Quint ambushed me. You can’t blame me for reacting defensively – that’s what you do when you’re ambushed.
It was my last day of the semester, and my morning final had gone well. We had ice cream for dessert to celebrate, and I was actually in a good mood. Then, just as he started getting ready for bed, he said it.
“I know you’ll want to make plans with the guys tomorrow, but be back before I’m home from work. We’re going to get you something decent to wear for the ceremony.”
I left off playing with my synth to spin around in the chair and gape at him, sitting at the table organizing papers in his briefcase as though that hadn’t come out of nowhere. “I thought we agreed I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt, with a jacket to dress it up a little.”
“Yes, which means you need a jacket and a pair of jeans.”
“I have a jacket and a pair of jeans,” I pointed out. “In fact, I have several pairs of jeans. I’m wearing a pair right now.”
He snapped the briefcase shut and carried it over to the desk, calmly saying, “You’ve had that blazer since you were fifteen, Theo. It doesn’t fit you anymore, and every pair of jeans you own, including that one, has at least one hole, rip, or stain.” He headed for the bathroom and added over his shoulder, “Speaking of which, you need a new t-shirt as well, but you can get that by yourself.”
I stood up and followed him. “Why can’t I get the jacket and jeans by myself, too?”
“Do you know how a sport coat should fit?” he asked, frowning at me from the sink.
“You can put it on and it buttons?”
He opened his mouth and then closed it again. After a moment, he said, “That’s why I’m going with you. And the store we’re going to sells more classic styles of jeans than where you typically shop. Be ready to leave when I get home, please.” I sighed heavily and started to walk away, but he called me back and fixed me with a Look. “I’m only going to say this once: I expect your full cooperation. Understood?”
In other words, no complaining while I torture you, and this is your sole warning.
As soon as we stepped into the men’s department, Quint dragged me over to a salesman and had him wrap a measuring tape around my chest and tell me what size I should wear. Then the love of my life and pain in my ass inquired about the limit on number of items in the dressing room at one time (five) and thanked the gentleman for his help.
“Why do we need to go to the dressing room?” I demanded as we walked out of earshot. “He just told us my size.”
“An off-the-rack jacket is never going to fit perfectly,” Quint said, flipping through hangers. “That’s why we have an appointment with my tailor tomorrow. But you still want to find the best fit possible without alterations.” He ignored my look of horror at the words ‘tailor’ and ‘alterations’ and held up a jacket in front of me, assessing. “This bottle-green brings out the gold in your eyes. What do you think?”
I think it’s a jacket? I jerked a shoulder, and he handed it to me.
“That’s one for the dressing room, and this brown pinstripe. It’s slightly more formal.”
Other than the color, it looked the same as the green one to me, but I took it and, not at all sure I wanted to hear the answer, asked, “Are you really going to make me try on five different jackets?”
“Those two will do, for a start,” – see, that’s what I’d been afraid of: ‘a start’ – “and we’ll also find a couple pairs of jeans and a dress shirt.”
“I’m not wearing a dress shirt.”
“I know, but at some point in your life you’ll need a shirt with buttons, so you might as well get one while we’re here.”
I sighed and trailed after him to a table full of folded shirts, thinking, I did not sign on for this.
Ten minutes later, loaded down with the jackets, two pairs of jeans, and a white shirt, I followed him into the dressing room. “Put the shirt on first,” he said as I went into one of the changing cubicles and shut the door behind me, “and let me see if it’s a good size. You don’t need to tuck it in.”
I stripped my t-shirt off and shouldered into the other one, feeling awkwardly formal as I fastened the buttons. I left the top three undone and opened the door to show Quint.
He swept his eyes over me and nodded. “It’s not perfect, but it’ll do. Okay, now bring the jackets out here, and I’ll show you how they should fit.”
I resisted the urge to tell him that I really couldn’t care less about how they should fit, and grabbed the two jackets before following him over to a three-way mirror that was set up in one end of the room. He took the hangers from me and hung them from a hook on the wall, then watched critically while I put the brown one on.
“The first thing,” he said, standing behind me and reaching around my waist, “is to button it. This one has two buttons, so you only fasten the top one. If it had three, you’d only fasten the top two. The bottom one is always left undone.” That made no sense, but I wasn’t going to slow him down any by asking questions.
There was more: he pulled the sleeves up a bit and examined how much extra room there was around my waist, explaining as he went. Honestly, I zoned out. When I tuned in again, he was telling me it was too long. “It should just reach to where your fingers join your hand when your arms are by your sides, okay?”
“Yep,” I said, only half-listening.
“The pinstripe gives you some more height, but this color washes you out. Now let’s try the green one.” He helped me change jackets, then said, “Tell me where this doesn’t fit.”
Oh, great. “If I’d known there was going to be a test, I might’ve paid more attention,” I said, looking at him over my shoulder.
He sighed and patiently went through the whole thing again, finally concluding that this one was also too long and too loose around the waist, but the sleeves were okay and it fit well in the shoulders. “The brown one would be more versatile, but I think this is more your style, and I like the color with your eyes. Which did you prefer?”
Suspecting ‘I don’t give a damn’ wouldn’t be well-received, I simply shrugged.
“Well, think about it while you try on the first pair of jeans.”
I escaped into the cubicle and changed into my own shirt, hearing another couple enter the outer room. “Let me see you in the blue sweater first, honey,” one of them said, and I decided there was no way I was going back out there and joining in The Fashion Show. There was a perfectly serviceable mirror where I was, and I didn’t think I needed Quint to tell me if jeans were fitting properly.
As I was pulling the second pair on though, he knocked. “Theo, what’s taking so long?”
“I can do this myself,” I called back.
“I know you can, but I’d still like to see you in them, please.”
I opened the door a crack. “You’ll have to come in here. I’m not coming out.”
The cubicle was big enough for both of us to fit comfortably, although it did seem a lot more full when he shut the door behind him. He picked up my own jeans from where I’d left them on the floor and started to fold them as he said, “Those are too long.”
“I have actually bought pants before, you know. They weren’t just materialized out of thin air.”
He raised an eyebrow, but only dropped the jeans onto the chair that was set in one corner and started to fold the dress shirt. “What about the other ones?”
“They’re a bit too loose, but I like the style better than these.”
“Alright, give me those, and I’ll go get one size smaller of the others,” he said, dropping the shirt on the chair, too. “I’d like you to try on a smaller jacket, as well.”
I groaned as I striped off the too-long jeans and handed them to him. “Why do I have to try it on? Can’t we just get it and go?”
“No, we need to see how it fits. Which one did you decide on?”
Tetchily jerking my shoulders, I picked at random. “The green one, I guess.”
He nodded and picked up the loose jeans from the floor. “I’ll be back shortly, and you can wait for me with your nose in the corner there.”
Just like that. Without even a how-d’you-do, as my mother would say.
His voice was quiet enough that I was fairly sure the couple outside hadn’t heard him, but I still felt my ears burning. I opened my mouth, and he forestalled any arguments in the same quiet, matter-of-fact tone. “I told you last night I expected full cooperation, and you know very well that doesn’t include a poor attitude. Yours has been getting steadily worse since we arrived. Go on; I’ll lock the door behind me.”
Now my embarrassment was for a different reason altogether. He was right: I knew better than to act that way and claim I was behaving. He’d already said last night would be my only warning – and really, I shouldn’t need him to point it out before I noticed that I was making absolutely no effort.
I faced the corner immediately, without even putting my jeans back on. It occurred to me as I heard him leave that I’d have to unlock the door for him, and therefore he wouldn’t know if I turned back around now. Feeling even more ashamed of myself, I shoved the thought out of my mind.
The other couple departed a few minutes after Quint, and I stood thinking guiltily that I would be cheerful and willing for the rest of the evening and the next day at the tailor’s – even if I did start to feel like a mannequin – until I was brought out of my resolutions by a gentle knock on the door. “It’s me, angel.”
I opened it and flung my arms around him before he’d made it fully inside. “I’m sorry. I know I was awful-”
“You weren’t awful, just a little cranky and impatient,” he said, hugging me back with the arm he wasn’t using to hold clothes. “Try these on and we’ll get out of here.”
I’m happy to say that I did, in fact, withstand the tailor’s appointment the next day much more graciously.
“Honey, what was that sound? Are you alright?”
Stifling a curse my mother certainly wouldn’t appreciate, I glared at the pieces of the casserole dish on the kitchen floor and its former contents, which were splattered over the tiles. “I’m fine, Mom. I just dropped something. Listen, call me when you know what’s going on, okay? Love you.”
“I love you too, honey. Don’t worry, it’ll work out one way or another.”
I ended the call, slammed the refrigerator door shut in an expression of my feelings, and stomped around the mess to the pantry, muttering, “This is all I needed.”
It was the day before New Year’s Eve and the ceremony, and Quint had asked me to heat up the leftover casserole for dinner while he took Jagger on his evening walk. Of course, I managed to drop the fucking thing, trying to take it out one-handed. I grumbled under my breath as I cleaned it up, then jerked the fridge open again to see what else we might make for dinner.
This is a convenient spot to pause and describe our refrigerator, which is necessary for you to understand the rest of this incident. It has French doors on the top and the freezer beneath. The left door has the ice making system and a shelf on the inside, while the right one – the one I was now opening – has three shelves, the lowest being a good couple of feet above the floor. From top to bottom, they held: 1) a nearly-full jug of milk and carton of orange juice; 2) ketchup, mustard, and various salad dressings, all with flip-tops, as well as sour cream and the hummus Quint claims tastes good and I claim looks like baby food and has a flavor to match; and 3) glass bottles and jars of other condiments, such as olives, steak sauce, maple syrup, salsa, etc.
Now back to my tale. As I was saying, I jerked the door open. Then I watched in horror as all three shelves came crashing down.
It seemed to take forever, and yet I couldn’t react quickly enough to stop it – like one of those nightmares where you can’t get any farther away from the monster no matter how hard you run. The right side of the top shelf gave out and swung down to hit the right side of the one below, which gave out and… well, you get the idea.
The point is, it was actually the glass containers on the bottom one that first impacted with the floor – the fact that they were all glass, by the way, can be blamed on Quint’s OCD-ishness – and shattered, the shards spreading across half the floor as the contents mixed together in a multicolored goop. In the slow-motion instant before the bottles from the middle shelf came sliding off one by one, I had time to notice that the olives looked like small eyes, gazing up at me mockingly.
A few of the flip-top bottles on the second shelf weren’t closed very well – which can be blamed on my laziness – and they squirted ketchup and salad dressing like small geysers upon landing. The sour cream and hummus containers performed gold-medal-worthy somersaults in midair and opened, adding to the sludge, and finally, the milk and orange juice that had set off the chain reaction touched down in an explosion of liquid that splattered my front from legs to face, as well as most of the floor.
I stood stupefied and dripping for a few seconds and then stamped to the pantry. How I managed to avoid cutting my feet on a piece of broken glass I’ll never know. I was nearly shaking with temper and biting out single words. “It-!” I banged open the pantry door, grabbed the broom and dustpan from their hooks on the back wall, and flung out my other arm towards the rest of the kitchen, trying to get the cleaning supplies to commiserate with me. “That-!” I stomped back to the midst of the carnage and glared at the shelves hanging from the inside of the door, the bottom one still swinging slightly. “HOW-!?”
If anything called for profanities, this did, but I couldn’t think of one that would be adequate.
Breathing heavily through clenched teeth, I had the bright idea that it would be easier to clean up with the trashcan closer, so I leaned the broom against the other door of the fridge and made one more stamp to the pantry. I yanked out the trashcan and banged it down next to the worst of the mess, and the broom fell over and bounced off the top of my left toes. That was when I suddenly regained my ability to swear.
You might be surprised to learn how easily a plastic broomstick can be snapped in half when you’re sufficiently angry. Likewise, you may find it interesting to know that if you then attempt to shove said broomstick-halves sideways into a plastic trash can that is not quite wide enough to accommodate them, a large crack will immediately appear in the trashcan, running almost its full height.
Of course, I discovered these facts myself just a moment before the door opened to admit Quint and Jagger.
“Don’t let him walk through here,” I snapped. “There’s glass all over.”
Quint grabbed the dog’s collar and stood a second taking in the sight of me in the middle of the wet floor, half-drenched in milk and orange juice, with the refrigerator door hanging open and the pile of goo and glass on one side, and the broken trash can with the ends of the broom sticking out of it on the other. Then, with a perfectly blank face, he picked Jagger up and carried him across the floor, walking close to the pantry doors to avoid the worst. He put the dog in the crate and then walked back to the peninsula and leaned against the living-room side of it on folded arms.
“What happened?” he asked, with a mild sort of curiosity.
“I was only trying to make dinner.”
His raised eyebrows were definitely an invitation to explain further. I did, starting with the dropped casserole dish and going all the way through to the crack in the trash can. As I talked, his expression showed only polite interest, and when I’d finished, he remained silent. After a few seconds, I said, with a mixture of dejection and bitterness, “I’ll just go and plant myself in the corner, shall I?”
“No, you’ll track that mess all through the living room,” he said, serenely. “Are you hurt? Any nicks or scratches?” I shook my head, and he nodded towards the space between the oven and dishwasher, opposite the pantry, and said, “Then you can face the wall there while I clean this up.”
“I can clean it up.”
“It seems you already tried to and it didn’t go very well. Face the wall, please – and watch for the glass; you’re barefoot.”
I huffed and picked my way carefully across the floor.
It took Quint only slightly more than fifteen minutes to tidy everything up. The man knows his way around cleaning supplies. At one point, I heard what sounded suspiciously like the polite cough he uses to cover a laugh, but when I looked he was very straight-faced.
“Turn around, Theo.”
I faced the wall again and listened to him go out into the hallway for about twenty seconds, presumably taking the trash out. When he came back, he said, “Give me those clothes. I’ll put them in the washer.”
I stripped off my jeans and t-shirt and handed them to him, then stood looking at the wall in my boxers for another minute, reflecting that this was the second time in three weeks I’d found myself in this position similarly clothed, and that it made me feel a bit… not vulnerable, exactly, but exposed.
Quint walked up behind me and took my hand, and I miserably let him lead me to the couch and pull me over his lap without any resistance or protest. When he started, it was barely any harder than the pretend spanking he’d given me on Christmas, and he didn’t even take my boxers down, but after only twenty swats or so I was shedding tears freely and gulping back sobs.
He stopped and rubbed my back. “Is slamming a door or breaking a broom an acceptable way to show your anger?”
I found myself right-side-up on his lap and wiped my eyes. Quint traced his thumb down the trail of moisture on my right cheek and asked, “Feel better?”
“That’s a ridiculous question,” I grumped.
He inclined his head. “You’re right. I already know the answer’s ‘yes’.” Which was true, but he didn’t need confirmation from me. It would only encourage this sort of behavior. “Why don’t you tell me what that was really all about, hmm?”
“Jagger’s whining,” I said, wiggling out of his arms and going to open the crate. The rest of my tears were mopped up by a long, pink, doggy tongue. I buried my face in blond fur as the tongue discovered a spot of OJ residue near my elbow.
“That’s very unhygienic, you know – and it’s also enough stalling. Come back here, please.”
That was not the polite request he made it sound like. I tried sitting beside him, but he wasn’t having it and pulled me right down into his lap again. Jagger climbed up with me, and at the click of Quint’s fingers, stopped giving me a bath and laid down with his chin on my knee. I rested my head against Quint’s shoulder so I wouldn’t have to meet his eyes and concentrated on petting the dog.
“You seemed okay when I left. Somewhat stressed, perhaps, but nowhere near the level of that sort of meltdown. What happened?”
Carefully neutral, I said, “I called my mom while you were out to ask if she’d pick up the cheesecakes on her way to the ceremony tomorrow. She might not be able to come.”
“Why not?” he frowned. I could hear the expression in his voice.
I shrugged, doing my damnedest to be nonchalant. “My father was supposed to be going to a work party, and she was going to make some excuse about having a headache to duck out of it. But now he’s saying he’s staying home, and if he finds out where she’s going he’ll flip.” I had to pause and try to swallow the lump back down my throat, but my voice was still steady as I continued, “She says she doesn’t care, she’ll come anyway, but…”
Quint squeezed me tighter. “Angel, I know your mother. If she says she’ll be there, she will.”
“I know, but I’m not sure I want her to if it’s just going to cause more problems. I don’t want that hanging over the night. I’ve already screwed up their relationship enough.”
Given everything that’s happened between my father and me – or even just the stuff that happened before he found me making out with Eric on the couch – you’d think I’d hate him. Or possibly, as I went to therapy about it a few years ago, you might think I’ve learned to forgive him. I wish it were as straightforward as that. A large part of me wants to forget his existence, while a smaller part wants to pay him back for the black eye and the bruises on Eric’s arm, and the part that I’m ashamed of just wishes I could have been the son he wanted. I hate how melodramatic that sounds, but it’s true. Then you add in the fact that my mom is financially dependent on him – for all I know, still in love with him – and the fact that she’d never commit the sin of divorce even if she weren’t, and things just get more messy.
“Theo, it is not your fault.”
I know it’s not, in the sense that I can’t help being gay. But I also can’t help but think that if I hadn’t been so careless with Eric that night, and my parents had never found out…. I sighed. “I think I might need to make a few appointments with Dr. Sadigh to get that through my head.”
“Well, the fact that you’re the one suggesting it this time, instead of me, is certainly progress.”
“Sure you want to commit to a complete mess like me?” I asked. Quint swatted my hip, not at all gently, which was as reassuring as it was expected. I rubbed at the sting ruefully. “Sorry. I told my mom to call when she had an update, but she said she’d make it one way or another just before I hung up.”
“And then you took out your feelings on the contents of our refrigerator,” he said, his lips curving against my temple.
“I didn’t mean for the shelves- Hey!” I pulled back and narrowed my eyes at him. “You were trying not to laugh earlier, I knew it!”
He was chuckling now. “I couldn’t help it. If you’d seen what you looked like…. I didn’t think you would be able to appreciate the humor of the situation just then, though.”
“That’s because it wasn’t funny.” I bit the corners of my mouth to keep them from curling up.
“Yes, it was,” he said, eyes twinkling through his glasses. “And then, when I asked what happened, and you stood in the middle of all that and said you were just trying to make dinner-”
I buried my face in the crook of his neck. “Shut up. It’s not funny.”
He laughed again and kissed the top of my head, then patted my thigh. “C’mon, angel, why don’t you wash off and get dressed. We both need to de-stress before tomorrow. How about going to see the Sherlock Holmes movie?”
I looked at him in surprise. “I thought you said that ‘Robert Downey Jr. couldn’t hold a candle to Jeremy Brett, and I refuse to pay money to see such a perversion of classic literature’?”
“Well, nit-picking at his performance should provide a good distraction.”
So we went, and it wasn’t bad, actually, even if Quint did spend most of it muttering about Holmes needing a shave and a change of clothes, to which I replied, “I don’t know what that Adler woman thinks she’s doing. Anyone could see he’s in love with Watson.”
“If you guys are ready, I’ll go tell George we’re about to start,” Zeggy said. We were standing in her kitchen, right in front of the swinging doors that lead to the dining room. Only a few feet away, actually, was the spot where I’d backed Quint up against the wall and kissed him for the first time, the night we met.
He looked at me. “Are we ready?”
“I am. You look nervous.”
Quint has this thing about being the center of attention. It’s nearly as bad as my thing about needles. (Yes, I’m aware it’s ironic, given that I’m a performer and he’s a doctor. Zeggy’s pointed it out multiple times.) We tried to reduce the amount of speaking he’d have to do – we wouldn’t actually be reciting vows in the traditional way – but I knew he was still anxious. I had butterflies as well, but only the good kind like I’d get before a performance. All the lead-up and preparation was what had been stressful to me; now that we were about to begin I was fine, although feeling a bit surreal.
“Nothing I can’t manage,” he assured me. He glanced down. “Jagger looks ready, too.”
The dog was sitting by my feet, looking very handsome in his professionally-clipped coat and plaid bow tie, with the leather leash I was holding fastened to the loop on the back of it. Not that Quint didn’t look sharp as well, in his grey flannel trousers topped with a white button-down shirt, the multi-toned blue argyle sweater vest I’d given him for Christmas, and a navy jacket with a subtle check pattern. The ensemble made the normally ambiguous color of his eyes seem more blue than gray behind the horn-rimmed glasses.
I grinned at him. “You look very preppy.”
“You look very rock-star,” he returned.
After some consideration, I’d chosen a Beatles “All You Need Is Love” shirt to wear under my new green jacket, which I had to admit fit very well thanks to the skill of Quint’s tailor. My dark blue jeans were exactly the right length, and the leather Converse All-Star sneakers were just a step above the casual look of my canvas pair.
“And very scruffy about the face,” Zeggy said, running her finger down the stubble on my cheek. “But I suppose you wouldn’t look like Theo if you shaved.”
“I did trim it a bit,” I told her.
“We have the rings,” Quint said, patting his jacket pocket, “so, yes, I think we’re ready.”
“Alright. Enter when you hear the music, then.”
She went through the swinging doors to the dining room, while Quint, Jagger, and I stayed behind. After a few seconds, we heard my bandmates Kyle and Ethan start to play ‘Evermore’ on acoustic guitar and violin. It was actually a song I’d written for Griffin and Lyra shortly after their first birthday, but the lyrics were about being there forever. The twins were very excited that their song was being used in the ceremony.
I took Quint’s hand, and our eyes met. “Alright?” I asked. He swallowed and nodded, and with him on one side of me and Jagger on the other, we pushed the doors open. My other bandmate, Mitch, was ready to pull them back further to usher us in. I grinned at the group of faces turned towards us, especially my mother’s near the front of the room. We’d both been relieved when she’d called in the morning to tell us she’d convinced my father to go to the work party after all.
We’d debated having the guests stand for the ceremony because there were so few of them, but ultimately decided it wouldn’t be fair to ask my mother or the twins to stay on their feet for that long, so there were twelve chairs arranged in three rows of four, divided in half by an aisle wide enough to let the two of us and the dog walk side-by-side.
The aisle led to the fireplace on the far wall where George, our friend and officiant, was standing, his black hair gleaming in the soft light from the fire and the chandelier hanging overhead. Jagger was on his best behavior and stayed right by my side as we walked. Behind us, Mitch let the doors close and took his seat, and Ethan and Kyle stopped playing and let their instruments rest in their laps as we reached George. I quietly told Jagger to sit, then faced Quint and took both his hands in mine. Our eyes met, and I could see the nerves in his. I squeezed his hands reassuringly as George began to speak.
“Welcome, everyone. Thank you all for coming. In the year five-hundred twenty-four, a man named Boethius wrote ‘Love is unto itself a higher law.’ It is that belief which has brought us here tonight. We are here to witness and celebrate the drawing together of two separate lives – not by law, but by love. Quint and Theo met in this very house four years ago at a dinner party, and have chosen to pledge their commitment to each other here in the presence of us, their family and friends. Before they do so, they have asked that Theo’s friend Zeggy read a passage from Daily Afflictions, by Andrew Boyd.”
Zeggy stood up and faced the other guests before reading from the card she held. “We’re all seeking that special person who is right for us. But if you’ve been through enough relationships, you begin to suspect there’s no right person, just different flavors of wrong. Why is this? Because you yourself are wrong in some way, and you seek out partners who are wrong in some complementary way. But it takes a lot of living to grow fully into your own wrongness. It isn’t until you finally run up against your deepest demons, your unsolvable problems – the ones that make you truly who you are – that you’re ready to find a life-long mate. Only then do you finally know what you’re looking for. You’re looking for the wrong person. But not just any wrong person: the right wrong person – someone you lovingly gaze upon and think, ‘This is the problem I want to have.’”
There was laughter as she sat down, and Quint smiled at me tremulously. It seemed like he was starting to relax a tiny bit. George turned slightly towards him and asked, “Quint, do you take this man to be your partner and continual companion, pledging your faithful love and commitment to him alone, for all the days of your life?”
“I do.” His voice was confident, and I’m sure anyone other than me wouldn’t have noticed the touch of stage fright that was making his hands shake ever so slightly in mine. I tightened my hold on them and felt his elevated heartbeat through his skin.
“Theo, same question.”
That raised another chuckle from the guests. I waited for it to die down before saying, “I do.”
Speaking to both of us now, George asked, “Will you share with each other all the joys and sorrows that are to come?” and together, Quint and I answered, “We will.”
“Will you trust, cherish, and honor each other?”
“Will you encourage your partner, be his advocate, and feed his dreams?”
I was smiling now, and Quint’s pulse had decreased to almost a normal level. “We will.”
“Will you learn from each other and help each other to grow?”
“And will you always try to be worthy of your partner’s love and respect?”
For the final time, we answered, “We will,” and I thought, Although I don’t know if it’s possible to be worthy of him.
“Theo and Quint will exchange rings as a symbol of the promises they have made each other today, but before they do so, they wish to acknowledge all that each of us has done to support their relationship and bring them to this point, and all that we will do in the future to help their union grow stronger. Therefore, the rings will be passed from person to person so that we may each say a prayer or blessing over them, or simply infuse them with good vibes. Please don’t hesitate to hold the rings for more than a few seconds, because as they are going around Theo will perform a song he’s written for Quint.”
Quint took the rings from his pocket and handed them to my mother first, while Ike took Jagger’s leash from me and gave me my acoustic guitar.
When I’d (very gingerly) sat down to start writing the song the night of the rally, I realized there was really only one thing I wanted to say. I took that as my theme for the chorus, and then was inspired, in a weird way, by Quint’s counting from earlier in the night. The final lyrics were simple and sweet.
Give me more loving then I’ve ever had
Make it all better when I’m feeling sad
Tell me that I’m special even when I think I’m not
Make me feel good when I hurt so bad
Barely getting mad
I’m so glad I found you
I love being around you
You make it easy
It’s easy as one, two, three, four
There’s only one thing two do three words four you
I love you
There’s only one way two say those three words
And that’s what I’ll do
I love you
Give me more loving from the very start
Piece me back together when I fall apart
Tell me things you never even tell your closest friends
Make me feel good when I hurt so bad
Best that I’ve had
I’m so glad I found you
I love being around you
You make it easy
It’s easy as one, two, three, four
There’s only one thing two do three words four you
I love you
There’s only one way two say those three words
And that’s what I’ll do
I love you
I love you
Quint is my best muse, and I’ve written several songs for him or about us, but I never get used to the feeling of singing them to him. My music is one of the best parts of me, and sharing it with him is one of the happiest feelings I can imagine. I could see he wasn’t unaffected, either, and it seemed to erase the last of his stage fright. There was applause when I finished and handed Ike the guitar, and Quint took my hands and quietly said, “Thank you,” as Lyra ran up to give George back the rings.
“I’m sure all of you noticed that these rings are two very different styles, and I’m equally certain it was quite easy to guess that the traditional dome wedding band is Quint’s, while the flat-top band with the carved eight-pointed stars is Theo’s. Yet despite their superficial differences, both of these rings have a brushed finish, and both are made from the same material, an alloy called tungsten carbide which is four times as strong as titanium, twice as strong as steel, and almost impossible to scratch. They might seem mismatched to a casual observer, but when you take a closer look, it is easy to see that they go together.”
George handed each of us the other’s ring, and I went first, sliding the band of metal onto Quint’s left hand and saying, “Quint, with this ring, I join my life with yours. Let it be a reminder that I love you always.”
He softly cleared his throat. “Theo, with this ring, I join my life with yours. Let it be a reminder that I love you always.”
I know, because I helped write it, that George said something after that about how only we could declare ourselves married, simply by loving each other and standing by each other every day, but I honestly didn’t hear. I hadn’t expected the rush of euphoria that came over me when I saw the ring on my hand and realized this was truly happening, and then Quint was kissing me.
Much later, after we’d been congratulated and toasted until our ears were ringing, after Zeggy and Ike had carried the sleeping twins upstairs, after we’d eaten enough Chinese food and cheesecake to sustain a small army, and after the band and I had played a few songs, we turned the TV on to watch the ball drop in Times Square. And, just as I had done for the very second time exactly four years before, I pressed my lips to Quint’s as the clock struck midnight.
It’s going to be a happy new year.