Always a bridesmaid…


I believe I’ve been uncommonly lucky, considering decades of friends and weddings, to have been a bridesmaid only twice. Both of those were for the same bride, different grooms, nine years apart. So that means only two bad bridesmaid dresses in my many celebrations of my thirty-fifth birthday–and since I’ve had two weddings of my own, my ratio is good.


In David Puterbaugh’s story in the forthcoming Foolish Hearts: New Gay Fiction, Peter and Natalie have gone to Provincetown to be in their best friends’ wedding. Natalie has made an exception to her “never again a bridesmaid” rule for Brian and Jason. To Peter, the couple is the perfect contrast to the bad relationship stories he and Natalie have collected over the years. The two aren’t sure there’s any hope for their own happily-ever-afters, and Natalie suggests they start an advice blog called “How to Be Single at a Wedding.”

While they brainstorm in the hours ahead of the ceremony, Peter begins reflecting on his romantic failures.


“Check your past at the door,” Natalie said now, typing at an impressive speed given how much champagne she’d drunk. “No one will want to slow dance with you to a Michael Bublé song if the ghost of your ex-boyfriend or girlfriend keeps cutting in.”

Since coming out at age twenty-five, Peter had had three boyfriends: Joseph, a waiter at a steakhouse; Tom, a freelance graphic artist with a studio loft; and Michael, a travel agent. All three relationships ended badly. Joseph had wanted an open relationship; Tom had wanted to be with someone more “artistic”; and Michael had just wanted to get high. Though Peter didn’t hate any of them, he’d seen them all naked, and couldn’t stop seeing them in his mind, sleeping in his bed beside him. I don’t understand how some people can stay friends after breaking up, he thought. When it’s over, it’s over.

Six months ago he’d met a man online named Matthew. Matt was a forty-five-year-old special education teacher with a great sense of humor, a cute cocker spaniel named Chloe, and an impressive cookbook collection. Matthew was crazy about Peter, and Peter told himself he was crazy. This was everything he wanted, wasn’t it? Everything and more?

Matthew is a lovely man. A lovely man I don’t love.

Last weekend he’d tried to send Matthew a message, to tell him again how sorry he was. But Matt had already unfriended him on Facebook. When it’s over, it’s over.

Is there a time when we should stop believing finding love is possible? Read more in Foolish Hearts: New Gay Fiction, on sale January 14, 2014.

Excerpt reprinted with permission from Cleis Press. All rights reserved.

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10 Responses to Always a bridesmaid…

  1. Gary says:

    Oh, Becky, How you tease!!! This was not long enough. I have LOVED every one of David’s stories that I have read and look forward to this anthology VERY much! It is going to be my birthday gift to myself!

  2. marika says:

    But Matt had already unfriended him on Facebook.

    That made me laugh. I can’t wait to read more …

  3. Jim. S. says:

    “Is there a time when we should stop believing finding love is possible?” I say, “Never.” I have a couple in my church. His (a man in his late fifties) wife died of a long bout with cancer six years ago. Her (a woman in her early sixties) husband died four years ago suddenly one winter Saturday in January. Both grieved long and deeply for the loves they lost. Both were in a grief recovery group I led four years ago.

    Three months ago he took her to lunch. Now, in church every Sunday, they sit together, sharing a hymnal, and look at each other the way I remember our high school friends looking at their first loves with big-eyed infatuation, noticeable endearment, and, yes, obvious love.

    When certain relationships end, love in that instant is often over; but when you stop believing finding love is possible, you can start believing love itself is impossible. It never is.

    I had a retired associate pastor who lost his wife of sixty-plus years find powerful love again when he was well into his eighties. Never, ever give up on love. It’s the most positively powerful force I have ever encountered. To quote someone I quote often, “Love never ends.”

    I’ll be interested in the latest works you have edited. Additionally (and way off the subject) I have always liked your look; the hair straight, longish, and parted down the middle. To me, it’s YOUR look. “Oh, look! She reminds me of Becky.”

    • Becky says:

      Beautifully expressed, as is your gift. I agree that love never ends–there is no power stronger, not even death. Even when the last person who remembers us with love is gone, love lives on because of all the people our love affected and all the people they’ve affected…

      I have a look! =)

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