We all know the standard traditions of marriage in America: something borrowed, something blue… the groom doesn’t see the bride before the wedding… processional and recessional… the kiss, the toast… the newlywed couple cutting the cake and smearing it on one another’s faces, throwing rice on the departing couple. But there are also some nonstandard traditions that include a wide array of practical jokes.
My brother masterminded one on Grace and me. He and my parents kindly offered to move some furniture into our apartment while we were away on our honeymoon. After hauling in the furniture, my brother blew up a couple hundred balloons and filled our only bathroom with them. When I say filled, I mean that the room was jammed with balloons floor to ceiling. (It must have been a challenge to squeeze the last few dozen in there!)
Imagine us returning home after midnight from our honeymoon in Bermuda. Bleary-eyed and emotional about spending our first night in our apartment, we wandered around with a mix of excitement and exhaustion. But when we tried to open the bathroom door, it…wouldn’t…open!
Once we diagnosed the problem, the question became how to treat it. Popping several hundred balloons after midnight would surely elicit 911 calls from our new neighbors, and not make the ideal first impression: “They must have a shooting gallery down there in Apartment 101!” Or, “Wow, that new marriage doesn’t seem to be going too well. Guns already!”
The standard approach to Muslims from my Evangelical upbringing was: be nice to them when necessary in order to evangelize them; otherwise, see them as spiritual competitors and potential enemies. Armin was the first instrument of my conversion away from that sub-Christian attitude, and he was an ideal agent for conversion.