High Society Wedding Hathos

Talk is cheap, and snark is the cheapest kind — which is why the internet is swamped with it. Fortunately there are exceptions to the rule, those relatively few writers on the web whose skills raise them well above the garden variety haters.

One such iconoclastic wit goes by the online alias of Mobutu Sese Seko. His Twitter profile says, “Former Notorious African Dictator. Politics blogger at @Gawker and @GQMagazine.com. Guest at @Deadspin, The @Classical and @Vice. Registered sexhaver.” His blog Et tu, Mr. Destructo? is a longtime resident of my sidebar, and can be found at http://www.mrdestructo.com.

just married limoMobutu isn’t the first to take aim at the New York Times’s Weddings section. These weekly matrimonial hagiographies are like a carefully preserved relic from the gilded age: fawning reports of joyous unions between necessarily well-bred, well-educated, well-off young paragons of virtue. Perhaps, like me, Mobutu hadn’t bothered to look at any of these tulle-wrapped flauntings in a while. In any case, yesterday he did, and was moved to embark upon a most entertaining flurry of tweeted hathos.

The New York Times, “Sage Mehta and Michael Robinson”:

Alexandra Sage Mehta and Michael Robinson do not seem to belong to the Facebook generation that expresses itself in sentence fragments. In conversation, their sentences are grammatical and lovely and often sound as if previously written, if not rewritten.

Both are writers and care deeply about words as well as opera, cooking, stick-shift cars, modern design and swimming in cold water.

Ms. Mehta, 27, who grew up on the Upper East Side, is working on a memoir and a novel, and is not easily typecast. She prefers writing in the darkest corner of the quietest library she can find, yet she’s also social and vivacious… she is slightly built, graceful and soft-spoken. Yet she has also been known, when cross-country skiing with friends who are falling behind, to shout, “Buck up!”

Mr. Robinson, 31, grew up in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., loving cars and French literature. He manages real estate investments for a family in New York and is writing a biography of Robert Cordier, a French filmmaker and theater director. He likes modern chairs and couches, partly because they are often uncomfortable and keep him from falling asleep while reading.

The two met in Paris in the summer of 2001. She was on a summer-abroad program for high school students; he was a counselor. For her, he was an anomaly: a boy she could talk to, for hours.

Most of her education had been in girls schools. “I just found boys terrifying and alien,” she said. Months later, she mailed him a long handwritten letter on her personal stationery. “I’d just hate to lose you, oh that was an awful blah line,” she wrote. And: “Now I’m 17, which seems so awfully old.”

Years passed. She graduated from Princeton, then lived in Mumbai, India, studying yoga and writing. He graduated from Yale, then got a master’s degree in modern and medieval languages at Cambridge University, then moved to Paris to write. By November 2009, both were living in Manhattan. They ran into each other at a “huge party given by three very popular Princeton girls,” she said. He recalls thinking that Ms. Mehta had grown up to be astoundingly beautiful, tall and lithe in a bright orange dress. She remembers wondering why she didn’t feel more of a spark. Nevertheless, they made a plan to have dinner and catch up.

They met at Lucien, a French restaurant downtown. He arrived on a black Bianchi bicycle, and this time she felt sparks. They talked about writing, bicycles and their fathers. Her father is Ved Mehta, the prolific, blind Indian writer who lives in New York; his father, E. Steven Robinson, owns a commodities trading company in Michigan… He was not a person who leaped into relationships easily, especially serious ones. “I very much didn’t want to be in a committed relationship,” he said.

That changed by the end of dinner with Ms. Mehta. “I was really quite captivated by Sage,” he said. She soon bought her own bicycle, a black one with orange wheels (Princeton colors), and they began taking long rides around the city.

She moved into his tiny studio on the Lower East Side, which at that time had three pieces of furniture: a large desk with a glass top, an uncomfortable modern chair and an uncomfortable bed. Yet she was perfectly comfortable there. “He has the most amazing, joyful way of going through life,” she said. “He sings and dances and laughs and runs the shower too long before he gets in.” They even write together at the desk, which becomes the dinner table when they cook for friends, which is often.

“They managed to live in this tiny room and create a marvelous social life together,” said Katrina Cary, an aunt of Ms. Mehta. “Sage would come back and say, ‘Oh, we just had this huge gang of friends over.’” One of those friends, Eliza Gray, an assistant editor at The New Republic magazine, said: “You can always count on them to talk about something interesting, whether it’s yoga or an artist or something in history or a place or a song or even politics. They’re never dull. They’re both unique.”

Months after they moved in together, they went swimming in Maine. She sat on the dock deliberating and stalling, as is her way, while he dived right in. He proposed in Paris last summer, 10 years after they met there. He did not kneel, but stood so that they could be on equal footing and he could look straight into her eyes. He said he wanted their marriage to be “a continuous, personal, intimate alliance between our inner voices.”

On the evening of May 19, they were married in New York at The Century Association, chosen because it is one of Mr. Mehta’s favorite places; he knows where every piece of furniture is and walks around there like a person with sight.

It was a Jewish ceremony with Hindu and Episcopalian elements performed by Rabbi James Ponet, the Jewish chaplain at Yale.

“I have never been so sure about anything in my life as wanting to marry Michael,” the bride said in a short speech before the 215 guests. “It is rare in life to be sure. Most of my feelings are the opposite, little inklings that with proper care and attention grow into more definite emotions and desires.”

Ms. Mehta and Mr. Robinson have read and reread all the epic love stories in literature, yet their own view of love and marriage is pretty simple. “You have to keep making these choices to love and turn toward the person you love,” she said. “It’s a daily practice, a good habit.”

About Derek

Derek is a Californian actor, writer, blogger, coffee epicure and dog person. More about him and the raison d'etre of this blog can be read at http://cheekandbluster.com/about/ and his online shenanigans can be at least partly tracked at http://twitter.com/InstaDerek .
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3 Responses to High Society Wedding Hathos

  1. Derek Wood says:

    Darn… shoulda called this one “Occupy Wedding Street,” but didn’t think of it till just now. So it goes.

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