by Elisabeth Snell, Writing Intern
What I thought I’d think about in the days leading up to my wedding: how amazing it was going to be to marry my own personal Butch Charming.
What I thought about in the days leading up to my wedding: that, yes. But also, whether I was going to come down with fever ’n’ ague and give all of my guests Norovirus.
And other girls.
Now, I’ve never hid the fact that I will always continue to appreciate hunks. (K, reading this line over my shoulder, comments, “And to flirt with them grandly.” Yes.) Even so, I was impressed by the amount of straying my mind did in the week before the wedding. If you were the least bit hunky and we were on the same subway that week, I stared you down, certain that we were living out a Sliding Doors scenario where you’d look up just before the doors closed at Canal and a piece of me would go with you. That, and having crazy thoughts about one particular ex.
Here’s where all of my friends stop reading this piece, because they’ve heard about this ex for the last hundred years. I won’t go into the details of the meaningful looks and “not-now-but-someday” conversations in intimate French restaurants the size of a pop-up camper. I won’t tell you, to keep my reputation intact, but they’re really good albeit excruciatingly long-winded stories, and the relationship has this annoying staying power in my memory. Well, the fantasy of what could be has this staying power over me, since the relationship was never, not once, that good in real life, but still, the week before the wedding, I kept giving it a Last Look.
So I was already subway-yearning and thinking about my tortured ex, and then a few days before the clambake, I dreamt I was walking to a folk festival. Which is already a lame dream, but then a Subaru drove up next to me and an incredibly hot person offered me a ride. Her name was Gabrielle Needle. She went by Gab (and I’ve googled her, and confirmed that she doesn’t exist. Of course I googled her). I’m not sure what exactly transpired in that Forester. Maybe it was her feathered hair or her carhartt shorts or her mandals, but it didn’t take us more than a few stop signs to start holding hands over the gearshifts and confiding that we were deeply in love. Just before the entrance to the folk festival, I suddenly remembered.
“Uh, Gab,” I said, “I forgot. I’m actually supposed to marry K on Saturday.” Gab was stricken. She begged me to reconsider. We stared at each other sadly, and I finally got out, and closed the car door with an air of finality, only to realize that the door closing was actually K coming into the bedroom with a near-boiling cup of coffee, the incredibly sweet way she wakes me up almost every morning.
“Good morning!” she trilled, “How did you…” and her voice trailed off and she stared at me, puzzled. “K,” I said miserably, “I thought you were someone else. I mean, I thought I was with someone else. I mean, and then I had this dream, and she kind of looked like Melissa Etheridge in 1986, and…”
K laughed so hard she started spilling coffee on the annoyed cats. “So,” she clarified, “you were disappointed when I walked in and it was just me in my gigantic basketball shorts, instead of some other hunk.” “Yes,” I said. “Yes. I am having last-minute thoughts about running off into the sunset with one of them. Or maybe both of them.” “Huh,” K said, still chuckling, “Gab sounds like a real catch.”
For the rest of the day, I told any friend who would listen about my Last Look and about Subaru Gab and how we almost, almost lived out our days at the folk festival, and we all had a laugh at my expense. I find that talking about this stuff, with K and the rest of my community, is the best way to normalize what is often considered problematic. I’m not ever going to stop noticing hot people, or apparently dreaming about them, and K and I have talked about that, and it works for us. But part of me wondered, what if I’m still sneaking glimpses during the actual wedding? Won’t that be a wet blanket.
As it turned out, when we woke up that morning, I didn’t have a single thought of anyone else. Not when I scrambled the eggs while K read aloud from the real estate section, and definitely not when she came out of the bedroom beaming in knee socks and a custom button-down. She was all I could see when I pledged to her that I would make the choice to stay in this relationship every day, and as I said the words, my belief was absolute that this was the right choice.
Since that morning, my Last Looks sharply dropped off and haven’t returned, although I fully expect that they might. Why wouldn’t they, when real life can be so much messier than the seductive pull of imagination? When I thought about getting married, K wasn’t exactly what I had imagined. But now that we are, it feels so entirely authentic, so much better than fantasy hunks with Subarus.
Photo of Melissa Etheridge by James Minchin III