Though the festivities surrounding my sister's wedding are now decades old, I can still hear my mother's fretful voice over shivaree plans in the making.
"The cowboys just want to have a little fun," my father explained with a smile. "They'll just gently snatch Sue Ann from the reception line and roll her through the country club. I told them to make sure the wheelbarrow was clean."
"This is what you get for promising an open bar," his wife scolded. "I will not have a drunken bunch of pen riders and cowpunchers ruin my baby's special day. Why, just think of the money we've spent to make it one of the classiest affairs this town has ever seen. Suddenly you want to turn it into some kind of clown rodeo."
"It's called a shivaree, dear mother-of-the-bride," he said calmly. "Just an old country tradition to create a little fun and excitement. Trust me, it will be over before the wedding planner notices the manure on their boots."
"That's not funny, Harold. You have to nip this shivaree craziness in the bud. Forget about traumatizing your only daughter for life, we'll never get our damage deposit back."
"I don't think you understand the code of the shivaree," my father said in a serious tone. "To these guys, the shivaree is a gift of honor and respect. Sure, that thought may get a bit overshadowed by the sails of Captain Morgan and Cutty Sark. But down deep it's still a great gesture of love that we can't turn down. Besides, I've convinced Elmer and the feedlot crew to significantly cut back on their original plans."
"What original plans?"
"Honey, we just have to brace ourselves for shivaree-lite. A full blown shivaree typically involves the kidnaping of the bride, forcing the groom to pay for her ransom -- either in the form of some impossible physical challenge or guzzling his weight in beer -- and then a cheering crowd impatiently monitors the couple's consummation from below the hayloft."
"Oh my," my mother trembled. "I'm putting in a preemptive call to 911."
For some reason, this memory flooded back this week as I was bombarded with the inane drivel on every cable channel, newsstand, and website concerning the royal knot tying between Prince Harry and Commoner Meghan.
I'm ashamed to admit my total ignorance regarding the arcane protocol of royal weddings, receptions, dress codes, and hand-waving. And, totally embarrassed by my complete lack of interest in Harry's decision to keep his beard or not, the psychological make-up of Meghan's father, or a PowerPoint presentation of historical royal honeymoons at Balmoral.
Call me a heartless fuddy-duddy, call me a mocker of pomp and circumstance, call me an unreconstructed rebel still miffed over the Stamp Act. But please, can America get on to something more important and interesting?
I'm sure they're a lovely couple, and I truly wish them all the happiness in the world. But it wouldn't bother me in the least if they just eloped and found an Elvis Chapel in Vegas. Just don't tell me about it.
On the other hand, if they'd be open to a shivaree, color this Yankee Doodle there, every inch of the way.
John Harrington can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow him on Twitter @feelofthemarket
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