Sean and Brawnie Celebrate Their First Anniversary Despite These Virus-Times

Mask

Returning from his morning run, Sean found a pair of hand-sewn face masks hanging on the handle of the front door.

“Those are from Patty our neighbor,” Brawnie told his husband. “I think she appreciates my keeping tabs on her, even at a distance.”

The boys wore their new apparel at the grocery store, where Sean works as one of the managers. His colleagues greeted them with good-natured chuckles when they saw the matching plaid masks. 

“That’s okay,” Sean quipped. “Nobody noticed my hair’s getting longer and kind of raggedy around the edges.” Sean thought a moment. “Your buzz cut will take months to grow out. So you win that one, I guess.”

Back home, Brawnie cleared out a corner of the basement and unpacked his old barbells and dumbbells and bench. “With the gym closed indefinitely,” he explained with a hint of irritation, “I have to make my own.” 

“Whereas I can just go outside and run,” Sean said with a smirk. “I think I win that one.”

Sean and Brawnie were married a year ago. They could not have known back then they would have to celebrate their first anniversary at home, socially distanced from the world. Brawnie made Thai Green Curry for dinner from a recipe Patty had emailed them.

“I don’t know which wine goes with curry,” he said.

“No one does,” Sean replied. “That cabernet you’re pouring is just fine by me.”

Sean thought a moment, chewing a cube of overcooked tofu. “So many little things don’t much matter any more.”

Copyright 2020 by Brian Dean Powers
Photo by the author

Sean and Brawnie Happily Homebound on New Year’s Eve

Snow

“Where did we put those champagne glasses?” Sean asked from the kitchen.

“Try the cupboard above the fridge,” Brawnie replied from the living room couch, where he was sprawled out watching the ten o’clock news.

The eve of the new year had begun with a strange winter rain, that late in the day became sleet, then showers of snow. The sky seemed a gray fleece blanket above flakes weightless in white spacesuits floating slowly down in calm air. The roads and walks were so dangerously iced many wisely decided to stay safely indoors.

The midnight toasts were possibly a bit tipsy.

“No more Christmas until next August!”

“Huck the folidays!”

“May you let your chest hair grow out, muscle boy.”

“And may you chuck your pile of old running shoes.”

Several hours after midnight, Sean and Brawnie were asleep together on the couch, covered by their faded Packers blanket. The room was dark, except for the Twilight Zone marathon on television. An empty bottle of Prosecco and two fancy glasses stood sentry on the coffee table before them.

Outside, galaxies of starflakes gathered under streetlamps on a cold, arbitrarily named night that was beautiful to behold.

Copyright 2019 by Brian Dean Powers
Photo by Catherine Zaidova at unsplash.com

Sean and Brawnie Serve Soup and Shakespeare at Their Summer Nuptials

Couple

For Brawnie, love was agreeing to speak in front of two hundred guests despite his discomfort.

Before the officiant declared them husband and husband, Brawnie began his recitation to Sean.

          Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
          Like to the lark at break of day arising
          From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate;

Sean felt honored that Brawnie was speaking Mr. Shakespeare’s lines from memory.

          For thy sweet love rememb’red such wealth brings
          That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

When Brawnie finished, Sean told the crowd how he learned the value of seasonings from his mother.

How her salmon soup consisted of nothing but warm milk with a can of salmon dumped in.

How, as a child, he always poured his portion down the drain after everyone left the table.

How he would strive to spice his marriage to Brawnie with humor and patience, and the occasional spritz of whipped cream.

That evening, Brawnie loosened his tie, shucked his shoes and socks, and flopped down prone on their bed. When Sean came to the bedroom door, he wondered if Brawnie’s well-developed pecs could actually be amplifying his impressive snoring.

For Sean, standing in the doorway, love was letting his new husband sleep off a stressful day, knowing they had already arrived at heaven’s gate.

Copyright 2019 by Brian Dean Powers
Photo by Melanie Villeneuve at unsplash.com

Sean and Brawnie’s Sunday Brunch

Breakfast

“You’re not drinking your coffee,” Sean observed.

Brawnie unfolded his napkin and wiped his lips.

“Will you marry me if I’m not religious?” he asked.

Sean recognized this as another round of Brawnie’s perverse variation on Twenty Questions.

“As long as you acknowledge Tina Turner,” Sean replied, “as patron saint of survivors.”

Brawnie helped himself to a forkful of Sean’s omelet. 

“Will you marry me if I’m dismissed as heteronormative?”

“That,” Sean scoffed, “is just another label some people use to shame others for who they are.”

Sean helped himself to a taste of his boyfriend’s huevos rancheros.

“And you know, I do love your extra-normative pecs.”

Brawnie blushed, and pressed on with his game.

“Will you marry me if I forget to chill the chardonnay?”

Sean cued up his best Susan Hayward.

“Broadway,” he began with mock intensity, “doesn’t go for booze and dope.”

Brawnie laughed and lifted his coffee cup, revealing a plain, gold ring on the saucer below.

“Will you marry me?”

Copyright 2019 by Brian Dean Powers
Photo by Heather Ford at unsplash.com

Sean and Brawnie Ringin’ in the Rain

Rings

Sean stood at the kitchen window, watching drizzle slide down the pane.

“What a lovely mornin’,” he chirped.

“Thank you, Debbie Reynolds,” Brawnie replied, picking up a dish towel to dry a freshly washed wine glass.

Sean continued scrubbing crusty residue off last night’s dinner plates.

“I wonder,” he asked hesitantly, “how a guy would find out someone’s ring size without asking?”

Brawnie raised his eyebrows. 

“Are you trying to tell me something?”

“I mean,” Sean explained, “if you wanted the perfect ending to your musical.…”

Brawnie gulped lukewarm coffee from his mug. 

“I suppose the guy could just keep tap dancing around the question,” he suggested. 

“Then again,” he continued, looking out the rainy window, “if I were Gene Kelly, it’s possible I already would have gone off and bought a ring for my darling Debbie.”

Sean smirked. He placed a handful of cooking utensils in their drawer.

“What a lovely mornin’.”

Copyright 2019 by Brian Dean Powers
Photo by Sandy Millar at unsplash.com