We got married. Then we went out for Mai Tais. It was an easy day.
During the ceremony we stool hand-in-hand on a rock that jutted out over the water. The ocean in front of us was a perfect blue, and in the background we could hear the waves crashing below us. A man who strongly resembled Pappa Smurf officiated the ceremony. His words were kind and sweet, bringing tears to both of our eyes. But at one point I happened to look down, and I noticed Gavin’s feet protruding from his flip-flops.
Gavin has undeniably unique feet. They can appear completely normal at times. Other times, without warning, they undergo incredible-hulk-like transformations…. right before your eyes.
When we first met, one of his closest friends pulled me aside. “Have you seen Gavin’s feet?” he said in a hushed, secretive tone.
“Yes” I whispered back.
“Are you ok?” he said, his tone becoming a bit more concerned, as if I might suffer from a rare form of foot-viewing PTSD.
“…..I’ve even touched them” I answered, and I watched his face, pallor evident, shocked eyes focused on mine, trying to figure me out. Then he smiled and shouted over his shoulder “Gavin, she’s a keeper”.
I met Gavin at a time in his life that I affectionately refer to as the “low maintenance period”. His winters were spent on a snowboard, summers (if possible) on a surfboard, and Gavin was not one to waste time on what he would consider unnecessary and mundane tasks like going to the doctor when his feet magically blew up to a size above Shrek’s.
Childhood trauma and surgical intervention (Gavin refers to it as the “snipping and stretching of tendons”), coupled with years and years of tearing his lower extremities apart snowboarding in Vermont, have taken their toll. Those feet are not pretty. Especially when the temperatures are a bit on the higher side, like they can be in Hawaii. On our wedding day.
A few years before, we were living in an attic apartment during a particularly hot summer. I swear I once counted six toes on his left foot. I had to recount several times before breathing a sigh of relief. There were in fact five.
As a veterinarian, I felt the desperate need to try to heal something that looked so curiously out of place (almost ghastly) and so painfully bloated. I thought – could the solution involve new shoes? You see, when we met, Gavin was unwaveringly adamant that the only shoes he could possibly wear were Crocs. Our first fight ever took place in the shoe section of an EMS. There was shouting and ass-kicking. It was full on war.
I won. Gavin walked out a changed man with his first pair of decent shoes. Since then he has actually become a shoe snob. He is especially fond of his “at-work boots”, similar to those worn by fellow lumbersexuals and hipsters whose only heavy lifting involves moving a computer mouse. But he also has his “at-home-work boots”, the real deal, needed for dropping trees, chopping wood, and deck building. My husband actually does all of these. He is, after all, a true Vermont hick. He loves his chainsaw and winches. I am proud to be his winch-wench.
When we planned our wedding, he became obsessed with an $85 pair of flip-flops. Our wishes were pretty simple. Just us, two witnesses, and a pastor (the Pappa Smurf look-alike) on a beach on the North Shore of a breathtaking Hawaiian island. So we bought a simple sundress for me, and we decided to splurge on those extra fancy flip-flops for him.
At the end of the ceremony, it came time for me to answer a question. The pastor smiled after he spoke, and without hesitation and with heart full I answered.
“I do”, I said to my husband and his gargantuan feet.
And by the way, the Mai Tais were delicious.