I now have four active WordPress websites. This one, of course, the oldest and dearest to my heart. But there is also SteveFoolBody and HooCheeKoo and The Body Impolitic and I already owned all of them but only recently added content because I wanted to get the non-beverage stuff out of The Pour Fool.
Then, I realize, just yesterday, that I very much want, need to write…this. The other sites are politics and social commentary and humor. This is none of those. So…it’s going here and while I apologize for laying this in front of you when you come here looking for beer or wine recommendations, I’m doing it anyway because…well, honestly, as opposed to those hundreds of other opinion pieces, most of which come from a bile-soaked part of my spleen and/or psyche, this comes from my heart. And I refuse to dishonor the heart and pretend it’s of lesser importance to OUR daily lives.
I never cared much for the idea of marriage. I was living with my girlfriend of the time, decades ago, and was sitting with some ladies with whom I worked and one, sorta out of the blue, laid into me about living with a woman to whom I was not married.
“You know you’re living in sin!” she hissed. At breakfast. In front of ten other people.
I pointed my fork at her.
“I know no such thing,” I snapped, “You assume I have to accept your tight-ass morals. I don’t. I love her and I live with her and if you have any real objections about that, exercise your integrity. There’s the door. Don’t work with a sinner. That’ll show me.“
She turned brick red and marched out. She didn’t quit but we didn’t speak to each other for eighteen months, until I left the company.
Sometimes, pretty presents come in ugly packages.
Later, when some of the other ladies asked me about the episode, I spouted this, off the top of my head, and only much later realized that it was my exact feelings about it.
“I don’t buy this idea that the state, any state, can absolve sin. My name on a marriage license doesn’t legitimize my relationship in any way other than legalities. Marriage is supposed to be about love, all the way down from heart to soul. How is the state licensing bureau involved in that? And what does that term, ‘marriage’, mean anyway, nowadays? Love doesn’t even mean that much, anymore. Marriage today is like a revolving door and some people go in one side and out the other and only lawyers benefit. If she or the state don’t like us living together, both of them can kiss my ass.”
It’s even more like that today. The marriage “contract” is about as binding as an NFL player’s contract. People have one or two fights, call a lawyer, get a quick, no-fault divorce, and go find the next victim of their peripatetic heart. Only the often-knotty legal entanglements keep a marriage license from being the societal equivalent of a participation trophy. The license should be written on toilet paper. When I met Judye, back in 2001, she and I had both been married twice each. After having said the L Word to each other, the subject came up and, as she said, “I have been amused enough by marriage, I think,” and I agreed. So, we had no idea how long this…thing between us might last but we chalked it up to One Less Thing To Wory About and strolled down the calendar pages for 244 months and looked around and said, “Wow, still together, after all these years.“
So, we’re sitting in a kinda divey tavern/restaurant in Purdy, Washington – a town just outside Tacoma, which has as its only claim to fame the presence of the Washington Women’s Correctional Facility, which you would never even have known existed if not for a lady named Mary Kay Letourneau and her pubescent student/lover, Vili Fualaau.
We had been at a GREAT new brewery called Yoked Farmhouse and Brewery and decided to stop and eat on the way home. We decided on a place called The Float, which turned out to have a fairly extensive menu and even some craft beers I could drink comfortably.
We got our food, Judye had a Georgetown Brewing “Manny’s” Pale Ale and I chose a Mac & Jack’s Brewing “African Amber”, enjoying a buncha big homey vibes. We ate in silence for a few minutes and she said, “Baby…?”
“I think I’d like to get married.“
A Conversation ensued.
I have secretly wanted to marry her for 22 years. Have actively wooed her because I knew (in that mystical way people describe as “when it happens, YOU KNOW”) that this is not any shade of infatuation or lust or advanced-stage puppy love and I simply cannot even imagine life with anyone else. But I kept quiet because, well, we had agreed not to. So, I was a total fucking push-over. “Yes!” was the gist of it. Let’s set a date, get a license, find a person who can do the deed, and git ‘er done. I even recorded a short video so that I could have proof. She had a reason for wanting to do this now, after 22 years of “Nah”, and it was, well, a fairly bizarre reason but, y’know, whatever works.
Over the next couple of weeks we talked about it. A lot. Discussed what would change. We’ve lived together for two decades, so we both agreed that nothing fundamental would be different. It didn’t sound all that romantic but, hey, we’re not all young and breathless. We Know the Score. We’ve been around the block. This ain’t our first rodeo. In short: totally full of shit.
OF COURSE it will be different, in some way, and I think we both knew it and were both doing the verbal equivalent of knocking on wood. It will be somehow different because we’ll be MARRIED, with all the festival of entanglements and obligations that entails. Again, almost devoid of romance and we have been, on a romantic scale of 1 – 10, about a healthy 9.6, for our whole time, so we were both afraid, without coming right out and saying so, that it would actually damage our relationship, which was unthinkable, like tossing red paint on the Mona Lisa.
On December 29th, a blustery Thursday afternoon, Pierce County Superior Court Judge Stanley Rumbaugh stood up with us in courtroom 202 and administered a surprisingly romantic service and tied that knot. We had witnesses and a couple of fam with us and went to dinner after. And then home, climbing into bed for our first night as real, bona fide spouses.
And, starting the very next morning…a Thing happened.
If you’ve read this hot mess of a website before, you probably know that, for the most part, maybe 51% to 49%, I kinda live on the dark side. I embrace joy in my daily life and in my family relationships and let my weird, mutant sense of humor generally run amok in the real world and then get all my demons out online. And, of course, as you know well, there is no shortage of things that will hammer on your hot buttons in ANY arena but especially in, ahem, “adult beverages”. The entire milieu is eaten UP with intrigues and arguments that have no real solution and mini-controversies and the occasional grudge match and debates that rage on for literal decades. These are only very rarely issues that merit all the energy and verbiage expended on ’em. (“Proper glassware”: VICIOUS debates on this. Is the Shaker pint dead? Does wine really taste demonstrably better in one brand of glass versus another? Tulips for Belgian ales or chalices? Must have lead crystal or will plain glass do? Are colored or painted wine glasses really serious wine vessels? Glencairn glass for whiskey tasting or traditional shot glass? These are just a few.)
I have always pitched in with these dust-ups because I have a lot of hands-on knowledge and even more opinions. Lately, as to many of these, the innate silliness and lack of real substance is more and more clear and I foresee a time when I stop opining on all of it. I believe that many of the questions don’t need answers. Just drink what you like, in the container you prefer, and shut up about it. So, the dark side is considerably more active, in my world, than the Light ‘n’ Goofy. And the finer boundaries of the daily happiness – joy, ecstacy, bliss, elation, euphoria, and especially the favorite of eternal optimists, delight – are territory I don’t tread upon…well, ever. The birth of my kids, grandkids, yeah. But that’s joy. You see it coming. You have time to brace yourself. No shocks, just happiness.
But I woke up the next morning, after our wedding and felt something odd. Not bad odd. It was, in fact, intensely pleasurable. I felt, honestly, a little giddy. I REALLY do not do “giddy”. I don’t like giddy. I treat it with justifiable scorn when it’s manifested in others. I have actually said to people who were in the clutches of it, “Hey, calm the fuck down, willya?” It is…unseemly. Undignified. It rattles my faux-British reserve and tight-assedness. It appears out of control, which I find alarming. And its first stage is delight, so I have avoided that and really believed that having it, being seized by Delight, was a matter of choice.
I get up before Judye, to make coffee and my dog’s breakfast, so I had time to grapple with it without being asked what’s wrong. Good thing, too. Because in the twenty minutes or so it took for me to analyze this and find a context – which I had to make up on the spot because life has given me no context at all – for it, I realized that I was intensely happy with this person who had made this compact with me, said words that bind herself to me for life – and, at our age, it’s life, alright – and did it without my having her at gunpoint. Fuck, it’s like she wanted to marry me! Which is insane. But it happened.
I have now awakened every morning since December 30th like this. I can also get in touch with it during the rest of my day. For these twenty days, I have, for the first time in my life, been purely, absolutely, laughably happy about, well, any one thing. My bliss due to guitar buying lasted, each time, a matter of hours, until I realized that I have this great new instrument but I’m still the suckbag, tragically underrealized dumpster fire of a guitar player I was before I bought it. My real joy of being on stage and working with members of an acting ensemble and mounting a successful show never lasted beyond the run of the play. Even the births of the kids and grandkids, though the happiness really never ends, are different from this. It is literally unlike anything I have ever experienced in my life. And it is not done by effort or choosing to think about and bathe myself in emotions. It’s not cheap. It just happens.
I don’t know when it might stop but it doesn’t feel shaky or vulnerable. It just Is. And I would love it if it just continued every day that I live…and maybe beyond? This feels as if it could survive that transition, too.
The point of all this?
This is what I fervently hope happens for you. Yes, YOU, that hyper-opinionated, jaundiced Pour Fool semi-troll who sends me emails and online comments like, “You SUCK!“ or “You think you’re SO smart!“…Yes, I want that even for you and, needless to say, for all those more rational readers who contact me with questions or the occasional compliment. I want this, in fact, for Everybody. Yep, EVERYBODY. Hell, I even wish this for the MAGAt crowd because, maybe if they found some delight in their existence, they’d realize they don’t need to blame “The LIBERALS!!!” for everything wrong with their miserable lives and maybe stop inventing an alt-reality in which they can FINALLY(!) get their way about the world. I don’t even know how this would feel to another person. I don’t even know how Judye feels about it. But I know what it does to/for/with me and it brightens very nearly all of the dark corners where my gremlins and worse angels hunker down and lob grenades at society.
I look at her now and she seems…different. I was under the impression, and this is maudlin and I know it, that it was not possible for any human being to love another human being more than I did her before the wedding. But that estimate pales to insignificance with what I feel now. As Woody Allen said, in “Manhattan”, “Love is too weak a word for what I…I mean, I luurve you, I loooave you…” It’s not even that. It’s the knowledge – in a life in which I firmly believe that the phrase ‘I KNOW…’ is tossed about far too casually – the calm, soul-deep acceptance of a fact that is proven in its truths and cannot change.
It’s risky, in a way. It is absolutely, literally dangerous to open yourself up to another human being in this way, to lay your actual heart, your very essence in their hands…because those things are breakable. They are broken, in fact, for many people. Broken people lie all around us all daily, like old cars up on blocks in rural Florida. Broken spirits litter the landscape. The photos of plastic debris in our oceans come closest to depicting the human wreckage in which the ship of humanity floats. And much of that does come from the breaking of that trust with a partner or lover or spouse.
But it is only within that peril, while risking that spiritual disaster, that what I can only describe as a “higher level of spiritual awareness and bliss” is possible. I think of what my life would have ultimately amounted to if this had not happened and I almost puke. All that Before, all the “prior to December 29th” business, seems horribly inadequate, a little empty and pale, frankly. This is like having lived in scratchy black & white and suddenly being immersed in Technicolor. And I believe it takes a real and tragic poverty of spirit, an awful lack of humanity and decency, not to wish it for all these poor saps who are stuck with us, here on this ball of dirt.
So, that’s it. If you’ve read this far, you may well be thinking, “Fucker wrote this 2000 word Hallmark commercial and I was fool enough to sit and read it all.” I would apologize but that would be wildly dishonest. Think whatever you will of me. You can even hate me, if you like, as long as you willfully and knowingly make a real effort to find that person who gives you what Judye has given me. Call it Hallmark-y, if you like. If you have never been here, where the Universe or God or Krishna or the Flying Spaghetti Monster or ____________ (Fill in blank) has affixed me, it is quite likely that you have no idea what I mean. I genuinely thought I was in love with several women in my past and was only able to see, after coming to know Judye, that it was not really love at all. Those were the training wheels versions of love, the white, orange, blue, yellow, green, and brown belts of spiritual love that many of us have to go through to evolve into someone, some soul capable of and worthy of the magnificent Honor of this Black Belt I shockingly find myself wearing for the twentieth day, now. I want it for you in a way that borders on desperation. If I could bestow it on you, like the Monarch bestowing a knighthood, I would. But that’s not how it works.
You have to Risk. You have to Open Up. You have to Trust and earn Trust and Believe. But the reward….is Delight; this seamless, shining, wall-to-wall Knowledge that fills the voids and lights the dark places. And I firmly believe that all those sayings – “Love Conquers All“, “Love in All You Need!“, “And the greatest of those is Love“, were all referring to this place I lumbered into. It was not because I am smart, not because I’m more spiritual, more experienced, and certainly not more deserving of it than you or you or you. It just Happened.
So…Let It Happen. Please. You will never know what you’re missing, otherwise, and it will be a tragedy that you will never even know about but at which the Universe will weep.