I’m getting married. We met in the washroom at Numbers. Horny and open to an adventure, I strutted into the bar bent on a night of love, not a life commitment. For the first time while standing at the urinal, I didn’t look. He did. I washed my hands, then glanced up into the mirror and saw this striking man with salt and pepper hair. I flashed him my best smile. It worked. He grinned back.
He employed the coy awkward routine. That worked too. We said nothing. He nodded. We stayed in bed for most of the next five days. Exactly nine years later, I realize the blueprint for our life together dried in indelible ink that night.
After e-mailing my brother the news, he shot back with “I didn’t think you were the marrying type.”
I wrote, “I’m not. That’s why I’m doing it.”
I must be in shock. I’m the one who did the asking.
Last month it was my man’s birthday. I bought him a four-slice toaster to replace the battered old two-slinger. Too lazy to wrap the box, I left it in the trunk. I bought some bagels and tossed them in the oven. I even got up early to write an “I love you” birthday note on some recycled paper with the directions to his gift. I shoved the note in the oven and went to walk away when I hit an invisible wall. Stopped in my stained green slippered tracks, I thought “I have to ask him to marry me!” Even as I began to panic, I grabbed the pen, re-opened the oven door and squeezed onto his birthday note the words “Will you marry me?” All the time I was thinking: “You’re not supposed to buy a kid a puppy at Christmas.”
He entered the kitchen, began his morning routine, then remembered to look in the oven. He read the note, got this weird, confused look on his face then said yes. He suggested for the first time in ages that I get on my knees. Then he told me to ask his 70-year-old father for his hand in marriage. I surrendered. It’s his boyish charm. It disarms me. We toasted the bagels but the new toaster smelled like burnt plastic. We drove to Duncan to break the news to his parents.
Why and why now?
I almost fought against hetero-parroting gay marriage. I finally understood that the political right once again attempted to use the queer community to further its oppressive conservative agenda. I then reflected back to the last time I actually considered legally binding myself.
We had just seen a matinee performance of Brokeback Mountain. For Mark, original wrangler-white-T, cowboy hat-loving yokel-that he is, the movie was a kind of pilgrimage. He owns two copies of the DVD. When I watched it I didn’t cry; I got angry.
I imagined fighting the hegemony by joining it, then subverting it from inside. I also saw gay marriage as a symbolic act of healing the tragedy of centuries of unrequited queer love. I stepped out into the bright glare of the afternoon and thought, “That’s it. This isn’t just about us. We’re getting married.” I had forgotten about that moment. So, at 39 years old, this cowpoke’s getting branded.
Appropriately, it will be an autumn wedding. We’ve joked about each of us finding a lover between now and then to give us away. We figure we’ll have several related functions. First the spa-like bridal showers, where all our girl and Faery friends can dress us up and fuss over us. We’ll head out on the rural town for cocktails with curlers in our hair. We’ll also have two separate stag parties. Mark insists on male strippers at all four events. I think I’ll make mine a private affair. Mr No Name will wear for me his rough, ranch hand chaps.
At a café on the day I proposed I saw this tall blond trophy bride in full regalia climbing out of a metallic cherry red convertible. She had obviously just come from the church. Her hair and makeup made her look like a magazine cutout. She hiked up her bleached white dress and ran passed me as if she had just chucked the bouquet and then made a thousand-yard dash to stand in line for a cup of coffee.
Hmm, I thought, “Will that be me a few months from now?” I shivered and silently wished them well on their package honeymoon to Vegas.
Fantasy images of our ceremony form out of the scattering of my mind.
Do we do what other friends have done and hold two or three weddings so as not to forget or offend anyone? I suppose there’d be more gifts that way.
I’ve concluded that the toaster made me do it. I’m always ahead of myself. I realize now I only want cash and wouldn’t want to waste my time returning cheap appliances. That said, the toaster I did get doesn’t brown-up well at all. I hope we saved the box and warranty. He can return it. Even as I write this, we’re having one of those we’re-not-fighting fights. He’s so beautifully stubborn.
When we do exchange rings and I see the smile in his eyes, I’ll know. I feel a deeply settled love for this man. We’ve built a home and life together. I’m learning to love, unabashedly, what is enough. As a community, we’ve won so much recently, however tentative it may be. Vigilance yes, but for now the fight is over. As a kind of sacred duty, I want this love to be part of that celebration.