A few weeks ago, my fiance was out with her mother, shopping for a wedding dress, and, in accordance to long-standing tradition, I stayed home to dog-sit. The tenet of not seeing the bride in her wedding dress before the wedding apparently applies not only to THE wedding dress, but also rejected dresses and theoretical dresses that have yet to be purchased. What nobody ever tells you is that the man, once having acquired a ring and proposed, is basically useless. There is no use kidding ourselves on this point. Weddings are the domain of the bride.
Having been relegated to the role of support personnel, I find myself with a lot of time these days to reflect upon my relationship. As is the case with all men everywhere, now that I am engaged, I’ve wondered what makes me so sure that this relationship is *trumpets blaring* THE ONE. Why am I getting married now? Why this girl? I don’t mean to suggest that I am having doubts about getting married. My fiance is an amazing woman. Just the fact that she is willing to put up with my overabundance of bullshit is damn near evidence of divine providence. But it seems that, despite the 50% divorce rate in this country, marriage really should be “until death do us part.” The problem is that, provided I don’t piss her off enough to justify homicide, that’s a long damn time.
It occurred to me today–although there are no sure signs or insider trading tips on the matrimonial stock market–that I can pinpoint the precise moment at which I came to believe that this really is “until death due us part.” I was on the toilet on the time. I’d rather not go into detail what I was doing there, but, honestly, the choices are limited.
As I was sitting there, well, doing my thing, the single most horrible thing that can happen to someone in those particular circumstances happened: the door knob began to turn and the door slipped treacherously open. For those of you who don’t understand my agitation, I have always firmly believed that bathroom functions, like death, are something meant to be experienced alone. A very select few people on the face of this planet have witnessed me in a moment of indispose, and as soon as I stopped wearing diapers and learned how to use the toilet by myself, they learned to stay the hell out of the bathroom. Statistically speaking, all of these people will eventually die of old age.
Suddenly facing my worst fear, it took me a moment to realize that the figure standing in the doorway was that of my fiance and not some axe-wielding invader who had somehow chosen this moment to wreak bloody carnage about my apartment. “We’re going to be late for the movie, thought you’d like to know,” she said, and paused. “Are you taking a shit?”
Again, I would like to point out that the choices are limited.
To my further dismay, at this point, the dog, seeing the need to investigate, appeared in the doorway. I cannot be sure, but it seemed that he wore a smug expression on his furry face, as though to say, “How does it feel, asshole?” I don’t recall the remainder of the conversation. I can only remember thinking at the time: “I will not wipe my ass with people watching me!” You have to draw the line somewhere.
After my fiance closed the door, leaving me in peace, and I was able to breathe a little easier, I had an epiphany–or, at least, as much of an epiphany as you can have on the toilet. This was what marriage is all about. Not invasions of bathroom privacy, of course, but the moments of vulnerability. It’s about standing naked in front of another human being, for better or worse, and saying, Yes, I am a human being. I’m not perfect. Sometimes I can be truly flawed and petty and ugly and, yes, sometimes I even have to take a shit! And it’s about learning to trust your partner, trusting that they can accept and love you in spite of–or maybe even because of–all your imperfections.
This is a hell of a realization to have. Even now, as my wedding date looms on the horizon, this is both something that I am still getting used to and perhaps the single greatest thing in my life. There is someone in this world with whom I can be entirely myself, without shame or apology. Now I just have to remember to lock the fucking door.