W and I were going to say “I do” in about two hours. I had this marriage thing, this love thing down.
I have been married before. And civil unioned. Practice makes perfect they say. Third time’s the charm. This time around, there would be no surprises. How could there be? What could this 47-year-old butch not know about commitment, about love?
A group of friends and family were at the pavilion stringing up lights and placing vintage Mason jars filled with fall flowers on the picnic tables.
W and I were at home getting dressed.
I knew to stay out of W’s way as it would take her longer to get ready, W being the bride and all.
I took my time and put on my jeans and white button-down shirt, rolling up the sleeves just so. I slid on my custom Converse with the wedding date emblazoned in back and laced them up. I folded up my vows and placed them in my front shirt pocket. Only one thing left to do. I flipped up my collar, wrapped my bowtie around my neck and went to use the mirror in the downstairs bathroom to tie that bad boy.
I almost got it on the first try. But then my nerves got the best of me. Despite all the YouTube videos and the bowtie tying drills earlier in the week, I just couldn’t get it tied. I took some deep breaths and kept trying.
One side longer. Over, under. Long side out of the way. Form a bow. Long side down in front. Taco, taco. Stuff.
Now I was sweating. A lot. I brought my iPad in the bathroom for video aid. Still no luck.
Stay calm. You can do this.
I thought a change in venue might help, so I tried the upstairs bathroom. There was no bowtie tying magic in there.
I was starting to panic. And curse. We had to leave soon. What if I couldn’t get the bowtie tied? I had been blogging about this damn bowtie for a month. What would I wear? It was too late to run out and buy a necktie. And at this point, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to tie a one of those.
“I can’t do it,” I yelled out to W.
“Yes, you can,” she encouraged.
I ventured into our bedroom where W was getting dressed.
“It’s too hard,” I said, pouting like only a middle-age butch and a six-year-old girl can.
“I don’t want to hear it,” W said. “I have to put on Spanx. You want to trade places?”
I quickly left the bedroom and continued my futile attempts at tying a bowtie. I swore more quietly so W wouldn’t hear.
One side longer. Long side out of the way. Form a bow. Long side down in front. Taco, taco. Stuff.
Time was running out. We were already running late. The bowtie is aptly named the Jack & Ennis after the leads in Brokeback Mountain. I can’t quit you or tie you! I yelled out to no one in particular.
It was time to think alternatives. Glue gun. Or maybe nail gun. I needed tools of some kind. Possibly a Dremel.
Or maybe I could wear the bowtie like a tiny, jaunty silk scarf. Or tie it in a big bow and wear it Colonel Sanders style. Desperate times and all.
I retreated to the bedroom one last time and sat down on the bed next to W. W grabbed her iPad and watched a two-minute YouTube video. She tied the bowtie perfectly on her first try.
“Just so you know, I will learn how to tie my own bowtie,” I said. It was my attempt at piecing back together my butch bravado that lay scattered in tiny shards on the floor around my custom Converse.
“You don’t have to,” W said.
When we got to the pavilion, W pointed out my bowtie to some of the guests.
“Doesn’t it look great?”
I just smiled and told everyone that I had pulled on my own underwear in the morning and that’s about all I had done. That is pretty much the truth not true at all.
We had about a half hour before we were to say our vows. Usually, I’m not good on the fly, but I was able to work the bowtie into my vows. It was the least I could do.
Here are some snippets:
You are the first person with whom I share good news and bad.
You are the person I go to when I am feeling down, scared, unsure or frustrated.
You are the person I look for when I am feeling happy or triumphant and want to share my good luck and fortune.
And you are the person I go to on my wedding day when I can’t tie my bowtie.
* * *
There’s a line in a Melissa Etheridge song that I quote to you all the time.
“You found out to love me, you have to climb some fences.”
You climb those fences with grace and most times even a smile on your face.
But isn’t that what love is? Climbing fences.
And that is my promise to you. To love you, to support you, to encourage you, to forgive you.
And climb those fences every once in awhile so you know that I am here and that I’m not going anywhere and that you are worth the extra effort every single time.
I figure I scored some butch bonus points for admitting that I didn’t tie the bowtie. (And working in a Melissa Etheridge song.)
* * *
Today, I’m fairly confident that I will be able to master the tying of the bowtie. I mean, I can drive a car and give a cat a pill and remove spaghetti sauce stains from a white shirt. But I’m pretty sure I don’t want to.
I like the idea of having W tie my bowties from this day forward. While W is tying, we will laugh about our wedding day and my bowtie tying ineptitude and how she saved the day. We will be reminded that we are not on this journey alone but have a constant companion to share the ups and downs of life. I will remember that I can’t do everything on my own — contrary to what my butch ego says — and that there is wisdom and courage in asking for and accepting help. And that I am so very lucky to have by my side a strong, competent woman (who happens to excel at tying things) as my wife.