Father of the bride

    Life is filled with rites of passage, from baptisms and sacred ceremonies, to graduations and harvests celebrations.
    Some are as old at time other have been transformed by time. But few are as momentous as marriage. On his weekly Center Square audio essay WHYY’s Chris Satullo looks at what’s closest to his heart this weekend.


    Listen: [audio: satullo20090906.mp3]

    Yesterday, my daughter Sara got married.

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    As father of the bride, I had four main duties.

    I signed the checks. Lots of checks. With her mom, I walked her down the aisle. I gave a welcoming speech at the reception. I danced with the bride.

    Parts 1 through 3 were a piece of cake.

    Regarding the check-signing, I’m sure the writer’s cramp will wear off by Christmas.

    The stroll down the aisle with Sara Kate was an unforgettable joy.

    Delivering a few words to an audience – hey, that’s what I do for a living. And this audience was mellower than many I’ve faced. After all, I was paying for their booze.

    No, it was No. 4, that little foxtrot with my offspring, that filled me with unspeakable dread.

    You see, I am to dancing what health care town halls are to civic dialogue. A perversion. A fun-house mirror distortion that leaves onlookers unsure whether to laugh or cry.

    My brother-in-law Tim summed up my dancing skill set for all time when, one time, he shouted, “Jeez, Satullo, you are the whitest man I ever saw.”

    As a dancer, I have only two moves – each pathetic. One might be called the spastic stork. That’s for any music with a beat. For slow tunes, I do the hunched scarecrow, a desperate clinging to my partner while my feet do bizarre, unbidden things bearing no relationship to the music.

    For years, I’ve said I had only one dance left in me – with my daughter at her wedding. Good line, but the prospect still gave me night sweats. Luckily, I have a friend who had the good sense to quit newspapers and become a dance instructor – in the very year Dancing with the Stars became a hit. He kindly offered me lessons, insisting he could teach even me to do a passable foxtrot. But I procrastinated so badly we had time for only one rushed cram session on his living room floor.

    So, how’d I do? I can’t tell you, because, dear listener, I’m actually recording this a few days before the nuptials. So let me close with a gentle caution to any wedding guests: If you ever are tempted to blab about what you witnessed last night when Sara and I sashayed out to the parquet, remember this fact.

    I am Sicilian. And my people, we have ways making sure a person doesn’t talk. I’m just sayin.’

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