Spring 2012 — THE POTOMAC

Suited for Marriage
  Julie Mark Cohen

"You're trembling, my dear. Are you having second thoughts?" Robin said, lightly touching Gary's wedding band, then taking his hand. "How about walking along the water? The fresh air will do us both good. We have a long night of dancing ahead of us."

"I suppose," said Gary, shielding Robin in his shadow as it waned during the last few moments of that summer evening's sun. "I've been thinking. Half the marriages end in divorce."

"Marriage is only a formality. We've been partners for thirty–four years. How many couples stay together half this long?"

"I still wonder if we did the right thing. Neither of us wanted children. So, what's the point?"

"Continuity. Satisfaction. Familiarity. Love." Robin scanned his tuxedo from leg hem to bowtie. "Even penguins mate for life."

"Ha ha. But, why legalize our relationship?"

"You're not going to back out on me now?"

"Absolutely not. We already said our vows before God. And, we came all the way here to do so."

"And, what about our magnificent wedding and fabulous reception?"

"Once in a lifetime... a destination wedding..." Gary drifted off into his own thoughts, leading, as they walked hand–in–hand to the edge of the River Scheldt, whispering into Robin's ear as they strode. "I love you now and always."

"I love you, too, but you're still tense," Robin initiated an embrace. "What's really bothering you? Talk to me, my love."

Gary gazed across the river, his head moving ever so slowly as if tracking one of the boats. "There's something I need to tell you."

Robin reached for Gary's hands and gently held them. "Nothing you can tell me will upset me. It's our wedding day, which is our right. The sunset is gorgeous. All is well in the world."

"I know how much your friends mean to you, especially your childhood friends," Gary said. "Didn't you wonder how all twenty–seven of them were able to attend our wedding here in Antwerp?"

"Now that you mention this, yes, I wonder. None of my friends is rich. How could they afford the airfare? Most live in California and Oregon."

With his head hung low, feet shuffling, Gary said, "I cashed in twenty percent of my IRA and paid for everyone's round–trip ticket and lodging."

"You did what? How could you? That was three decades of your scraping together pennies and trying to recoup what you lost in the stock market," said Robin, raising his voice. "You know that my IRA is very small. Now, you're giving me pause for thought about getting married."

"Calm down. I only put a small dent in my account. And, yes, I know how you feel, but wasn't it worth it? Aren't you happy to see everyone at one time and in one place for one whole week?" Gary shifted his focus and stared into Robin's eyes. "You're hiding something, too. Aren't you?"

"Sadly, yes. I told you my parents paid for our wedding, but I lied. They desperately wanted to do this for us. They've put on airs in front of you, but they barely have enough money to live on. So, they borrowed some from Pop's brother to come here to be with us."

"So, Robin Alfred Gordon, what did you do?"

Robin nervously adjusted his bowtie and spoke in a hushed baritone. "I took half of what we saved for the balloon payment for our condo and used it to pay for our wedding."

"I don't believe you. I was the one who was with you every step of the way, felt your angst, and supported you as you agonized over investing our money. Sure, most of the savings was yours, but why did you do this?" said Gary.

"To please you," said Robin. "We had so few choices where we could legally get married. When we decided on Antwerp, I wanted to give you a gift of forever memories. When you couldn't stop talking about your dreams for the venue, food, and music, I decided to give these to you as my wedding present."

"An extraordinary present, thank you. I'm humbled," Gary said, but paused. "What about our condo?"

"Paying the mortgage for a while longer isn't a problem. The interest charges are nearly—"

"Gary? Robin? Where are you? It's Henry. I have some exciting news for you from home."

"We're over here." Gary and Robin stepped out from behind a large oak tree and unenthusiastically waved, their tuxedo tails flapping in a sudden strong breeze.

Running on the unlevel ground, Henry bobbed up and down, holding up his smart phone in one hand and clumsily pointing to it with the other.

"We were having a private talk. What do you want?" Gary emitted a long snarl while Robin let out a sigh.

"Look at this. The New York State Legislature passed the same-sex marriage bill and Governor Cuomo signed it. In thirty days, you could've saved your money and gotten married at home."

Gary and Robin groaned in unison. "Oh, Henry."

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