In the countdown to the same-sex marriage postal plebiscite, Anthony Nocera recalls some experiences that indicate marriage might not be the sacred, respected, traditional, and crucial social institution some claim it to be.
Men I’ve met who were married but probably shouldn’t have been
I’ll be voting yes in the upcoming postal vote even though I don’t 100 per cent believe in marriage as an institution. And I’ll be voting yes even though I believe that we, as queer people, have come up with a variety of different ways of loving – both platonic and romantic – that are important to our community purely because they’re not sanctioned by the state.
But I’ll vote yes because it’s a step forward for our community and because I recognise this is about more than just me. It’s also about the people who came before me who fought to be heard and meaningfully understood.
I’ll vote yes even though, because of the men mentioned below, the prospect of marriage makes me incredibly uncomfortable.
Man who was married but probably shouldn’t have been (MWWMBPSHB) #1
On my first day working in retail, I served a customer who bought, like, fifteen baguettes and only brought one tiny bag to fit them in and refused to purchase anymore because, “I’m from Victoria, it is fucking highway robbery that you South Australians charge for bags,” he said, “this would never fly back home, no, this would never fly.” As we were jamming the baguettes in and struggling to make them fit he said, “this reminds me of me and my wife at home” and then he winked and said, “you know what I mean, matey” and I didn’t. I don’t work in retail anymore. Hopefully he is divorced now.
I was best man at a wedding which meant I was forced to go to the (shudder) bucks’ night and there was this guy there who was a friend of a friend of someone … he was an invite to fill up the numbers, probably. He came up to me and talked about how he’d been looking forward to this for months because he never got to do this stuff. The entire evening felt pretty tame until the second to last performer walked onto the stage and pulled out a wooden spoon with a lavender-purple sleeve around the handle and proceeded to insert it into herself and I was stuck standing next to this guy who shouted, “yeah baby, my mum used to hit me with one of those”. He is married.
I served an old Italian couple while wearing a Santa hat at work a few years ago and they asked me about my Nonna and about my family because they could tell I was Italian because I had that look about me and, as they said, “you’re hairy. Hairy, hairy like a dog”. Do you want to hear a Christmas joke, said the old man.
“What’s the difference between me and Father Christmas?”
“I don’t know. What is it?”
“Father Christmas only comes once a year.”
“Oh,” I said.
And then he turned to his wife and said, “tell him, tell him it’s true.”
And I tried to protest, “Oh you don’t have to tell m-“
“It’s true,” she said, “definitely more than once.”
And they laughed and left and as I stood at the counter I could hear their chuckles bouncing off the walls of the store and I wondered if I’d ever laugh again.
I was working on Father’s Day and a man and his son came up to my cash register and started unloading groceries and I asked, “have you had a good day?”
And the kid shouted, “yes! I got Dad a card with a badge on it.”
“Yeah, do you wanna see it?”
“Not now,” said the father, “we’ve got a lot to do. Maybe after we’ve paid.”
And as they unloaded the groceries the kid would put something on the belt, slam it down with that conviction that only kids have. And then he’d shout the name of the product and his dad would tell him what it was used for.
“APPLES” said the kid.
“That’s for a pie,” his dad said.
“They’re for treat time, mate.” And the kid started clapping and cheering and as he went to grab the next product he hesitated and was stuck on the little orange and pink box.
“C-“ the kid said.
“Sound it out mate,” his dad said sweetly, “you can do it.”
“CONDOMS!” The kid shouted after a few minutes of thinking.
“That’s right,” said his Dad, “they’re for me and your mother later tonight. And any other girls that want to come ’round!”
And as they left the kid insisted that I read the pin and it said, “Daddy of the year”.
I used to work at a phone store and a sweet old man walked up to me clutching his iPhone and I said, “hi, what can I do for you?” and he just grunted and scowled down at the phone.
“I’ve made a big mistake,” he said, panicking.
“I’m sure whatever it is, we can handle it.”
“No, it’s bad.”
“How do you make your iPhone stop sending confetti messages?”
And I showed him by teaching him that if he held the send button too long, it would generate a series of effects and he said, “oh good. My wife’s brother just died and I keep sending everything with confetti. It’s very uncomfortable.”
“Oh, that is uncomfortable.”
“He was a dick anyway. But still.”
But still – they were married.