"How will we know him?" I ask M as we enter the Italian restaurant in Brewster. Though we - mostly Emily - had been corresponding with Ed, the potential officiator of our wedding for months, and know that he is a tattooed Buddhist CIA agent, and he is a sweet and funny man, we don't actually know him on sight.
"You will know him because him is me," he says from the door, or something equally pithy. We had pictured him bald and exotic, equal parts James Bond and Tenzen Gyatso, Double O Lama. Instead, he almost hits his hirsutulous head on the door. He looks familial and sedate almost to the edge of goofiness, avuncular to the extreme and nothing like a man who could help someone reach enlightenment through a barrel of a glock.
We take our seats and I quickly lose the impression that he is going to test our matrimonial worthiness, though he does talk with us and pronounces us very comfortable with one another. He likes that our vows are going to be "as long as the love shall last" instead of "until death do you part." He is keen to include Pagan elements to suit me, though I ask for poetry instead. More important to me, we are comfortable with him. Over the years we've been planning this wedding, Emily and I have discussed various officiators. I wasn't comfortable with members of her clan because they have usually felt like hers alone. Likewise, Emily has fidgeted and nixed my suggestions because they weren't hers enough or didn't feel they had the moral authority to marry us. Ed is somehow perfect and we both knew it in a matter of moments, though he reinforces it when he casually mentions having hung out and meditated with Noah Levine, founder of the Dharma Punx movement of which Emily is enamored. He has also, while I am bragging, taught meditation to police officers and gang members.
As the lunch reaches its conclusion, Emily addresses the elephant in the room. "Not to get pragmatic, but how much do your services cost?" Prior to meeting with him, we had discussed going as high as $1000. After meeting with him, I think are both willing to allow some wiggle room.
"Nothing," he answers.
"Excuse me?" I ask.
"Tell you what, take whatever you were going to pay me, double it, and put it into a fund for any future kids," he says. A better answer I doubt I could imagine.
Soon in Xenology: Adult Cred. One Art.