Waffles, Boyfriends

June 8. Wedding in ten days. Walked five miles up the canal to my [current] favorite café. Feet hurting, so I’m taking an extended break. Catching up with Laura in Carrboro and Nick in Newtown. Asking Andy Keenan if he wants to record sad songs in my studio. I probably already asked him that. If I repeat myself this much at thirty-nine, what will old age be like? I’ve already posed that question, too.

Laura muses, “it is connections – true connections – that bring joy.”

Breaking the lazy habits I developed during the COVID era. Woke up at 6 and quickly jumped in the car, driving up outta the Hopewell Valley and then down the big hill into Lambertville. It’s just one long road from here to there. I thought I’d really earn that cup of coffee by walking five miles for it.

Said hello to some older folks in comfortable, flowing clothing, but passed more turtles than people. Listened to Jonathan Van Ness talking about the many sexes of mushrooms, Norah Jones talking about Willie Nelson, and Daniel Lanois’s recordings of Willie Nelson singing songs of love and murder from an old movie theater in Oxnard, California.

June 10. Wedding in eight days. Getting marriage license in six minutes. Lindy will be our witness.

Got license. Was asked if we’re related. “Only to the extent that we both have blue eyes. So… somewhere down the line…” Posed for picture with colorfully-painted ox in the middle of the municipal office.

June 11. Wedding a week from today. Sad to miss the town-wide yard sale. The drive to Quakertown is long, but pleasant. I get Dunkin Donuts in Flemington and head north. Windows down and I’m high on honeysuckle. Listening to the live version of Neil Young’s “Tired Eyes.”

Before I cross the river into Pennsylvania, I say hello to Frenchtown, New Jersey and wish I had time to linger in front of a café with a book. One table in particular looks the most inviting. I inadvertently lock eyes with a woman who’s sitting there, but I don’t want her; I want her table.

Feeling proud that Nicky was included in an art show in this town. Excited to see what she comes up with the next time she gets into a good groove in her studio. I love living in the same house as one of my favorite artists. I have one of her painted hearts above the fireplace in my office and another one above my bookshelf.

I drive past a part of the canal that I walked while staying with my Dad during the period when his health challenges became exponentially more complex. The Germans have a word for the feeling this stretch of the canal gives me, but I don’t. Some sort of turbo-ennui. Aggressive melancholy. I was failing in love, music, and money, and now watching one of my parents in crisis, and I’m only working with a twenty-eight-year-old’s problem solving skills. My house would burn down a week later. But then, the nice thing about being twenty-eight was that you simply have too much energy and too many as-yet-unrealized plans to give up.

I arrive at the SPCA. I’m volunteering to play music at their 110th anniversary open house. Because the COVID positivity rates remain high, I’ve kept myself out of work for three weeks leading up to the wedding. I get squirrely after about three days offstage, so I’ve been a mess. Musically, I’m quite rusty. My guitar’s high string action throws me off my game further. The hope is that the B+ version of myself is preferable to the haybale that might otherwise be in my place.

The staff treat me very well. I feel like a foreign dignitary as they tour me around the facility in my new brown blazer and my black KN95 mask.

I drive away from the facility with a smile on my face having met Waffles The Horse. He was on Good Morning America. At one point, I’d sung, “I GOT MY MIND SET… ON… WAFFLES” and he looked over at me as if to say, “you’re trying too hard, bro. Just be cool. Celebrity horses don’t want to be treated any differently. Just sing the song right, Craig.”

I fill up my gas tank for $61 on my way out of town. I drive past a confederate flag. We’re, of course, north of the Mason-Dixon Line. I didn’t realize it was so closeby until I visited Stargazers Stone in Coatesville a few years ago. The non-racists of Quakertown don’t seem to be trying very hard to offset the impression created by the sight of this traitor’s flag on the main drag. Perhaps it’s understood this person has been kicked in the head by Waffles The Horse on numerous occasions.

I pass my dad’s favorite restaurant and feel a sweet twinge of nostalgia. The prices are jaw-droppingly low. You can get away with that when you’re that far up Route 313, many miles from the swank of Doylestown. The question is: how much white supremacy can you put up with to get a good deal on salmon? (This is not the town motto.)

Before heading home, I pick up my suit jacket and her wedding dress from the tailor. Never had something tailored before, and I don’t think she had, either. I place the hangers on my underused Iron Gym, put my feet up for a little while, and then head over to Brick Farm Tavern for drinks with seven of my boyfriends. “Bachelor party” sounds a little dated to me, so I call it “drinks with my seven boyfriends.”

It’s an upscale joint about a mile from our house and even the picnic tables somehow seem fancy, like they used a type of wood that isn’t allowed in the town where I grew up.

As for my boyfriends, one’s more handsome than the next. Good facial hair. Most importantly, all of them can reach things on higher shelves than I can.

At the outset, I was mildly apprehensive about this many social worlds colliding at once, but the personalities very rapidly congeal into a dudegroup that somehow makes perfect sense. Or maybe it’s just that my cocktail is kicking in. Different backgrounds, different worldviews, but each one kind, smart, funny, engaging, and perhaps happy to be away from the houses they’ve spent much of the past two years in.

Matthew Park is the most quotable one, but they all drop pearls of wisdom every couple of minutes. If I’d been on my A-game, I would’ve secretly bootlegged the get-together (hiding my Zoom recorder in a potted plant) and released select quotes on a Twitter account called @ShitMySevenBoyfriendsSay.

I was glad my brother-in-law got us all together, and that some of these folks, having previously been strangers, now will have some reference points for one another when they party next weekend.

There were another four or five fellas who I could’ve just as easily imagined including if we’d had a bigger table, but luckily I will see them in – *pretends to check a watch* – seven days.

By the way. If my sister’s wife is my brother-in-law, who is my wife’s sister’s husband? My co-brother, says Google. That’s weird. I’ll just call him Paul.

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