Seven months ago, two of my very close friends tied the knot. They had lived as a couple for three years prior to the ceremony that made them respectable, but the time had come they decided to celebrate their union in a legal way with family and friends. Mostly, I was happy for them although part of me is irritated by such sanctioned displays of heterosexuality. However, given their importance in my life, I travelled to Nova Scotia to witness the grand event. I'm glad I did. It was the last time I saw my friends.
Make no mistake. They're still alive and well and gracing planet Earth. They're just different now. It's as if soul-snatchers came in and took away the people I once knew and loved, leaving in their place two individuals with the singular intent of becoming one breathing entity.
I am not imagining this. Leading up to the wedding, they made plans for their nuptials, but for the most part, they sloughed off the bride and groom business and were content to allow their parents to make the arrangements. They seemed so hip and unaffected by the white-wedding syndrome. I had such hope.
Now, they whisper to each other.
It's as if the rest of us are interfering in their sacred bond of intimacy. They need a little plastic bubble like John Travolta had, one that will keep their love safe from outsiders, free from the taint of interlopers.
I've come to call this phenomenon the whispering disease.
I had no idea my friends were infected until a few months ago. We were out for our usual round of Wednesday wings and beers when the bride got up to go to the washroom. As she passed by her groom, she bent down and whispered into his ear. My eyes widened with suspicion as I realized something was on the brink of going very wrong.
I chalked it up to a one-time occurrence, a hangover of marriedhead bliss. And yet, as the poultry and Molson Dry carnage ensued, I watched as the whispering disease displayed its symptoms. Sweet nothings were murmured back and forth across the table and at one point, when the whispering disease moved into what I can only guess was a new level of contagion, the bride actually began leaning towards her groom, hand cupped over her mouth, as if to ensure none of their married sounds and words would be detected by the single-folk in attendance.
I was horrified.
Later on, the marriedheads and me went to another friend's place for a nightcap. The marriedheads sat beside each other on the couch (where else would marriedheads sit?) and we sat facing them. Before my very eyes, not more than four feet away from me, as the bride and groom poured over their future purchases from the 2001 IKEA catalogue, they whispered back and forth. I don't know what they were trying to keep from us. I don't know if their purchases were top secret and they were afraid I'd steal their decorating ideas or, if they merely wanted to keep their weird married sex practices to themselves.
I just don't fucking know.
By the end of the night, I became fearful for my own health. If they had become infected, who was to say that I was safe from TWD? Luckily, I escaped its dangerous clutches and made it home unscathed, still able to speak in normal tones.
It was weeks before I saw them again. I thought by that time, married life would have provided all-natural anti-venom. I was wrong. The whispering disease had apparently taken hold of their white blood cells and was now working its way into their DNA. The scene this time was a party and there, in the middle of the kitchen before a group of 20 or so people, they united to exchange more than just a few hushed phrases.
I snapped and panicked. I knew it was up to me. I had to save them from TWD.
"What's wrong with you guys? Why do you always have to whisper to each other now? Can't you communicate like normal human beings any more?" I believe my eyes were wild and spittle had formed at the corners of my taut mouth.
I was informed by the bride that important information had to be communicated. I left the party. I wasn't strong enough to fight TWD.
Another month passed and with hours of rumination and planning under my belt, I tried another tactic. I knew TWD thrived on their union and that I'd have better luck if I were to face the virus alone, just woman to scourge. My tongue loosened by a night of drinking at the Legion (I needed my armour), I tackled the groom. I thought TWD might have less of a hold on him.
"Why," I asked him beseechingly. "Why do you two find it necessary to whisper to each other now?"
To my horror, to my bewilderment, to my dismay, the groom was totally unaware of his infection. I still can't get my head around this. How does a 30-year old otherwise intelligent man not realize he's taken to publicly whispering to his spouse? Is it because he's a guy and socialized differently and didn't learn to play games? Because the whispering disease indeed smacks of the mean, mean torturous rites of passage eight-year-old girls inflict upon each other in the schoolyard. Or, is he just unaware and unobservant of the way he and his bride feel they're now forced to communicate in front of others? Or, worse yet, has TWD progressed to the extent that it's actually begun to eat his brain?
As I ponder these questions and the phenomenon of the whispering disease, it occurs to me that sometimes, this crap makes me feel a like a sulky teenager whose girlfriends have all left her in the dust for boys who wear Led Zeppelin t-shirts. At other times I feel like a relationshipphobe, like someone who is neurotically compelled to avoid being committed to living in the institution of marriage. And at other more lucid times, I know it's the way of the patriarchy and the laws of the status quo and then, I just feel pissed off that humans draw such boundaries - unwittingly or not - and act in such exclusionary fucked up ways.