73: The Farm Boy and the Mongolian Circus

73: The Farm Boy and the Mongolian Circus

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Here Comes the Bride

The Farm Boy and the Mongolian Circus

Oft expectation fails, and most oft there
Where most it promises.

~William Shakespeare

“Mom, I’m getting married,” Shane said. “She’s from Outer Mongolia.”

Mongolia? We were from Kansas. How does a farm boy from Kansas find a girl from Mongolia?

Meeting Bulgan Bayaraa for the first time was an experience. She didn’t speak much English, and the first thing she said to me was, “If you came to my village in Mongolia, all the people in the village would spit warm milk on you!” She smiled.

Apparently, that is an honor.

I have four grown children, and I’d been waiting for years to plan a wedding for one of them. I could picture my daughter as a bride in a white Victorian wedding gown, and my sons as grooms in tuxedos. Very traditional weddings in an old church, candles, the organ, stained-glass windows… I could almost smell the flowers and taste the tiered wedding cake.

My son and his bride-to-be wanted to plan their own wedding. I was disappointed because, of course, as the mother of the groom, I wanted to help plan it. The bride’s parents were still in Mongolia and couldn’t make it to the wedding.

My son was a radio personality, and Bulgan had been a performer in a Mongolian circus. The two of them had a variety of very interesting friends, and somehow they all got involved in planning the wedding.

Bulgan wanted Shane and herself to wear traditional Mongolian clothing at the wedding. The outfits had to be custom-made in Mongolia and shipped to America. I was hoping the bride would wear a white wedding gown with a veil. Bulgan wore a yellow silk dress with gold glitter on her face, neck and arms, which was a symbol of good fortune. Shane wore a leather coat made of yak skin, red pointed boots that looked like something Aladdin would wear, and a big fur hat with horns on it that looked as if he’d borrowed it from a Viking. When I had pictured my son getting married, I imagined him in a tuxedo looking like Cary Grant. With the fur hat on his head, he looked like Genghis Khan.

They decided to get married in the back yard instead of a church. There went the old church and the stained-glass windows I’d hoped for!

When the guests arrived, there were Mongolian circus performers doing various dances and a contortionist who was twisting herself into knots. The groom’s friends included Hawaiian hula dancers, Samoan dancers, a country band, and a radio DJ. There were Russians who didn’t speak English, Mongolians who didn’t speak English, and a Chinese family that provided the buffet for the reception.

The radio DJ, who had just recently been ordained, performed the ceremony. The music was provided by a country band. There would be no organ playing “Here Comes the Bride.”

The bride and groom exchanged vows and drank warm goat’s milk from a silver bowl. My son had driven thirty miles to a farm early that morning to buy goat’s milk for the ceremony. At last, they were pronounced husband and wife.

As soon as the vows were said, the hula dancers broke into a dance, the country band began playing a mix of country and Hawaiian music, and the contortionist was doing unbelievable things while balanced on a tiny metal pole. Samoan dancers rubbed oil all over themselves and danced a “wedding money dance” where the guests were expected to “stick” dollar bills to their exposed skin. They collected a considerable amount of money for the couple because there was hardly a guest who didn’t try to “stick” money to the dancers.

No one quite knew how to react, but soon everyone, from the youngest to the oldest, was doing the hula, or at least trying to. The guests enjoyed a delicious buffet of Chinese and Mongolian food, and had a piece of bright pink wedding cake.

During the reception, it was announced that it was the birthday of one of the guests. Paper party hats were handed out by his family, and everyone sang “Happy Birthday.” Many of the wedding photos showed people wearing the party hats. The Chinese family set off five hundred firecrackers for good luck.

Most of the guests couldn’t carry on conversations with each other because there were seven different languages being spoken. However, there were a lot of smiles and laughter. Happiness is the same in every language.

It was a one-of-a-kind wedding for a one-of-a-kind couple. Was it the wedding I’d always dreamed about for my son? No, but it was the wedding he wanted, and he seemed happy. I didn’t get the church, the ceremony, the clothing, the gown, or anything else I had hoped for.

Oh, yes, and I’d injured my right hand a week before the wedding and had to wear a cast up to my elbow. The cast would not fit through the sleeve of the dress I’d planned to wear for the wedding. The frilly, silk dress with the pink roses printed on it that I’d been looking forward to wearing and being photographed in was replaced by a dress chosen for the size of the armholes so I could get the dress on over my cast. The wedding photos look like a group of people on their way to a costume party.

I’m hoping I’ll still get to plan a wedding for one of my remaining children... although a wedding without circus performers and hula dancers might seem downright boring!

~April Knight

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