We’re on a plane to Hawaii. You’re one row behind me, messing with your phone, posting photos or something like that. We couldn’t get seats together so we’re sitting tandem. Tomorrow night we perform in Honolulu before setting off on a weeklong honeymoon. We tried to honeymoon last year, closer to the wedding, but work kept us at home. Instead, we’ll mark our one-year anniversary with time alone, together.
One year married? Feels like 10, and I say that having no idea what it’s like to be married 10 years. I don’t know when we started dating. We were friends first, I guess, if we were ever friends. More like we were partners the moment we met and the meaning of that world adapted to our evolving circumstances. Comedy partners. Business partners. Wives.
You agreed to let me tape my first stand-up special two days before our wedding. Apparently, I am very persuasive. This was, in fact, a great and terrible idea. Great because I didn’t want to have a bachelor party. You went to the desert with a few very old friends. I am shy and being the center of that much focus would make me wildly uncomfortable. A celebratory stand-up special at a big, beautiful venue in my hometown Chicago? Much better. And yes, that would sound like odd reasoning to some but not to you. The comic is there for the audience. Making myself vulnerable enough to ask friends and family to come toast my upcoming marriage? Disgusting. Inviting them to a show attended by a thousand people I don’t know?
When we go get our marriage license, I have to run out of the Cook County Clerk’s office, strip off my coat and hat and dry-heave in my shirtsleeves in the middle of Daley Plaza. Yeah, I mean, maybe it would be better to have taken more than ONE DAY OFF between three years of nearly nonstop touring and a wedding, but I’m an idiot. And work helps me avoid emotions, like my fear of committing my entire life to a person, even if that person is you. I’m much more comfortable going pale as a ghost at the moment a very nice woman asks us to name the two bride/grooms (brooms?) and then rushing out of the room to nearly shit my pants in public.
At Thalia Hall that night, I listen to you from behind the curtain and it’s a fucking moment. My future wife, the woman whose comedy I fell in love with first, is setting me up to kill. You start to shift—we’ve done so many shows together, in so many cities—and I know you’ll bring me out soon. I look at my engagement ring, then make eye contact with our friend Bobcat, the first comic outside Chicago who met us as a couple and who is directing tonight’s special. I know where my family is sitting in a box stage left. Friends have come in early for the wedding and they’re out there too. The music kicks in—a song by Chicago band White Mystery, who I know from my days coming up as a comic here—and then I’m onstage, following the person I trust most in the world and doing the set of a lifetime.
We chose December in Chicago because my little sister could come in from Buenos Aires for the wedding. During the months leading up to it, we both have the same conversation over and over. Yes, December. Yes, Chicago. Well, I don’t know; I guess everyone will wear a coat? But we wake up to a 60-degree day. We weren’t sure if your dad would come or if my dad could calm down enough to let us plan the wedding we want, but neither thing becomes an issue. We picked The Hideout, a small, wood-paneled rock club legendary within the local music scene, because we love the place and we know the owners and they’re giving us a deal.
Even with the deal, it’s beyond my comprehension that we can afford the wedding. When I met you, I had just broken up with a ex. She kept our stuff and I slept in a pile of sheets on the floor until you brought me the air mattress you slept on when you lived in Oregon. We moved to Los Angeles with almost nothing. You supported us. Then I supported us. Now we have enough left over to pay for the hot dogs and pizza catering that fits the wedding of our dreams. The hot dog stand is manned by friends of my family who own the place—Flub-A-Dub-Chub’s, it’s called—and show up to the wedding in matching T-shirts they’ve had screen-printed with “Cam & Rhea’s Denim Hot Dog Wedding Celebration.” When they get started after the ceremony the whole place smells like raw onions and it’s perfect.
I walk down the aisle second, to Queen’s “Somebody To Love” and you’re already standing there on stage, waiting for me in your blue three-piece suit. My oldest friend in the world marries us. My sisters read things they have written; so does your best friend. Our moms give toasts. Neither of our grandmothers made it to see us. Almost everyone else we love did. Your vows are funnier than mine (damn you) and mine are more sweet. The DJ plays our first dance song and I spin you around the room and everyone asks afterward how long we practiced. Not once. We can simply dance like that together. And we dance for hours.
We began writing a TV show based on our lives together less than a month after getting married. And god bless the team that worked on that with us. We were not quite prepared for a writers’ room to pitch us ideas for possible fights between characters who share our names and relationship. We worked our asses off. The whole team did. Last August Take My Wife debuted to reviews beyond our wildest expectations. The New York Times recommended it five times in four weeks!
When I met you our life now was beyond my scope. We couldn’t have gotten legally married then, even if we’d decided to throw caution to the wind. We were engaged for more than two years because I couldn’t figure out how to take the next step. I had toured a bit; you not at all. Neither of us had ever worked in television. I didn’t know that was a possibility for stand-up comics—I really thought this was a live-performance-only profession.
But somehow I saw us on this plane, flying even further West. It was in your kitchen that day, when I sat on your kitchen counter because I have a habit of sitting on counters and you put your hands on my knees and looked me dead in the eyes. I want to take care of you. You said. And actually: no one had ever said that to be before because I’m commanding and fast and shy and I don’t let people care for me usually.
Except you. We take care of each other.