Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Members of My Wedding

“Sadie, Sadie, married lady, that's me ..."
THROWBACK TUESDAY: Members of My Wedding.
by Denis Ferrara

Four years ago on the morning of August 5th, I got married after 42 years of cohabitating.  It seemed like something to do on a hot summer day.  I wrote about it then on my personal blog, ridiculously called “Mr. Wow.”  (I’ve neglected my blog a bit in recent years, but might restart that outlet, which contains a packed archive.)  It’s the dog days of summer, and to be honest, my guy and I over-celebrated a bit on our anniversary this past Sunday.  I’m just a tiny bit too over-celebrated to elaborate on, oh — the new “Mission Impossible” movie, which I loved.  I will, later in the week.
For today, in the spirit of laziness, too much champagne and more than a little sentiment, I give you what I wrote four years ago, in August of 2014. 

“Sadie, Sadie, married lady, see what’s on your hand.  There’s nothing quite as touching as a simple wedding band/Oh, how that marriage license works, on chambermaids and hotel clerks/The honeymoon was such delight, that we got married that same night!”

What? — do I need to tell you guys those are lyrics from “Funny Girl” — the  amusing “Sadie” sequence, after Barbra marries Omar Sharif.  (I don’t use the character names — please. It’s Barbra and Omar!)
Anyway, I, me, Denis, at age 61, am finally a Sadie!  Tomorrow I marry the boy — Bruce — I met when I was just a boy of 17.  (We’ve been “together” since 1976, when I was a man of 24. Well, I was 24, anyway.) 

I’ve never been a sentimentalist or a romantic about marriage.  My mantra has always been that since heterosexual Death Row prisoners can marry, gay folks should certainly have the same rights as killers.  Fair is fair. 

But I myself never yearned for a wedding.  After the first decade or so, I figured we were pretty much “married.”  Later, when B. supported me unconditionally through my HIV diagnosis and a to-death’s-door-illness-and-recovery, there was no question.  We were, as Shakespeare said of Kate and Petruchio, “madly mated.”   However, the legalities never interested me.  Or any kind of fuss.  And we have cats.  No adopting adorable abandoned Asian children for us.  So, I was content.
Circa 1983. I wish I still had that sweatshirt. I wish I still had that hair!!! But ... I've still got the guy.
B. however is much smarter.  He has saved his pennies, invested well.  I have not.  We both have wills (mine is hilariously threadbare) and I figured that was that.  Neither of us has any immediate family.   Two weeks ago he said to me, “I want you to read something and consider it carefully.” Foolish words, those last three — I rarely consider anything carefully.

It was a letter from his lawyer, detailing his finances and suggesting various ways I would be best protected in case he goes first. (I’m hoping the house explodes and we go together!)   The lawyer’s conclusion?  Marriage would be best.  One of the other considerations was moving to Florida!  Although my hands and arms are now very Miami beach from years of unprotected tanning, I was not ready for Florida.  “So?” said B, after I finished reading. 

“Darling” I said, “This is so sudden!”  We laughed. And then he said, “Well, I suppose I should do this properly,” and he got down on one knee.  Even for a non-romantic like me, I was kinda overwhelmed.

We went for the license in Hoboken, and that was a bit of an ordeal.  My wonderful friend Scott Gorenstein was our witness.  Though we’d filled out the forms already, the guy at the office was, well — officious! (Even though he wore an earring.)  He asked all the questions over again and we had to answer them all verbally.
At Hoboken's City Hall, after the deed was done -- Liz Rosenberg, the young married couple, and Scott Gorenstein.
It was fine until the question concerning my name.  I’d asked B. if I should bring my birth certificate and he said no — one of his few errors.  I had to field a barrage of questions about my last name ... my mother’s maiden name ... and why there was no father’s name on my birth certificate (I volunteered this after a bit of parry and thrust) and what it all meant?  
Well, it meant that my mother had entered into a basically arranged marriage, so as not to bear a child as a single woman and so that I would have a surname.  But it does note, tellingly, “Father Unknown.”  (My mother did not list my real father’s profession — singing bartender. Or the fact that I was actually conceived in the bar where he worked! Later, after I knew all this and also discovered my taste for booze, it made sense.)

I became flustered and embarrassed by these questions and finally exclaimed, “My God, do I have to defend my mother’s reputation even now?!”  There was a woman behind the desk and she got it and whispered to the officious officer.  The license was approved.  We had to give our ages.  My friend Scott did not — though he had to give a lot of other info. When we left the Place of Licenses, he said:  “Good thing he didn’t ask my age, or you’d have to be looking for a new witness.”   Even though it would be easy enough to cut Scott in half and count the rings, I allow him his mystery.
Bruce, me, Liz R. Mike M. (Scott had to hurry off to work.)
Now, don’t get excited.  There will be no rings or veils or rice or partying.  We have three witnesses.  The aforementioned Scott.  My wonderful friend Mike.  And my dear friend Liz Rosenberg.  She is giving us a little wedding luncheon.  At least I hope it’s little! 

The Great Event  happens 10:A.M. at the Hoboken City Hall.  No vows.  That I know of! I mean, if there were vows, I guess, I’d vow to be more sensitive, try cooking again (I gave up after twenty years), and drink less.   B. would probably vow to pretend to believe my vows. 

There will be no wedding bands.  I don’t like to wear jewelry on my hands or wrists.   However, I did mention if Bruce found something around nine carats, emerald-cut, I could wear it as a pendant.  Barring that — a mink.  (Apologies to PETA.)  Oh, and I will forever refer to him as my “boyfriend.”   Not doing the “husband” thing.  It just creeps me out, somehow. 

It is difficult for me to accept this, to accept love.  I can barely accept “like.”  I said to B — “I can’t believe anybody who really knows me could love me, no less marry me!”  But he has.  And nobody knows me better.
Alone at last with our cake and my rather painful sunburn -- I wanted to look "vibrant." But it was more lobster than newlywed glow.
We have had hard times.  He has not been perfect.  I have most assuredly not been perfect. I felt on at least two occasions that leaving was the only way to go.  But I didn’t.  How do you leave someone who is, well — you?  That’s how close I feel.  When I finally fell in love with B. (after years of casual — on my part — encounters with him) I thought, “F**K!  I don’t want to feel this and he can’t possibly — I am a loser and a slut and everything bad.”

Also, he was entangled with others at the time and being shifty but he swore he loved me and “things would work out.” 

I’d seen this movie, which usually starred Lana Turner or Susan Hayward, but I gave in.  I moved from city to city with him and we struggled in so many ways.  But ... he was my B.  It seemed, for all the sturm und drang,  that I could not see myself without him, even when I thought I wanted to, I couldn’t.

Honestly, to this day, I don’t know what he saw in me, or why he stuck it out.  I was cute, but not extraordinary.  I had nothing but myself to bring to the table.  It wasn’t a lot. And in all the years since, I don’t feel I’ve ever filled that relationship table properly. 
Reader, we ate whole thing!
“But ... she recovered” as Judy Garland memorably uttered in the “Born in a Trunk” sequence from “A Star is Born.”   And I guess, for all my misgivings, I’ve recovered too.  

Enough to say “I will” anyway. 

Oh, yeah — the August 5th date?  Totally unplanned.  When B told me I shrieked, “Marilyn’s death day!”  (She died the night of the 4th, but the world didn’t know till the 5th.)

“Uh, is that a good thing? — death and all.”

“Of course it’s good.  Marilyn’s death was the beginning of her true acceptance.  Clifford Odets said, right after she died that she would be ‘fresher, greener, in death, than she was in life.’  So we will be fresher and greener.  It’s just the beginning!

He said:  “Okay.  But we don’t have to die, right?  We’re just getting married.” Bruce is so literal.

AUGUST, 2014
So, that’s how I told it, that’s how it was, four years ago.  Today, on a more mercenary note, the fourth year isn’t much in terms gifting — linen or fruit or an electrical appliance.  I have to wait 14 years to get gold — if you eschew the old traditions.  Otherwise it’s environmentally incorrect ivory.  I have to wait 45 for a sapphire and 60 for a diamond.  I try to be optimistic but there are limits.  I guess I’ll  have to really love my new toaster.
Contact Denis here.