the hard sell, Solomons-style

I love weddings, and this is a fun season of life for me because a lot of my kids' friends are getting married.  

Because a lot of my kids' friends happen to be the children of our friends, and many of our friends are missionaries, these weddings come with severe budget constraints.  And then this is where the magic happens:  I get to help, which I think is the most fun ever.  This is from last summer, one of my favorite table-stylings:

 photo:  Michael Bruner, of course

photo:  Michael Bruner, of course

That cake, by the way, was like a giant whoopie pie.  DEELISH out the door, and totally adorable to boot.  (I didn't make it.  I just ate it with great appreciation.)

But I digress.  What I really wanted to talk about today was a wedding we attended in the Solomons, years ago.

Solomons weddings and American weddings are similar in many ways.  There's a church service and everybody comes and then there's a big dinner afterwards.  The giant whoopie pie, unfortunately, hasn't made it to the Solomons yet, but there's fresh fish and coconut rice and baked sweet potato.  

And then there are speeches.

The first wedding we attended in the Solomons, I was expecting charming stories about the bride and groom, heart-felt expressions of good wishes from one family to the other, and lots of things like, "You're going to be so happy together!"

Instead, we heard things like this:

"The bride hardly ever sweeps out her yard, and her sweet potato soup is not the greatest."

"The groom can't tell one of a fishing spear from the other and he can't sew a sago-palm-roof-shingle to save his life."

Now, this is a culture where people are very concerned about keeping good relationships within the community, and one of the ways they do that is by being very careful to speak nicely to one another at all times.  

The worst thing I'd ever heard was a common characterization of the village hot-head.  "Oh," they'd say.  "You know Paul.  He has high blood pressure."  Paul, with his high blood pressure, would be running through the village waving a machete at the time.

And now, here they were, these people who never said anything bad about anybody, just thrashing the characters of these two young people!  Right in front of everybody!  On their wedding day! 

I was shocked.  Shocked, I tell you.  So I asked one of my friends, "Why is her family saying this about her?  Don't they love her?  Why are they letting her marry this boy if he's so awful?"

My friend just laughed and said, "No, no, no.  It's all good."  (Subtext:  "Bless your little American heart, you are just as ignorant as dirt.")  "They have to lower expectations.  Then if either of them does anything well at all, everyone will be thrilled."

I've been thinking about that experience this week because of THE BOOK.  Remember THE BOOK?

Now that I've decided on a launch date (September 1!!!), we have awakened THE BEAST:  the "you must sell this book" beast.

There's a lot of advice out there about how to sell this book.  I've read some of it.  Andy's read more.  I have smart friends who know stuff and give me task lists.  Last night I was reading a book about how to sell my book (I'm not even kidding), and near the end the author said, essentially, when all is said and done, you have to SELL the book!  SELL SELL SELL!!!

I'm breaking out in hives at this point, because y'all know that SELL is a four-letter word, and that I have the PR instincts of iceberg lettuce, right?

I'm starting to understand those parents at that Solomons wedding a whole lot better:  "Here's my child.  It's just a child.  Be nice to it.  Have reasonable expectations.  If it does anything good whatsoever, let's all be suitably impressed."

Here's what I believe, though:  every voice matters.  Every story counts.  Even mine.  

Because it matters, because it counts, I've written it down.

On August 15 (this Friday), I'm going to do a book giveaway for EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS ONLY.

If you want to be in on a chance to get a free copy of the book, subscribe!  

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