Moe’s Tavern wasn’t the ideal place to announce good news. It was leagues past happy hour and most of the regulars sat pitched forward in their seats, sucking on the polished pine of Moe’s fixtures, dizzied by the amount of intoxicants they’d imbibed over the evening. But two of the stools sat conspicuously empty.
The surly guy behind the bar glared as Lenny and Carl finally walked through his front door. “Great, more alkies to feed.” He extended his elbow and nudged Barney – who had stretched out over the top of the bar like a bloated whale – away from the taps. Grimacing, he muttered something about spit on the taps before turning back toward Lenny and Carl. “What can I get you guys?”
“A bag of rice!” Carl enthused.
““You’re looking at the smiling faces of two would-be domestic partners!” Lenny said, grinning widely.
“Aww, that’s terrific,” Moe declared, slapping the bar with his rag and sending drops of beer sprinkling into ashtrays and over a pile of cheap Duff beer coasters. “Hey everybody! Drinks are half off for the next ten minutes!”
“Hey, shouldn’t they be on the house?” Barney wondered.
“What’s it look like I’m running, a soup kitchen here?” he glowered, turning toward the taps with a glare. “Lucky SOBs, always got a ladle and all the margarine they can eat…”
It was Homer who finally spoke up, “Waiit…does that mean you’re….you…do stuff with each other?”
“Yeah, but when we’re done I don’t have to drive him home,” Carl declared.
“You mean you guys finally figured it out?” Lenny nodded enthusiastically while Carl shrugged. Homer reached for his pocket, pulled out his cell phone and dialed home. “June twenty-fifth! In your face, Marge!!” After a second of listening to his wife’s grousing, he hung up and turned toward his friends. “So when’s the happy day?” asked Homer.
“Next weekend,” Lenny said.
“We’re going to do it in his sister’s place.” Carl said. “She sorta insisted on it.”
Homer gasped. “That sounds like the most boring, least special wedding in the world! You guys aren’t going to settle for boring and non-special are you?”
“It was my idea,” Carl deadpanned.
“Let’s set it aside and go back to it later! But meanwhile why don’t you consider my idea?” Homer plunged eagerly through the total silence that followed. “Let ME take care of the ceremony,” Homer said. “I’ll do it for almost free! And then you can do it in my backyard!! Uh, not literally.”
“I don’t know. That doesn’t sound very intimate,” Carl said.
“I’ll provide complimentary lukewarm ginger ale for toasting and bags of kettle corn for every guest!”
Lenny rubbed his chin. “I do like kettle corn. It’s like regular popcorn that spikes my blood sugar!”
“And we can get a skywriter who’ll fill the air with the least filthy slogan money can buy.” Homer added.
Carl and Lenny exchanged glances. “Uh, to be perfectly honest, Homer, we weren’t planning on making it a big deal. We were going to go to Capitol City for the weekend.”
“Psht! Capitol City sucks! Their bums only speak four languages and the parking garages are made of fifty percent platinum.” Homer clasped the two men in a warm embrace. “So what do you say, guys? Will you let me give you a late afternoon to remember?”
Lenny shrugged. He and Carl locked eyes silently, and Lenny finally came up with the right words. “All right.”
Homer continued, “an expensive and heavily taxed ceremony that will be as memorable as it is beneficial…to me…”
Carl groaned. Lenny gritted his teeth. Moe scribbled out a check on the back of his overdue electric bill and sent it down the bar.
“Do you think we did the right thing?”
Carl shrugged, sucking a blob of frozen yogurt from the tip of his thumb. “We did the easiest thing.”
“But what if we end up regretting it for the rest of our lives? We work in a nuclear plant – we don’t have that much of a life left to waste!”
“Len, stop worrying about it. I didn’t bring you out to your favorite vegan, low-sodium, non-fat yogurt shop just so you could whine the whole time.”
They were promptly approached by a man dressed up in a tofu chunk costume topped with an old-fashioned panama hat. “Welcome to the Healthy Nut! I’m Blandy, the Tofutti Square and I’ll be your waiter! Today’s special is the Soy Delicious Sundae and the Sugar-Free Chocolate Surprise. The surprise is what makes it SOY delicious!”
“Uh, we’ll take two of the last one, with four spoons,” Carl said. As the waiter plodded off, he encouraged Lenny, “just relax, have a good time.” A clatter in the kitchen made both men wince – and, predictably, two seconds later Homer emerged, rolling a huge barrel of Tofutti before him as he rushed for the door. “I’M TAKINGTHISASAFREESAMPLEHILENNYHICARLTHECATERING’SALMOTDONE!”
As he zoomed away, Carl said, “didn’t he say Marge was handling the catering?”
Lenny cringed, holding his stomach. “I’m not supposed to get food in my ulcer,” he groaned.
It was Carl who chased after Homer, pulled him aside, and suggested that things were getting out of hand. Simple was better than a jailed Homer and no ceremony at all. And so, Homer promised that they’d simplify things.
“Now, do you want a forty-tier cake or a two hundred tier cake? The two hundred tier one comes with a free Sherpa!”
Somehow they managed to survive the tuxedo fitting. And all sixty-five cake tastings. And standing through several gigs at tiny clubs by bands that specialized in Roots Sadcore. And by the time they arrived at a bachelor party at Club Bananas attended by half of the church and a bunch of flame juggling acrobats, Lenny and Carl knew they were ready to face whatever the future had in store for them side by side, striving together through the crabgrass and weeds that carpeted the Simpsons’ back yard. The knew that they could survive the mud puddles, oil slicks and the nosy neighbors of life.
With eyebrows turned to raw streaks of ash by the acrobats, but nonetheless, together.