George Zweibel of Washington, D.C., son of the late Albert Zweibel, was unmarried last evening at a Silver Spring warehouse in a simple ceremony officiated by William Berinsky, a bass guitarist.
"Will you, George, continue to keep this woman as your wedded wife, love and comfort her, in sickness and in health, etc., etc.?" said Berinsky.
"No way," said George.
The guests cheered.
This was George Zweibel's official "unwedding," thrown by two cohorts to celebrate his messy divorce granted July 1. "This is the happiest day of my life," said Zweibel.
The ex-wife, or unbride, was in New Jersey and said to be wholly unaware of the goings-on. "I don't want her finding out about this," Zweibel said to a newspaper reporter who was taking notes. Her stand-in for the ceremony, as Tom Waites rasped "Better Off Without a Wife" from a tape deck, was an inflatable, life-sized doll. She wore a blue polyester dress and blue eyeshadow and had to be held up by the maid of dishonor because she was deflating at an alarming rate.
By the end of the ceremony, she was completely flattened. This was because an usherette who was drinking Jack Daniels from a plastic cup began jumping all over her. "I used to date George," she said.
Zweibel, a 32-year-old FTC lawyer with a nice tan and inpressive mustache, wore a tuxedo T-shirt and Adidas. "Some people think this is a bad idea because you're celebrating a failure," he said. "But I don't see it that way. You're getting your freedom back. It's just a celebration."
Indeed it was.About 150 friends of the ungroom piled into Parker Enterprises, Inc., which is a printing company that the guitarist runs when he isn't playing bass. The decor was white cinderblocks, office calendars and stacks of boxes that said "Hammermill Graphicopy" all over them.
The food was fried chicken, deviled eggs, stuffed cherry tomatoes, and a four-tiered cake that said "You Can Fool Me Once." Much of this was cooked by Richard "Smitty" Smith, a friend of the ungroom who said he'd be perfectly happy cleaning house and being a wife.
"Yeah," he added, "I'm into role reversal."
But does he do windows?
"Depends," he responded. "I'm not gonna slave around the house for a woman who gets home at 11 o'clock every night. But if she gets home at 7 o'clock, that's all right."
The unwedding party had a stiff beginning, perhaps because most people had never been to one and didn't know the proper behavior for such occasions. Emily Post was certainly no help. So a lot of the guests stood around looking embarrassed or puzzled.
"I thought this was pretty weird at first," said Suzanne Reisel, who works at the Department of Agriculture. "It's a strange sort of thing to celebrate.But since the ungroom is a friend of mine, what am I going to do, be a martyr and protest? Hopefully, he'll come to my unwedding." This last comment was a variation of wishful thinking, since Reisel is not yet married.
Among the guests were two English teachers, one of whom explained what the unwedding means to modern American society as we know it:
"It's a continuation of the Me Generation of the '70s," said Robb Eagle, 30, "although you're celebrating your oneness with all of your friends." He stopped, perplexed by this last thought. He looked down, then up and aha! "Here it is!" he cried. "It's a merging of the We of the '60s with the Me of the '70s into the We-Mes of the '80s! Maybe I should have another beer so I can come up with something really sharp.Is Channel 7 here yet?"
The ungroom, meanwhile, was in fine spirits. "I've been waiting for this for a long time," he said, declining to go into all the revolting little details. He prefers the present, he explained. A typical date with a young lady:
"Oh, I'll go out to Virginia to check out a winery or up to the top of the Hotel Washington," he said. "You're much more romantic after you get divorced."
The ceremony itself lasted only 10 minutes. "Will the worst man remove the ring?" said the bass guitarist. The worst man dutifully did, and as George Zweibel threw it over his shoulder, he was showered with what looked to be rice.
But upon closer inspection, the substance turned out to be nothing other than wild oats.