Thursday, January 22, 2009

Another unavoidable rule of life

Most people are familiar with Murphy and his famous law, “whatever can go wrong, will.” It states clearly and concisely one of the little interesting facts of life on this planet. There have been books written about it, and other people have discovered other similar laws; we have Finagle's law, Godwin's law, Hanlon's Razor, and the Peter principle. I would like to propose a new one, that I have observed to be invariably true, and I would like to modestly suggest that it be called Riggs's Rule of Time and Events. It could be stated like this, “whenever there is too much to do in the time you have, there will be something else to do as well.” This law was operating at it's finest this last Monday.

Since moving from Lima, about a month ago, we have been waiting for our furniture, the bulk of our clothes, books, etc to get here. During this time, we have had many false alarms – the truck will be there on Friday, or Tuesday, but after we stayed home waiting, canceling meetings, missing church, basically prisoners in our apt.; the truck doesn't show up. The first truck – we were only supposed to have one truck, but that is another story – arrived 3 days after we were told it would. And it arrived when Munay had about 1,397 people from every pueblo in the region for a meeting about forming an agricultural cooperative. So, on the only day that there was no room for a truck in the property, we had a truck. Now that is merely classic Murphy, but the second truck is Riggs's Rule.

Last week we were repeatedly assured by the local manager of the trucking company that the truck would arrive Saturday morning. In the meantime, Cayo Vargas, brought a young couple out to meet us. You may remember them from the last blog. David is a Peruvian, who went to Brazil to study to be a church planter. While there, he met Leila, a Brazilian studying at the same Institute. As happens so frequently at Bible (Bridal) colleges and institutes, they fell in love and David proposed, she accepted. They wanted to have their civil wedding in Peru, because his family could not make it to Brazil. They had spent almost all their money just getting here and on the paperwork for an international wedding and needed an inexpensive place to have the wedding. It was discovered that, since we are not Peruvians, we couldn't be the Padrinos. So, we thought that we had dodged a bullet. Cayo suggested that they hold the ceremony here in the auditorium. We thought that this was a great idea and readily agreed to help with the decorations and clean-up. After all the wedding was to be on Monday, we had nothing else to do, because we would have finished not only unloading and hauling everything up to our second floor apt, but gotten a good start on putting it all away.

Since we are VIP's ( Visibly International People) they still wanted me to participate in the wedding, and who can say “no” to that honor and privilege. I would just have to dress up and read some scripture. Piece of cake, right? Who sees Riggs's Rule beginning to rear it's ugly head, hmmm? The trucking company called and said that the truck was running behind and would be here late on Saturday. We believed them, thus proving to anyone who still had a doubt, that yes, several of our screws are loose or even missing entirely. We waited all day Saturday – no truck. Sunday morning early we got a call, “the truck is in town, will be out there shortly.” We spent Sunday afternoon waiting for the truck and helping decorate the auditorium for the wedding, Chris got to do the high work. He climbed up a stool on a chair to stand on a table on a table. Still no truck. That night at 7 we went to church, where due to more interesting coincidences having to do with transportation, the guest preacher hadn't shown up. Guess who had to preach on 5 minutes notice = )

The wedding was scheduled for 11 in the morning. By 10 there still was no truck. We had been finishing decorating the auditorium all morning and were still in work clothes. We waited as long as possible, then went up to get dressed for the ceremony. Then the truck showed up. Right after the wedding guests had begun to arrive. Our dog, the aptly named Bother was on the truck and soooo excited to see us. It is amazing how aromatic a dog can get in a truck on a cross country trip in the summer. We quickly unloaded the truck and hauled everything up the stairs and did an astounding quick change. As we came down the stairs I was trying to fix my tie, which had decided to be either 3 inches long or hang to my knees. When Cayo brought over a man to meet me, I realized that I hadn't yet tied my shoes. Nice to meet you Mr. Mayor.

We somehow made it through the service, we got great seats – right in the back row - and were dazedly half listening to the mayor read all of the legal mumbo-jumbo of a Peruvian civil wedding - “paragraph 407 ... the husband may not prevent the wife from voting in any case, even if she will cancel his vote by voting for the opposing candidate, or even if it means that she can't cook lunch that day. The in-laws, as well may not …” and so on and on. Suddenly I heard the phrase, “honored national of the United States, Meekay, will now do the arglebarzh” (at least it sounded like arglebarzh). I looked around in sudden and sheer panic at the standing room only crowd in the auditorium. They were all staring at me expectantly. Not all prayers are answered “yes”, I know this because the earth did not open and swallow me. I stood and smiled tranquilly and hissed at Tammy, “what is an arglebargle? Wadda I do?” She smiled at me pleasantly and gave me a gentle shove. I thought wives were supposed to be Helpmeets.

As I gravely walked across to the mayor, with sweaty hair and smelling of dog and absolutely no idea what I was supposed to do, the phrase “dead man walking” kept running through my head. I had one chance, Cayo and his wife, Elizabeth, were the Padrinos (official witnesses) and she was standing where I would have to pass her to get to the mayor. Maybe a quick question and answer could pull my bacon out of the fire. “Eli”. I whispered, “what am I supposed to do?” She gave me a smile and said, “entregar” “Deliver?” Deliver what? How? The next thing I know the mayor is handing me a stiff piece of parchment paper with signatures and seals and stamps and smiling and shaking my hand. I wisely stand there holding the paper, a statue couldn't have done better. After a couple of seconds that sped by like eons, the mayor nods toward the couple. I smile stupidly and stick the paper at the couple, they won't take it. Cayo catches my eye and whispers, “say something”. I wonder how the Gettysburg address would sound. Instead, I beam proudly at the young couple, just as if they were my idea and thank the mayor for the opportunity, mention how happy I am to be there (not entirely the truth, all in all I would rather have been somewhere - anywhere else) and ask God's blessing on the young couple, encourage them and say a brief prayer. Then I hold the document out again and (sigh of relief) Leila takes it. After shaking the mayors hand, I stride back to my seat. Or I try to, Tammy is being brought up front and we are placed in the front row on the side in full view of everyone.

For it is time for Lunch, in no time at all we find ourselves with huge platters containing a half of a fried chicken, 2 massive boiled potatoes, 2 cups of mote' (kind of like hominy on steroids) and ocopa sauce. This is accompanied by a fork, a plastic fork. Do you know how hard it is to eat a half of a fried chicken with only a fork (can't use your fingers in the front row) or peel mote' when you have to keep one hand on your plate. I smoothly threw half of my first potato on the floor, where it rolled over to the bride and groom...

At 6 P.M. We got back upstairs to our apartment, and were greeted effusively by Bother. We fixed coffee for Cayo and Elizabeth and introduced them to Bother (who greeted them effusively as well).We were tired, sweaty, smelled like dog and we had to assemble our beds before we could sleep. And we were happy. Even though, Riggs's Rule was fully operational, we spent the day with our friends here, we had participated in the marriage of a wonderful young couple, we met some wonderful new friends, had a great lunch and didn't need supper. All was at peace, we were cozy and content – then the phone rang.