One of my best bros is getting married next week. Obviously, I’m super excited. The woman that he has promised to love and support for the rest of his days is wonderful, beautiful and intelligent, and I have no doubts about what the future holds for them. I love them both dearly.
But it’s still weird.
Not weird in one of those “People are better off single” ways. There is no one in the world more insufferable than that guy. That guy who, as soon as you tell him that you have to leave the club early because you’re visiting your spouse’s parents tomorrow, declares that he has to do no such thing and begrudgingly wishes you the best in dealing with the insurmountable burden that is being married to the person of your dreams. He supports the whole infrastructure of his life on the foundation of “That’s the best thing about being single,” a phrase that he will utter before inevitably describing his lackluster itinerary to you. “That’s the best thing about being SINGLE: you can stay at the bar as LONG as you want.” Yeah, okay. You do you, Bass Playing Guy From High School That I Once Saw Get Kicked Out Of A Little Caesars. You shut down Johnny’s Billiards, and you give ‘em hell all the way.
No, it’s weird because so much of bro life before marriage is taken up by discussing how you probably won’t get married for, like, a long time. You sip shitty beers that you’ve defended as not being as shitty as other shitty beers (“Busch Ice is garbage, but Rolling Rock has this cool metallic taste that really makes you wish your Mom would call and tell you that she loves you”) and you talk about your plans that, in no way, include marriage. For my friend and I, these plans always took the form of ridiculously detailed and barely completed creative projects that we were absolutely sure would be our tickets to stardom. We’d talk about the immense outlines that we were writing (“I have all of the lore mapped out,” we’d say, which is a fancy way of telling yourself “Oh god, I’ve spent the last three weeks coming up with goblin names”), and what we planned to do with them.
Most of these projects never saw a Chapter One, and they remain locked in little moleskine notebooks, the kind of notebook you get when you’re a serious writer that is serious about pursuing a career in writing one day. I’m sure they’d be interesting to look into, but I’ve lost every single one that I’ve ever bought. They remain forgotten on subway seats, Starbucks tables, the bottom drawers of dorm room desks, and campus yards. I’m truly the Johnny Appleseed of hackneyed fiction.
But when we discussed them as twenty-year-olds, the ideas were so real. So present. So certain. So irreplaceable. They were ideas that had to happen, because we thought of them, and never had the second thought of “Maybe some ideas are just bad.” But marriage? Marriage was a ghost of an idea, a trap that we’d only fall into if we were too dumb to visit the haunted house of, boo, committed relationships. We wouldn’t do that to ourselves. We wouldn’t lock ourselves into something so inescapable. We wouldn’t commit adultery on our true muse, the written word. Marriage would mean strangling the very cores of our being. Little did we know that our beings were mostly made up of Cookout chicken strip trays and conversations about what constituted “good” anime.
Somewhere in the time before we each proposed to people that are far too good for us, though, that part of the conversation faded away. There wasn’t an exact point. I didn’t get engaged and tell my bro “Hey man. We can’t talk about how dumb marriage is anymore, because I did this whole ring thing.” But the stink slowly drifted from us. We still had conversations about the dumb things we planned to create, but those projects were no longer Bullet Bills that we had to ride as we barreled through the Luigi’s Raceway of life. They were things that we could share with special people. Aspects of our personalities that we’d kept guarded were suddenly open. For years, we’d talked about only being able to express ourselves through our work, but there we were, expressing ourselves to these incredible women that we loved.
For a long time, we’d only had our bros and our moleskine notebooks. And I think a little part of me will always find it weird that we’re talking about the stories and essays that we want to write in front of our wives, instead of sitting, by ourselves, in a dorm room at 1:30 AM. But watching one of my best friends gather the courage to literally expand his family makes up for that. And I’m sure, if we told our twenty-year-old selves our plans, they’d probably scoff at us and tell us “That’s the best thing about being single: No one to interrupt your creative process.”