The road to the wedding chapel is fraught with danger and excitement.
It was a tumultuous December in 2013 when all hell broke loose in Utah. I had just arrived home from work on the evening of Friday, Dec. 20, and kicked off my stiletto driving shoes, opera-length driving gloves, and emergency flashing breasticles and made myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to tide my expansive appetite until dinner a mere one hour away. I clicked on the TV news and saw footage of Michael Ferguson and Seth Anderson getting married at the Salt Lake County Clerks’ office. Holy cow! Never in a million years did I think I would see gay marriage in Utah in my lifetime. Surely an army of Storm Trooping Lawyers would swoop in and stop the festivities. But no!
When Mr. Pap Smear got home, we both watched the news nonstop over the weekend as many were making plans to storm the clerk’s office early Monday morning.
We discussed whether we should join the masses. Late Sunday night, while lying in bed, watching the news, we semi-proposed to each other.
“I don’t know.”
“How long do you think it will stay legal?”
“Probably about three hours.”
“Well, we probably better try, or who knows when the chance might come again?”
“Okay then, what time do we need to get up?”
(We are both such romantics, not!)
Monday, Dec. 23, 2013, we got up at 4 a.m., showered, and, going against all my princess training, I dressed for comfort rather than style, because who knows what kind of circus we might be going into and how long it would take. Because it was a special occasion, we entered the McDonalds’ drive-thru and ordered Sausage McMuffins.
We arrived at the Salt Lake County building just after 6 a.m. when they had opened the doors and let the huddled masses waiting outside into the warmth. They had us line up around the hallways, circling the whole building on both floors. Our place in the herd happened to be along the balcony overlooking the atrium. I counted the line, and we were the 153rd couple in line.
The clerk’s office didn’t open until 9 a.m. Officials came through and handed out little notices saying: “The court in Denver is scheduled to open at 10 a.m. If the court rules to stay the judge’s ruling, at that time we must all leave the building in an orderly fashion.”
Quickly, people computed how many couples they could push through in the one-hour period. Though as bad as I am at math (I couldn’t count to 12 without lit-up breasticles) even this ditzy queen could calculate that the 153rd couple in line didn’t stand a chance in hell.
It was sweltering inside, the building was bulging at the seams, over capacity. Nine o’clock came, and there was much cheering when the first couple emerged from the clerk’s office and went down into the atrium and had a ceremony performed by the flock of gathering clergy from many churches. The line moved torturously slow.
Ten o’clock came and went. No one came to tell us to leave. Holy cow! We might make it! Some staff from an adjoining office stepped into the hall singing Christmas carols, and a Boy Scout troop showed up, handing out pizza slices. District Attorney Sim Gill could not stop smiling. It was a party.
My job was as an on-call delivery driver. I was counting on luck that I not get called by my work and be required to leave. Mr. Pap Smear was supposed to be at his job at 3 p.m. I was worried about timing. Finally, at 1:30, we made it to the clerk’s office. Just at the moment that I was signing the papers, my work dispatcher called and asked if I could do a delivery. In frustration, I yelled into the phone, “I’m trying to get married here! No, I can’t work today!” and promptly hung up.
With license in hand, we descended to the atrium for our ceremony. We saw Pastor Curtis Price from First Baptist Church (where the Matrons of Mayhem have been doing Drag Queen Bingo for several years) just finishing a ceremony. We asked him if he would do us next. A reporter and photographer from Channel 4 News asked if they could film the ceremony. Sure why not?
Pastor Curtis performed a very traditional ceremony. When he started to get to the part of “do you promise to … as long as you both shall live,” my nerves got the best of me. Here we were, after 24 years together, having the most important moment in our lives in our street clothes and with no rings to exchange and no family to share it with, so I began to sob. I could barely utter “Yes.”
There was a TV camera capturing every gasp and tear. CNN picked up the footage and ran it every half hour for a day and a half. God bless waterproof mascara.
Hang tight; next month is the reception. Holy cow!
This story leaves us with several important questions:
- Was my hot and sweaty feeling because my girdle was over capacity?
- If I had worn my propeller breasticles, could I have given comfort to the whole crowd?
- If no one properly proposed, does the wedding even count?
- Were my tears, tears of joy, or of not having the Big Bridezilla Wedding?
These and other eternal questions shall be answered in future chapters of the Perils of Petunia Pap Smear.