Tag Archives: gay marriage

What I learned about love (and bowties) on my wedding day

Keep calmW 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 was looking good.

I was looking good.

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 MountainI 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.

xx

I almost looked like this guy.

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.

xx

Perfect.

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.

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Wedding tomorrow … gulp

WeddingThe wedding is tomorrow and this butch has a case of the nerves.

We have an outside venue, and it is supposed to rain, at least in the morning.  Looks like we are clear in the afternoon when our event will be taking place.  Phew.

It is supposed to be cooler than we had expected.  Right around 60 degrees.  I ran out this week and bought that old lesbian staple to wear over my white button-down and keep me warm — a navy blue knit vest.

xx

This is where everything will be happening.

W picked this park/pavilion because it has a fireplace, so we will have a source of heat.  It was supposed to be for “atmosphere” but now it looks like it will be for “warming of people.”

We are organized and ready to go, which helps.  Everything we are bringing is boxed and labeled.

I keep worrying that I’ll forget how to tie my bowtie.  (I got it tied on last night’s practice run in under two minutes.)  Or that my custom Converse will get muddy.  Or that I will totally freeze when it is my turn to say my vows.  Did I mention that I hate speaking into microphones?  These are the things this butch worries about.

Ok, time to take a deep breath and get through today.  I need to make the ziti.  Press my shirt.  Get a haircut.  Finish writing my vows.  Pack a bag for the weekend.

What do you do in times of craziness and stress to calm yourself down?  Any suggestions for your favorite butch?

Tying the knot

Keep CalmW and I are counting down the days. We are getting married one month from today.

We got our marriage license last week. Yay, P-A!

There’s a lot more to do. W has taken the lead on most of the preparation because it is a wedding and she is a girl.  Besides, she is the one with the vision.  Not some creepy-scary vision of werewolves or bloody fingerprints but a vision of vintage tablecloths and fresh-cut flowers in antique mason jars.

As for attire, she has to worry about a dress and undergarments, jewelry, nail polish, a shawl or around-the-shoulder wrap of some kind.

I am in charge of a few things. Purchasing a Polaroid camera and film for a mock photo booth.  Outfitting myself.

We are keeping it casual. I am planning on wearing a pair of jeans and a white button-down shirt with the sleeves rolled up.

I am usually a necktie guy. I love ties.

I am thinking about changing things up and wearing a bowtie for the wedding. See, I can be crazy and spontaneous (as long as the spontaneity is planned).

Jesse Tyler Ferguson has his “Tie the Knot” collection that he sells through the tie bar.  Each bowtie costs $25, and $20 from each purchase goes to organizations fighting for marriage equality.  Count me in.

Which bowtie should I buy?

My favorite color is red, so that’s my go-to color for accent pieces.

I’m thinking about going in a whole new direction.

Navy blue.

Crazy, I know.

The Delacorte caught my eye first. It’s a navy blue bowtie with floral accents in emerald green.

The Delacorte

The Delacorte

Or, I could go all Brokeback with the Jack & Ennis, a classic bandana pattern in navy.  I can yell out during the vows: I can’t quit you, W!  It would be real romantic and all.

The Jack & Ennis

The Jack & Ennis

I’m definitely thinking navy.  But, I also like this light blue one.

BT087_l[1]

The Kushner

Take the poll, below, and tell me what you think.

That only leaves a few details.

1. Learning to tie a bowtie.

2. Buying a new pair of matching kicks.

Right now, I’m thinking:

Nike Blazer low

Nike Blazer low

Or,

Classic Checkered Vans

Classic Checkered Vans

Ah, butch fashion dilemmas.

Help me out!  Calling all butches and anyone else with an opinion.

 

Fire in the hole! We’re getting married!

Red buttonWe sent out electronic invites to our wedding this week.

Before hitting the send button, W asked if I was ready.

I yelled out something like “fire in the hole!” or “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”

I can’t be sure.  It all happened so fast.

And they were gone.

We held our breath for a really long time.

The world didn’t explode.

We laid sideways on our bed on our stomachs, stared at W’s iPad and waited for the first response.  We had set the over-under line at 10 minutes.  W took the under.  I took the over.

W won.

We giggled like schoolgirls laying on our bed like that with our feet dangling off the edge, wondering what we just set in motion.

So, we are busy planning our wedding.  It’s going to be an informal picnic-style affair.  Pot luck, of course, because after all we are lesbians.  (See page 23 of Lesbian Handbook.)

PennsylvaniaWe had a formal commitment ceremony a few years ago with all the bells and whistles.  This is just a party with vows because now we can get legally hitched in Pennsylvania.  We get to celebrate that we are still in love and still choose each other.  We have another opportunity to get together with friends and family.  I have a close friend who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, so right now I am acutely aware of how little time we spend with the people we love most.

Just this once I think we get the sweeter deal. We get two wedding celebrations because we’re gay.  Take that straight people!

Every once in a while, W asks me if I’m sure I want to marry her.  Like when she’s in wedding-planning mode.

Every once in a while, I ask W if she’s sure she wants to marry me.  Like when I’m setting over-under lines for everything and making her watch another “quirky” movie.

We pretend to call it off every couple of days.

I thought I would be more nervous than I am.  Because this time it’s for realz.

But I’m ok.  (And not just my normal butch I-told-you-I’m-ok-now-leave-me-the-hell-alone ok, but really ok.)

I think of me and W stretched out on our bed and laughing like kids.  I want to bottle that feeling of lightness and happiness and connection.

I guess I’ll just marry her instead.

 

Even butches get choked up

Marry Me?If you read my last post, you know that I proposed to W on Sunday via cupcake.

Of course, she said yes. I mean, what woman could possibly resist the sexy, handsome beast that is this butch.

Anyway, here’s what I failed to mention:

After I decided to go with a cupcake proposal, I drove to the cupcake place by our house. I had some ideas and wanted to run them by the baker and get her opinion.

I started out strong.

“I have an odd question for you,” I said.

“My partner and I had a commitment ceremony a few years ago, but we haven’t been able to get legally married in the state of Pennsylvania until last month.”

I sounded like this guy.

I sounded like this guy.

Somewhere in that sentence my voice broke, causing me to sound like I was channeling Peter Brady in my 47-year-old body. Not a pretty picture.

That’s what happens. I keep everything tamped down so tightly that every once in awhile some emotion trickles out. It’s inevitable. A side effect of being a butch, perhaps.

Deep down inside, I do feel emotionally about last month’s court ruling that opened up the possibility of marriage in Pennsylvania for all couples.

The cynic in me will tell you that, for those of my generation, gay marriage will always be a political statement of sorts.

Or maybe it’s not the cynic in me but that place inside that houses my fears.  I hide them underneath the bravado and the bluster, the flannel and the thermal shirts.  It’s the tender spot that pulses below the big words and the carefully articulated theories.

The other day I overheard my son talking to a friend.

“My mom’s a writer. She knows everything,” he said with a giant sigh.

Of course, I took it as a compliment.

xx

Perhaps the greatest non-lesbian movie ever made (back when Nic Cage was a cool dude).

I know tons of weird things. Like the year that Hershey’s Whatchamacallit candy bar came out. 1978. And all the words to the movie Valley Girl. But I don’t know how to enjoy the moment. I don’t know how to not overthink things. I don’t know how to show emotion. I don’t know how to be vulnerable.

So, yeah, sometimes it trickles out of me. A single tear streaking silently down one pink cheek. My face slowly turning red like a garden rose. My voice cracking mid-sentence.

I wish I could have said something like this to the cupcake baker:

I’m sorry, but I get emotional thinking about how I’m finally able to marry the woman I love.

In the end, my voice betrayed me — cracking like a scratched 45. It was a small slip hinting at the emotion that bubbles inside me.

Because I really am grateful that I got another chance at love. And I’m grateful that W has agreed to take this step with me.  The fact that it’s all going to be legal makes it that much sweeter.

She said ‘yes’

We went to W’s family reunion today.

It’s pretty much the same every year — picnic food like hot dogs, potato salad and chips; dollar store prizes; a family picture; catching up with everyone.

But this year I added a twist.

I asked W to marry me.

We had a commitment ceremony almost three years ago. I had proposed back then on one knee with a diamond engagement ring in my hand and rose petals in the background. Like any good butch should.

We had a shindig, sent out invitations, hired a band and a caterer, exchanged vows, smashed cake on each other’s faces.

It was the best we could do in 2011.

And then same-sex marriage became an option in our home state of Pennsylvania last month.

The m word scares the hell out of me.  (We’re not talkin’ menopause or mudflap girls.  Especially not mudflap girls.)

xx

Half-eaten cupcake with capsule and special request.

Today, at the family reunion, I brought two dozen gourmet cupcakes. I had a special cupcake for W. Inside was a little plastic capsule with a special request. Marry me?

She said yes.

I was nervous this morning. My son said if anyone else accidentally got the special cupcake, I would have to marry him/her. So there was that.

And I was worried about pulling the whole thing off. What if W didn’t want a cupcake? Or wanted another flavor? What if the cupcake melted in the hot car? What if she said no?

But now? I’m not so nervous.

It feels right.  It feels good.

Sure, I’m still scared.  No one can see the future.  What can be scarier than that?  But I’m willing to take the leap with W.

I told W today that I would make an honest woman out of her yet.

What I’ve realized writing this post is she’s the one making an honest woman out of me.

A love letter

“Do you know your blog is a love letter to me?” W asked me one day.

I had never really thought about it like that.

And then people started commenting about how hopelessly romantic my blog is. Amid swoons and sighs, they responded with awwws and how sweets.

xx

Really?  The Flannel Files?  An Internet hub for love and other mushy stuff?

To borrow a line from Amy Poehler, really?  The ultra-tough, uber-studly Flannel Files?  That place where it’s cool for girls to talk about neckties and motorcycle boots, cleavage and butchdar?

It seems to hit a nerve every time.  People are either searching for true love or in the middle of a love-filled relationship and realize how very lucky they are.  At the end of the day when the sun is going down like a big red rubber dodgeball in the sky, we all want to be watching hand-in-hand with someone who makes our hearts beat like a bongo drum.  Bong bong.

So, why all the talk about love, Middle-age Butch?  What about baseball and beer?  Tattoos?  Mila Kunis?  The upcoming Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition?

W and I seem to have located the sweet spot of love.

Sometimes I wonder when it will all end.  When we’ll have hit our limit, used up our magic.

We are soft and pink like this.

We are soft and pink like this.

But we continue to grow together, and I think that’s the key.  We are constantly growing, learning, stretching ourselves.  Sometimes we are reaching for the same thing and sometimes not.  Right now, we are pliable like fresh eggs of silly putty.

We seem new again.

I tell her in the morning that she has sexy morning hair.

She crinkles her nose.

I tell her in the evening that she has sexy night hair.

“No, I don’t,” she says.  She bites her lip to keep from smiling.

She looks sexy in her new gray nightgown.  And the pale blue one.  And the black one.

I love you this much.

I love you this much.

This is when I know I am in love.

Not again because I was in love last month and the month before that.

I start to wonder if this love is stronger or deeper or truer than the love I had for W in April or January or 2011 or 2009.  Or has it been there all along — this deep, rich love that is new and old at the same time?

I’m not sure that it matters.  Just that I feel it.  And acknowledge it.  And tell W that I love her.  That I always have and always will.

I am reminded of this quote by Alice Walker from The Temple of My Familiar:

“Some people don’t understand that it is the nature of the eye to have seen forever, and the nature of the mind to recall anything that was ever known.”

What about the heart?

xx

Open to love.

I imagine my heart an advent calendar covered in cardboard doors.  They’ve been there forever.  They were just waiting for the right person to come along and open them up.

Maybe W was right.  This is a love letter to her.

It has been the whole time.

Marriage equality and groundhogs

It was a crazy busy day.  The kind of day that makes me ask “is this really my life?”  But in a good kind of way.  Like the question is spelled out in rainbow-colored bubble letters, covered in buttercream icing, stuffed with firecrackers and placed in a Tilt-a-Whirl.  It is crazy but fun and delicious and dangerous all at the same time.

Today’s schedule of events
9:00 a.m. — Take kid #3 to camp in my pajamas
10:00 a.m. — Start searching Internet for news on Supreme Court’s DOMA ruling
10:10 a.m — Learn that court has struck down DOMA as unconstitutional
10:11 a.m. — Look for verification
10:12 a.m. — Cry (shhh …. don’t tell anyone)
10:13 a.m. — Start writing blog post about Supreme Court’s decision
11:45 a.m. — Publish post
12:00 p.m. — Pick up kid #3 from camp in my pajamas
12:15 p.m. — Start work
12:56 p.m. — Spy groundhog in front room of our house
12:57 p.m. — Yes, there’s a groundhog inside our house
12:58 p.m. — That was a groundhog, right?
12:59 p.m. — Holy shit, a groundhog!
1:00 p.m. — Set up humane trap in room
1:01 p.m. — Barricade door to room (because there’s a groundhog in there)
1:32 p.m. — Watch groundhog try to get bait from wrong end of trap
1:33 p.m. — Re-bait trap, leaving a trail of produce leading to trap entrance
1:51 p.m. — Hear loud snap
1:52 p.m. — Captured
1:53 p.m. — Take pictures of captured groundhog like Animal Planet paparazzi
2:00 p.m. — Place trap with groundhog inside on back porch in shade
2:10 p.m. — Return to work
2:15 p.m. — Wonder why I’m not getting any work done today
3:12 p.m. — Give interview to  Philadelphia Inquirer on Supreme Court ruling
3:17 p.m. — Text W that I need a nap and sex
3:18 p.m. — Not in that order
4:15 p.m. — Read my Freewill Astrology at W’s suggestion (I am advised of the following poem and its significance in my life right now: In his erotic poem “Your Sex,” Joe Bolton exults: “My heart simplified, I touch the bud of happiness — it’s in season.  And whatever grief I might have felt before simply dies inside me.”)
4:16 p.m. — Mind blown
4:45 p.m. — Shower
6:30 p.m. — Drop kid #3 off at movie party at friend’s house
7:00 p.m. — W’s brother arrives to transport groundhog to new home

Here he is

Here he is

Thank you, Supreme Court

Supreme Court and rainbow flagI didn’t think I would care.

W and I live our lives just like any married couple.

We had a commitment ceremony a couple of years ago.  In our eyes, it was a real wedding, even though there was no officiant and we never received an official marriage license in the mail.

We do everything that married couples do.  She falls asleep with the TV and her bedside light on.  This drives me crazy.  I have my own annoying habits like taking off my socks in the middle of the night and leaving them in the sheets and apparently snoring like a lumberjack with a head cold.  We disagree about whether it’s ok to eat at not-so-gay-friendly Chik-fil-a and the best way to get from here to there.

We always kiss and make up though.  Always.  At night when the world has gone dark and we are sleeping side by side, everything seems and feels just right.

What does it matter that we can’t file our taxes jointly.  I get domestic partner benefits through her employer.  So, there’s that.

And, besides, I tried that man-woman marriage thing once before, and it wasn’t so great.

When you’re gay, you have to think outside the box, and that’s always been fine by me.  I’ve never fit into boxes anyway.

So, this morning when I read that the U.S. Supreme Court had struck down the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional, I surprised myself by tearing up.  (Ok, I sobbed, but don’t tell anyone.  This butch has a rep to protect.)

It wasn’t about the marriage issue at the heart of the ruling.

It was more about the fact that I’ve felt like a second-class citizen most of my life.  Not good enough.  Never good enough.  Not only in the eyes of others but in my eyes as well.

But on this hot and muggy summer morning, a beautiful and sublime morning, the highest court in the land said gays and lesbians are entitled to “equal liberty.”

W and I don’t live in a state that allows gay marriage.  That doesn’t make the ruling any less sweet.

This morning as I read about the decision, I felt good enough — not just in the eyes of the law but in my own heart.

Which comes first? The chicken or the gay?

By now, you’ve probably heard about the brouhaha over gay marriage swirling around fast-food giant Chik-fil-A.

To summarize, the company’s president made comments against gay marriage and homosexuality in general.  His supporters staged eat-ins, while opponents held same-sex kiss-ins in front of Chik-fil-As across the nation.

From these events, I am able to draw two conclusions.  First, Americans are crazy for fried chicken sandwiches.  Second, it’s ironic that non-lesbians organized the eat-ins.

Many gay people are now boycotting Chik-fil-A.  This strategy makes obvious sense.  Don’t hand over your hard-earned cash to anti-gay companies.  Hit ’em where it hurts, which is in the wallet.

Personally, I find myself conflicted.  As a lesbian, it goes without saying that I oppose anti-gay thoughts and deeds.  (Even though I support everyone’s right to voice their beliefs and opinions.)

I’m an occasional patron of Chik-fil-A.  My son loves the Number 1 combo (original chicken sandwich, waffle fries, lemonade).

He also likes the chicken minis for breakfast.  No matter what Chik-fil-A’s mascot cows say, I think chicken for breakfast is weird.  But then again, this is a kid who comes home from school and asks for “meat.”  He’s not picky about type or preparation.  Just dead, cooked animal, please.

Our local Chik-fil-A is very clean, and the service is great.  The food is always fresh and hot and good.  Plus, the drive-thru never screws up your order.  What more can you ask for from a fast-food restaurant?

Here’s the kicker.  Chik-fil-A employees always respond to a customer request or comment with the phrase “my pleasure.”  I love this.

Can I have some extra catsup?  My pleasure.

Thank you.  My pleasure.

Can I get a chicken sandwich without pickles?  My pleasure.

I wish all of my requests in life elicited such responses.

Son, can you take out the trash?  My pleasure.

Can we have sex three times today?  My pleasure.

Can you wear that leopard negligee to bed tonight?  My pleasure.

That thing that you do with your tongue that drives me crazy …  My pleasure.

Ok, so my requests mostly center around sex, but you get the idea.

The wife is anti-Chik-fil-A.  She thinks a boycott of all things Chik-fil-A is in order.

After pondering the issue for awhile — to buy Chik-fil-A or not to buy Chik-fil-A — I’ve decided to continue buying from the all-things-chicken establishment.

It’s not that I can’t resist fried chicken sandwiches with pickles or banana pudding milkshakes.  Or that having strangers insist that it’s their pleasure to serve me fulfills some kind of weird fantasy of mine.

It’s that I think I can effectuate the most change by patronizing our local Chik-fil-A.  You see, when I’m out in public, people either think I’m a guy.  Can I help you, sir?  Or, they know that I’m a lesbian.  I’m the kind of lesbian who can pull off the “Nobody Knows I’m a Lesbian” T-shirt with just the right touch of sarcasm and irony.  I’m definitely not sending out any I’m-bringing-home-this-chicken-to-feed-my-husband vibes.

By buying chicken sandwiches and waffle fries, I want the employees at our local Chik-fil-A to see that this big, bad butch really isn’t all that scary.  That I order fast food to feed my family.  That I’m polite and approachable.  That hey my kids are pushing each other while we’re waiting in line just like your kids did last week at the grocery store.

I like to think of myself as an undercover agent of sorts.  Like a female James Bond.  (Insert Pussy Galore joke here.)  Or, the cerebral Sabrina Duncan from Charlie’s Angels.  She was the smart one who wore sensible shoes.

My secret agent apparel includes jeans, cargo shorts, Melissa Etheridge concert tees and sports jerseys.  My hair is always cropped short and some of my tattoos show.  I guess I’m not actually undercover.  It’s more like overt-cover.  Whichever way you look at it, it screams lesbian.

I think a lot of people have a problem with homosexuality and gay marriage because they don’t know any gay people.  They think that being gay has to do with nonconformity and being a freak in the sack.  The truth of the matter is that we’re just like everyone else.  Buying fast food when we don’t have the time to cook, arguing with our kids about homework, busting our butts to pay our bills and trying to find time to have sex at least once in awhile.

So, I’m going to keep buying Chik-fil-A and trying to change things from the inside.  Operation Butch Buys Cluck Cluck, or something like that.

Oh, and I will be using the Chik-fil-A “my pleasure” line in bed.  Just to piss off the president of Chik-fil-A.