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AFTNWORDj BY EMILY DePRANG The Price of Desire About this time three years ago, I was standing at a sliding glass door in a bedroom, parting heavy goldenrod curtains to look into the backyard, where 40 friends and relatives fanned themselves in the Austin heat and a string quartet racked up overtime. I was stalling. A young woman in a smart tuxthe best manopened the bedroom door and stuck her head in. “Are we ready?” she asked. “Almost,” I said. My sister, sheathed in pink satin, ceremoniously poured a slug of Maker’s Mark into a plastic cup. My bridesman, Jon, passed me a black cap gun. I drank the whiskey and slipped the snub-nosed noisemaker under my blue garter for luck. “OK,” I said. Were ready.” This was my Texas wedding. According to , the average American wedding now costs $20,000, which, assuming a 30-minute ceremony and four-hour reception, means getting married costs roughly the same hourly rate as accompanying a top-shelf escort onboard a private jet with an open bar. Weddings generate $58 billion a year. So does the economy of Libya. Knowing this, I was resolved not to be one of those brides who rides a giant snowball of poor decision-making down a mountain of consumerism, only to engulf the chalet of her future happiness in a frozen blanket of debt. Not me. I would have a small, DIY, countercultural, backyard, lesbian wedding. And that’s exactly what I got. A small, DIY, countercultural, $10,000, backyard, lesbian wedding. First there was the ring. I told S, my boyish girl groom, that I wanted a pink sapphire instead of a diamond because I thought it was silly to spend thousands of dollars on a rock whose value is so artificially inflated, and when the so-called tradition is just a marketing invention, and when the money tends to find its way into the hands of jungle warlords, and so forth. A nice pink sapphire would run us a couple hundred bucks, I thought. S took me to the jeweler, who shook five one-carat pink sapphires of indistinguishably different clarity and hue onto a piece of black velvet and told me to choose one. I pretended to apply sophisticated discernment to the selection, looked at each through a loupe while clutching them delicately with needlenose tweezers, and then picked one at random. I waited outside while S and the jeweler discussed the price. It turned out I’d picked a $3,000 rock. Then came the dress. Picking a wedding dress is an exercise in relativity. First, innocent and ignorant as a babe in the woods, you go to a boutique where you’re treated like a princess. A princess of a country larger and wealthier than Libya, one whose king and queen have unlimited gold to spend on a gown made of purest silk woven by fairies from hairs gathered by lovingly brushing a unicorn’s tail. Then you find out the dress costs more than your Acura, and you go to a discount store and look at the off-the-rack alternatives. There, standing under the fluorescent lights on a little platform of green carpet with your nubby toes poking out from under the dull polyester hem, you think, “I’m not spending $400 to feel shabby.” Actually, first you think, “Fat underarms? Is that a problem I have?” And then you think, “In for a penny, in for a pound.” So you go to a department store and let them guide you through the infinite variations toward something you like and can kind of afford, and by the time you put on one you love, you are not only willing to spend $900 on a dress you’ll wear once, you’ve actually come to feel like quite the reasonable woman, the bargain shopper, the girl who wears her cake and eats it too. Ishould probably introduce the groom. Some lesbian weddings feature two brides, but not so with us. S was 24, but looked like a 14-year-old boy, thin and wiry, short, with a mop of blond hair and a serious scowl. She was terribly smart and terribly seri ous, a chain-smoking, half-Swiss queer theorist who spoke street Spanish and spent her teenage years in and out of rehab. I had to have her. We met in an English class in 2002, during my senior year at the University of Texas. We wooed each other with Keats, Sartre, and, regrettably, the Indigo Girls. We climbed the overlook at Mount Bonnell at dusk and necked in the Kerbey Lane Caf parking lot at midnight. I had never been so asphyxiatingly in love. I immediately broke up with my golden hearted boyfriend, who had just moved to Austin to be with me, came out to my parents, and started writing for the Texas I was resolved not to be one of those brides who rides a giant snowball of poor decision making down a mountain of consumerism, only to engulf the chalet of her future happiness in a frozen blanket of debt. MAY 16, 2008 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 29