Revenge of the Nerd Ch. 66byrpsuch©
Dad took off before we arrived. He left it for my mother to inform us he had decided to postpone his efforts to use weddings to help promote business.
He had gotten so carried away with the prospects it had escaped his notice that it would be inappropriate to do at his daughter's wedding. My mother tried hard to sell it, but it was pretty clear she didn't believe him either.
I told her to let him know how much I appreciated his understanding. I doubt she believed me any more than she believed him. She seemed to be satisfied that everything had been resolved.
I told Jeff to take a load off. We had a little more to discuss.
"Mom, how many people are invited to the wedding?"
"We're at a little over seventeen hundred, but I don't think there will be more than another hundred to add."
"Really. Only eighteen hundred guests. Aren't we going to feel lonely?"
"Where did you learn that sarcasm, young lady?"
"In my defense," said Jeff, "she had the full complement of sarcasm when I met her."
We were both startled. I knew Jeff was still there. It just hadn't occurred to me he would participate in the discussion.
"Fortunately for both of you, I speak fluent sarcasm. Please allow me to translate.
"Ashley has suggested that in this country and in this religion, a wedding is an intimate occasion. While there is no precise definition of intimate in this context, it is uncontroverted that eighteen hundred exceeds it by thirteen to fifteen hundred.
"Universal wedding etiquette places the comfort and enjoyment of the guests near the top of the list. The expense, effort and logistics required to seat eighteen hundred people plus the support staff to purchase, prepare, serve, clean up and dispose of the debris resulting from such an event is seriously deleterious to the enjoyment of the guests.
"I didn't anticipate this discussion, but if it would be helpful I'm sure I can develop a mathematical model to not only prove my assertion, but calculate the number of guests where the experience begins to switch from enjoyable to burdensome."
"How do you know that?"
"Thank you, Ashley," said Mom. I had saved her the embarrassment by asking her question.
"I read it somewhere," he answered.
Mom stood there with her mouth open shaking her head slowly.
"It's okay, Mom. He does this kind of stuff all the time."
"How do you get used to it?"
"I'll let you know when I do. Still, Jeff makes a good point, I'm pretty sure."
"I'm inclined to believe him. But how do we get this past your dad?"
"I infer from the fact that you're still adding to the guest list that you haven't sent out invitations?" Jeff asked.
"No," said Mom.
"That and the fact it's too early to send them out," he added.
"How do you know that?" I asked. "Never mind. You read it."
"So, what do we do?" Mom asked.
She looked toward Jeff as if we all assumed he would have the answer. So did I. I was thrilled to have identified the problem. I hadn't even begun to work on a solution.
"Well, we have a resource limited over a fixed period." He didn't miss a beat. It was just like it was the obvious next step in an elementary problem.
"Think of it like a Counting Crows concert or a Philadelphia Orchestra concert."
What was he talking about? Mom's face didn't register any recognition either.
"There is only one opening night and I'll grant that is seen as the most valuable performance. But each night they produce a substantially identical performance. In the course of a week seven times as many people can see a concert as opposed to just one night."
"Are you saying we should have seven weddings?" Mom asked, incredulous.
"Technically five assuming around three hundred guests initially," he said. "But it shouldn't be much of a problem to hold a congratulations-on-getting-married, welcome-back-from-the-honeymoon celebration for fifteen hundred people.
"All kinds of organizations and conferences have large banquets where people choose to sit together because of some affinity resulting from or independent of the overall meaning of the gathering.
"Here it seems the vast majority of those being invited are not friends or family; they are some kind of business or institutional associates. Not only would it be acceptable to have them in an event after the wedding, you could persuasively argue it is a greater honor to schedule an additional event to make sure they are included because of their intimate connection to Mr. Fine despite not being family or personal friends."
We sat in stunned silence. I'd seen enough of Jeff not to be surprised, but I was surprised.
Mom asked one question.
"How old are you?"
"You probably won't be surprised to know that is the question I'm most often asked. You shouldn't be surprised to hear I'm one year older than high school."
Mom smiled. "That's what you said the first time I met you."
"When can we get Dad back here" I asked.
Jeff held up a cautionary finger.
"I'm not certain of the details of the relationships, but I don't think you can present this to him, Mrs. Fine. From what I've observed of his concept of your role he views you as an implementer without a lot of decision-making authority. I intend no offense, but that seems to be the situation from what I have observed."
"I'm afraid you see it accurately," said Mom.
"You can ask him to return because you don't have the authority to do what Ashley has urged."
"What's with this urged?" I asked. "And why aren't you a part of this?"
"Second question first, he resents me as the cause of all this and that's going to make him angry enough. If I'm the one presenting it as my idea there's a good chance he'll reject it out of hand.
"I used the word urged because it implies enough importance that you will be willing to take it further. If you requested it that might suggest you don't have enough conviction to follow through. If you demanded it he would probably get defensive. He's not going to give anybody what they demand. People do what he demands.
"There may be a better word than urge, but it's in the neighborhood of the connotation you want to convey.
"Mrs. Fine, you can support the idea as interesting and point out it has some positive aspects. If you fully went to bat for it I think that would evoke resistance from him.
"That's how I see it, but I could be completely wrong."
"Where did you learn all that, and don't tell me a book?" I urged.
"I've read a fair amount of psychology including materials about persuasion. It seemed interesting so I didn't stop with the basic texts. I didn't have any use in mind for it at the time, but sometimes I see situations where it can be useful."
"I think your analysis is surprisingly accurate, Jeff," said Mom. "How long have you been working on this?"
I started to laugh.
"What?" she asked.
"Probably since around the middle of this conversation."
"See," I pointed.
His face grew redder.
I walked over to him and gave him a kiss and a hug.
"Even if you win this he's going to be really pissed with me," he whispered. "We're going to have to be on the lookout for more."