There are many ways to pull your shit together during a breakup, most involving nachos and tequila. One way not to go about it is attending a fundamentalist Christian wedding in Wisconsin. I know that most of you get this opportunity every day, and to you I say: don’t do it. Avoid all contact with Wisconsin, and avoid getting into any three-year relationships because they’re only going to end, and then what? I don’t have a memory earlier than three years ago, I mean sheesh, was there even electricity back then? Did I drive a DeLorean? What am I supposed to concentrate on, the 1996 Olympics? Revisiting Kerri Strug’s moment in American dominance only takes up five minutes of the day, and that leaves 23 hours and 55 minutes of gaping, black-hole bullshit heartbreak. And let me reiterate: the way to deal with this, if you are faced with it (and let’s be honest; you will be, because love is for schmucks), is not to attend a fundamentalist Christian wedding in Wisconsin.
But just in case you do find yourself in this situation, here are some pointers. Because there may be little apparent difference between a mainline Protestant affair and a cult-like, are-you-fucking-shitting-me-that-these-people-run-the-country event, my brother and I have developed a formula for neophytes to both fundamentalist culture and the Midwest (or anywhere else people seem to be averse to wearing a decent coat): IF a man is in his twenties (20s) or thirties (30s) AND has “creative” facial hair of some sort (including but not limited to a “soul patch,” goatee, or curlicue sideburns), he IS a youth pastor. Ergo: MALE + (20s or 30s) + face pubes = future John Ashcroft.
When my cousin’s officiant (goatee) stepped out to face the bride and groom (sideburns), I was grateful that I’d brought a snack, because once these types start yakking, it takes nothing short of their precious Apocalypse to get them to shut up. I cannot possibly do semantic justice to the sublime bullshit spouted by this wedding’s particular pastor — and that’s another hint: fundamentalists don’t have to go through the same training regular religious people do, therefore, in fundamentalist churches you will usually find “Pastor [FIRST NAME]” instead of something legitimate like “Rabbi [LAST NAME]” — when my people start calling our officials Rabbi Steve, then I will know it’s time to kill myself.
David Cross has a bit about Christian reliance on made-up anecdotes, and Pastor Goatee did not disappoint in this department. Half an hour of the ceremony was spent relating “true stories” from people he knew, and the gist of most of these stories is that marriage is miserable bullcrap but suffering in it will bring you closer to Christ. One example he gave was a couple who decided to write their grievances down and put them into a “fault box” (which sounds like the name of a lesbian fetish club for codependents). The dude took this seriously and filled the box with criticism of his wife; the lady filled her side as well, but only with slips of paper that said “I love you.” So the man gets to gripe, and the woman gets to pop out a bunch of offspring and suck it up.
This bit, surprisingly, made me ok with being single, possibly forever (or at least until the Apocalypse). I mean sure, I feel like someone has yanked off my left arm and replaced it with a flesh-eating eel, but that’s to be expected. It could be a hell of a lot worse. I could be married, subject to a fault box and a bullshit sexist god. I could be gay and closeted for fear that my fundamentalist parents would disown me. I could live in Wisconsin and think it is acceptable to go out for a night on the town in a parka. And hell — I could be with some guy with a soul patch.