At almost midnight, Flip came and knocked on the door of the suite where Ziggy and I had, for lack of a better term, fucked each other silly and then passed out. When we’d woken we’d had room service, and we had just gotten out of a very long shower when the knock came.
You should’ve seen me before the shower. “Is it all right to get these wet?” I had asked, while staring at the gold ring on my finger.
“Of course it’s all right,” Ziggy said. “The whole point is we should be able to literally never take these off.”
“I’ve never worn a ring before.”
“Not at all?”
He gave me one of those quizzical looks. Anyway, I guess part of the point of good quality gold is it doesn’t tarnish or rust or anything.
But back to Flip. “Bus leaves in 45 minutes if you want to be on it, or there’s a second group going in a van tomorrow with Mel and the baby. Leaving at eight in the morning, though.”
“Oh.” I looked at Ziggy. “Are you tagging along or are you heading back or what?”
He kissed me on the earlobe, which was one of his favorite places to kiss me, and said, “Are you sure you’re going? That last show…”
He trailed off and Flip picked it up. “I was going to ask you the same thing.”
“Wait, wait, wait, even if it turns out I can’t, that’s a call we shouldn’t make until closer to show time.” I wiggled my fingers in front of my face. “Plus now I’ve had a day off.”
“And it’s three shows in a row to close things out,” Flip pointed out. “You know, no one would think you were a wuss if you pulled out now.”
Ziggy narrowed his eyes at me. “Wrong. There’s one person who would think that and he’s standing in front of us.”
“I meant, no one else,” Flip amended. “D, you’ve already gone above and beyond.”
“No.” Yeah, of course I was stubborn. “I should go with you. No matter how much I want to crawl back into bed right now.”
Flip shrugged and said to Ziggy, “Well, you coming?”
Ziggy seemed to think it over. “Sure. If you’re sure it’d be all right.”
I laughed. “Picking up strays is the Nomad way of life.”
Ziggy’s smirk came out. “Seems familiar.”
“Great. See you in the lobby in thirty minutes.”
We packed up and were down there in twenty, mostly because there wasn’t much to pack. Ziggy’s travel bag was small but had a couple of days worth of clothes in it. Most of my stuff had already been loaded.
You should’ve heard the shriek when Court saw the rings. We were in the lobby, about half the band there, some of them couldn’t help but hear it when she shouted, “What did you guys DO!”
I said, in my usual understated way, “We bought each other rings today.”
“I can see that!” She was holding Ziggy’s hand and admiring the ring. “Did you have a commitment ceremony? They’re all the rage now!”
“If you mean did we find a pagan minister or something, no,” Ziggy said.
“Did he buy you a diamond, too?” she wanted to know.
“Now, wait just a second,” I said, a little more vehement than I intended. “I’m not interested in some kind of freakshow parody of marriage.”
“You notice how she immediately assumed I’d be the one to get the diamond,” Ziggy said to me.
“Oh, come on.” Courtney put her hands on her hips. “You’re the one who wore a pencil skirt and pillbox hat to a movie premiere. I’m not making that big a leap.”
Ziggy clucked his tongue. “That was a statement. I’m not femme enough for a diamond engagement ring.”
I was suddenly worried, though, that he was covering for me. “If you want a diamond, you have to tell me. Truthfully.”
He kissed me on the cheek that time. “I’d rather get another tattoo.”
Martin came over. “What’s all the ruckus?”
“Daron and Ziggy got…” Courtney waved her hands at the two of us. “Committed.”
“To an asylum.”
“To each other,” Ziggy said, holding up my left hand with his.
“Ohhhh. Gotcha.” Martin nodded. “Congratulations? Is that right?”
“Better than ‘condolences,'” Ziggy said with a feral grin.
“I bet you guys didn’t even take pictures or anything,” Courtney lamented. “Hey, Fran! Clar’! You’ve got to see this!”
Here’s where I admit I didn’t think through the implications of having a public symbol of our commitment at all. I had been thinking about two things in particular when I had cooked up the idea–what the rings meant to us (i.e. we’re committed to each other), and what they’d mean to strangers (i.e. “this one’s taken.”) I had not given one second of thought to what it would say to the people we actually knew.
Fran and Clarice were all over us with congratulations and kisses and hugs, and the next thing you know basically the whole band and bus entourage including the driver turned me and Ziggy into a two-man receiving line as they each came past to shake our hands and congratulate us. Ziggy was beaming although he kept giving me incredulous glances.
Last in line was Remo. I should mention everyone was shaking my hand very, very gently, but after fifteen or sixteen people I was getting the urge to stick it under my armpit again. He gave Ziggy a full-on hug then, and then jokingly said, “Well, that’s it, then. You’ve got dibs on him forever.”
Ziggy laughed awkwardly and I suddenly caught the meaning. Remo’s joke meant he thought the commitment thing was Ziggy’s idea.
It felt important suddenly to set the record strai– um, to correct any misconceptions. “It was my idea,” I said, as Remo took my bad hand in both of his.
Remo looked me in the eye. “You’re full of surprises.”
That surprised me into laughing. “Says the man who threw a surprise wedding last Christmas!”
He chuckled self-deprecatingly. “Yeah, so I did. Don’t tell me that’s what gave you the idea.”
“No, of course n–” I stopped myself to think about it. “I mean, I don’t think there are too many similarities between the situation with you and Mel and with me and Zig, you know?”
“Guess not,” he said with a heartfelt Remo smile. “See you in Knoxville. I’m staying here tonight with Mel and the baby.”
“Be careful,” I said, as if that were hazardous somehow. Which come to think of it, had been for some of us.
Given that it was an eight hour ride to our next destination, what we should’ve all done when we got in the bus was go right to sleep. But it turned into an impromptu rolling wedding reception. I’m not kidding. Everyone got into figuring out how to make it a party. Since we didn’t have champagne, someone mixed up a pitcher of ginger ale and rye, and since we didn’t have a cake, Flip insisted we pull over at a convenience store and he built us a multi-tiered thing out of Ring Dings and Yodels, and people danced in the back lounge of the bus while Flip deejayed on a boom box.
I quit resisting after about two minutes. It was like everyone had forgotten we were all trying not to drink alcohol, but I guess fortunately there wasn’t that much to go around–enough for a toast and then all that was left was beer. (I never did find out whose personal stash the rye came out of but I suspect one of the Mazel brothers.)
If I expected any of these people to be weirded out by the fact that Ziggy and I got basically gay married, I was wrong. And I was happy to be wrong. They basically accepted it as a fact of my life. In a way I think they got used to the idea faster than I did.
I had a beer, too. And when I felt how hard that hit me, I made sure to stop. People began to drift to their bunks after the sugar high from all the Ring Dings wore off. After a while it was just Flip, Martin, Court, Ziggy, and me sitting in the back lounge while some kind of old style swing jazz played on the box.
“Remember that story you told about your mother’s favorite song?” I said to Ziggy. That had been a back-of-the-bus conversation, too.
“Which story?” Ziggy asked. He was leaning against me. I was glad we’d had a nap.
But in my brain’s meanderings I had already moved on from that topic. “What does favorite mean, anyway?”
Courtney looked alarmed. “You don’t know what the word ‘favorite’ means?”
“Well, of course I know what it means, but I’m talking about how it actually applies,” I said.
“Here we go,” Flip said with a knowing nod at Martin.
I tried to explain. “Like, think about the term ‘favorite song.’ If you have a favorite song, what makes you call it that?”
“You mean, you like it?” Courtney asked.
“Yeah, but you probably like lots of songs. But what makes one a ‘favorite’? Do you get an extra special feeling when you sing it or hear it? Something makes you single that song out and identify with it in a certain way. You get a kind of zing, right? And there’s something about it that makes you stand up and declare that it’s your favorite. That’s the difference between just liking a song–or a band, or a color, or whatever–and it being your favorite. You’re willing to stand up and tell people, hey, this is my favorite song.”
“Yeah, okay,” she said. There were general nods all around.
Ziggy nudged me. “But what about your favorite person?”
“You are my favorite person,” I said. “But I wouldn’t usually use those words like that because it makes me sound like I’m five.”
He snickered. “You are my favorite person, too.”
“I know. That’s why we did this.” I blearily pulled his hand to my mouth and kissed his ring.
“You guys are sappy as hell,” Martin said. “I guess that’s the point, though.”
“So, yeah, actually, it is,” I said, my brain finally coming full circle but my mouth taking a while to get around the bend.
“To be sappy?”
“No. That if what makes your favorite song a song that you identify with to the point that you’ll tell other people that, or favorite band or favorite color or team or whatever, where you define yourself by it, a favorite person is like that, too.” I looked at Ziggy to see if he followed what I said. “I used to wonder if we had an actual relationship. Remember? But now I’m starting to define myself not just as myself but by how I relate to you.”
Ziggy’s eyes lit with understanding. He nodded. “You just explained why it’s called a ‘relationship.'”
In fact, everyone nodded. None of us were sober, but I think we all understood.
(BONUSES UPDATE: If you look over to the progress bar you’ll see we hit $100! That means this Saturday there’ll be a post as well as the regular Tue/Thurs posts. HOWEVER, I also promised a “what happened on Daron & Ziggy’s honeymoon night” scene to all who donate this month, including Patreon patrons!
As it turns out, the bonus “scene” ended up being 5,000 words from Ziggy’s point of view including his version of the entire day leading up to and including the jewelry store. It’s in first draft form right now so I still need to clean it up but I hope to have it out to all donors by the end of the week.
If you’ve been thinking about joining the Patreon group–the support group of folks who pledge at least a dollar a week via Patreon–the biggest perk is that you get all bonus content like this included as part of your patron perks.
So now would be a great time to become a Patreon, but any single one-time donation of at least one dollar to the DGC Paypal account will also get you this bonus adults-only content. Yes, it’s very smexy once Ziggy has his say so you must be 18+.
Anyway, your choice, Tip Jar or Patreon or…? If any of you are really light on funds this week, I’m also open to bartering for this bonus, as I feel it’s a really great scene and an absolute must for Ziggyphiles. Ping me at ctan.writer @ gmail.com if you want to barter for it! Among the things I’ve accepted as barter in the past: reviews on Amazon or Goodreads, fan art, quote art or memes, just to give you some ideas? -ctan)