Wednesday, February 2, 2011

My Panache: Where did it go?

I miss my panache. Isn’t that a great word? It comes from a French word with the connotation of flamboyant manner and reckless courage. It stirs up images of Cyrano de Bergerac in the play of the same name. However, unlike this fictional character, I don’t seem to be keeping my panache intact.

Cyrano's last words: " ... yet there is something still that will always be mine, and when I go to God's presence, there I'll doff it and sweep the heavenly pavement with a gesture — something I'll take unstained out of this world ... my panache "

Maybe some of you imagine me to be a person who exudes confidence and flair, but you should have seen me earlier this month as I shriveled in the face of another cultural faux pas. I was anything but effervescent. Instead I was insecure and trying to shrink myself to a more acceptable size in this culture.

The occasion was a wedding in which I was to be the ring bearer. You read that right. Technically I was the “madrina” of the rings, which is supposed to be quite an honor. It means I was the sponsor for the bride and groom’s rings. In other words, I paid for the rings. That much I understood. However, I didn’t know what else that would entail.

Arriving at the church on time, I sat in an inconspicuous place and waited and waited. An hour later the bride and her family arrived, and the bride’s sister came and asked me what on earth I was doing sitting there. I was to process into the church and be seated in a place of honor on the front row.

Still in possession of the rings and uncertain what to do, I awkwardly walked into the church in solemn procession, feeling like a giant directly behind the bride’s parents who are both at least a foot shorter than I am.

Shortly into the ceremony the pastor asked the bride and groom what tokens they had, and they announced “rings.” The pastor looked over to me, and I nervously went up in front of a very packed church and handed the pastor the black velvet case from the jewelry store. He looked at me blankly, and then told me to open it. Oh, so I guess I was supposed to know that. Anyway then I went back and sat down, totally lacking in any degree of panache. I felt like a complete idiot. A rehearsal might have been helpful.

When the pastor asked for the next token, the “madrina” of the coins went up with a flourish of panache, and presented her token in a gorgeous, ornate little box. The next gift was presented in a decorative glass case, and another token was displayed on a silver platter. I soon learned that the rings were to have been presented in a similar way. Ack. How was I supposed to know? I cringe with the very memory of my publicly humiliating loss of panache.

IRL*You’d think this feeling of being an outsider would fade after 25 years, but it keeps returning.


  1. Sorry you felt so out of place.

    I'm looking forward to our next life when I'm guessing either we'll already know how to act, will have a great orientation program or at least will be able to laugh at our selves without the humiliation feeling!

    Remember your a child of the King. And I'm sure your panache will recover. Fauche.

  2. So true. Thanks, Fauche. I always enjoy the laugh after the fact, but man, that humiliation stings at the moment. What gets me is that I should have noticed this detail from other weddings I have attended. Apparently I never paid attention. I was probably pondering the attire of the attendees or something.

    Maybe panache isn't all it's cracked up to be. At least my nose isn't so bulbous. :)

  3. I think there may be some sympathy in your reaction - we all know that we don't mess with weddings! To make a mistake any other time would be ok, but to make one at someone's wedding and become a topic of conversation that detracts from who the day is supposed to be about - that is a sin for us.

    I'm sure they enjoyed you there, opening the box or not! At least they have something to talk about on a boring day! :)

  4. I had a similar experience in my OWN wedding. I'm married to a Kenyan. We definitely should have done more talking through every detail of the ceremony before it started!

  5. Ellie, actually people here are pretty forgiving when it comes to weddings. I think appearances are a whole lot less important. They didn't even hire a photographer for this wedding.

    Michele, I just saw your comment. Oh, my. Cross-cultural weddings just have to have those inevitable faux pas.

  6. JJ at least you tried to fit in - and I'm sure they were happy with your attempt :)


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