Monday, November 30, 2009

I Now Pronounce Thee…, Final Part


Unquestionably, the time that we are most vulnerable in life is when we are in love. It is a composite of all of the most difficult aspects of life: trust, sacrifice, charity, etc. It is a process of exposing the most intimate parts of us

It is so difficult because we depend upon another flawed person to satisfy and reciprocate our desires, our needs, and our doubts. And, as love is a two-way street, so many barriers keep us from what we desire most on a carnal, spiritual, and intellectual level—a meaningful and enduring connection with another person. "Does he love me back?" "Are we going too fast?" "Am I being too open?" …

Truly, love is a confusing, emotional roller coaster ride (to use a convenient cliché of a metaphor):

This confusion makes love entertaining:

Romantic comedies are formulaic really (see this entertaining link). Generally, there is some sort of love triangle. A loves B and B loves C. B and A have a major fight. B questions relationships with A and C (often based upon society's expectations). B and A decide to be together in the end. We all enjoy the journey they take us through and the idea that love endures and conquers so long as one has wit, charm, and tenacity.

This confusion makes love devastating:

For every comedy, there is a tragedy. A, B, or C may die (or become unattainable due to some life-changing revelation), leaving the others to wonder what life might have been like with him/her in their lives. All of those emotional investments linger months or years or decades and leave. Left to wonder "Why?," we must rebound from hurt, forgive when necessary, and move on.

BUT, in the end, this confusion makes love rewarding:

The pleasure and the pain of romance, in the end, even each other out. So long as we learn from our trials, taking care not to make the same mistakes multiple times, we will come out of romance smarter and emotionally satisfied. Despite all of the questions we might have had regarding why we put ourselves on the line for love, in the end things often work out for the best. And—only then—do we realize why it was so hard to find the one that we love and to look out of the window of the little house with the picket fence.

Entertaining, Devastating, Rewarding:

The moment Bronson introduced to Annie, something didn't feel quite right. Pre-dating the personal revelation regarding my sexuality (by a matter of weeks really), I was clueless about relationships in general, but still a certain perceptible 'incongruence' became apparent between the couple.

We had scooted a pair of tables together at a venue chosen by Bronson, who had courageously taken the step of introducing us to his (almost-) girlfriend. Everyone there—me, Cole, Bronson, Emily, and Matilde among others—were delighted to meet Annie. She brought to the group a combination of country charm, quick wit, and radiant smile that seemed to click immediately with the core of our group of friends.

The first words out of Cole's mouth were "You're really pretty." It just so happens that the second and third sets of words out of his mouth were also "You're so pretty." Perhaps this was because he thought her out of Bronson's league or something along those lines, but we were happy to meet her all the same. She laughed at all of the right jokes and caught onto our expressions and gestures immediately. Without hesitation, she was immediately invited to join us for a movie night and basically implied that she was now part of a group that had been together since high school.

After the lovebirds left, Matilde made an off-hand comment "If they break up, we have to keep her."

As it turns out, months later, things did not work out between Bronson and Annie. Despite an abundance of sweetness and good intentions, Cole's initial, subtle suggestion that Bronson wasn't the best match was echoed by other friends and family. As marriage became a topic of discussion in their relationship, a different end-result entered the picture: the break-up.

It was hard, but they both remained part of our group, seeing each other on a weekly basis. And despite the awkwardness, things remained civil between Annie and Bronson even as he returned to his ex, Cheryl. (See, it really does boil down to A, B, and C, sometimes). Bronson and Cheryl were soon engaged.

Despite her unwavering confidence that the break-up was the right decision, Annie had certain reservations because he was able to rebound and move on so fast. Any of us in that situation would feel slightly unloved. The easiest conclusion might be that the relationship somehow meant less to Bronson, but that overlooks the fact that the two are simply different people who look at and handle emotions and relationships differently. And that difference—not anger or selfishness or malice—ultimately resulted in hurt.

Then one day she decided to move on. It was not long before she found Drew. As this "D" entered the equation, we saw a new side of Annie. Her smile was brighter, she laughed more, and when Drew said just the right thing, she turned bright red. It was not long before all of our dreams came true.

In what seemed to be the blink of an eye, they were getting married. Months had passed as they were engaged and planned a day they had been anticipating for their entire lives. That was evident from the moment they emerged from the temple holding hands as the cameras captured their glowing faces and glimmering grins.

The couple never reached a visible emotional climax. The happiness continued throughout the wedding dinner and reception, which thankfully remained relatively drama-free. The low-lit reception's starry atmosphere only made the bride and groom more radiant.

Emily, Jacqueline, Cole, and I spent the night chatting with the bride's other dear friends. They were unexpectedly curious for gay men's perspectives on everything from food and fashion to Bronson to…well… nothing I'll mention here.

Midway through the reception, the four friends disappeared to perform our duty as friends of the bride and groom. We went to pick up a few items at the grocery store and make some mischief. String, window paint, plastic cups, condoms… (Oops! There I go mentioning the 'nothing' I said I wouldn't mention).

With seconds to spare, we completed the deed. I drew hearts and wrote incriminating phrases on the windows. Emily fashioned a chain of plastic cups akin to the ones made of tin cans trailing after couples in romantic comedies from the fifties. Jacqueline, and Coleblew up 'balloons' and filled the cab of Drew's giant Chevy pickup truck. Without the keys, however, we were unable to stow an excess of 'balloons' in the door to the gas tank. (I'd like someone to try this and tell me what someone's reaction is at a gas station). We rushed into the reception just in time to see them cutting the cake and bringing the festivities to a close.

Finally, the most anticipated event of the night had arrived. Many a $10,000 America's Funniest Home Video Prize has gone to women fighting over wedding bouquets. Everyone postured for the brawl. All the single ladies hunched over a bit, pointed their elbows slightly outwards, and set their eyes on the prize. Utah weddings, I imagine, are particularly brutal. The bouquet of red roses left the bride's hand and in the most anti-climactic way possible, one of the taller, previously-married women, Angie, snagged it. Miffed, but in the least serious of ways, Jacqueline grabbed the bouquet. (Perhaps there's some sort of underhanded wedding bouquet-fumble rule I've never heard of?) It was to no avail, though. Angie left with the bouquet as Jacqueline teased, "Why is it that the girl with the baby always catches the bouquet?!"

To our surprise, the festivities were not over. The bride and groom had decided to follow the tradition of throwing the wedding garter. As the next set of contestants lined up, the atmosphere was a bit different—more bashful and far less serious. There were four of us: three gay boys (myself, Cole, and a friend of the bride's sister) and a cousin in his tweens. Needless to say, none of us planned on marriage in our foreseeable futures. As Drew pulled the red, lacy, beaded garter from Annie's leg, Cole shouted, "Be a man! Use your teeth, Drew!" He blushed a bit, passed a dirty look, and continued as he was—pulling with his hands.

He stood up, stretched the garter, and released. It fell short—in the direction of Cole and me. He wasn't about to get it. I'd worked too hard pursuing romance and facing disappointment after disappointment (not without reward). This was going to be my superstitious consolation prize of sorts. I stuck my right foot forward a ways, performing a relatively low splits maneuver catching the garter just as it touched the cultural hall floor. Getting up, I noticed a strange sensation.

I looked down to see a certain bulge protruding from a foot-long tear in my favorite dress pants (which Cole had dubbed my "ass pants"). My underwear was showing. I took the flap of fabric and pulled it closed concealing what needed to be concealed. I turned to Cole behind me who was wondering why everyone was laughing. Opening up the flaps of fabric to show him what he'd missed, one of the biggest laughs I've ever heard from anyone erupted from my friend (loud enough to bruise his vocal cords for a few days). Finally one of Annie's friends came over, pulled off my jacket and tied it around my waste, shielding my embarrassment for a moment.

Upon their exit, the bride and groom provided us with candidly chagrined responses to our mischief. Plenty of blushing, smiling, and giggling, and of course Annie's flustered "I don't want any kids picking up popped condoms in the parking lot on Sunday morning." In no time, the couple was on their way shouting "Nice undies, GMB!"

Love made a little more sense that night. Drew and Annie were happy despite awkwardness or perhaps as a result of overcoming it. Of course, it's more than a formula because people (and life) cannot be boiled down into a single prediction or outcome, otherwise any person in this world could marry any other person to the same outcome and—really—there is no romance in that idea. That's why the only solution is to take risks, get hurt, and take control of any trials or pain that come our way. That might change us. A piece of us might die in the process, but when it comes down to it, whatever might die or get lost in this process is replaced by something more meaningful to everyone involved in the process whether they be a bride, a groom, a lover, or a friend.


Anonymous said...

Your post cracked me up. What a trip you are. :) And, in all the best possible ways! Thank you for writing this and for making me laugh. I needed that. I am glad you made it through your "embarassing" moment... :)

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