|Folk dancing at the wedding|
We ended up having the reception at a large restaurant called Dzveli Kalaki. I had chosen it a few months before, with the help of our bridesmaid in absentia, Salome. We went to several restaurants, trying to find my key ingredients - place for live music, no cheesy Georgian or Russian pop music sang by a guy at a Casio keyboard, and good atmosphere - and settled on this one, though it meant that my friends couldn't play their music. For that component, you would have to have rented out whatever place you were in. But with the location of the restaurant - way out on the highway - and with the number of our guests easily outnumbering the seats of the main hall, it was like we rented the place, as we were virtually to ourselves, except for one or two other tables taken by some parties of Jewish and Russian tourists.
The food was excellent, the price was more than friendly, they let our friends (like my godfather and Teo's father) bring the wine, and there was a live folk band and a guy named Boris Bedia who sang karaoke songs - he sang very well, don't get me wrong, I just can't understand the Georgian tradition of restaurants hiring only vocalists to sing over karaoke tracks. But again, he sang quite well, and much to my amusement, he sang Tom Jones' "Sex Bomb". Here's him singing it:
Also, my friends got to play as well. Most to my pleasure, my friend Shota Adamashvili learned Tom Waits' "Hold On" to play for our first dance. I had arranged it about a month ago, begging my old friend to learn it. It was the song that I imagine caused Teo to fall in love with me in the first place. It was one of the first songs I learned on accordion, and back when I was stumbling through verses in the dark underground of a bar named for the Italian movie "Amarcord", I was playing that song for her. She was there, waiting on our mutual friend Salome to show up, and I was looking at her and watching her and dying to meet her as beautiful as she was. And then when Salome came in and sat with her, I was elated.
|The "first dance"|
I've written all that about meeting Teo before. But it was my rendition of "Hold On" that really brought us together. And with Shota coming to the wedding, and with Shota being one of our favorite singer-guitarists in Tbilisi, it seemed only natural to ask him to play it for us, to surprise Teo.
However, even the best laid plans of mice and men can be torn asunder by one idiot or another. So as she was pulling me on to the dance for and as I was resisting, I didn't want to break the surprise. "Why won't you come out and dance?" she kept calling. One of her friends had decided it was the best time for our first dance and played some weird tango which seemed to be played from a MIDI track from a Casio keyboard. "Hold On" then became more our second dance, but whatever, I'm still counting it as our first. When they called our names to dance the tango, I was resistent at first, not wanting to have a first dance that wasn't Shota playing "Hold On", but finally after Teo's insistence of not wanting to offend her friends, I relented.
"I've got something better planned!" I cried out as I was yanked onto the dance floor. And so we faked our way through a tango, I trying to recall the one-two-big steps I learned a long time ago in some class in Denver, a life that seems completely alien to me now as I write these words in Prague. My plans were breaking away, but nevertheless salvaged. "Damn your friends, damn Georgians! I will not consider this our first dance. I will consider our next dance as our first. You'll see and you'll agree. Damn it!"
|Some of the guests from the groom's side|
But all in all, it was a success of a night. There ended up being quite a few people, though I hadn't thought of inviting all my friends. My parents were there, as was my closest fellows at the least. One of my friends was able to dance with loads of ladies and kept quoting it as the best night of his life that he can remember, though I doubt he remembers much of that one. There was dancing - Teo surprised my parents with her Georgian folk dancing skills - singing, and only one moment where my fair new bride was worried about there not being enough xatchapuri - there was, I had ordered more than enough.
Then the night wrapped up and ended at Betsy's Hotel. The hotel was the first hotel famous among visiting journalists, and is also famous for their modestly priced happy hour on Fridays, where now Peace Corps volunteers find themselves. I went there because I knew of their pool and how Teo loves pools, so I wanted that to surprise her. They gave me the room key earlier that day and I walked into the room. It was right across from the elevator and stairs, and the balcony was shared with three other rooms. I went back down. "Do you have another room available maybe that's a little more private? It's my wedding today, you see."
"One moment," she said and she went back behind the door to work her magic. She came back with a card to a different door. "This should be better."
Two huge balconies, overlooking the city roofs of Tbilisi. During the day, you could see all the way to the distant titan of a mountain, Kazbegi, the head permanently white from glacial ice and mist blowing off. So small from there though, following the gentle curve of Earth all the way to our bedroom. Yes, two balconies, a living room, a bedroom. Far from what I paid for. That was the room I brought my new wife to. You guys can guess what happened next.