Monday, July 16, 2007

Putting the gay in engagement

I know: Thanks to the tireless efforts of intellectual visionaries like George W. Bush and pillars of nuptial morality like Newt Gingrich, our engagement is legally little more than a delusional fantasy. If Bob Allen could empty his mouth long enough to speak on the subject, he’d parrot the usual litany of right-wing inanities against our little folly: gay marriage is some yet-to-be-defined “threat” to straight marriage, the gays don’t deserve the “special right” of marriage, if we let men marry men we’ll have to let women marry Ann Coulter their own dirty vaginas, etc. etc. etc. ad stupidium.

While I obviously find every argument against gay marriage to be a bigger load of crap than the entire Dubya kakistocracy, the fact remains that the boyfriend and I are currently stuck as second-class, no-real-options citizens on this front. And while I bet that gay marriage will be a complete, non-straight-marriage-threatening reality within a decade, any kind of wedding we stage in the next few years will have all the legal standing of a party with exceptionally delicious cake and a huge AMEX bill.

But that doesn’t change the fact of us: two men who through dumb luck and a mind-boggling string of coincidences managed to cross paths a year ago this week, discover in each other that elusive missing piece—that once-in-a-lifetime emotional symbiosis that the poets celebrate and the Delilah callers can only dream about—and realize that it’s a good thing we like each other because this relationship is bigger than the both of us and we’re in it for the long haul.

The fact is, we’ve been talking about our wedding since the day we met. I think we were introduced with words to the effect of you two should meet each other—you both love Sondheim. Within an hour we’d assembled a list of Sondheim songs we jokingly—jokingly!—said we should have sung at our wedding. Two months later, the night before he left for a month to train for his new job, he asked—with the most adorable quiver in his voice—if I’d be waiting for him when he got back. I took his hand and said, “You know how we’ve been joking about all those wedding songs for the last two months? I wasn’t joking.” Then I took a deep breath and resigned myself to being a lonely little wedding singer for the next four weeks. Thankfully, I soon lost my job and the developer of my new condo got murdered so I had a billion things to keep my mind occupied during our separation.

Early this summer, we started talking seriously about planning some kind of commitment ceremony. While the missing legal component will remain a violent slap on our faces, I really feel it’s important to declare our love for and commitment to each other in front of witnesses. And then have exceptionally delicious cake. And that will have to tide us over until we can drag our elected officials kicking and screaming into reality. Where we can beat them. Somehow we landed on a late fall 2008 target date for our wedding, probably because late fall offers the cheapest rates if we follow my ultra-cheesy, gayer-than-a-televangelist-on-his-knees little dream of getting married at … and I am almost embarrassed to admit this … Disney World. (One practical benefit: As established adults, we already have way more stuff than we want or even need. So we figure if people pay for a trip to Disney to celebrate with us, they won’t have any money left over to buy us linens and gravy boats and other things we’ll just end up tripping over until our next garage sale.) A proper Disney wedding is probably more expensive than either of us dares to imagine anyway, but I’m still holding on to my little dream until it’s ripped violently from my poorly manicured middle-class fingers.

A month ago, I decided that if we’re really going to have a wedding, we’ll need to have an engagement first. And since there are no gay-proposal cultural traditions I could follow, I had to hack my own way through the engagement jungle. I figured we’d probably want to pick matching wedding bands as a couple, so I decided to find relatively inexpensive engagement rings to use for the proposal. And I bought them from an old friend in Iowa when I was home helping my folks move during the Fourth of July weekend. I’ve never bought jewelry before, though, so I didn’t know that 1) even halfway-decent rings aren’t “relatively inexpensive” and 2) jewelry stores don’t habitually keep an inventory of every ring in every size, so our rings had to be ordered and shipped to me. Thank goodness for Sondheim, or I’d never know any of this stuff.

The rings—I ended up buying some pretty fabulous tungsten carbide steel ones—finally arrived early last week, and I’d planned on proposing this coming weekend, on the anniversary of our meeting. But once I saw the rings, I realized I did not have the patience to wait that long. So Thursday night I cooked us a lovely dinner including a pudding custard that I put in martini glasses with little raspberries acting as bubbles so we as non-weeknight-drinkers could toast each other after the proposal. It was a beautiful night, so I suggested we enjoy it on our semi-private rooftop deck by candlelight. But not so I could have a nice starlit setting for a wedding proposal or anything silly like that, of course. The boyfriend looked skeptical, but he gamely helped me schlep everything up to the roof in the dark … only to discover our neighbor was sitting up there with a cooler of beer, a pack of cigarettes and a cell phone with a full battery.

After a suitably awkward wait, we headed back downstairs, where the boyfriend sweetly apologized over the fact that my little romantic rooftop evening idea had been ruined. Which actually was the best possible thing he could have said to set the scene for a proper proposal. And then I suddenly realized: Holy shit! I’m REALLY going to do this. You might say I was excited and scared.

The boyfriend has a slightly irritating (in an adorable, one-of-the-many-reasons-I-love-him kind of way) habit of deflecting anything romantic I say with a joke or an insult or some sort of deprecation. So since the romantic thing I was about to say was pretty high on the importance continuum, before I creaked my ancient knees to the floor, I informed him gravely that if he laughed at what I was about to do, I’d punch him in the balls.

And then I was on one knee in front of him. And I was actually doing it. I was actually stumbling through the romantic little speech I had practiced in my head a couple hundred times, looking up at his beatific smile and knowing that this was exactly what I was supposed to be doing at this moment. And even though I messed up a good half of my speech and in my confusion I slipped the ring on his right hand, he of course said yes and my heart soared and somewhere in the ensuing celebration we managed to toast each other with pudding martinis and take a picture of our hands to post on the blog (because there are priorities) and talk and laugh and kiss and hold each other and fall asleep in each other’s arms with the kind of contentment that not even Sondheim himself could summon the poetry to describe.

And no matter how much gay-hostile sophistry the vast right-wing moronity dishes out to its voting base, the wheels are turning. We are in love, we are deserving of equality, we are fianc├ęs and we are getting married. And we are doing it all with exceptionally delicious cake.

Something is stirring,
Shifting ground.
It’s just begun.
Edges are blurring
All around,
And yesterday is done.

Feel the flow,
Hear what’s happening:
We’re what’s happening.
Don’t you know?
We’re the movers and we’re the shapers.
We’re the names in tomorrow’s papers.
Up to us, man, to show ’em …

It’s our time, breathe it in:
Worlds to change and worlds to win.
Our turn coming through,
Me and you, man,
Me and you!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say thanks : me and my partner are (can you believe this ?) being hounded by my family (particularly my grandmother, if that isn't baffling enough; but I'm really glad about it) to get engaged, since it's been five years and we're planning a life together, a forever most likely.

It's 2011, and well, here it's legal for men to get married together and it's relatively without any paperwork hitch, but we were still both baffled about how to go about it. I think this'll help get at least the engagement part down. Hopefully.