more articles like this
A wedding at Cana: the Caterer's Story
updated: Apr 23, 2011, 8:15 AM
A short story by Frank Frost
We'd been having a good season for months up there in the north Galilee, both sides of the lake, our usual business--weddings, bar-mitzvahs, executions--anything that brought a crowd. Today was going to be great, a Levi daughter and a son from Manasseh getting hitched. The best families. Well over a hundred people invited, plus all those who figured the invite had been lost in the mail. The groom was from a family of big wine growers and his dad had told me, don't worry about the wine; they'll be floating in wine. The band gave me some trouble. The sneaky guitarist was related to the florist and just yakking together they found out the flowers cost ten times what the band was getting. Then they gave me a lot of attitude about being the last to get paid. Musicians!
Anyway, the wedding went great and the band was actaully worth the extra I had to give them. A bonus--the mother of the bride was going to sing that stupid song they all want to sing at weddings, but she choked on a fish bone, was OK after they whacked her on the back, but couldn't sing a note. Good luck! They want tilapia from the lake on the grill for dinner, they're going to get bones, I told them.
But the father of the groom, the big shot vineyard owner, I could tell when they unloaded the wine jars it wasn't going to be enough. A hot day, that side of the lake, gimme a break. Sure enough, there was a point there in the afternoon when people were looking around, shaking the amphoras, seeing if there's still a full one. I was on my way to our wagon, see if I'd left a jug there and I heard this woman saying to her son, "Yossi! They ran out of wine! And the dancing just started. Such a shame!"
I knew her from Nazareth, a nice lady, Mariam, married to Yousef, a carpenter. Her son Yoshua and his pals had all been invited. Yoshua is a strange one, a big guy, very calm but when he looks you in the eye you get the feeling, whatever he wants, you should do it. Right now he was sort of impatient with his mom.
"They ran out of wine? What's that to you or me, woman? It's not my time yet."
It's not his time? What did that mean? Anyway I was too busy to pay attention. I knew I had two small jugs of white from the Golan, pretty poor stuff, but it could keep them dancing. But when I got back to the wedding, I see the servers going around with pitchers already. And I'm like, where did the wine come from? I grab one of the servers and make him give me a taste. I'm telling you, I know my wine. Not just this swill we grow here in the kingdom, but imported stuff too, Pramnian from Ikaros, even Falernian from Italy, which you don't see here every day, maybe up there in Jerusalem at the proconsul's palace, you gotta be a Roman, or one of those rich Jews kissing up to them. So I know a good wine, and this was like nothing I ever tasted before. You got your ripe berries, your myrrh, hints of leather and sage, very complex, and with a long finish. I took another sip just to make sure and then I see the bridegroom passing around a pitcher.
"Hey!" I call him over. "Hey, pal, I don't know where this is coming from, but don't you know the rule? You should always serve the good stuff first, great wine like this. Let ‘em get drunk and then feed ‘em the plonk later, right?"
He looks at me, happy, half sloshed himself. "Not my wine, Nate." That's me, Nathan. Everyone knows me.
"It's not our wine, Nate. Yossi told the waiters there was wine in those big water jars over there. I didn't believe it, but there sure was, and lots of it. What a deal, is this great wine, or what?"
I see you're writing all this down. I'm glad, because it's a good story, people should know.
* * *
Ed encourages all writers out there to send in stories for our Sunday Edhat. And, don't worry about the angry mob, we don't allow comments on creative works of fiction.
# # # #