Friday, September 10, 2010

My Big Fat Greek Portuguese Baptism

The invitation said to come to the church at 2 pm for the baptism of baby C. Then, after a break, there would be a dinner at 5 pm at a Portuguese restaurant. I didn't know what to expect, but I assumed that it would be fairly low-key. I was so, so wrong.

The baptism itself was more or less what I expected. A Catholic priest in white ceremonial robes spoke of C's future and his parents' faith, many blessings be upon him, etc. The baby fell asleep during the speech and then woke up and cried when the holy water was poured over his head. There were around two dozen relatives and friends clustered at the front of the church to watch.

What I did not expect was for the women to be dressed up for church like they were heading out to go clubbing. In my old church, no one would dare to wear a short skirt or show cleavage. It was all very proper. Apparently this isn't so much a concern in the modern Catholic tradition. Baby's mama was dolled up in a strapless, royal blue, satin cocktail dress. The hemline stopped well above her knees.

Another woman showed up in a leopard print halter-top dress, with a bare back and a swingy little skirt. Man, if she had walked into my old Baptist church in that get-up she would have been the target of some serious stink-eye, especially from all the white-haired board members.

Later in the day, Ken and I showed up at the restaurant where we were expecting to have dinner with the two dozen friends and relatives who were at the church. In fact, we were ushered up to the banquet hall over the restaurant, which eventually filled up with, I'm guessing, more than 60 guests. From that point on, it was like a mini wedding celebration, complete with multi-course meal, drinking, dancing, and gifts for all the guests: each couple received a picture frame decorated with a pouf of gauze wrapped around white almond confetti candy.

Baby C was a trooper. During the entire evening, from 5 pm to 11 pm, I never once heard him cry. Every time I looked up, he was in someone else's arms. Most babies I know would get fussy being passed around so much. In fact, his father made a point of bringing him around to each person for a little one-on-one. I got to hold him, which was a treat. He was very handsome in his special, white onsie with "My Baptism" embroidered on the tummy, with the matching white bib.

Someone had clipped a $20 bill to his soother. His father explained "It's a Greek thing".

Ken and I were seated at a table with a retired teacher and his wife. They were pleasant company. Then Alec Baldwin showed up. Alright, so his name wasn't Alec Baldwin, but this guy looked exactly, precisely like Alec Baldwin. He may have been another Baldwin brother that decided not to become an actor, for all I know.

Fake Alec Baldwin brought a date, but he seemed to enjoy staring at me from across the table. I kept looking up and finding him watching me as if I were a mildly engaging television show. He did not have a winning personality. Literally from the minute he sat down (we were in the middle of a conversation that immediately pressed his buttons) he was argumentative. Sadly, Fake Alec Baldwin was a hater. I tried to ignore him as much as possible.

After the first dessert course (dessert buffet still to come later) a live Greek band got going and there was much energetic dancing. I was encouraged to join a kick-line of dancers, doing fancy footwork to a 6/8 time signature. I barely managed to keep up, but I did, and after a few minutes I even had the steps figured out. Phew! Remember how last week I was all excited that I could walk to the bus stop by myself? Yeah, it's kind of a big step from there to dancing all night, but I did it anyway. I was a wreck for the rest of the weekend, but whatever.

Ken danced the Zorba, which includes dancing around a shot glass full of Ouzo and then picking it up from the floor with only one's teeth to do the shot. Our host performed this manoeuvre expertly several times. Then it was Ken's turn. He managed to flip the Ouzo all over himself, and break his belt into the bargain, but we were all very impressed and gave him full marks for showmanship.

All in all, it was an incredibly fun evening. The Greek and Portuguese relatives were all lively, joyful people, and excellent, tireless dancers. My only disappointment was that no one smashed their plates at the end of the meal. You know, Opa! and all that. Too bad. Everything else was fully fantastic.


Jameil said...

WOW!! Someone please invite me to one of those ASAP!!!

whatigotsofar said...

Clubbing clothes at church??? That is unacceptable.

Warped Mind of Ron said...

Cool! If I get invited to one of these I'll have to find a leisure suit and head out!!!

DarcsFalcon said...

Now that sounds like a party!

Glad you had such a good time. :)

LL Cool Joe said...

Oh yeah things sure have changed in church these days. I attend a Baptist church and the last Dedication service we had all the family and extended family turned up in party frocks and high heels. Times are a changing, thank goodness!

Sounds like a fun time was had by all, apart from the guy who took a fancy to you!

Jenski said...

Guess Greek/Portuguese families know how to celebrate! How does one break their belt? :-)

Sparkling Red said...

Jenski: When he bent over to pick up the shot glass off the floor, that was the last straw for his poor old belt. Too much pressure, and it just popped!