Wednesday, April 01, 2009


As I am on spring break please enjoy this re-run which I may or may not have ever posted. J.

Last Saturday I was driving in the car with my son, when he looked at the dashboard clock and said casually, "Oh, I need to be home by 6:00, I'm performing a marriage today."

As my son is only 13 and not an ordained clergyman, this news was intriguing, to say the least.

"Excuse me?" I said.

"In my online game--World of Warquest. I'm a priest and I said I'd marry these two people."

"Oh, I see," I said. "No, not really, I really don't see at all. What does that mean? What denomination are you? Did you choose to be a priest or is it randomly assigned? Do they know you’re only 13?”

“You choose your characters and I picked priest. Then someone asked if any priests were available and I said I was. They know I’m 13. The bride’s fine but the groom keeps asking me if I know what I’m doing.”

“So they’re not really getting married, it’s just online characters getting married?”

“No,” he said, growing impatient with my ignorance, “They’re real people and in real life, they're getting married next weekend and since they're big gamers they wanted to get married online first."

My reaction to all of this was a mixture of relief and awe: relief that he can still distinguish between real life and online life; and awe that he has the confidence to "marry" two people--albeit virtually.

“So do you know what you want to say? Did they give you vows?” I asked, pulling into the driveway at 5:55.

“No, I thought I’d wing it,” he said breezily, getting out of the car.

“You’ll be drawing on your extensive theological training?”

“Well, I’ve been to a few weddings.”

My husband was in the kitchen quartering limes. I informed him that his eldest would be administering online sacraments momentarily. He shrugged and reminded me that it was cocktail hour. Meanwhile, our son the priest, sat down at the computer and calmly signed in to his fantasy world. (Since we are good parents we insist the computer remain in the kitchen to better monitor his online activity, but as he has managed to join the priesthood without our knowledge, this approach may be flawed). “Okay,” he said over his shoulder to the room at large "Should I start with 'Do you take this woman?' or say something else first?"

"Umm, err, honey, didn't you do any research for this? You know--Google 'online vows for cyber geeks' or anything like that?" Realizing that what I had mistakenly identified as admirable confidence was in reality teenaged indifference and recognizing that he was now way out over his skis, I started to panic on his behalf. I started racking my brains, trying to remember –how does a wedding start? Should he ask if anyone objects (well who wouldn’t?) or was he supposed to welcome the guests (virtual and real). “I could run upstairs and find vows on Wikipedia,” I offered, growing ever frantic as I imagined the bride waiting anxiously, her hands poised over the keyboard, her father ready to give her away with the click of a mouse, “Or I could look for our Bible and you could do a nice reading from Paul--”

Fortunately, my meddling frenzy was cut short by a little voice of reason which said, "Stop. This is not your problem. Let him take care of it." I'd like to say the little voice of reason came from inside my head but it didn't--it came from my husband who was standing at my side. I took his advice-- and the gin and tonic he had just mixed me--and we left our son to perform his first wedding.

We sat on the patio and toasted the bride and groom. We talked about the virtual world we know so little about even though our children have moved there part-time. And as with all big parenting epiphanies we were forced (once again) to acknowledge that we don’t really know what’s going on.

As the sun turned from amber to rose we grew quiet and our son called out through the kitchen window, “I’m pronouncing them husband and wife.” I shivered as the night grew just a bit cooler and remembered a line from Kahlil Gibran’s poem on children:

Their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,

which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

And my son the priest said, “Amen.”

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