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An Evening with Art Spiegelman and Neil Gaiman | 2014 | Waking Life


Let me live, love and say it well in good sentences  

-Sylvia Plath


Wedding Invitations

Where and why I am getting married.
If you are not in this picture, you are not the reason.

This week, I have been mailing out the invitations for my wedding, dozens of TARDIS blue envelopes stuffed in the outgoing mail slot, burying bills and Netflix sleeves. In all of this, it has occurred to me that there is one person I absolutely forbid coming to my wedding, one I have encountered again and again whose thoughts and actions make me cringe: Me.

Not as I am now, with thirty-three years of experience, analysis, and embarrassment to inform my action, but prior iterations. I have been that guest at weddings, dragged along as a date, who frankly does not care about the people getting married or who actively believes the marriage is doomed from the start. I was there for the free meal (or, rather, the meal in exchange for a portion of a toaster), the festive atmosphere, the chance to dance to ABBA with drunk people. I survived by making jokes to my date because the idea of two people my age uniting forever filled me with awe and panic. Weddings are too hard of work to have strangers being snarky behind their hands.

So, if you wouldn't be there to rejoice our love, don't expect or accept an invite. If you refer to Amber and me by race alone ("the white couple," though Amber may actually be part Hispanic) or call our marriage "cisgendered patriarchal oppression," don't feel slighted when feeding you cupcakes doesn't seem like a priority. If you fantasize about standing up when the officiant asks if anyone has reason that we should not be married-and Rhianna won't be asking-because you feel like you didn't get a fair shot at banging one or both of us, do everyone a favor and fake a sickness. If you don't think we should get married, vote with your absence. I don't want conscientious objectors clogging up the receiving line. Satyagrahi do not roll their eyes when I promise to love someone.

I repent my presence and thoughts at nearly half the weddings I have previously attended (though rarely my actions. As I have usually been both in a committed relationship and disinclined toward alcohol, I have not been the slurring guest decrying the institution of matrimony or flirting with any bridesmaid I did not bring). I understand why some people have employ a "no exes" policy on their nuptials to try to forestall the likelihood of someone bursting into sarcastic sabotage (I have only invited one ex-girlfriend, Melanie, whom I believe genuinely likes Amber and me and who, by dint of her sexuality, girlfriend, and Proustian upbringing, is highly unlikely to fall weeping that she is not standing hand-in-hand with me before Rhianna).

I occasionally have to play intermediary between my mother and Amber when it comes to the guest list, in that my mother calls me and I hand the phone to Amber once the questions rise above my matrimonial pay grade. My mother is of the opinion that anyone with a strand of similar DNA, or anyone who canoodles with the bearer of a similar strand of DNA, must be invited. She assumes, possibly correctly, that anyone beyond fifty miles or so will not bother trekking out for a modest barbecue wedding. Amber is not a gambler. To her, every invitation sent out to someone with a tenuous genetic relationship to me is one fewer person in attendance who knows and loves us. (We can barely squeak through inviting our A-list guests without exceeding the limit. Our C-list may never know how close they came to eating hamburgers and watching a drunken uncle fall into a pond.) This does not touch upon the fact that my mother feels every unattached person should be offered their plus-one, which causes Amber's temples to pulse as our hundred contractually permitted guests spirals to one fifty or two hundred. I've told her and sincerely mean that I would be delighted with twenty people, those whose names I could rattle off without pausing to think. Going through all this trouble for people who don't really want to attend our wedding feels like socially imposed madness. The wedding should be for Amber and me. Anyone else is there by dint of caring about us, not the open bar (which we won't have anyway, so you shouldn't be sad to miss it).

What it really comes down to is the chance to have a concentration of people I love, all in one place, celebrating the union Amber and I are about to enter into. I wish I didn't have to dilute the purity with people who will have never met Amber and/or me before or taint it with people who have agendas that run contrary to our marriage.

Soon in Xenology: The perils of poverty. Praise and negotiation. Knowing murderers.

last watched: Oscar's Story
reading: Palm Sunday
listening: Lorde

An Evening with Art Spiegelman and Neil Gaiman | 2014 | Waking Life

Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings. He likes when you comment.

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