The Strange Disappearance of the Wedding Guest
Would you like all your problems to vanish?
I mentioned in a previous blog that great teachers frequently taught through parables.
One such parable is that of the wedding guest who disappeared.
It was actually a wedding crasher who vanished but that term was not used in those days.
Here is my version of this fable. It is more modern.
S J (he always referred to himself by his initials) was a superior wedding crasher. He modestly believed that he was one of the very best.
Inferior wedding crashers would hang around at the periphery of the party and try to be inconspicuous.
Superior wedding crashers would maintain a brash presence and go up and kiss the bride and wink at the bridegroom and give him tips on how to live a happy married life.
S J was casing a wedding he intended to crash shortly.
The events register of the hotel listed “Wedding reception of Sandhya Mehta and Gerald Susskind” and that was all he needed.
LinkedIn told him that the groom was an investment banker and the bride was a public relations executive. It was an inter-cultural marriage.
He observed that the gatekeepers looked at the invitation cards before letting guests in but the glance was cursory.
This would be pie.
In tougher weddings the guards examined the cards closely and then matched each against a list of invited guests and ticked it off.
In still more exclusive events, the sentries used biometric identification before permitting entry. Retinal scans, fingerprints, voice identification.
S J had crashed them all.
He had developed ingenious ways of bypassing the tougher identification barriers.
At this event he noticed that most men received their invitations back and put them in the side pocket of their jacket.
He strolled casually into the men’s room and waited washing his hands numerous times. Soon a well-scrubbed young man appeared with the edge of his invitation peeking out of his side pocket.
He straightened up, stumbled and bumped heavily into the newcomer.
“I’m so sorry,” he apologized. “Are you OK?” And he patted him in a friendly manner. And he picked up the invitation.
Ten minutes later he was in the reception sipping a cocktail. He surveyed the guests noting who was chatting with whom.
He was good at reading body language. He could easily determine who was important and who merely thought they were important.
He picked up a label from the table by the entrance and wrote a bold S J on it with curves and curlicues. He affixed it to his jacket lapel. He was wearing a colorful tie. There was no way anyone could miss it.
He made his way to the throng around the bride, cut in effortlessly and gave her a big hug. He kissed her on the cheek and it was not a perfunctory kiss.
“You are the most beautiful woman he was ever engaged to,” he whispered in her ear. “For the longest time he thought you were not ‘good enough’. I am so glad you were able to get him to change his mind.”
Her head jerked up sharply and he gave her an affectionate smile and slipped away.
A heavyset woman came toward him brushing aside the guests in her path like the prow of a battleship scattering fishing boats.
The mother of the bride, he guessed. He had seen them confabulating.
He turned and smiled at her before she could accost him. “I’m with Grey Financial,” he volunteered, naming the company the Gerald worked for. “We are involved in a major deal and I could only slip away for a few minutes. I will have to leave shortly.”
The battleship relaxed. Obviously a friend of her son-in-law. Perhaps even his boss. Best to keep him in good humor.
She asked him solicitously if he had eaten.
He assured her that he had.
She walked away.
It was really simple. First you found out whether the person you were speaking to was part of the bride’s family or the groom’s family. And then you positioned yourself as part of the extended family of the other. Or a friend of the other.
“And you are…?” inquired an elderly gentleman. He was trim and bald, but he had tufts of neatly groomed white hair.
I am S J,” he said heartily pumping the other’s hand. “And you are….?”
The man ignored his query. “Sandhya asked me to find out who you were,” he said brusquely.
Girl’s family, thought S J and promptly positioned himself on the other side. “I went to school with Gerald,” he explained.
“I am Gerald’s father and I know all his school friends,” said the other suspiciously. “I don’t recall seeing you before.”
Oops! Major blooper. Time to shift gears.
“You caught me out,” he said admiringly. Also placatingly. “I don’t know either Sandhya or Gerald. I am actually the representative of the Wedding Gift company. A major gift is arriving in 30 minutes and I will demonstrate it.”
S J looked searchingly at the other’s face and saw the lines relax. He pressed his advantage home. “Nobody knows about it,” he continued. “Now you do, but please keep it secret. It is intended to be a surprise.”
The old man smiled broadly and nictitated. “Mum’s the word,” he said and placed a finger across his lips.
S J moved to the buffet table and heaped his plate. The food was good, so he took seconds.
He moved slowly to where the bridegroom was talking to a group. He waited till Gerald was temporarily alone and then congratulated him. “You really are a lucky man,” he gushed. “Sandhya truly wanted to marry Roger after their weekend fling, but he just would not commit. I am so happy you were there for her rebound.”
“What…,” Gerald expostulated but the others had come back and S J had already moved away.
What a fun reception this was. S J was enjoying himself thoroughly.
He helped himself to a cocktail. And then another.
He caught a slight commotion from the corner of his eye and noticed a huddle.
The huddle broke and a group of four started moving determinedly toward him. It was the bride, the battleship, the groom and his father.
Time to leave.
A waiter was passing by with a full tray at shoulder height.
S J tripped him adroitly and pandemonium reigned.
He slipped out quietly and reached home a half hour later.
It had been a good evening.
There is a wedding guest — or wedding crasher — in your life and it is busy screwing up your life. This crasher is your mind, and it is constantly directing your attention elsewhere and outside.
Like SJ, it plants worry and dissension.
The mind is simply an unceasing flow of thoughts and it does not really exist.
If you begin an inward inquiry into the nature of the mind, it disappears. Just like S J.
And when the mind disappears, so do all of your problems.
And you remain as the Self in the Kingdom of Heaven!