Two Men in a Bar: A True Parable About Gay Marriage

It's mid-May.
I'm in a Minneapolis hotel bar
Slick, dark and red-lit
Sipping a husky tempranillo
Resting after a busy day
Mindlessly checking email on my phone
Reading the latest headlines
Minding my own business.

I'm aware of three men
At the other end of the bar
Engrossed in an NBA playoff game
Because they are making noise.
I can't help but overhear what happens.

It's Chicago and some other team.
The man at the end of the bar,
Maybe early 30s
With dark frame glasses
And short slick black hair,
Is especially boisterous.
He is a Chicago Bulls fanatic.
He offers a running commentary
In a clear voice that sounds as though
He's a color commentator
On a sports station.

Two other men watch with him
And comment in softer tones
But the young man with glasses
Repeatedly proclaims his allegiance to the Bulls
Exulting with each goal.
One especially dramatic dunk
Elicits a whoop
For which he apologizes
To the rest of us at the bar.

Murmured conversation among the three
Continues during commercials.
And then the other two settle their tab
And leave.
The big Bulls fan at the end of the bar
Must now watch the game alone
In silence.

But only for a few minutes.

There is another young man at the bar
Seated midway between me
And that pumped Bulls fan.
This young man has been chatting with the bartender
And they must be old friends
Perhaps from high school a few years before.
Just enough of an overheard conversation
To make it sound so.

The game continues.
The big Bulls fan at the end of the bar
Says something about Chicago
To the man in at the middle.
They realize they are both from Chicago.
The man at the end of the bar
Says something about Rahm Emmanuel.
The man in the middle comments.
Sporadic conversation continues.

The big Bulls fan at the end of the bar
Asks the man in the middle
"What do you do in Chicago?"
The man in the middle responds,
Then adds,
"My husband teaches at the university."

His husband.

The big Bulls fan doesn't blink.
He asks the middle man more
About his husband.
And they keep talking.

It is as natural a conversation
Between two strangers
As you could ever overhear
In a bar in Minnesota
With a basketball game playing
On the big flat screen.

You can overhear similar conversations
In some churches
But not in others.
Maybe we should start more of them.