I was out into the crosswalk before I noticed. The sidewalk was incredibly full of people going in every direction and Joe and I were rushing to catch the light. When we started across the street we saw the oddest sight, a wedding party, with the bride and groom in the middle, was stretched, kitty corner, across the opposite corner, blocking the cut curb across from me. They were all smiles, thinking that what they were doing was fun and cool. And maybe it was. Others crossing with us stepped a few steps to the side and the stepped up onto the curb - all smiles, several waving. I, however, was in the middle of the street, with seconds to go before the light turned. I needed them to move, break the line, so that I could get to the cut curb.
I met a wall of hostility. The bride looked pissed. The groom looked annoyed. The three people who moved did so grudgingly. It was like I'd ruined their fun prank, which meant I ruined their wedding, which means in two weeks she's having an affair and he's living vicariously through romance novels. When I was up and we more moving again, Joe, who had stepped up on the side, explained to me that there were several photographers on the opposite corner, ready to capture a shot of them all, in a row coming across the street. This intersection is one where every third light they have a "all ways crossing" opportunity for pedestrians. It was this one they were waiting for.
I'm sure, when the story is told, the bride will tell a story of a man in a wheelchair who almost ruined "her special day" ... "the day that is all about her" ... "they day where every girl gets to be a princes, every boy a prince". The degree of selfishness that now comes with the months of planning and the thousands of dollars has moved marriage from a commitment of love, a declaration of intention, to a ostentatious show of consumption and privilege disturbs and depresses me.
To believe that your marriage ceremony means that you can take over an entire corner of a crosswalk, in the centre of Canada's largest city, and expect that everyone will simply comply to what you are doing because no one wants to ruin "your special day" is absurd. I didn't have any intention of ruining anything, I simply wanted to pass by. I would have been up and through if they'd just have moved quickly and easily. As it was they took so long to decide to let me come up that when the light changed, they were no longer in formation and I'm not sure they got the picture they wanted. The bridal party, all in a row, happily skipping across the intersection.
Maybe I'm being mean spirited and churlish but I maintain that marriage isn't about the show, or the picture or about the wacky parties - weddings are about the moment two people state out loud that they intend to live and love together. It's that moment that matters. It's all that matters. All the rest is meaningless. Two people in love, who had just declared that love to the world, wouldn't care if the line had to move a little to let someone up a curb - they wouldn't care because they would know that they had a lifetime laid out in front of them, they could just pull in together, and try and the next light. That's what marriage means, you've got time to get it right.
I've marvelled, over the years, at the irony of those who scream that allowing gay people to marry would destroy "marriage" when heterosexuals seemed to be doing a fine job of making the marriage ceremony about everything BUT the moment of commitment, the moment of declaration. I watched as it became about the dress, became about the show, became about the party afterwards. I watched as more and more and more money was spent in an attempt to "buy" a memory. Marriage, the ceremony at least, mattered less and less and the pageant of selfishness meant more and more.
Really, a guy in a wheelchair wanted access to a public ramp and was treated to a public show of anger and disdain. Great way to start a life together ... great way to demonstrate your love. I wish this couple well, I hope that they got the picture they desperately wanted. But more than that, I hope they one day realize that, even if they didn't get that picture, what they did get was married, and that's what mattered.