Right now, under the pulse of the noonday sun, University of Miami has a lot of activities going on in the Breezeway.
I stumble upon this buzzing corner of the world quite by accident; I am simply taking a walk to the UM Post Office to drop off a Netflix DVD that we watched last night, The Namesake, starring Kal Penn, who also played Kumar in Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, which I saw with my father, and not as a last resort.
On the contrary, prepared to laugh, we intentionally drove to the theater to watch Harold and Kumar smoke a couple joints and ride the cheetah to White Castle:
Here’s the actual script:
Harold and Kumar are now sitting on top of the CHEETAH,
smoking joints. Kumar has a belt around the cheetah’s neck
like reigns on a horse.
Has it come to this? Are we really gonna
ride this cheetah?
Hey, cheetahs are the fastest animals on
the planet. It’s as good as a car.
Kumar takes one last drag of a joint and flicks it away.
This is either a really smart move, or by
far the stupidest thing we’ve ever done.
Harold puts his arms around Kumar to hold on. Kumar puts the
bag of weed under his shirt.
Well, we’ll soon find out.
(like to a snow dog)
SUDDENLY, THE CHEETAH DARTS OUT LIKE LIGHTNING WITH
HAROLD AND KUMAR ON ITS BACK. EVEN THOUGH IT MAKES
ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE, WE SEE THE CHEETAH ZOOMING PAST
STREETS AND FORESTS. HAROLD AND KUMAR ARE BOUNCING
UP AND DOWN AS IT RACES ACROSS A MAJOR HIGHWAY…
Dude, am I just really high or is this actually working?!
Note how Harold and Kumar are bouncing up and down at what I consider to be the climax of this film, a climax that ranks up there with Wicker Park in terms of eliciting innumerable tiny explosions on the surface of my skin. I won’t fail to mention that I also watched Wicker Park in the movie theater with my father.
Yes, it’s safe to say that if not for him, I’d be a complete stranger to the movie theater. There would be no Harold, there would be no Kumar, there would be no Wicker Park and therefore no Múm, and what would my life be like without Múm?
So, I’m on my way to drop the Netflix DVD off at the UM Post Office, and inside the post office there is a line of people. I can’t help but worry if I’m going to have to stand in this line. I detest lines. Lines must be avoided, that’s why we have brains, to avoid lines.
But I’m getting slightly ahead of myself, just slightly. As I walk to the post office, I pass the first activity, not so much in the Breezeway, but at the maw of the Breezeway.
Is that what I think it is, I remember thinking, yes, that is two college students getting married. They’re walking up those steps hand-in-hand towards the makeshift tent, where a college girl stands with a mic in one hand and aviator sunglasses resting on the crown of her nose. She presides over their wedding.
But there are no people in the seats, I recall thinking, this is an empty wedding. How can these two college students get excited about having an empty wedding? How can they even want to entertain the possibility of having an empty wedding? Who wants an empty wedding? No one likes emptiness, no one chooses emptiness. To be empty is to be hungry, hollow, and incapable of emotion. To be empty is much different than to be alone, which clearly these two college students pronounced man and wife are not. They’re the opposite of alone. They’re together, united, joined, wedlocked.
Then I hear the college girl presiding over their wedding say, “Please join us in our support for equality of marriage.” Or maybe she said equal marriage, please join us in our support for equal marriage.
That reminds me: Daria Believes in Equal Marriage; Harold and Kumar believe in Weed, is an approximation of reality. Sorry, but that’s all my memory can afford me, an approximation of reality, and I am convinced that my inability to be exact when giving accounts of real life such as this one is not so much a result of age or any other natural attrition of my memory fibers, but rather an innate imprecision, a congenital abstraction that I have chosen to embrace rather than attempt to fix.
“We have pop rings, cake, and wedding certificates,” continues the college girl. “If you want to marry your girlfriend or boyfriend, grab a pop ring of your choosing and step right up. If you want to marry the person sitting right next to you, or if you don’t even have a person to marry but want to get married anyway, grab a pop ring and we’ll scratch something together for all you Lonely Hearts. Everyone gets married today at UM, support equal marriage.”
Her soapboxing is completely dead-panned. No exclamation in her speech, not even a half-ass emphasis, just straight and dry dead-pan a la Daria:
“Everyone gets married today at UM,” she drones, “support equal marriage.”
I’m not going to lie. I thought about running to get my girlfriend and proposing. This could be our wedding, the one we had planned in our most vivid dreams, the wedding that would be consummated not in the loving company of family and friends but with row upon row of empty plastic seats, nor would our wedding be consummated with the transference of a diamond that cost the lives of multiple South Africans but rather with a crystallized pop ring directly from Willy Wonka’s factory. What color would we choose?
It is this thought that carries me into the post office, where there is a formidable queue of people gliding towards the pair of mail clerks. I scan the area for a quicker alternative.
There must be a drop box, I think, this is a post office. Where’s the drop box?
Then, reading my anxiety, what I take to be the head mail clerk gives me a suggestive glance, as if to say, Yes, you have the right idea, just keep drifting in the direction you’re drifting in, c’mon now.
I focus on a makeshift index card sign: Drop Box. Underneath the sign is a slit.
Still doubtful, always brimming with hesitation once I get around people, I follow the head mail clerk’s unspoken encouragement and drift towards the slit in the counter. I think about Barack Obama’s trip to the wailing wall. I think about him scanning the crowd, aware of his role in history.
He must be brave, I think, he must stand for something that ultimately amounts to nothing less than the first black President of the United States. This man who lived most of his life as a denizen of Hyde Park suddenly had to galvanize his courage and stand for something historical, something that is greater than himself, something that many people need him to be, and he is up for the challenge.
He folds The King David paper in his hands, uses the tip of his forefinger to blot the perspiration on his forehead, and he is unaware of the penniless student spying from the crowd, willing to sink low for a little bit of money. Yes, money can and often does dictate our actions. Money makes people steal prayers, money makes people dirty.
His forehead blotted of sweat, Barack can’t help but perspire more when he arrives at the uneven surface that is the Western Wall, which has been standing where it stands today since at least the 11th century.
In this way, it is accurate to say that when Barack touches the Western Wall, history touches history, and it is all done within a very spiritual context.
I drift towards the slit in the counter with the same courage as Barack Obama, my prayer folded in my hand, “Is this going to work?” I ask the head mail clerk seconds before I do the irreversible.
She dips her chin and sets a pair of far-sighted eyes on me, her eyeglasses secure along the squeaky clean helix of her ears, “That’s right,” she says, “that’s regular mail. You got it right.”
I bless her with a laugh that hails from the pit of my stomach, not a prolonged laugh, but an earnest laugh that brightens up her otherwise humdrum day: the same as yesterday was, the same as tomorrow will be.
This is how I roll, blessing strangers with earnest laughter, spreading happiness, me and Barack.
I walk out of the post office, oblivious to the somber and silent queue that still moves at the rate of a glacier, and hear the college girl speak monotony from the peak of the matrimonial stairway.
“Support equal marriage, “she says. “Grab anyone you can find, and if you can’t find anyone we have plenty waiting and willing to tie the knot. We have pop rings, cake, and wedding certificates. Show your support for equal marriage.”
Daria, I think, she sounds like Daria.