Lessons Learned
Outside of School

Chapter 9

The following Saturday, I moved into the Midanis’ home. There wasn’t all that much to move because, for the time being, I decided to only take what I needed. Jamal, Akram, and Kirk helped me move my clothes, my dresser, my desk and chair, and my computer and printer. There was an unused bedroom in the house which Jamal had originally intended as a guest room. That became my office, with the desk and chair, the computer, and the printer. Jamal’s bedroom was large enough for my dresser. The clothes I needed to hang went into his walk-in closet.

Christmas was nearly upon us. I was invited to join father and son at Shahar’s home, but I had already planned to fly to New Hampshire and spend Christmas with my parents and my older brother, David. He and I didn’t get along very well but we were able to declare a truce for the holidays.

While I was home, I told my parents about Jamal and our tentative plans to marry. “And,” I added, “I’ll have a son so you folks will have a grandson.” I told them as much as I could about Akram and even about Kirk. I think Mom was disappointed that there would be no babies, but she accepted the news gracefully and said that she and Dad would fly down for the wedding.

Back home after Christmas — and I was beginning to think of the house as my home — I started to prepare for the coming school term.

Jamal and I enjoyed time in bed with each other, but we didn’t always have sex. Sometimes it was enough just to cuddle and hold each other.

School began in early January, and I found I was much less anxious than I had been at times in the fall. I informed the school office of my new address but said nothing about Jamal.

In February, Jamal formally proposed to me and presented me with a ring. He even got down on one knee to do it. Akram and Kirk watched, spellbound. When I accepted, as everyone knew I would, they jumped up and down yelling. I placed a ring on Jamal’s finger, and the deed was done. That evening, to celebrate, we had a special, delicious meal.

Jamal and I hoped to have the wedding in a park by the river. We reserved the park that was popular for wedding ceremonies for the last Tuesday in June, which would be shortly after school was dismissed for the summer. We had no particular reason to choose Tuesday except that was the first available date in late June. Then we began praying for good weather on that day.

Right after the April school vacation, I informed my class that Jamal and I were getting married. The announcement sent them into orbit as they clapped and cheered, and soon word was all over the school. They began to plan something, but they were very secretive, until Phillip requested that I not plan anything for Friday after lunch. I asked him why, more to tease him than anything else, but he just smiled and said, “You’ll see.”

Friday the kids were so excited I could barely keep them in their seats. After lunch, Jamal and Akram appeared in the doorway. Soon they were followed by parents, mostly mothers, bringing all sorts of food and soft drinks. Phillip and Kirk pushed some desks together to make a table.

When they were satisfied that all the invitees had arrived, Phillip rang my desk bell and asked for quiet. Then he called Jamal and me to the front of the room and made a little speech about this being our engagement party. At the end of his speech he handed the two of us a wrapped present. “We had no idea what to get you,” he said, “but Kirk suggested something he knew you didn’t have and would use.”

Opening the package together, Jamal and I saw a beautifully carved wooden wine rack which held bottles as well as six wine glasses. We looked at each other and grinned. Kirk was right. It would get a lot of use.

Then the kids began shouting, “Kiss! Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!”

Who could resist? Jamal and I held each other in a prolonged embrace and kissed as the kids counted the seconds. When we broke apart, they all cheered while the parents clapped. I wondered how many of them had ever seen two men kiss before. But I was beyond caring.

I held my hand up for quiet and asked Akram and Kirk to join us. With an arm around each of their shoulders I said, “I am so blessed to be welcomed into Akram’s family and I want to announce that Kirk will always be an honorary member.” Then I hugged them both.

I could see that the kids were anxious to hit the refreshment tables. Before they could get started, I reminded them that we had guests and that the visitors should go first. Somewhat reluctantly they cleared a path for the parents. As the line of parents approaching the tables diminished, I told the kids that there should be no pushing or shoving. Kirk and Phillip got them into a line and they very calmly got their refreshments. We didn’t have nearly enough chairs in the room for everyone to sit, that is until Phillip and Kirk began bringing in chairs from the hallway. Planning ahead, Kirk had asked the maintenance people to put folding chairs outside the door as well as a couple of trash barrels.

By the time we all finished eating, I could still feel the high energy in the room, and nobody has more energy than sixth graders. I asked the kids to line up at the door with their jackets on and then sent them outside for an extra recess. The parents remained to help clean up, and by the time I called the class back in, the room almost looked as if nothing had happened.

When the kids were back in the room and seated at their desks, I thanked them all for the wonderful party, saying it would always be a happy memory. I asked Jamal to join me at the door to shake hands with them as they all filed out.


Planning for the wedding began in earnest. We had already arranged to rent a large tent and a smaller one. We ordered folding chairs and some tables for the reception. Teachers from my school and all the kids in both classes as well as their parents would be invited to the wedding, so we ordered a great many chairs. A caterer had been hired, and the local Unitarian minister agreed to officiate at the service.

We asked Akram and Kirk if they would be the best men/ring bearers and of course they immediately agreed. Jamal and I were going to wear powder-blue tuxedos, and we arranged to rent matching ones for our best men. Kirk’s moms agreed to be ‘flower ladies’. Of course, chairs would be reserved in the front row for my parents and for Shahar.

I contacted Beth and asked her to arrange for four ushers from each class. Kirk told me that Beth worked with Anna and held a lottery for each group. They held separate lotteries for boys and girls so there would an even number of each.

As the spring school term came to an end, everyone’s anticipation, including mine, grew. By the last day of school, the class was barely manageable, but that was really par for the course. Of course we had a party before the kids left. At dismissal, they all shook my hand one last time and said they’d see me on Tuesday.

Following the bus departures, the school faculty held a shower for me and Jamal. We were given gifts, most of them humorous, and everyone enjoyed some good laughs. We thanked them all before the party broke up.

I had a few teachers’ meetings to attend as well as things I had to do in my classroom to prepare it for the summer, but by Friday I was free.

The day before the wedding, I announced to Jamal and Akram that we all had to go to court. Jamal was in on my secret but Akram asked why. We wouldn’t explain.

When we went into the family courtroom, Kirk, his mothers, and Shahar were already seated.

“What’s going on?” asked Akram.

“You’ll see,” I answered as we sat.

We rose when the judge entered and sat when she told us to. She asked me and Akram to go to her table. I could see he was nervous, but I quietly assured him that all would be well.

“I have here a petition to approve the adoption of Akram Midani by Benjamin Travis.”

Akram looked at me with wide eyes and then at the judge. “Your Honor, does this mean that my father won’t be my father anymore?”

The judge smiled and said, “No, Akram, it means you will now have two fathers and a mother. Do you think that’s too many?”

Speechless, Akram simply shook his head.

“Before the adoption can become final,” the Judge said, “I have to ask you, Akram, if you have any objections to the adoption.”

“N…n…no Your Honor.”

“Then I pronounce the adoption of Akram Midani by Benjamin Travis to be approved. Congratulations to you both.” She rose to shake our hands, but by the time she was up, Akram was in my arms and crying.

“Why are you crying?” I asked.

“Because I’m so happy,” he blubbered. “I never dared hope that this would happen.”

“I’m happy too. Now shake the judge’s hand and we’ll rejoin the others.” Both of us thanked the judge and we all filed out of the courtroom.

Jamal and I had decided we would celebrate with a pizza party at a local restaurant. The boys were especially happy with the decision.

After a loud and joyful lunch, we parted. Jamal, Akram, and I returned to our home and began to prepare for the wedding the next day.


Akram woke us both at 6 AM. The first thing we did was check the weather. The sun was out, and it promised to be a sunny, warm day. After a breakfast which all of us were too excited to more than nibble at, we dressed for the wedding.

Jamal and I helped each other into our tuxes. Akram didn’t know about cummerbunds so we helped him attach his and put on his bow tie. When we were ready, we drove to the park. Akram took a suitcase because he would be staying with Kirk when Jamal and I left after the ceremony for our honeymoon.

People had already begun to gather by the time we arrived. There was a string quintet in the bandstand tuning their instruments. The ushers had all been told to arrive early, so they gathered around us.

Beth looked at our two best men and said, “Wow, you boys look great, or as my English cousins would say, brilliant.”

“What about us?” Jamal asked.

Meg laughed and said, “Okay, you both do, too.”

The smaller tent we had ordered was to provide a place where the wedding party could gather and wait for the ceremony to begin. We could hear the quintet playing and the noise rising as more and more people arrived.

Just before 10 o’clock, the minister arrived in our tent to check that everything was ready. At that point, Jamal and I gave the boys the rings which they were to carry. They looked so adorable that I wanted to hug them both, but I refrained.

The music which we had chosen for the processional began to sound over the park. The minister went first, and as soon as people saw her, they began to stand. Our ‘flower ladies’ followed her, then the boys walked in and took their places. Finally Jamal and I entered. We were both beaming as we walked down the aisle and looked at the boys who were glowing.

The words of the ceremony were primarily the traditional ones. When it came time for the question “Who gives this man to be wed to this man,” Akram took Jamal’s hand and said, “I do.”

The question was repeated for me as Kirk took my hand and responded similarly.

Following the vows, the boys handed us the rings which we placed on each other’s fingers. After some prayers which Jamal and I had approved beforehand, the minister said, “Jamal and Benjamin, I now pronounce you husband and husband.” She turned to the audience and said, “Those whom God has joined together, let no one put asunder.”

She didn’t have to tell us to kiss. As we held each other, the audience burst into applause. I went over to my parents and hugged and kissed them both, while Jamal went to Shahar and kissed her. I knew that, in their way, they still loved each other, and I was happy with that.

The quintet struck up our recessional and we walked up the aisle, with Jamal and me first, followed by the boys each escorting a flower lady.

The caterers had laid the food out, and people began to gravitate towards the tables.

We had decided not to have a reception line and we had stipulated that there should be no gifts. There was, however, a large basket on one of the tables which was full of cards.

The boys, Jamal, and I were too excited to eat so we mingled with the guests. Most of the kids in both my classes came up, shook hands, and congratulated us. Poor Jamal met many parents whom he didn’t know. He decided to mingle with me so I could introduce them to him.

When the party began to wind down, there was the traditional tossing of the bouquets. We had arranged for Akram and Kirk to stand behind Kirk’s moms while the guests stood behind the boys. When the ladies tossed the bouquets, the two boys caught them and everyone cheered.

Jamal and I went to my car. Before we climbed in, we hugged Kirk and Akram, who were both still holding their flowers.

“Do these flowers mean that Akram and I are going to get married?” Kirk asked, looking hopeful.

“The tradition is that the person who catches the bouquet will be the next person to marry,” I replied. “I don’t know how that works with two bouquets. Perhaps we can dry the two arrangements and keep them.”

Jamal and I got in the car, waved to everyone, and drove away. I was sublimely happy, and I knew Jamal was too. We hoped we would have many, many years together, loving each other and watching the boys as they grew into men.

Author’s Notes

I was a church organist for many, many years and so played for innumerable weddings. Whenever I returned home after such a ceremony, my wife always asked, “How was the wedding?”

I always replied, “Lovely. Aren’t all weddings lovely?” and they always were, each in its own way. Unfortunately, I retired before I could play for a gay wedding.

I want to thank my editors who see to it that errors, most of them anyway, get corrected and Mike, who manages this wonderful website.