Ask Matt Labash

Ask Matt Labash Vol. XLVII: Advice for a bride to be, blaming Treacher for Tucson, and fetishizing Reagan

Matt Labash Columnist
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Matt, I’m getting married (to a Matt, incidentally. Popular name). In trying to plan our wedding (with my Matt, not you), I have discovered that the American wedding has morphed into an opulent affair — and that I just don’t want to spend that kind of money on one day. But I do want it to be nice. What do you think — is the money worth it or should I stick with the local church and homemade food? — LibertyBelle

I think I see what’s going on here. I think I’m picking up on your not so subtle vibes with all the interchangeable Matt-talk. Are you asking me to marry you? I’d love to, but I can’t. I’m afraid of committing to women, for fear of alienating my wife. That said, wait for your seven-year-itch. We can have an extramarital affair when the time’s right.

But first things first – your wedding. A one-word piece of advice: revolt. Since I get paid by the word, let me expand on that. The bridal industry, like the greeting card industry, exists to convince you that the more you spend, the more you care about the ceremonial moments of your life. According to The Wedding Report, a publication I would only read at the point of a gun, the average wedding today costs nearly $30,000. Meaning there’s a lot of fathers out there who go in debt for their little princesses, since the average American family only saves about $390 a year.

Your suspicions are absolutely correct. It is a con — investing that much capital in wedding planning and nagging your poor fiancée until he wishes he’d eloped with the stripper from his bachelor party and taking fistfuls of laxatives so that you look perfectly thin for your wedding day — when it all will go by in a blur. You will spend nine months to a year preparing, and it will feel like it’s over in about five minutes. When I got married, it was such a whirl, that I don’t remember a thing. Not even the woman to whom I pledged my troth. In fact, I’m kind of worried I might have gone home with the wrong person. But she’s pleasant enough, so I’m sticking.

Not sure I’d go with “homemade food” — unless you really want Aunt Phoebe to bring her three-bean casserole. Go ahead and get a good caterer. Or at least a party platter from Chick-fil-A. People love them some nuggets. But it is not necessary to go broke just to prove that you’re a modern bride. There is basically one simple rule for all successful weddings: open bar. Have one, and the rest will work itself out.

Get married outdoors. Invite people you like, instead of people you have to. Play good music. Drink your fill. Then take off before your guests do, but not too soon before they’re ready to leave, since these should be people you want to see, and that you want seeing you. Take a lot of pictures, because you think you’ll remember what it feels like to be a newlywed forever, but you’ll blink a few times,  and then you’ll be sending your own daughter down the aisle. Check into a good hotel that night, before embarking on a honeymoon to some place tropical, with a lot of rum. Then get down to what a wedding day is really all about — a wedding night, making white-hot connubial love, or else just falling asleep. Don’t beat yourself up if you do the latter. Unless you went home with the wrong person, you’ll have another crack at it in the morning.

Who should we blame for the Tucson shooting? — Janelle Y

Generally speaking in these situations, I prefer blaming the shooter, since ten out of ten times, he’s the one with the gun who did all the killing. Of course, in the punditry racket, you’re not allowed to say something so blatantly obvious. Because if it is that obvious, the story ends, and everyone has to go back to covering the debt ceiling. (Just try making that interesting. ) For when you state a truth so elementary, you have no need of pundits to explain things in order to make the simple complicated, thus necessitating additional days or even weeks of further discussion, in which more pundits must hash out the concerns that the first wave of pundits raised. If you just accepted the simple non-political answer – demented lunatic kills people senselessly because life is often random and brutal and unfair, and horrible things sometimes happen to good people that have nothing to do with Sarah Palin or Teabagger discontent or the civility quotient in Washington — you could just absorb the information, shut off your 24-hour news feed, and then move on with your life, instead of having Mark Halperin explain life to you.

So if I have to be a dutiful pundit, in order to not get my punditry card revoked, if I have to tack politically-motivated blame for the shooting on someone besides the shooter, I’m going to pin the tail on Jim Treacher. Did he have anything to do with Tucson? I can’t prove it forensically. But he’s killed before — every time he does his Ke$ha impression, which is uncanny. Treacher, have you no conscience, sir? Don’t make me scream that it is time to LOWER THE VOLUME! Time to reevaluate what it is that you do, and how you do it.

Can we as a society ever hope to have leaders that have no personal favors, vendettas, or power agendas before they are thrust into office by the very folks they owe? It seems to me, a good old Florida boy, that no matter what president, senator, etc. we elect, they always seem to perform the same damn way. Government appears to focus on winning points for their respective party and not leading. I know it’s popular to compare to Ronald Reagan’s leadership, and it was great. However, he also made his share of mistakes. But he led! Confidence and a possible a dash of senility helped —  but he LED. — Paul M.

This Ron Reagan you speak of – I’m familiar with his work. He’s an articulate commentator on MSNBC, and was a fine ballet dancer, besides, as I think this photo attests (Ignore the camel toe. Or don’t, ladies):

But conservatives, at some point, have to step out from the camel-toed shadow of Reagan. He can’t be the answer for everything. (How do we bring back the economy? Bring back Reagan. Can you wear white bucks after Labor Day? Yes, white bucks match Reagan’s halo. Where are my car keys? Reagan took them — he ran down to the store to get a pack of smokes.) I mean, I was a Reaganite, too. But enough with fetishizing Reagan. He was just a man, who put his pants on one leg at a time. Or who had people to do that for him.

Is it possible to have the kind of leader you hope for? Yes, in Heaven, where Jesus and Johnny Cash live. But here on earth, I’d keep expectations low. No matter how much we change, no matter how sophisticated our technology becomes, three things that will never go out of style are personal favors, vendettas and power agendas. If there’s one thing we’ve learned as a species, it’s to stick with what you know.

Matt Labash is a senior writer with the Weekly Standard magazine. His book, “Fly Fishing With Darth Vader: And Other Adventures with Evangelical Wrestlers, Political Hitmen, and Jewish Cowboys,” was published this spring by Simon and Schuster. Have a question for Matt Labash? Submit it here.