Church of the Erotic Redemption

Do you believe in love at first sight?

Chris and Dale remember it as a summer of love. It was unexpected.
It was wonderful.

They had been practically inseparable, ever since they met. Chris
was a junior at the University, and Dale had just finished an honors
semester in Europe when they were introduced at a cocktail party at
Dr. Lewis's house. Even though Dale had been out of the country for
a few months, they quickly discovered that they had many mutual
friends, both from school and from the community. They spent the
entire evening playing "Do you know so-and-so?", essentially ignoring
everybody else milling around them at the party.

After the party wound down, neither of them was willing to admit
that the evening was just about at an end. Chris said, "Would you
like to go out for a cup of coffee or something?"

"Of course I would," replied Dale.

They spent the rest of the night at the coffee shop, talking quietly
and laughing together softly. Occasionally, one or the other of them
would reach across the small table and touch the other's hand,
ostensibly to make a point. In actuality, they both were craving
just a momentary physical confirmation that the person sitting across
from them, so ephemeral and yet so real, was really there, really
talking and sharing. When, at last, the dawn cast its pale pink
fingers into the eastern horizon, they both, as if already
choreographed and rehearsed, stood, held out their hands to clasp the
proffered one, and slipped wordlessly out the door and down the
sleepy side street to Dale's small apartment. They watched each
other intently as they each undressed, still not saying a word, until
they both stood there, one on each side of the double bed, naked and
revealed. Together they reached up to pull the bedspread down,
together they slipped between cool sheets, and folded into each
other's arms for the first time.

Their first, soft kisses became stronger, more penetrating, until
they each felt as if they were sharing cellular information about
each other, imprinting on the other their mark, their scent, their
brand. Dale's psyche accepted the request from Chris, just as
Chris's soul willingly acquiesced to Dale's unspoken wishes.

They made love.

It was a memorable time for them both, one they could, together and
separately, remember at times, instantly able to call up a vestige of
the quiet hunger they each felt that first time.

And now, two years after that first all-night date, they were
exchanging vows. Actually, there were two weddings planned. Both
Dale and Chris came from large families (Dale had four sisters and
five brothers; Chris only had three siblings, but the extended family
included dozens of cousins). To make matters even more complicated,
most of Chris's family was located up and down the California coast,
while Dale was from New England. They decided that it was a lot
easier for the two of them to travel from coast to coast than it was
for either large entourage to make the trip to the left or the right
shoreline, so they announced to all and sundry that they would
schedule two ceremonies, one for each set of relatives, one on the
west coast and one on the east coast.

Of course, that meant planning two weddings, two receptions.
Ordering two wedding cakes, hiring two caterers, renting two banquet
halls. On the other hand, it also meant that they could have two
completely different bridal parties, so neither family could feel
slighted over the choices of bridesmaids, groomsmen, ushers, or

Both of their mothers were eager to help, too. After all, Dale's
mother just adored Chris, and Chris's mother thought Dale was just
the settling influence that her oldest child needed to fulfill what
she reluctantly considered to be a rather shallow and directionless

Even though Dale and Chris had set up housekeeping together many
months before, they were still anxious to solemnify their
relationship in front of their God, their friends and their families.
They were eager to write their own vows, giving to each other what
they considered to be the best of each of them.

And so, on a glorious summer's day in June, Chris and Dale were
walking down the main aisle of an 18th century church near Boston,
holding hands and beaming with happiness, having just given and
accepted the best gifts two people can share. They stepped out into
the midafternoon sunshine, each drinking in the warmth of the sun and
the warmth of the love that surrounded them, while rose petals wafted
all around them, tossed into the air by crying mothers and dashing
little children.

Later, at the reception, all the guests, all the wedding party, ate
good food and drank copious amounts of wine, all in celebration of
this blessed union. Chris's parents flew in from San Francisco for
the occasion, and the two mothers of the happy couple spent the
evening in happy communion, getting to know each other, now that they
were tied together through the marriage of their children.

Two weeks later, this time with Dale's parents in attendance, Chris and
Dale once again spoke their vows in front of another group of family and
friends. It was just as beautiful the second time around, both sets of
parents agreed. Another reception, another occasion to eat and drink and
toast to the long health of a new marriage, another confirmation for both
Dale and for Chris that they had made the correct choice, that this union
would last through any trial or tribulation set before them, that the vows
they had spoken would stand the test of time.

Do you believe in love at first sight?

Back in the heady university days, Chris would have scoffed at the
idea. Never that much of a romantic, Chris could understand a
healthy case of lust at first sight. Dale, on the other hand, loved
to read inspiring tales of love tested and thriving (no, not the
suffocating Harlequin Romance novels: more along the lines of "Doctor
Zhivago" and Elizabeth Barrett Browning). It wasn't until several
months into their relationship that they talked candidly about the
philosophical dichotomy of the concept of "love at first sight", and
the concept of if there was truly, for each and every person, a "soul
mate", as contrasted with the religious debate over free will. As
they became more accustomed to each other, reveling in the
discoveries of their bodies and their innermost feelings, learning
how to manipulate their lover's senses to quicken or delay during
their lovemaking, or even in casual conversation, these offhand
worries became less and less important, especially when compared to
the tremendous satisfaction they were providing for each other.

Was it destiny? Or was it merely serendipity that both of them were
invited to that cocktail party?

Do you believe in love at first sight?

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