I made a solemn vow on Wednesday. Actually, I did it twice. I’ll tell why in a moment. But there was going to more until there wasn’t. That’s my main story.
Sepi and I had written a text for the ceremony and given it to Mayor Brown on Monday. He did his part perfectly with one small exception. He actually improved it with a short introduction that noted the history of City Hall as the people’s place and also that this was the first time a Mayor was performing a marriage of another Mayor there.
As he spoke the beginning words of the ceremony, I was locked onto his face. He looked up at the end of each line and it seemed like he looked at me every time. I felt like I could drown in his eyes.
But I also remembered that Sepi had told me she forgot her vows at the apartment. As it happened, I had brought mine to City Hall but hadn’t put it into my suit jacket. These ‘vows’, by the way, were more like personal statements that we each were going to make to each other in the presence of all the witnesses. I had written mine a few days earlier but Sepi didn’t write hers until Tuesday night. We kept them secret from each other.
The plan was to read these statements as we placed the rings on each others fingers. The actual vows were before that.
Here’s how it came down. Mayor Brown said to me, ‘Do you, Christopher, take Sepi to be your lawful wedded wife? To have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and cherish for as long as you both shall live?‘
But he paused and looked at me after the first question so I said, ‘I do’, as loud as I could. Then he went on. Oops! So after he asked the second question, I responded again with ‘I do’.
Then he had the same exchange with Sepi. She responded with ‘I do’ twice just like I did. Then Willie went on to the ring ceremony. He spoke the words we had written about the rings after which it was going to be my turn to speak. I was trying to remember what I had written and how I was going to improvise something similar. But I also had been thinking I was going to have a handheld microphone to speak into. There was none in sight, just the little lapel mic on Willie. Compared to Willie’s beautiful baritone, my ‘I dos’ had sounded small and weak. How was I going to make my statement sound good?
Then Willie said to me, ‘Christopher, repeat after me. Sepi, I give you this ring.’ That was supposed to be at the end of my statement! He’s skipping my statement!
What could I do? I said, ‘Sepi, I give you this ring’, as loud as I could. And we continued to the end when I said, ‘With this ring, I thee wed.’ He was rolling, it sounded great, and he went on to Sepi who put the ring on my finger and said the same words.
Then he turned back to the audience and said, ‘By virtue of the authority vested in me by the State of California as a Deputy Marriage Commissioner, I now pronounce you husband and wife!’
It was perfect.