This past week Saxon and Emma and I drove eight hours to Des Moines, Iowa to get legally married. We stayed in Clive, Iowa at the La Quinta hotel. Saxon and Emma were overjoyed that the hotel had an indoor pool. I was overjoyed that the hotel was next door to a Cracker Barrel restaurant. I love Cracker Barrel for two reasons: They have amazing comfort food and a great gift shop. Before eating I wandered around the gift shop. I found a shawl that I wanted really bad. I mean, really really bad. I talked myself out of buying it, though. I just couldn’t imagine somebody saying, “Oooh, I love your shawl. Where did you get it?” And I would have to answer, “Cracker Barrel.”
The next morning, the day of our marriage, Saxon went down to the lobby and got us coffees. She’s a sweetheart that way. I sat up in bed aglow with love for the woman I was going to marry in approximately five hours. I sipped at my coffee and struggled to wake up. However, Iowa coffee turned out to be about as strong as tepid water.
“This Iowa coffee is sure weak,” I said.
Saxon glanced at me and quickly averted her eyes.
I continued, “Doesn’t have much of a kick to it, does it?”
She glanced at me again before looking away. I recognized that look. It was the same look my dog Honey Bear gave me when I asked “Who threw up in the corner?”
“What’s wrong with this coffee?” I asked Saxon.
“What makes you think something’s wrong with it?” she said.
“Because it tastes funny and you have a guilty look on your face.”
Saxon sighed and fessed up. “It’s decaf.”
“What. Did. You. Just. Say?”
Saxon looked away from my stare. “I said it’s decaf.”
“What the fuckity fuck?”
“It was all they had left,” she said.
“So you bring it to me and try to pass if off as the real thing?”
“I thought you wouldn’t notice. I thought I could buy time until I could find the real thing.”
“Is that what our marriage is going to be? Lies and subterfuge?” I asked.
“Are you mad at me?”
I threw my styrofoam cup in the trash can. “Let’s just say I am not happy to be cleaving unto somebody who would lie to me.”
“I didn’t lie,” she said.
“Lying by omission,” I countered.
“What does cleave mean anyway?”
I shrugged. “I’m not sure.”
“Maybe I can think of a better way to wake you up,” she said.
As it turned out, she could.
Everybody is really nice in Iowa. I did notice some differences between Iowans and Oklahomans. Iowans have funny accents. And by funny I mean not Southern. They dress very casual, too. In Oklahoma we have to dress up for our jobs. Iowa men wore jeans and tennis shoes in the courthouse. And the women wore leggings with knee-high boots and a blouse. And that’s all! The first woman I saw dressed like that with her butt hanging out, I thought she had forgotten to put on her pants.
Our marrying judge was a nice man. He was black. I thought that was cool. It wasn’t so very long ago that not only could two women not get married, but a black man could not have been a judge.
Saxon and I were really nervous as we said our vows. About halfway through reciting after the judge, my voice cracked and a tear slid down my cheek. I didn’t know I was going to cry. The emotion caught me completely off guard. It just hit me upside the head all of a sudden that I was looking into the eyes of my best friend, my true love, a woman who promised to love me forever, take care of me and my daughter and share my life with me. I was completely overwhelmed by how lucky I was.
Either that or the lack of caffeine was catching up to me.
After we were legally married (I just like to say that) we went to lunch at a place called Zombie. It was a hamburger joint decorated with zombie everything. The sign at the hostess desk read: Please wait to be eated.
The menu was crazy and fun. Emma ordered a “Planet Terror” hamburger, which was a burger with bacon and BBQ sauce. Saxon got a “Trailer Trash” burger, which was a normal hamburger except everything on it was battered and deep fried before being put between two buns. I ordered the “They’re coming to get you, Barbara” burger. It was two grilled cheese sandwiches (instead of buns) with a burger in the middle. Needless to say, we couldn’t finish them.
We were waited on by a gay man who had no eyebrows.
I thought that was interesting.
After lunch, we walked the skywalk through downtown Des Moines.
We walked from one side of the city to the other. And back again. I was wearing my brand new boots and, believe you me, these boots were not made for walking. By the time we got back to the hotel, my feet hurt so bad I was almost in tears.
I laid down on the bed while my new wife rubbed lotion on my feet…
I think I’m going to like this cleaving stuff.
What a wonderful world this is. A world where two women can be married by a black man and form a family with their daughter. Where you can go to a zombie diner and be waited on by a gay man with no eyebrows. Where you can skywalk the entire length of a city. Where you can buy a shawl at a restaurant named after a cheese. (I couldn’t help myself, I went back and bought it.) Where love matters more than gender or sexual orientation. Yep, it’s a wonderful world we live in.
A sweet & sexy short story
Saxon Bennett & Layce Gardner