The Wisdom of Several Thousand Days


Karen Grigsby Bates is a correspondent for NPR News.

After being married for 20 years (or about 7,300 days), I like to think of long-term marriages as being like the good sterling flatware that many couples receive as wedding presents: It's blindingly bright in the beginning, but after it's been used for countless meals (some convivial, some less so), dropped on the floor and rescued from your 4-year-old's sandbox, that flatware changes. It acquires a patina from those hundreds of tiny scratches and nicks. It has its own unique glow. Sometimes it takes an energetic buffing to get back the shine, but it's in there.

Here's the thing:

It's not the ring, the rehearsal dinner or the vows at the end of the flower-lined walk. It's being able to talk when you're both still angry from the night before.

It's you leaving me the last sip of St.-Emilion because you know I love it more.

It's making your parents my parents,

and my people your people.

It's me feeding the single, starving artists

from your bachelor days,

and you being kind to my girlfriends

and assorted social strays.

It's being pleased with each other still

after several thousand days.


'You're the Rash That Won't Go Away'

By Chris Erskine

Chris Erskine writes the "Man of the House" column for the Los Angeles Times.

Over time, lust fades but comfort grows. And if you're lucky, you'll both keep laughing a little. Here's what vows would be like if you had to live together for a couple of decades before getting married.

Dearest ___________ (insert name of male victim). You are to me the whispering of the wind, the hot touch of summer sun. You are the trust fund that never runs out, the rash that won't go away. You are my dollar store. You are my eternity.

Darling, I adore all things about you. The way you get sneezing fits when you eat Thai food. The way the tips of your ears turn red in heavy traffic. The phlegmy way you snore after too much gin.

Today, I'm looking to lock all that in. To take it off the market. To make it mine forever.

Am I crazy or what?

Dearest ____________(insert name of female victim). I look forward to the thousands of rainstorms and rainbows together. What I feel for you right now isn't just love. It's tiger love. It's hot Apache love. Grrrrrrrrrr.

Over the years, your waist may widen and your hair may thin. You may one day become incoherent and not make any sense whatsoever. We will sit on the couch together watching ballgames. You will not remember my name. I will feed you creamed corn with a small spoon.

That's love too, baby. Hot Apache love.


Marriage, Shrink-Wrapped

By Natalie Firstenberg

Natalie Firstenberg is founder of Soulspace, a professional counseling center in Larchmont Village.

As a couples counselor with 15 years of experience, I have to wonder about the promises couples make to each other on their wedding day. Perhaps they wouldn't

wind up in my office had they considered vows like these:

I promise not to confuse you with my mother.

I promise to stay open to the remote possibility that I am not right at all times.

I promise to respect and honor your feelings, and will offer reward miles

when your feelings are in agreement with mine.

I promise to hear what you're saying no matter how bored I might be.

I promise to ask for directions even though I never get lost.

I promise never to agree with you when you tell me you've gained weight.

I promise I'll grow up (someday).

I promise not to compare you to my ex when we fight and you start smashing crockery.

I promise not to change my mind about having children while we're making love.


Becoming One, Being Distinct

By Deena Metzger

Deena Metzger is a Topanga-based writer and teacher.

Some years after Michael Ortiz Hill and I married, I was asked to perform a wedding for dear friends. Because I take marriage so seriously,

I am always honored by this opportunity. I had to find words, when there are no words for what we dare when we marry. How to speak of the joining of souls? How to speak of becoming one while also remaining distinct? And so these words, as close as I could get then, serve me still.

Where you branch in me,

I do not know

nor which leaves

are my mouth

nor why your roots

are my fingers,

yet I will travel you

though you be unmoving

into the dark earth

and into the sky.

Where you rise in me,

I do not know

nor why your light

is my hair

nor why your shadows

are songs,

yet I will travel you

though you be flying

into the white dawn

and into the night.


Girls and Boys, it's Showtime

by Bruce Vilanch

Bruce Vilanch is a writer, actor and comedian.

Some communities step on a glass, some jump over a broom, some sign prenups. What makes you think a gay wedding will not include some reference to "A Star Is Born"?

For lesbians:

I pledge you my troth, and the batteries that come with it, as well as my cats and my Home Depot frequent-shopper card until another woman expresses an interest in me, at which point I move in with her by the end of the business day.

For gay men:

(to be read responsively)

The night is bitter

The stars have lost their glitter

The days grow colder

And suddenly you're older

And all because of this law that says we're allowed to get married and be as miserable as all of our straight friends--while receiving the myriad benefits of legalized commitment and all the rights thereto, including the right to a painful and expensive divorce, calculated to make lawyers wealthy and previously disposable-income-endowed gay men poor

Knowing all this we enter these bonds with eyes wide open

Or is that just the Botox?


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