I toppled another wine jar and strained the last drop from it; I was drunk, but parched, far too reckless, too uninhibited, yet not incapacitated enough. The pot crashed to floor and cracked like a dry cistern. I turned to search for another flagon only to encounter yet another uncle, who enquired when it would be my turn to be married.
My youngest brother held court, robbed in the embroidered wedding gown. It was threaded through the family from Micah, the eldest, handed down then, taken in here and there. He was enjoying the bounty of the feast that was planned for myself. He waved, regally.
“Marriage isn’t for me, Uncle Dave” I said, and waved back. Ben revelled in the attention.
Uncle Dave screwed his face up in a lecherous wink then pinched the back side of a serving wench, “It's not always necessary to bother with all that, my lad.”
I blanched at appalling prospect of bedding the maid, more than the brazen fornication. The Uncle Daves of this world seem to get away with it; where as, my kind, must contain themselves in self-guarded prison.
The musicians wailed a merry ditty, counterpoint to the dirge to my pent up frustration. The dance floor was divided in two, a procession of dancers flirted with the division and respectability. I remained stranded, with the dizzying twirl of temptations wrapped in festive costumes. Uncle Dave's fraternal hug made me feel even more disturbed.
I sought an alternative distraction or more drink. I wove round the crowded room upending drained pots. The fresh air of the courtyard beckoned. There the conversation was thick with more rustic accents. A distant Aunt was asking a bath to be poured. One of my cousins seemed to need a ceremonial bath. And they call me “queer”.
“Joses, have you all got religion?” I teased. He shook his head and gesture to the eldest of the cousins.
He called me aside and left his friends. He was not my type, neither handsome nor boyish, and well beyond the normal age when he should raise a family. I could feel safe converse with out my devils clamouring too loudly. I went.
“It's been a long time,” he said, “Micah's wedding?”
“Must have been. I'm no the marrying kind, before you ask.”
“I know,” he stated, “Neither am I, before you ask.”
“Why hasn't a nice Jewish boy like you found a lovely girl to settle down with? Have children, make the nation strong, blah, blah…” I imitated.
“I know just how you feel.”
'Do you?', I thought. 'Are you like me? Could it be that I am not the only one who feels this way about other men?'
“Yes, I do. I came to be with you on this happy occasion. Love isn’t just about marriage”.
“Ha! It's better for everyone that I just stay the way I am” I admitted. “Except religion is no comfort or excuse from me. I couldn't love a wife enough to be... content. Don't you ever regret missing out on love and marriage stuff?”
“Do you mean to be like Uncle Dave?” his head tilted, eyes penetrating to my soul. He knew me. What had I let on?
I tried to swallow, but could only splutter, “What is the difference between what I want and what he gets away with?”
“Nothing, really. It's all tempting. Very tempting. It's better for you, better for Uncle Dave, better for everyone that I miss the marriage stuff. I could if I wanted to, but I could never be content if I did. I know what desire feels like.”
He was interrupted by servants returning with his bath water. They rolled the cumbersome jar across the flag stones sloshing water as they went. He bade them pour it out.
Meanwhile, I flattened my self behind a column, while I tried to figure out what kind of religion he’d bought into. His friends, an odd assortment, were simply enjoying the party: laughing at jokes, eating, drinking, and dancing. I could have been one of them. My cousin could have been just like me. He understood rather than condemned.
“It looks like you want some more to drink.” He dipped a pitcher into the water jar and sloshed it into a goblet. “Here, have some of my own.”
I carelessly quaffed the cup. My palette was graced with rich, plump grape, with a hint of milk and honey. It was vintage claret and thicker than water.
The story of this encounter is entirely fictional, though set at the wedding in Cana recorded in John Chapter 2. With reference to Hebrews 4: 14-16.
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