Two white-haired men in matching blue Hawaiian shirts held hands and looked over at the minister, who wasn’t wearing much, just his flip-flops and blue-and-green plaid shorts. None of the men gathered around them were dressed in any particular fashion beyond “beach.” It was as if the couple said, “Hey, let’s get married today,” and everyone showed up, not realizing there was a wedding.
In my black jeans and white button-down shirt, I felt a little overdressed. But it was what they had asked me to wear–I was the best man, after all.
The sun set behind them, bathing the horizon in gold-tinged pink. On the water floated a thousand glowing lanterns as Colin began to speak.
“I honor you, I love you, and I give you my all. As thousands of boats float out to sea, sent out from the hands of loved ones whose whose memories are of a rich life lived, so too do I hope that our love goes on to be shared with others. On this day, we not only unite in front of our friends before us, but the souls of the remembered behind us.”
I raised a hand to cover a small smile. Of course Colin’s vows were poetic; he was a writer. Clay, on the other hand… well, a librarian does not a poet make.
Clay took a deep breath of the salted air. “I am honored to still be sharing my life with you. Times have been tough, times have been hilarious, times have been filled, and I look forward to all that the next fifty years has to bring us.”
Well, it wasn’t poetry, but it was obvious he meant it as much as Colin had. They turned to the minister, who wiped a tear from his eye. “Do you men, you lovers, you best friends, take one another to be wed for life?
To have and hold, to be and do, to respect each other, to be there when your final hours arrive? Will you tend to each other when sick and when well? Will you agree to disagree when it will make all of us happier?”
At the last question, the entire enclave erupted in applause and laughter. The two of them glared at me—it had always been a joke for the three of us—before saying together, loudly and proudly, “Yes!”
“Then you are wed, you are joined, and you are complete. You may kiss.” The minister held his arms open, grinning.
Clay and Colin embraced strongly and kissed gently. It was one of the sweetest, most tender kisses I had ever seen them give each other. They refused to let go of each other’s hands as the minister turned them to face the small crowd. “Gentlemen and… gentlemen, I present Mr. Colin Short and Mr. Clay Singer!”
A cheer erupted from the crowd as Colin snagged another kiss from his husband and the two of them headed to the dance floor. As their feet struck the polished wood, the band we’d hired struck an upbeat, jazzy version of Train’s “Marry Me,” and still clapping and applauding, the guests followed them to the floor.
Then food was being served, drinks were flowing freely, laughter and music filled the air, and I realized I was standing alone. For the first time in five years, it wouldn’t be “we,” but “they.” Oh, they would still want me around, but things would be different now.