Frank Zappa edited an alien attack into his parents’ wedding video.
The Wall Street Journal
It was a big anniversary for us, either our 34th or 35th depending on when you started counting; the date of the actual ceremony, or the date almost one year earlier to the day when we got to know each other better in the Biblical sense. In either case, I thought I would give my wife a surprise by editing our wedding video, which had been filmed in the mid-1980s using technology that had long since been surpassed.
“Do you want to watch something special tonight?” as we settled onto the couch to “Netflix and chill,” as the kids say these days.
“Um, okay–what is it?”
“I read about it in The Wall Street Journal. A man around my age–although dead–edited his parents’ wedding video to add an alien attack.”
She looked at me, like Cortez’s men in Keats’ On First Looking Into Chapman’s Homer, with a wild surmise. “Why . . . would you want to do that?”
I turned around to face her squarely, in my best heart-to-heart conversational pose. “That day . . . it was completely out of this world!” I said as I clasped her hand, 8th grade sweetheart-style.
She didn’t seem convinced, but she got that look of hopeful resignation that used to come over her face when the wedding photographer–do they all have dandruff, or just ours?–was doing his thing. That expression that seems to say “He may be a dingbat, but he’s my dingbat.”
I clicked on the video remote and, as they say in Hollywood, the camera was rolling.
“Here are the bridesmaids going into the church,” I said as the camera panned to the shabby-genteel Protestant house of worship on Boston’s Newbury Street where our nuptials were held. It was the real deal; homeless guys sleeping off hangovers in front of the back entrance, an announcement of an upcoming ham and bean supper to support the Sandanista National Liberation Front, a lesbian minister in clunky leather boots.
“I’ve sort of lost touch with Janice,” my wife said, as her eyes began to moisten involuntarily.
“I think it’s inevitable,” I said. “I haven’t talked to Bill, or Rich, or Vince, or Mike, or Zlorg for years.”
“He’s the big guy–over 7 feet–you see menacing your Aunt from Wisconsin.”
“Why is he doing that?”
“I told him to be on the lookout–she threatened to sing ‘O Promise Me,’ and if she so much as opened her mouth in song he was to blast her with his anti-neutrino ray gun.”
“What’s an anti-neutrino?”
“I don’t know, but I learned about it in Introduction to Physics for Non-Majors in college.”
The groomsmen filed into the church ahead of me from the side entrance, with my best man Bill carrying the ring–along with two rebel Xyklonites from the THX1138 spiral galaxy.
“I don’t remember those . . . creatures being in the wedding.”
“They weren’t, but . . . “
“I didn’t have so much money back then, and I know you would have liked a bigger ring.”
“Mine’s just fine.”
“No, I want you to have something nicer, so those two are carrying a massive diamond from the mines on their planet Xyklon.”
“Is that a real planet?”
“Well, no, but you don’t want me to spend real money on a fictional precious stone, do you?”
“I guess not.”
We had reached that poignant moment when we would exchange our vows and the lump in my throat was visible from the videographer’s vantage point way in the back of the church. Neither of us wanted to get creative with an institution that is thousands of years old, so instead of writing some facile dipshit for our vows, we stuck to the Book of Common Prayer, which was alien to me since I’d been raised as a Catholic.
“It’s funny,” I said.
“The nuns told us in grade school that if we went to Protestant Church we’d be committing a mortal sin.”
“What does that mean?”
“It’s pretty serious. If you die before you confess it, you go straight to hell, do not pass Purgatory, do not collect $200.”
We turned our eyes back to the big screen, where a ray of some sort beamed through a stained-glass window–and transported me bodily out of the church through the miracle of light-wave travel!
“Where are you going?” she asked.
“To get a beer.”
“No, I mean in the film you’ve so craftily edited.”
“I think I’m being whisked away to another dimension.”
“Which dimension is that?”
“The Guy-i-verse, where a being can burp quietly without being subjected to the penetrating glare of Wife-X laser beams.”