then the kid would top it with some crazy split-type move that would’ve split my pants and sent me to the hospital. It wasn’t long before we ditched the nonexistent guitars and found ourselves in a full-out dance off. At one point the kid pulled off an amazing Michael Jackson-esque spin and toe landing. I countered with my best M.J. crotch-grab, which no doubt shocked many of the guests who up until that point knew me only as Pastor Val.
Back and forth we battled—a 6-year-old future ladies’ man with moves like Jagger and me, a 37-year-old writer/minister who obviously had one too many Cabernets.
Eventually I conceded victory to my young opponent, mainly due to exhaustion, but also because I broke an invisible string on my non-existent guitar. Which is always a bummer.
As for my career as a wedding officiant, I officially defrocked myself that night, not wanting to further soil my ministerial robes, so to speak. If anyone needs a good air-guitarrist for their wedding, however, I’m available.
Will work for wine.