|THE MOLLY MAIDS are in the kitchen, cleaning the place
up for the family party we're having after the wedding reception -- a gift
from K.'s sister, to save us one more chore before the day. It was terribly
generous and sweet of her, but here I am feeling that strange guilt at
having someone else do work I should have been doing, a vague shame that,
I understand, often doesn't go away even when you have full-time help.
Well, that'll never happen here. What I should be worried about is seeing
just how clean this place can be, cleaner than we've probably ever
The smell of disinfectant is strong in the air. I'd really
hate to know what they're probably thinking about the general state of
the kitchen. "Typical professional couple; no time to scrub around the
stove elements." Something like that. I hope that's the worst of what they're
Wedding countdown: one day to go.
YESTERDAY I BOUGHT MY TIE and a gift for Greg, my best
man. With the photographer arranged (my assistant and buddy, Rod, who publishes
a hardcore punk magazine
and is generally more used to mosh pits) and the wedding favours paid for
(Korean walnut cakes -- tasty, cute and cheap), I haven't much to do now
but show up and say "I do".
Or rather, "volo", since the mass will be in Latin,
the whole Roman Catholic enchilada, with organ and choir. There's not much
call for the wedding rite in Latin; so little, in fact, that since was
no English translation of the service we're using available, K. sat down
with her Latin dictionaries and Wheelock's Latin textbooks and did
it herself. According to the fathers over at Holy Family, she didn't do
a bad job.
Last winter, K. returned to the church after a long absence.
She says I inspired her, which is interesting if you know my long and troubled
history with the Catholic church, especially after thirteen years of religious
education, but it's what she says. She goes to church every day, twice
if she can make Sunday vespers, works the reception desk at Holy Family
two mornings a week (this morning is one of them) and eagerly joined the
Women's Auxilliary. A few weeks ago, she started teaching catechism to
little kids. My (future) wife, it's plain to see, is as Catholic as they
I, on the other hand, am not. I suppose I'm her greatest
trial -- the (future) husband whose faith is bound and subordinated to
an essential, constitutional skepticism. I'd never deny that every facet
of my worldview, every image and metaphor with which I define the world,
is essentially the product of a Catholic upbringing. But I'm not a churchgoer,
or someone who can embrace the whole of the Church -- the Pope and the
Curia, the doctrines and edicts, the troubling and often intolerant history,
the decidedly dangerous mingling of politics and religion -- with anything
like unquestioning obedience. I have no problems with her faith -- it's
a truly wonderful thing, based as far as I can tell on compassion and a
deep, even pained wish to make the world around her a better place -- but
it's not something I'm able to share unquestioningly. I have my reasons.
It's a situation that bears some discussion -- later.
Right now, I have to say that I find something comforting about the venerable
ritual, the solemness and structure of the service, the freedom from writing
our own vows.
We're both writers, so it's not like we can't aptly choose
our words, but K. adores the vows in the old Catholic service, and was
even happy to use the word "obey". Her mom was apoplectic when K. told
her, though. It's amazing to watch the generational dismay when a boomer
mom like K.'s mom realizes her daughter doesn't feel the urge to be "right
on" anymore. In any case, our vows are from the modern Latin service, and
stick to the popular, supportive theme of a committed "partnership":
|"Catarinam, vis accipere Richardum in maritum tuum
et promittis te illi fidem servaturum, inter prospera et adversa, in aegra
et in sana aletudine, et eum diligas et honores omnibus diebus vitae tuae?"
...or in language you can understand...
|"Do you promise to be true to him in prosperity and
adversity, in sickness and in health, to love and honour him all the days
of your life?"
Which all sounds fine to me.
Last night, K. was on the phone with her best friend,
Krista, who suddenly materialized for the wedding, three months pregnant
and engaged; the last time we'd heard from her she was somewhere in the
Amazon. The other day, just after her re-appearance, we got a long-delayed
postcard from Argentina. Krista is, to say the least, a peripatetic soul.
"Are you taking his name?" K. asked Krista. "I am too.
That's so cool."
I started laughing and couldn't stop for five minutes.
They sounded exactly like they would have at fifteen.
Keep in mind that taking my name wasn't my idea. In fact,
a quick service on the deck of a slow freighter would have been fine with
me, but I've been involved with enough weddings to know that, this time
more than any other, it does a man well to defer in almost everything to
his future wife. It's not your day, buddy. Don't even pretend that it is.