Humor by John Christmann

Prelude To A Kiss

rubber band airplane over two champagne glasses

A man kissed me while I was at a bar refilling my wife’s champagne glass.

It is, after all, wedding season.

But wait. Let me back up.

Starting with the Trump rally in San Diego.

Police are everywhere, patrolling in cars, on motorcycles, on foot. In a predominantly hispanic neighborhood many boisterous residents sporting the colors of the Mexican flag are carrying protest signs bearing unambiguous slogans like (Expletive) Trump!

Also present are men, mostly white, wearing Make America Great Again baseball caps and T- shirts championing Hillary for Prison.

I should have known something out of the ordinary was occurring. But I frankly wasn’t aware that a planned Trump rally and organized protest was taking place until I drove right through it. My wife and I were merely passing by the San Diego Convention Center on our way to a bayside hotel where we were attending the wedding of a good family friend.

In the spirit of the moment, we wave and honk at everybody amid the festive atmosphere of imminent fist fights.

The wedding was a first for me, although I have certainly celebrated many before. But, this was the first wedding I have ever been to where there were two grooms. One of the grooms is from Mexico, hailing from a very well-to-do entrepreneurial family in Mexico City. He is Catholic.

The other groom, our family friend from California, is Jewish.

The two men have been together for a decade, and they are both very successful in San Diego real estate. And now, because they finally can, they have invited over 250 guests to celebrate their legal union on the end of a pier extending out into San Diego Harbor.

At this point I should mention that the Trump Rally has absolutely nothing to do with a man kissing me at a wedding other than to begin a very slow rubber band perception twist in my mind between two very disconnected events.

Now I don’t want to perpetuate stereotypes here, but when I tell you that I was invited to a black tie wedding for 250 people thrown by two very successful gay men with exacting taste who made it very clear that they want nothing more than to create a memorable experience for their friends and family, what kind of wedding reception would you anticipate?

If you answered Over the Top then I guess we can all go on perpetuating stereotypes.

String quartets, horse drawn carriages, elaborate crystal chandeliers, carpeted walkways lined with blossoming cherry trees, sculpted canary and pearl floral arrangements, an eighteen piece band, professional dancers, and an eight-foot meringue brocade wedding cake. If you can imagine the idea, then you get the idea.

And somewhere between the Trump Rally and the elegantly extravagant reception we sat breeze-cooled under a beautifully mottled late afternoon sky witnessing the formalized union between two of the most generous and warm-hearted men you could ever want to know.

On a raised platform, under a traditional jewish Chuppah stands a rabbi and a priest to bless the couple. And on this day they do, without hesitation. Officiating the ceremony is a friend, a lawyer formerly with the American Civil Liberties Union.

I think there should be a better term for marrying people than “officiating”. It sounds like someone should be blowing a whistle and wearing a striped shirt. But maybe in this particular situation the term is appropriate.

Well beyond the pier, proudly protecting us all, stretches an aircraft carrier and two battleships docked majestically in the US Naval yard across the harbor.

The taut rubber band inside my head continues to wind up the surreal contrasts surrounding this special event.

And when the ceremony is over we drink champagne from personalized toasting flutes poured by a diaphanous young woman in chiffon suspended from a trapeze at the red carpeted entrance to the reception.

I did say it was over the top, didn’t I?

“What? It’s just a kiss,” says the slightly indignant young man with tightly cropped hair, firm jaw, and neatly groomed stubble after he impulsively pecks me on the cheek later at the bar and I instinctively recoil.

He is wearing a magnificent royal blue tuxedo and is a little inebriated.

I am not inebriated enough.

But I can now feel the twisting band in my head tighten the corners of my mouth into a wry smile.

I have never been kissed by a man before. I don’t know if I should feel shocked, humiliated, or flattered. If I were a woman I might feel a little threatened and run for the safety of a bathroom.

But then if I were a woman, I wouldn’t know which bathroom I could legally run for.

And just like that the man flits away to converse with a beautiful young woman in a flowing, off-the-shoulder lavender gown matching perfectly the color of her hair.

Earlier during the wedding ceremony the officiant respectfully asked all present to simply breath. He asked that we inhale the gift of life, and exhale all of the distractions that prevent us from fully experiencing the moment. To be in the here and now of this unique occasion.

I take a long, purposeful out-of-body breath and contemplate this experience which I have the privilege to wear, like my crisp tuxedo, even if it fits more snugly than it used to.

My rubber band is knot doubled and ready to unfurl.

I exhale.

From the high-spirited, black and white throbbing dance floor, I feel the infectious propulsion of a recognizable anthem emerging from a truly modern and original celebration of love and union.

And champagne in hand, I kiss my wife and release myself like a toy airplane into the sky.

You gotta fight. For your right. To paaaaaarty!