This blog of mine is growing in popularity, especially when it comes to stories about my partner in life, Alice McCormick, and her recovery from a full-blown stroke. Almost four years ago when we committed ourselves to one another, I wrote the following story for the local weekly newspaper in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Here ’tis.
Doylestown is propitiously small with rustic, cosmopolitan sensibilities, a hundred miles from Manhattan. It’s a good spot to hang out and be entertained, without committing to a night-filled itinerary of revelry.
I had adopted Andre’s, a European-style wine-and-cheese bar, inside downtown’s Marketplace, as my infrequent hangout. On one late September evening in 2010, I felt particularly righteous in my own skin, flaunting the suit-adorned personage of a chauffeur. An outlandishly attractive blonde and brunette in their early 20s had dropped by to enjoy Andre’s ambience. Before I knew it, I found myself regaling two unsuspecting honeys with every syllable spewing from my busy mouth.
As I wondered where to lead this self-important conversation, a soft arm wrapped across my left shoulder from behind me, and a confident woman’s voice in my right ear meowed, “Oh here you are; I’ve been looking all over for you.”
(As Alice tells the story, she says seeing me well manicured for the first time in a business suit caused her to think, “Doctor, lawyer, he probably has money.” Little did she know I was an itinerant writer moonlighting as a limousine driver.)
I didn’t know this woman, but here she was interjecting herself into my ramshackle life! Unbelievable.
That’s how I met Alice McCormick, the woman who keeps harping on me to keep my head erect. (I have to hold my head high to gaze into the expressive eyebrows of this brown-haired Amazon, measuring 6’3″. After all, back in the 1960s, she was a regular dancer on “American Bandstand” in Philadelphia.)
Within a short time after meeting her, I discovered it’s possible to re-experience life while looking through two different pairs of eyes. A desirable creature with a good heart possessing North Philly toughness equals a damned good woman. All my life, I’ve championed women’s rights. Now, I found an emancipated giant of a woman. Or rather she found me. What am I going to do? Rain on her parade? I think I love her.
Put-up or shut-up time.
I asked Alice what kind of ceremony we should have. We’re beyond child-bearing stage, we’ve outlived or outgrown former loves of our lives, and we’re imbued with Bucks County consciousness.
Before I knew it, Alice grabbed a book from my bookcase and showed me the cover. “Let’s use this,” she said.
As I looked down at the book, I appreciated her challenge. The book’s title was: The Complete Guide to Gay and Lesbian Weddings. Its prominent New Hope, PA author: Keith David, first openly gay member of the American Bridal Assn. who catered gay and lesbian weddings at his Mansion Inn in New Hope, and in 1998 founded GayWeddings.com.
I publicly champion the cause of same-sex couples to marry and enjoy all the accoutrements of opposite-sex couples. Now Alice has challenged me to question how I would exhibit further support. Would I go so far as to incorporate their cause into my own personal ceremony? And, addressing an inner fear, what would other people think because Alice and I used a gay-friendly guide?
I remember the challenges posed whenever I chose to keep a friend who openly came out. I remember the inner-fear insinuations slicing my ego by those who choose to overtly reject associations with gay and lesbian singles. Why is it every time a heterosexual chooses to befriend someone gay, crude intolerance invades our subconscious world? Why do such decisions become more weighty?
We agreed to make our personal statement. The embrace inherent in our nuptials would exceed mere tolerance. During the weeks preceding our 2011 ceremony, we used Keith’s guide and found it sobering, and eventually rewarding.
The following chapters were “very helpful,” according to Alice: “Legal Planning,” “Your Budget,” “Dealing with Stress,” “Creating Your Wedding Style” and “Writing Vows.”
Two unique friends agreed to conduct our ceremony: David DiPasquale, interfaith minister at Pebble Hill Church, and Danawa Buchanan, former president of the Native American Alliance of Bucks County and now tribal leader for the Allegheny Cherokee people.
The Sept. 24 ceremony was held outdoors in the gleaming warm twilight on the stone patio between a large gazebo and its companion swimming pool. Danawa cautioned the 30 friends in attendance they were committed henceforth to furthering our relationship and ended the ceremony with an Apache prayer:
“Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be shelter for the other. Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be warmth to the other.
“Now there will be no loneliness, for each of you will be companion to the other. Now you are two persons, but there is only one life before you.
“May beauty surround you both in the journey ahead and through all the years. May happiness be your companion, and your days together be good and long upon the earth.”