Once I discovered why other men around town were avoiding me or abusing me, I had to smile. They never knew how close I came to giving them a genuine reason to be upset, but ironically, they were responsible themselves—together with their wives, my wife, an ex-carpenter and some catering staff.
It was all about forgotten wedding anniversaries. For anybody who missed one would be on the receiving end of his wife’s nagging about how I never forgot!
How would those wives know?
Apparently my wife Esther had shown them my unprompted gifts; which really got under their skin, for they all know how bad my memory really is!
Forget our anniversary? No way!
Arranged marriages get everyone involved, but as the groom I still had to organise the reception, the emcee, the catering, the musicians and the seating arrangements. Any oversight can set the wrong tongues wagging forever afterwards, so I meticulously covered every detail; like seating guests so old resentments could not revive and ruin the party. Yet with hospitality so important to our culture, uninvited guests could never guarantee complete discretion.
Three days into the reception, our emcee Stephen was an obviously-inspired choice with his well-timed jokes and stories. He also ensured that family interviews and speeches avoided embarrassment country, and he kept the musicians in tune with the proceedings.
Our waiters were real professionals—friendly without becoming familiar; and attentive without being intrusive.
Appetising aromas, plenty to drink, and happy conversations—interwoven with love and harmony—were all wrapping Esther and me in blissful indestructibility.
Enter Isaac, our head waiter. “Our freeloaders must be thirsty,” he whispered, “There’s no wine left!”
“No wine left?” I echoed, my heart sinking. “How could I insult our guests like this? Can I look Esther’s dad in the eye again? He’ll think I’ve duped him over that dowry! I’ll be a laughing-stock forever! If only an earthquake could open up right now and swallow me whole—please?”
My mother hurried towards the widows’ table we had set back where they could share their memories and comfort each other privately if grief surfaced, but still within guest-mingling reach.
A table much closer to us was surrounded by fun that nothing would dare try to upset: with a few fishermen, local handymen, an older guy whose twin brother was at another table, some young thrill-seeker types. With them, a Roman tax agent reclined beside a swarthy-looking character. A Sicarii member? A Dagger Man who's sworn to kill Roman sympathisers? A recipe for bloodshed—never a good wedding look—but they all insisted on being with their leader, an ex-carpenter named Yeshua.
Looking up, I could see Mum with Isaac and her old widow friend Mary at this table, and I clearly heard Mary’s voice above their reduced noise-level.
“Why bother me now?” Yeshua asked her.
I silently concurred; He might be a good carpenter, Mary. He can clearly keep those guys together; but what I need is a miracle, and he’s no miracle worker!
Mary moved away, telling Isaac, “Do whatever he tells you.” I winced at her noble maternal pride.
As Isaac glanced back, Yeshua rose towards him and they signalled the waiting staff to join them in the foyer. Isaac and Yeshua spoke together while the waiters refilled the big stone jars that had been placed there for washing rituals. Then I saw Yeshua gesture for Stephen to receive a taste test!
My heart was in my mouth as I watched Isaac take his jug and calmly fill Stephen’s goblet. So calmly I could almost imagine him belittling Noah’s flood as the result of occasional showers!
I gasped as Stephen took a sip, his eyes widening as he called, “Hey Daniel, what’s your game?”
My heart sank further. Water—what an insult!
But Stephen continued…
“This is amazing! Everyone else serves up cheap stuff once nobody can tell the difference, but you’ve saved the best ’til last!”
I motioned Isaac over. He filled my cup, which I tilted it to my lips.
Suddenly my throat felt anointed with amazing warmth...
And we had nearly two hundred gallons of it!
The waiters modelled Isaac’s calmness, serving this new wine without breathing a word to anyone about its instant vintage.
Forget our anniversary? No way!
I’ll never forget anniversary gifts for Esther.
I’ll never forget Jeshua’s first miracle—right when I needed it.
And I’ll never forget my annual appreciation to our waiting staff…
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