01 November 2011

I Always Cry at Same-Sex Weddings

Titanium: Their hands will go on.

Yesterday, after all the many happy occasions made unnecessarily bittersweet, all the countless connubial conclaves where I felt conspicuous — or left-out — or altogether superfluous — here at last, I thought, things would be different.

For once, I wouldn’t be the only one at the wedding.

Alas, Dan’s family quickly made it clear to me: I alone, out of everyone in the room, was not a St. Louis Cardinals fan.

The Gullers are perhaps the biggest boosters St. Louis has ever known. When Dan has come to Paris, we have had to visit all sorts of shrines to Saint Louis, which doesn’t leave time for much else but at least covers the Berthillon ice cream parlor on the Ile-Saint-Louis. Now we were in Connecticut, treated to little hors d’œuvres that, because they were so tasty, the cater–waiter explained, were called “St. Louis Ravioli.”

I resisted the urge to ask whether they were stuffed with cardinals.

The grooms and their parents.

Meanwhile, Eric, whose own, erstwhile career as a cater–waiter was long and distinguished, managed somehow not to jump in and start serving hors d’œuvres, too.

Beyond all that, however, I noticed plenty of people who are in many ways quite a bit like me. For this was the first gay wedding I’d ever attended, the legal union of my friends Eric and Dan.

Which is it? It all depends on whom you ask, I guess.

This at last was a bit — not all, but a bit — of what we as a tribe have spent years marching for and what we as a nation have been arguing over. Yet in the event, it didn’t seem like such a big deal. The earth did not at any point tilt off its axis. Sure, there was an historically premature snowstorm on Saturday, and Eric and Dan lost electricity at the home they share, but that didn’t seem like God’s wrath so much as a kind of warning: “See how much trouble I could cause if I wanted to bust up this party?”

No, the dead did not rise from their graves on Sunday, as Patrick observed, and the children present fell into temptations no more dire than the urge to sneak an extra piece of Halloween candy; the sun shone bright, and the skies stayed clear. All of Connecticut seemed to smile on the happy couple. This was a wedding not so unlike any other.

For once, the only one left out in the cold was this little fellow.

What made it distinctive was not that the couple joining hands was endowed with two sets of XY chromosomes. That didn’t matter — it couldn’t matter to anybody who saw the expression on Dan’s face when the rings were exchanged and he looked into Eric’s eyes: “We did it!” he seemed to say, in a way that made you want to — that made it impossible not to — celebrate along with them.

No, to understand what made this wedding its own special event, you had to look to the officiants, a rabbi and a preacher, because this is in at least one regard a mixed marriage, and because Eric and Dan believe in a God who believes in love.

The music made a difference, too. Both Eric and Dan have theatrical backgrounds, and both were part of the cabal that performs Forever Plaid, a musical in which the close harmonies demand a high degree of musicianship: you can’t hire just anybody, and at any given moment, there’s been a select pool of talent available. Eric and Dan never appeared in the same production of Forever Plaid, because both played the same role: Smudge, the left-handed geek of the quartet, who consistently leads with the wrong foot and gets all the choreography backwards.

A matched set, really.

So it was that we got terrific music, including “Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man” as sung by the cantor, tributes in song by several friends, and a chorus with half a dozen Plaid veterans; and, instead of any more conventional bridal march, we got “Three Coins in the Fountain.” And so it was that, to herald the couple’s arrival at dinner after the ceremony, we got a brilliantly executed music video, in which Eric and Dan performed the Bruno Mars song, “I Think I Wanna Marry You.”

While mystified as much as ever by the very concept of marriage, I also felt as happy as I ever have at any friends’ wedding. Yes, it’s true that in the past I always used to be an outsider. No matter the warmth of the embrace of my friends or the joy of the moment, I stood on the sidelines, looking on, a disinterested observer. Couples exchanged vows and rings and futures; these things have lasted or not, and yet I always knew that, whatever happened, it wasn’t ever going to be a part of my experience. Now — who knows?

And you know what? It Gets Better.

For as I watched Eric and Dan, I understood the mettle of their bond. Ask most people what that is, and they’re liable to mishear you: “It’s gold,” they’ll say, or in Eric and Dan’s case, “Titanium.”

And yet that’s not exactly their case, in fact, because the mettle was forged before Sunday, and if it’s a mineral at all, it’s graphite — a smudge, identical along two left hands that now bear rings. And be advised: it will last, but it will rub off.

Onto others.

For Eric and Dan, as for the rest of us, the adventure is just beginning.

1 comment:

William V. Madison said...

I haven't told Dan Rather -- or "other Dan," as friends sometimes refer to him -- about the wedding. Given the timing, and understanding anchor psychology as I do, he's liable to think that this was the most elaborate birthday present
he ever got.