A Christmas love story -- a story espousing commitment, marriage, sharing,
and faith in the future.  
In my world view, the concept of Love brought to us by Jesus is the true
universal constant, and its ultimate expression is the public forging of a
life-long bond of commitment between two people.  Your feedback is invited by
the author.
Combining a wedding ceremony with a going-away party had seemed like a good
idea, but the champagne wooze in my head was giving me second thoughts as we
parked at the dock with a long caravan of honking cars behind us.
I looked at Pat sitting next to me in the Jag, and asked, "You still up for
Pat tossed me that mischievous grin I love so much, laid a hand on my thigh,
and slurred lewdly, "Awww, Tracey...Whassamatter, Sailor, can't handle a
little partyin'?"
It was an old joke between us; Pat wasn't even close to drunk. Actually,
neither was I, but departing on a sea voyage with anything like  a champagne
head offends my sense of prudence.  
Pat opened the passenger door and slid out into the throng of wedding guests
who'd surrounded our car.  I sighed resignedly and opened my own door.
 Immediately the chill Sausalito night air invaded my sinuses and the breeze
off San Francisco Bay ruffled my hair, filling my lungs and bracing me into
instant sobriety.  The salt air, combined with the crowd of well-wishers
thumping my back and hugging me, quickly made me impatient to get underway.
We walked down the dock to "Scheherezade," our 48-foot Fountaine-Pajot
catamaran, making our way through a shower of rice, paper streamers, and
confetti.  The gangplank was down, and as we crossed it a couple dozen people
followed us aboard.  While Pat and I went below to change into sailing
clothes, our guests found the glasses stored in the galley.  Soon, the sound
of popping champagne corks filled the night like small-arms fire.  
By the time we came back abovedecks, dressed in silk long-john's under
poly-cotton jogging suits under Henri Wichard offshore suits, the wedding
party had renewed itself upon our thousand-plus square feet of deck space.
 Someone had found the controls for the boat's stereo system, people were
dancing madly to Pat's k.d.lang CD at high volume, and our sleek white vessel
had assumed the appearance of a floating nightclub.
Glancing around, I could see folks on adjacent boats looking over at us,
smiling, some raising their own glasses in salute.  With wry amusement, I
figured it would be a miracle if we got away from the dock without having to
fish someone out of the bay with a gaff hook.
"Hey, Trace," Pat leaned close and shouted in my ear, "you ready for the
check list?"
"Let's do it, Hon!" I shouted back.  "Maybe we can get away from here before
The boat was essentially ready, I knew.  John and Andy, our next-door
neighbors and fellow sailors, had spent most of the day preparing and
provisioning her for our Honeymoon cruise.  But Pat and I believed in
checking everything for ourselves, just for safety.  After all, only an idiot
would begin a Christmas cruise from San Francisco to Hawaii without
personally verifying that everything was aboard and in good working order.
Thirty minutes later, the check list was complete and we could begin
shepherding guests off the boat.  When the last tipsy friend had reached the
dock, I raised the gangplank and started the engines while Pat went to the
port side to bring the dock lines aboard.  
John and Andy were there, quick and ready as ever.  Though attired in
full-dress tux and tails, they slipped the lines from the pilings and tossed
them to Pat like veteran stevedores while Pat began Flemishing the lines into
tight coils on the deck.  I turned the wheel to starboard with a brief burst
of reverse power, and Scheherezade slipped almost soundlessly away, gliding
to the right and back into the open water of the harbor.
A cheer arose from the crowd on the dock, and I saw a blizzard of rice and
confetti -- God knew where they'd stashed it all -- rising into the night sky
toward us.  The white specks caught the lights of the harbor and the shops
along the avenue, falling like shooting stars into the dark water, making
millions of sparkling ripples as if a benevolent God had dusted diamonds on
the surface in a parting gesture.
"Goodbye!" "Happy Honeymoon!" "Aloha!" "Bon Voyage!" came the shouts.  As our
wedding guests waved us on our way, people on the other boats waved also.
 They could have had no idea precisely what was going on, but they were
obviously happy to salute any kind of party.  Boat people are like that. It
was a helluva sendoff for a pair of 40-year old newlyweds.
I backed us gently out till we were well clear of all the moorings, then spun
the wheel and put the engines in slow forward.  Without needing instruction,
Pat began raising sail and quickly had over two thousands yards of crisp
Dacron towering above us, taut and trim in the starlight.  
It was an uncommonly perfect night for sailing.  The wind was about 15 knots
south by southeast, and seas in the bay were barely two feet high.  With her
sails up, Scheherezade lunged forward, taking the wind's bit in her teeth and
making the waves  cream along her twin hulls.  I cut the engines and raised
them in their wells, settled the boat on a southwesterly  reach, and began to
enjoy the night's starry, moonlit dreamscape. 
It's an experience only sailors ever know, and one Pat and I had found great
pleasure in over the years of our relationship.  With the stereo off, the
sibilant hiss of the waves was our only musical accompaniment.  Off to port,
the ruined white towers and battlements of Alcatraz loomed coldly in the
night, offering a sterile contrast to the riot of colorful lights that
emblazoned San Francisco's rolling hills.
Deck chores finished, Pat bounced through the cockpit and into the saloon
galley and became very busy at something.   I felt a moment's irritation.
 We'd been dating for five years, living together for two, and tonight we'd
finally "jumped the broom" in the presence of a few dozen friends.  Now we
were off on a dream cruise, a Christmas Honeymoon to fabled isles, and I
deserved to have my mate snuggled close at my side.  What could be so
important in the galley as to be worth deserting me in this silver moment?
My answer came quickly enough to shame me, as a firm body in red-and-yellow
Goretex hugged my neck and handed me a steaming, spill-proof mug of strong
Kona Coffee laced with condensed milk and a smidgeon of Myer's rum.
"Well, Captain, " a voice whispered with warm breath against the back of my
neck, "are you sorry we did the deed?  No Buyer's Remorse, yet?"
I chuckled.  "Nope.  Best thing I ever did.  Don't know why I waited so
"Me, neither," Pat laughed. "There were moments when I thought you'd never
"Ask? Who, me?" I grinned.  "As I recall, it was you who asked..."
" the house at Sea Ranch..."
"...that night in the water bed..."
" was the incense and Honey Dust that made you weak..."
"...I was drugged, helpless against your charms..."
"...and I took advantage of your weakness to snare you for life..."
Pat giggled and hugged me so hard I almost dropped my grip on the wheel.
In truth, that night had been so magical it remained etched in my memory like
an Escher drawing.  We had been together for years, dancing around
commitment, approaching while drawing away, contemplating and discussing but
always rejecting the finality of a lifetime vow.  Looking back, I knew it was
fear, and nothing else, that had kept us from taking the plunge sooner.  But
that night, with the Pacific waves pounding over the rocks and the distant
calls of
the seals coming through the open bedroom windows, our lovemaking had reached
mythical proportions.  It was then I knew -- as had Pat -- we were so
perfectly made for each other that marriage was the only answer for our
futures.  And it was the following morning that we began planning it, the
whole nine yards, civil ceremony, invited guests, wedding cake, dancing,
catered food, all to be capped with a cruise we'd both dreamed of.
Now, two short months later, there we were, snuggled in the cockpit, the wind
sighing through the rigging, the lights of the Golden Gate before us, sailing
into the first night of the rest of our lives.  Married folks.  Till Death
doth us part. Whither Thou goest, I will go.
I turned my head, gazed into those dark eyes that had captivated me so, and
said, "Pat, whatever you did to me to get me to marry, I'm really glad you
did it.  I love you, Hon."
"You sure?" The dark eyes laughed back at me.  "You wouldn't go back to,
uh...what was it we called it? 'open relationship'?"
We had done that of course; lots of people do.  We'd been oh-so-very adult
and mature and civilized, allowing each other freedom to shop around, check
out other potential partners.  But all that happened was we'd come home at
night and spend an hour or so drinking coffee and bitching about each other's
dates.  And slowly it had dawned on each of us that there wasn't anybody we
loved, or conceivably could love, as much as we loved and appreciated and
enjoyed each other.
Our night at Sea Ranch had only been the icing on the cake.  The final tie
that bound.  The anchor falling to the ocean floor, nailing our joined lives
fast to the spinning earth.
 "I'm sure," I said, with a hug to the neck and a ruffle of the hair.
 Keeping one hand on the wheel, while using the other hand to turn that
familiar fine-pointed chin toward me and kiss those pouting lips, I said
again, "I'm really sure.  Never doubt it."
Pat smiled at me a moment, stars sparkling in dark eyes, then  put an arm
around my waist and snuggled close.  "Trace, you're a lovesick jerk.  But
you're my jerk.  Never doubt it."
I turned my head back forward, chuckling inside, my eyes automatically
scanning the compass and GPS and depth/wind instruments.  Scheherazade glided
over the bay like a giant white seagull, hungry and eager for the passage.
 We soared under the Golden Gate bridge, its strings of amber lights
twinkling in our phosphorescent wake, and entered the wide Pacific.  
The idea of a Christmas Honeymoon had been mine.  I'd been raised a
Christian, had always found peace and hope in the teachings of Jesus.  Pat,
however, was a confirmed agnostic, preferring to seek the blessings of the
"Great Tree Dryad" on our marriage than any sort of Judeo-Christian deity,
while still cheerfully acquiescing to my own need to have a faith.  That was
why we'd had a civil ceremony rather than one officiated by a Pastor. 
But the difference seemed minor; it didn't really concern me.  I was
convinced of my own salvation, and I felt confident Pat would make it to
heaven under my Grace.  As to what church, if any, we'd someday join, I
figured it was something we could work out later.
At the seaward bouy, as the gold and emerald and ruby and sapphire and
diamond lights of San Francisco-by-the-Bay receded behind us, I changed
course to south by southwest for Hawaii.  Pat re-set the sails, then returned
to my side.   We sat close, sipping coffee, luxuriating in the night and the
wind and the curve of the sails against the moon.
It was Christmas.  We were married.  And we were free of all shore-bound
cares, moving swiftly over the swells that traveled  thousands of miles to
bring us the scents and sounds of distant landfalls.  The Milky Way spread a
starry banner above us, and the night and the ocean took us away into a world
where fear was banished and doubt was forbidden and loneliness was illegal,
and only love...only our pure and Blessed love...remained.
                                 THE END
Author's notes: 
My idea here was to create a Christmas love story -- a story espousing
commitment, marriage, sharing, and faith in the future -- but without giving
any hint of the newlyweds' gender or orientation.  In my world view, the
concept of Love brought to us by Jesus is the true universal constant, and
its ultimate expression is the public forging of a life-long bond of
commitment between two people.
I liked the way Pat and Tracey's characters and relationship developed as I
wrote, the way hints of differences were accepted,  small idiosyncracies
cherished, and mutual Life Commitments affirmed.  Those are the things that
count for me, overwhelmingly so, rendering questions of orientation and
gender immaterial. 
Are Pat & Tracey gay? Lesbian? Straight?
Where Love is concerned, I don't think it matters.
Buzz Kelly, Copyright 1/3/95, <>.  
All rights retained, except that free distribution and library upload are
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involved.  Email comments invited.  If this file is stored or distributed, it
must be copied it its entirity including all information herein - beginning
with the word "SARABANDE" continuing through the notices included to the end
of this sentence.