Decades ago, when it became clear I was more gay than not, there came a peculiar realization not long afterwards that I would never have a wedding. I would never have a bride in a white dress, never have a rowdy, disgusting bachelor party with all my best friends from high school and college, never make my mother Truly Happy; my sister would never have any nephews or nieces, (and neither would I, in fact, because my sister is a dyke and addressing most of the same issues as I was, at about the same time.) I would never have to worry about whether the ceremony should be in a church or a temple, never have to decide whether or not to simply elope and keep the money, never have to worry about the colors of the bridesmaids’ dresses. I wouldn’t have the biggest worry of all, which is if she will really want me AFTER the first night. Given all that, I pretty much just put it out of my mind.
Every once in a while, when I was invited to a friend’s wedding, and when I had bought wedding gifts for almost everyone I had ever known, many of them for the second or the third time, there came a little pang of regret that THEY will never be buying a wedding gift for me. And then later on, when they had children, I bought silver spoons or baby clothes for them because it was obvious that I would never be buying them for my OWN children. And then, if you’re like me, you remember all those weddings you attended. The first ones, when you were small, and how bizarre they were, with everyone dressed up and stressed out, and how they made you wear a coat and tie, which made you feel very adult and capable of sampling everyone’s alcoholic drinks when they weren’t paying attention.
When I was in grammar school, my mother used to rent out a spare room to “college girls” for extra income. I found it embarrassing but was unable to change the situation. These girls were attending Sacramento Junior College, to learn cosmetology or find a boyfriend, or, if they were extremely lucky, both. Many of them came from farms in the Central Valley, and they were called Vargas, or Diaz, or Ramos. A particularly lively girl, despite her triste-sounding name, Dolores Ramos, was one of my mother’s favorites, and after she graduated from the College and returned to the farmlands, she and my mother stayed in touch. When Dolores decided to marry, there was a major celebratory event and in addition to a large Catholic church wedding, an enormous Portuguese banquet took place in the local grange hall. An ethnic band played non-stop, there were endless tables of food, multiple bars, dancing and major consumption of alcohol long into the night. I drank too many leftover cocktails and found myself tipsy for the first time, which was extremely enjoyable.
There followed Jewish weddings, Protestant weddings, even a couple of Baptist weddings, which were less amusing than the Portuguese weddings, even from my then child’s point of view at that time. Subsequently, I attended formal weddings, indoor weddings, hippie weddings in the California Redwood Groves, casual weddings, even a couple of last-minute, Nevada shotgun weddings. The thing about all these weddings was that there was always a bride and a groom, no matter what the composition of the families involved, and each and every time I got through a service and a party, I thought: “Damn, it’s too bad I’ll never have one of these.”