So, I had a bachelor party.
I didn't expect to have one, and I didn't really want to have the kind you hear about, with lots of alcohol and strippers and things. I felt a little self-conscious about not wanting it, like maybe I'm supposed to, or something, but something Kit said last week stuck in my mind and really helped me. She's been going over every aspect of our ceremony with us, helping to understand what the symbolism of traditional (Christian) wedding ceremonies means, so we can figure out what we want to do--learning a language so we can make choices about what to say, as she puts it. And she said that part of the function of a traditional bachelor party is to say goodbye to one's bachelor life, and to allow friends to say goodbye to it. One last hurrah, I guess.
And the thing is, I'm not in any mood for a last hurrah, yet. There is not form of hurrah I want that I can't have when I'm married. It's not like I've been living this wild bachelor lifestyle and I'd better enjoy watching strippers with my friends now, because the Mrs. won't let me out anymore after we wed. For one thing, I can't imagine June not letting me out. For another thing, I've never seen a strip-show and don't especially want to, now. They don't sound like a lot of fun. I mean, frankly, I know what a naked woman looks like, and I can look at a naked woman (whom I really like a lot, by the way) without having to subject myself to noise and crowds of mostly unpleasant strangers.
Anyway, so I didn't expect a bachelor party, and I didn't have the kind I expected, if that makes sense.
Instead, my brother, John, came up to campus this weekend, organized everything, and more-or-less kidnapped me. I didn't know he was even on campus when he drove up beside me and told me to get in. Rick and Eddie and Andy were already in the car.
"But I have to..." I stammered.
"No, you don't," said John. "I looked up your schedule with Sharon and cleared it." He's spent a lot of time on campus over the last few years, even when I was in Absence, because his kids are now sprouts, so he knows everybody and how things work, now."
"I'm in uniform!" There's no rule against going off-campus in uniform, except that we don't ever do it.
Eddie handed me one of my shirts. He's in my dorm, remember. All my excuses defused, I got in and we headed off.
John drove us to Allen's house, where we met, not only Allen, but also Ollie (he stays with Allen on the weekends, remember) and David, who is now 18 years old, in college for ecology, and as tall as I am. Allen put on some music (real records on an actual turn-table, first something mellow and classical I didn't recognize, then jazz, equally mellow and unfamiliar), served excellent wine and equally excellent home-made food, and we sat around and talked.
Allen is a phenomenal host.He knows Rick and I have become sensitive to artificial noise, and that we don't really like being inside, so he chose mellow music, played softly, and seated us on the patio. He knows Andy doesn't drink alcohol and is sensitive to any hint of exclusion or undue attention, so he offered a choice of home-made non-alcoholic cocktails, as well as the wine, without calling attention to Andy's difference. Actually, after the fist glass, the rest of us alternated with the non-alcoholic drinks, too.
When the mosquitoes chased us indoors, we sat in the living-room for a while, and Allen's pet ferrets made very cute pests of themselves, begging for treats and trying to pick our pockets. Later, we played pool in the finished basement. Allen has a pool table in his basement. Of course he does.
Lo and the girls were nowhere around. I asked about that, while we were still in the living room, with the ferrets.
"They're not bachelors," Allen explained, simply.
"Neither are you," I pointed out. "Ollie's not, either."
"True," he acknowledged. "We are men. I think that's the important part."
"Why do you think?"
"I don't know. It does seem right, though." I thought seriously for a moment. "Something about reinforcing...like you have to be friends with your own kind before you can reach out to the other?"
"Separation before conjunction?" suggested Allen. It's an alchemical saying that gets thrown around on campus a lot.
"Yeah, maybe," I said. The saying did articulate my idea fairly well. "Is that really true though? It's not like we're doing anything here we couldn't do with women around. We're not even doing anything especially masculine, it's not like we're doing anything women don't do."
"We wouldn't know," quipped Ollie. "We don't see what they do without us."
"Pretty much this," said Eddie. "I was a spy," he added. "Under cover."
"I don't actually know why we're all men, here," said Allen. "I didn't write the guest list."
"I didn't think about it," confessed John. "It's a bachelor party, so I invited men."
"Thus do the rituals live us," commented Allen, "whether or not we intend to live them."
By the time we were thinking of heading back to campus, John admitted he'd had too much to drink and didn't want to drive.
"I'm sorry," he said. "Since I've been Dad, I haven't really gotten out, much. I didn't know I'd turned into a lightweight."
None of us were sloppy drink, but since we'd been expecting John to drive, none of us were ready to get behind the wheel, either--except for Andy, who doesn't have a driver's license.
"Pick a couch, everyone," said Allen. He put the ferrets to bed in their cage, then retreated to his room.
That night, I couldn't sleep, much. It was too hot, I was itchy from mosquito bites and spots of poison ivy, and I was excited. I kept thinking about last-minute details I still have to take care of, decisions to be made, what I might say to my best friend from middle school, if he even comes to my wedding, and how am I going to explain my wacky wedding ceremony to my overly normal uncle who still thinks I plan to become an Episcopal priest?
While I was wondering about all of this, the air started getting brighter. Dawn was coming. It comes early, this time of year. I got up and let myself out onto Allen's patio. I spent some time out there, by myself, listening to the birds and smelling the perfume of early morning.