Even though I don’t own a TV, I have an addiction to that British soap opera “Downton Abbey” about nobles and servants gone wild.
My wife, who is English, has been nagging me to buy a flatscreen TV and a satellite dish so we can beam in and watch the antics across the pond because watching it on DVD a year later is worse than watching election night coverage on TiVo.
This season Shirley MacLaine, who was reincarnated as a wealthy American matron, is appearing on the show, along with Honey Boo Boo, who was reincarnated as Tiny Tim.
And I read that Lady Mary Crawley finally got hitched to her on-again-off-again boyfriend Arthur Treacher, or whoever he is, in what was called the wedding of the century, or more appropriately the wedding of the last century since it takes place in the 1920s.
(To my thinking, nothing can compare to the wedding of Luke and Laura on General Hospital, which attracted 30 million viewers and shut down businesses and offices nationwide and brought the stock market to a standstill.)
As the father of four daughters, I got excited when I read that Downton Abbey is being rented out for the weddings of commoners — at least the well-heeled commoners who can afford a base price of $20,000, excluding the cost of the cake, dinners, booze, decorations and a deejay. The place, which is a 175-year-old home in West Berkshire, has been described as “the ultimate fairy tale venue for a couple looking to host a dream wedding.”
Forget the “dream wedding” — I’m looking to host an Italian wedding that doesn’t turn into a nightmare. You see, I have two daughters who haven’t gotten married. Sad to say, I don’t have any money left after two other daughters got married last year within 90 days of each other, which has prompted me to lobby Congress to pass a law that requires a waiting period to prevent girls from doing this sort of thing to their cash-strapped dads.
Actually, I could afford a wedding at the Abbey if I sold my house and moved into a one-bedroom apartment that took dogs. The good news is that my third daughter is dating an English lad, who — I’m not applying any pressure here — might be my ticket to the Abbey because he has a British accent, and could maybe get me a deal. I’ll make them an offer they can’t refuse. Of course, it will cost a fortune to ship my Italian relatives overseas.
I confess that I’m a bit worried about an Italian wedding at Downton Abbey because we tend to get a little crazy. I’m referring to my uncle Vinny, my cousin Little Nicky, not to mention Rocky, Rosemary, Tony and Cheech, who will have to lose the Arthur Avenue accents and learn how to talk British.
All things considered, my family is more normal than Shirley MacLaine and Honey Boo Boo, but we’ll still need etiquette lessons on how to hold a cannoli with two fingers and drink espresso out of Staffordshire china.
We’ll also have to import some high-priced Monfortino wine to replace the martinis, and require everyone to eat their salad before the main course instead of after.
And I may need special permission to hire a deejay named Enzo with spiked mousse-soaked hair. Hey, if we can’t listen to Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Connie Francis, and dance the tarantella, there’s not going to be a wedding. That’s my final offer.
I may not be British nobility, but I have some standards. So tally-ho, old chaps, and all you goombahs, too.
Joe Pisani may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.