Yo Yo Ho: He’s Me Lawful Wedded Mate

Ahoy, Matey! Monday, Sept. 19, was Talk Like a Pirate Day. Wasn’t always a thing. Got invented on June 6, 1995, by John Baur and Mark Summers. While playing racquetball, one of them cried, “Arrr!” They moved the holiday to Sept. 19, the birthday of Summers’ ex-wife, because “the date was stuck in my head.”

On this one day a year, I’m not Capt. Paulson. I be Cap’n Danger, and me husband becomes Smee. The boys pick their own names each year, but for now we go with Rrrrascal and Rrrrowdy.

Sept. 19 is also our wedding anniversary. Both of them. We were married illegally in 1987 by a priest who got defrocked for it, and then legally in 2008. So this year is either our bronze or our furniture anniversary (don’t blame me — blame Hallmark). I’m not saying we invented gay weddings, but our honeymoon was a trip for two on the ark.

Brother X and Brother Not X both got married back in the ’70s, and they had wickedly debauched bachelor parties. I know this because I wasn’t invited. Oh, I was in the wedding party, on both occasions dressed in a gray tuxedo with an orange ruffled shirt, a crime of fashion, to be sure. But they were each other’s best man, and they definitely did not need their slightly nerdy, definitely gay, not-old-enough-to-drink younger brother hanging out with them in a strip club.

And so I’ve never been to a bachelor party. Not even my own. I blame this on the best-man business. I’ve never been anyone’s best man. In 1987, our friend Tim read from “The Little Prince” and Amanda actually wore a dress, but there was a definite lack of formal role-playing as Brian and I promised that like the circle of the rings, we would always turn to each other.

In 2008, we decided to let our friends choose their own roles for our wedding. By that time, Zane and Aidan were adopted, and so the event looked a little like a shotgun wedding and a lot like a semi-automatic. The boys chose to be ring bearers, leading Mike to call them Frodo and Bilbo.

Dorla and Lori appointed themselves bridesmaids, and Jon said that he would be the maid of dishonor. Paolo volunteered to give me away. Maybe I should have campaigned a little harder for a best man. But I spent the night before my wedding baking cupcakes for the Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy bake sale instead of being surprised at a bachelor party with Brad Pitt in a G-string jumping out of a cake.

The only rule we had for our wedding was that no one got stuck in a gray tuxedo with an orange ruffled shirt.

The morning of the wedding, at the kitchen table, I asked Zane about this best-man business, he said, “Daddy. You’re the best man.” And Aidan said, “Papa too!” In that crazy kindergarten logic, it worked. Brian was my best man, as well as my bride.

kevin-f-p-and-brian-1987 Brian (left) and Kevin, 1987

For a quarter of a century, he’d been the guy who bought me old comic books, raised my children and ate my experimental chili. Through the years of working in video stores, our Christmas tree committing suicide, losing the triplets, losing Tim, adoption ceremonies, baptisms, raising 21 rescue dogs, dance awards, newspaper columns and medals of honor, we’ve shared every one of those 11,315 days and nights with each other. It doesn’t get any more best-man than that.

What we got for a wedding party were two middle-aged white queens, their hyperactive adopted black 5-year-old son, their hyperactive adopted mixed-race 3-year-old son and three Pekingeses. Kind of like “We Are the World” meets “Here Comes the Bride.” The ceremony was short, and, thanks to Brian’s wisdom, we were not dressed as pirates.

We signed the paperwork in the clerk’s office at 2 p.m. A jaded clerk handed me a packet about pregnancy and family planning. I thanked her and asked her to recycle it, as the chances of pregnancy were slim, and we had done all of our family planning backward, with the two children coming long before the wedding.

Bevan Dufty officiated as we stood at the top of the marble stairs of City Hall. He told us that of all the gay weddings he had ever solemnized, we were the best kissers.

Eight years later, Brian is still my best man. As well as me hearty.

Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day! Raise a glass o’ grog to your own best man.

Re-published with permission from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Posted by Kevin Fisher-Paulson

Kevin is the author of "A Song for Lost Angels," his memoir of how he and his husband fostered, raised and lost newborn triplets. Kevin is also featured in "When Love Lasts Forever," "MHR is my home," and writes a column for the San Francisco Chronicle. He lives in San Francisco with his husband, his two adopted sons and his four rescue dogs.

Website: http://www.twopennypress.org/

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