When we left off after our last installment, the introduction to this, Sweatpants Wedding Without Any Qualifiers, or, The Sweatpants Without Qualities, which comprises both Sweatpants Wedding Itself by Stephan McCormick and The Making of Sweatpants Wedding by me, we’d found ourselves in a situation. It was 2010 in the middle of yet another sweltering night in my kitchen in Milledgeville, Georgia. Stephan and I were petting a stolen dog, eating kale quiche, and drinking vodka and chocolate milk. I had mentioned to Stephan that, for the last seven years, I’d been talking about an idea for a musical in which everyone wears sweatpants to a wedding.
“Seven years is a long time,” Stephan said.
“I know,” I said.
“For posterity, could you restate what the hold-up here is?” Stephan said.
“I have a brilliant idea for a musical, but I lack song and dance writing skills, and I have a real aversion to self-improvement, so I’m unable to learn.”
“You do, however, have me, a man with musical talent in spades.”
“I prefer to say, rather, that ‘we have each other.’”
And so our union cemented itself. Yes, while sitting in my kitchen in Milledgeville, Georgia, listening to the cicadas whir in the hot nighttime density outside the screen door, we decided that if we joined my idea with Stephan’s song and dance skills, perhaps we, two halfway-complete men, could equal one whole one.
The idea intoxicated me, and if I had to imagine what Stephan was thinking at the time, kale quiche in his belly, vodka and choco in his hand, it was probably something like this:
Ah yes. I am intoxicated too. Finally, an opportunity to write songs about the type of pants that cannot conceal erections. No, songs about jeans will not work. Khakis, while lightweight, still allow a man to conceal his arousal. And what a shame that is! We go through life, us men, with feelings inside us. And nobody understands that! They see guys like me, and they think, “I should ask him for directions,” or, “I bet he’s good at online gaming.” But they don’t see that we have feelings inside us. And this is no good! It’s a lonely life we lead. If only, if only it were more socially acceptable to wear the pants we all love anyway, then, when we got the erections, everyone would see them and know that we had real, true, proper interiors. Like, thoughts, feelings, memories, moods, tics, doubts, hopes, etc. And not just buzzing nervous systems of impulses and hormones! Yes, the erection is the only truth I know. I pass my days in my poetry office, churning out words, but none of them are adequate to the pole that wakes me in the morning and says, “Stephan, look at me! You are a man! Go forth and seize the destiny that’s your God-given right!”
Stephan, I’m pretty sure, was thinking something along those lines. The point, though, is that, on this otherwise average night in Milledgeville, sitting in my dimly lit kitchen, the hole in the floor with the view to the dirt threatening to unleash its wave of cockroaches at any second, the screen door wholly incapable of fending off the thick, soporific air outside, the chorus of the landscape still singing even though the neighborhood had long since gone to bed—the cicadas, the hiss of steam rising from the still-hot pavement—two things happened.
The first is that Stephan and I agreed to join our imperfect selves and become the perfect one capable of making Sweatpants Wedding into reality. The second is that we abandoned the plot line I’d conceived in 2004 about the inappropriateness of the heiress to the Gushers fruit snack fortune marrying a guy who wears sweatpants.
“Instead of that,” Stephan said, “the best man will get an erection while looking at the bride-to-be across the river, the world will know it because he’s wearing sweatpants, and everything will go to hell.”
And so our story began to unfold. Then and there, Stephan pulled out his legal pad and began to pen a song. The song would feature the bride, the groom, the maid of honor, and the best man (who was also the maid of honor’s boyfriend) singing about sweatpants and why they like them. Also, the song would include a rap from grandma that would be good enough to warrant “lights flaring alive” all around her.
Stephan scribbled furiously. The ice in his vodka choco shrank until it became nothing. Meanwhile, I paced back and forth, stomping what cockroaches managed to escape the hole in the floor. It was an electric moment. Stephan wrote and wrote until the light began to disperse the dark, cotton-y fuzz that choked the sweetgums and willow oaks outside my door. I had grown tired, and rested my head against the wall in the kitchen, not wanting to go to sleep and miss out, but not wanting to abandon Stephan, who, through it all, barely blinked as he filled his pages with verse. Finally, he looked up, his eyes red, his face drained of color.
“Grandma will be the wise one,” he said, “the one who recognizes the truth about marriage, and, about pants.”
“Do you think we can pull it off?” I said.
The short answer, just like it was at the end of last week’s installment of Sweatpants Wedding Without Any Qualifiers, or, The Sweatpants Without Qualities, would be no.
Tom Dibblee is Trop’s editor. His fiction has appeared in Glimmer Train and his nonfiction has appeared in Pacific Standard, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and the Point. He lives in Los Angeles.