He Said/She Said

What I said:

We come here today in defiance of biological reality.

We know that mammals are not monogamous (except for a few
species of meadow vole with abnormally high levels of endogenous
oxytocin). We know that monogamy is not the normal human state,
the self-serving claims of various religious institutions notwithstanding.
Women are inclined to trade up at the drop of a hat, and
men tend to indiscriminately fuck anything that moves. And we
know the odds when spoken vows go up against genetic imperatives
with 200 million years of natural selection behind them. We are
not idiots.


In the short time we have been together, we have faced down the
paranoid brutality of the US justice system; survived a sickness
that came within hours of ending the relationship, not to mention
my life; and withstood cancer scares both feline and Unicornian.
These travails would have wrecked the foundations of most of my
previous entanglements; they didn’t even rattle the windowpanes
of this one. Also, at the age of fifty three, I am having better and
more frequent sex than I’ve ever had before in my life (including a
decade of grad school).

If any couple has a shot at beating the odds, it is us. I have never
felt so comfortable and so safe just being myself in the company of
another human being. I have never felt so consistently challenged,
loved, and understood. And, if this does only last as long as the
typical failed marriage, at this point I’m so old that it’ll probably
take us to ’til death do us part anyway.

Caitlin, I have never made this commitment to anyone before. In
all honesty I never thought I would be able to. It took half a century
to prove me wrong.

And you and I are going to kick biological determinism in the balls.

Go here for What She Said.

Oddly, the Officiant seemed quite disapproving of the whole thing.  She muttered something about e.e. cummings and ran off to the bathroom.  We never saw her again.

So there you go.  This actually happened over a week ago, but we didn’t tell anybody until yesterday when when we had vast numbers of three different species in our back yard (people in the evening; raccoons overnight; wasps this morning) with whom to share the news.  So now it’s out there.

Caitlin assures me that hot groupies will henceforth find me even more irresistible, on account of being unavailable.

This entry was written by Peter Watts , posted on Sunday August 28 2011at 07:08 am , filed under misc . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

115 Responses to “He Said/She Said”

  1. I’ve known since yesterday, and I’m still tinging with happiness for the two of you. You’re both the bravest, strongest, and most ferociously loving people I know, and I love you both more than I can ever say with any grace or skill. The fact that you found each other and stuck together reminds me that some parts of this world and the live we share on it are still right and good and true.

  2. HEY!

    She’s hot and you’re Canadian! Mazel Tov!

    In all seriousness, congratulations! I’m a fan of marriage despite biological issues for and against. People just do better with other people around them. Especially people they love.

    If you spawn I will completely shit myself.

  3. Congratulation Peter and to your cats who will have double the staff.

  4. Congratulations! Great vows.

  5. Eeeeeeeee!!! I am so happy for you!

  6. Congratulations to both of you!!!! That is fantastic!!! 🙂

    I think the Conservation of Skepticism Re: Marriage has shifted to me being the more skeptical one!! You don’t have to thank me 😉

  7. This is wonderful. great romantic speeches from both of you. I read them to my spouse and he is laughing and saying, “awww”.

  8. Congratulations! (Go, Team Venture!)

  9. Congratulations!! Lucky both of yous! (not sure about the wasps)

  10. Congratulations! (Don’t think of it as odds, just aim to be above average. And as you’re already an outlier, you only need make a habit of it.)

  11. Oh wow. Wow. Many congratulations to both of you! Ok, maybe I should add here some really stupid and pointless advice as I’ve been married to the same woman for 25 years, but no…
    Peter, we haven’t communicated much lately, but I still think of you often. And dude, I’m happy for you! many congrats once again.

  12. Wow man, congratulations! Believe it or not, I found the vows extremely inspiring because I generally think of marriage (And even most relationships) as people just terrified of dying alone and scrambling to find someone they can tolerate to be around for more than 10 minutes at a time.

    I really hope everything works out well for you both!

  13. Congratulations!

    You know, usually unexpected news on this blog tend to involve jail, flesh-eating bacteria or worse, I’m actually a bit scared now, going to check the supplies of basic goods immediately, just in case. Congratulations again!

  14. Now seems as good a time as any for this long-time reader of your blog to delurk and say Congratulations.

    So… Congratulations

    And enjoy kicking biological determinism in the balls for a lomng time to come.

  15. That is the most romantic thing I have read for many a day. You had better keep to them vows. I nearly wept.

  16. But don’t let having a wife get in the way of more important things.

  17. I love those vows and I’m really happy for you, Pete. Kick biological determinism in the balls!

    Might I use a similar vow structure for my own… um, entanglement?

  18. I salute you, sir and madam.

  19. My hearty congratulations to both of you!

    Please tell me that her engagement ring looks like this: http://www.etsy.com/listing/70960498/octopusme-engagement-ring

    And/or your wedding band looks like this: http://www.leviticusjewelry.com/shop/squid-tentacle-ring.html

  20. Heh…heh…heh…


  21. “You make some good points”. Isn’t it amazing how speech, perception, cognition and emotion conspire to change lives? Congratulations to you both. I am relieved to know that together you can mount an effective, 24 hour watch against those HAIRY MUTHAS THAT ARE STILL TRYING TO EAT YOU!

  22. Mr Camm, on August 28th, 2011 at 10:00 am Said:
    But don’t let having a wife get in the way of more important things.

    Don’t worry, I imagine the feline overlords already have the missus well-ensnared in their crafty plans.

    In all seriousness, huge congratulations are in order.

  23. Congratulations!

    Here’s to both of yo.

  24. I suspect congratulations are in order since that is what social conventions call for. Thus without much further ado: Congratulations!

    And your vows makes you seem like a perfect match.

  25. Congrats from flyover country in the US. I wish you two all the humor and patience in the world – as a ten year veteran of marriage, you’ll need it.

  26. Hey, congrats! Y’know, when I met Caitlin last spring, I almost asked if it might be time you settled down. Something about you two just seemed to say that to me. But of course, there were other, more pressing things, like beers and the $30K gore-pump around your neck.

  27. Congratulations! That is wonderful. May you live a long and happy life together (and write many more books).

  28. After being a victim of police brutality, then nearly losing your leg (let alone, nearly losing your life!) to necrotizing fasciitis, you decided that the next big adventure would be on your terms, eh?

    Congratulations to the both of you!

  29. Congratulations!

    Welcome to the brave new world of married life! May your step into the grand matrimonial journey give you both the maximum of joy and personal growth!



  31. Also, it’s nice to see someone be even more circumspect and weird in their vows than I was with my spouse.

  32. And for my last comment (I need to hit the Post button more slowly)
    At my and my spouse’s wedding, a friend said “May you shout at each other for years to come” (we’ve been compared to Sam & Max of videogame fame).

    In that spirit, I liked what ExpatPaul said, so I modify it

    May the plural you kick biological determinism in the balls for a loooooong time to come.


  33. Oddly enough, in that photo, doesn’t Watts look like Harrison Ford?

    Watts! Better check your new wife’s movie collection – see if she married you or Ford. (And if certain movies are present, well… then to quote Nietzsche, ‘if you’re going to a woman, don’t forget the whip!’)

  34. Congrats! Good luck for your future together.
    (And yes! Caitlin is right …)

  35. Congratulations!

    I have nothing humorous to say.


  36. Congratulations! May you have many long, happy, and healthy years together!

  37. Congratulations!

    I also have a rush of of irrational concern for you, just because of the following pattern: You got arrested/beaten at the border. Then you won a Hugo. Then you got flesh-eating bacteria. Then you got married.

    Next up, if the pattern held, would be bad news. I’ll just need to keep giving myself regular reminders from my rational side that a string of events do not always, or even usually, make a pattern that predicts the future.

    So, have many happy years together!

  38. What refreshing news. Congratulations and best wishes to both of you.

  39. Great news, Peter. I’ve been following your blog for a long time, and this is simultaneously shocking and completely expected. Congrats to you both!

  40. Congratulations so much, to you and (now) yours. 🙂

  41. So so so cool — you guys rock. Congratulatons from me and both cats!!!

  42. Well, it sounds like you understand the basis of a healthy long term relationship: Heavy daily doses of oxytocin.

  43. Congratulations to you and Caitlin! Kick that biological determinism so hard it’ll never forget you!

  44. Holy balls! Congratulations!

  45. This is wonderful. Congratulations to the both of you, and hope to see you when I’m at SFContario in November.

  46. Congratulations to you and Caitlin!

    I was almost expecting a punchline until about halfway through the post. But it’s real, you tied the knot! Amazing! Congratulations!

  47. Congratulations! It’s inspirational all around; sometimes the good guys win. 8-D

  48. I’ve never actually posted here before (despite reading regularly) but this made me smile so I have to comment to say so. So yes, this made me smile. For several minutes so far. Congratulations!

  49. Congratulations.

  50. Congratulations.

    If you’ll excuse me, I have something in my eye.

  51. Congratulations!

  52. Aha! So that’s where the latest writing frenzy came from. You now have someone to compete with.
    Many happy Hugos to yez both.

    Also: squee!

  53. Congratulations! Here’s to the unification of Unicorn Squid.

  54. Huzzah, and well said!

  55. Congratulations and felicities to you both! (And good Lord, you two look cute together, your resemblance to something carved out of driftwood notwithstanding.)

  56. It strikes me that I it wiuld be hilarious if some clever fanartist out there makes you a heraldic roundel (Unicorn Squid is *too* good) . . . and my maundering mind goes . . . unicorn dexter, sejant erect argent membered or, respectant squid sinister hauriant gules on a ground azure, base felis dormant sable. It’s faster to describe than draw.

    ( :

  57. De-lurking, too.

    Congratulations, you picked an auspicious date – at least from my pov. My husband & I just celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary last Friday – August 19th. The marriage is happy and well.

    I promise to de-lurk again on or around August 19th, 2030, to check on you…

  58. Heartfelt congratulations to you both. Not just for finding each other, but for doing so without betraying who you each are and without having to lie to yourselves (or each other) to find happiness together. The universe does not bring meaning to us, we bring meaning to it, and making lasting meaning with your eyes wide open is maybe the hardest thing one can choose to do in this world. May the world you inhabit now together continue to be richer than the worlds you inhabited apart. And thank you for sharing your happiness with us.

  59. Oh, I couldn’t possibly be happier than I am at this exact moment, having read that wonderful news! All is right with the world! CONGRATULATIONS!

  60. Congratulations!

  61. You have both demonstrated your superior knowledge of the (imo) #1 most important element of a successful relationship: the ability to listen. This 18-year marital veteran (still missin’ my man) wishes you both many days of happiness, with just enough adversity to keep you leaning on each other for strength. It is a happy surrender.

  62. Congratulations! I love your vows. Team Unicorn Squid!

  63. That’s awesome! Congratulations to you both! I’m so happy for you! 😀

  64. Congratulations Peter and Caitlin! All the best!

  65. Never a dull moment around here.
    Congratulations to you both!!! And thanks for sharing.

  66. Wonderful, I am internet dancing for you. Mozel tov, congrats, et al.

  67. Congratulations to you both! And many happy returns of your anniversary.

  68. Big year for you! Mayhem, near death, and now this piece of conventional behavior.

    Wishing you both all the best that marriage has to offer. It never worked for me but then a lot of things never worked for me and did work for other folks.

  69. Let’s see… there was this guy, just a year or so ago who kept wishing me the best with getting married while simultaneously casting aspersions on the whole institution and warning me how utterly biologically unsuited to long-term monogamy we homo saps are. Who was that guy, anyway? Some foreigner, I think, from Maine or Canadia or some similarly unlikely place. You remember that guy? How full of shit was he, right?

    Best wishes to you both, and many years of flesh-eating bacteria-free happiness.

    Say, Peter, how’s that crow taste, anyway? *heh.*

  70. Wow — congratulations! (I’m still trying to figure out the e.e. cummings connection, but I’m sure some nice, smart person will help me out with that.)

  71. My husband (he of two posts above) jests.

    A little.

    I’m absurdly pleased at this news. And don’t give biology TOO much weight. A good pun will knock it over nine times out of ten, anyway.

  72. Congratulations. =D

  73. you are a sloppy, incurable romantic! (but we knew that from your books)

  74. Congratulations! And good luck.

  75. Love, sex, adversity and triumph – the basis for a great marriage or romantic novel.

    The events in this blog have been epic, and now we have the happy ending!

    Congratulations and best wishes.

  76. *hugs fiercely*

    I am so incredibly happy for you both. Congratulations, Peter–I wish you both all the best.

  77. Busted, eaten (almost!) and now this ….. curiouser and curiouser. Tighten your chinstrap Peter – it’s gonna be a bumpy ride – and by the sounds of it, worth every second. Congratulations – hope you have many years of health and happiness together – screw the odds!

  78. This is lovely – I wish you both endless joy! (I don’t suppose you’d care to spawn and produce the most brilliant writer in the history of the world??)

  79. What wonderful news. I just dropped in here to recommend your oeuvre to a colleague, and discovered this most welcome ray of light; may it cast recent hardships deeper into shadow. Felicitiations!

  80. Congratulations to you both! My very best wishes. 🙂

  81. Congratulations to the two of you. 😀

  82. Congratulations, y’all.

  83. Hey, congratulations!

  84. Congrats! I have read Blindsight and I think you are thinking at a level nobody else is. Write more, diversify. Wherever you go, flowers will blossom. Congrats on overcoming adversity and finding love. Congrats on your hot wife, too.

  85. Congratulations you two! Superb vows – wish I could have done something like that for my wedding 6 months ago (though it was fortunately a secular affair, even though my now-wife has some modest measure of faith. She aint perfect, but she’s perfect for me.)

  86. Grats Mr. Watts! (Dr. Watts, rather?)

  87. Congratulations! Happy marriage to you both. I feel pity for the poor officiant.
    Send these wedding vows to Hollywood – you’ll be the showrunner of House, MD in no time!

  88. […] Read the whole thing (Slightly NSFW text) […]

  89. […] Read the whole thing (Slightly NSFW text) […]

  90. Congratulations!

    In other news, I see you’ve caught up with the discussion on Charlie Stross’ blog on the most important novel published since Jan 1, 2000. The commentariat are converging on “Blindsight” & “Anathem” and it has spawned another equally interesting discussion of important novels in the same time period by non-males.

  91. Well said, Congrats!

  92. Congratulations, I can only hope to reach to this brilliance if I ever write some vows.

  93. OMG!!!
    This restores my faith in… Everything!
    I know you will (and already do) make each other insanely happy.

    And actually, this IS biological determinism… This is what all that evolutionary nonsense is supposed to result in. its when this is not achievable that everything degrades into well… what it degrades into, for some people, based on their value system.

    Of course I say that as a non-trained bio / anthropo / evo scientist 🙂

    Joy to the Magic bungalow, and all its inhabitants.

  94. Congratulations to you both! Surely two of the best wedding rationales I’ve ever heard, and despite what some may say about such things, delightfully romantic.

  95. Congratulations. I guess.

    What’s the point though? Visitation rights?
    I guess that’s it, I mean, with your kind of luck…

    So, are you ever going to write an essay on whether intimacy, that is, the idea in our heads that we can really *know* our partners an illusion evolved to ease caring for spawn or what..

  96. Congratulations!

  97. Congratulations to you both, and here is your wedding present from the universe:


  98. Adding my congratulations to the list. 😀

  99. congrats, and may many years of fun and bliss swirl around yoUSe forevermore

  100. Weighing in here with the 100th Comment:

    @All of you (except @Lanius, I guess); thank you for so much heartfelt encouragement and cheerleading. Our very reluctance to dash your collective hopes has doubled our chances, at the very least. (In other words, worst-case scenario, we’ll stay together for you kids.)

    @Jeff L: Certainly. With our compliments. You just can’t refer to yourselves as “UnicornSquid” afterwards.

    @ken: No, neither ring looks like that. But both of them are from outer space; more on that in the mop-up post to follow.

    @gwern: People have mentioned that whole Harrison-Ford thing on and off. If I was going to have something that looked like his, though, I’d just as soon have it be my bank account.

    @David J. Williams: count on another professional sf writer to misspell “congratulations”.

    @Mike Grupa: Conventional? Take that back. Take it back.

    @Ensley G & Mockingbird: Actually, we weren’t going to get married, but after you guys took your own ill-advised plunge we figured you might need a beacon of hope to give you strength in your shared quest to beat the odds. Also I know I owe an email.

    @MaryL: Don’t sweat it. The officiant just muttered some e.e. cummings quote about love and scuttling ragged claws or something. I actually didn’t get it either.

    @Brainbread: “Dr”, technically. But I’ve only really ever used that to jump the queue when apartment hunting.

    @aeschenkarnos: So. Incredibly. Cool.

    @ABeaudry: dude, why aren’t you congratulating me?

  101. scuttling ragged claws sounds like J Alfred Prufrock. But e e cummings does have some great smushy love poems. ignore the whole syntax crap. the bastard.

    since feeling is first
    e.e. cummings

    since feeling is first
    who pays any attention
    to the syntax of things
    will never wholly kiss you;
    wholly to be a fool
    while Spring is in the world

    my blood approves,
    and kisses are a better fate
    than wisdom
    lady i swear by all flowers. Don’t cry
    —the best gesture of my brain is less than
    your eyelids’ flutter which says

    we are for each other: then
    laugh, leaning back in my arms
    for life’s not a paragraph

    And death i think is no parenthesis

  102. Great! Congratulations!
    And I really wish I saw the expression on the Officiant’s face 😉

  103. Wow, unexpected, but very encouraging. I’m happy for you guys. Sounds like a very unique relationship, and I wish it well.

    I’d send a smile emoticon, but I think that breaks the rules around here. Someone should create a set of hard liquor icons so we can all send our cheers to Mr. & Mrs. Watts.

  104. Congratulations!

  105. Congrats Peter!

    “And you and I are going to kick biological determinism in the balls.”

    Nah. You just fell for it. 😉
    Although more on a memetic level, I suppose.

    “Caitlin assures me that hot groupies will henceforth find me even more irresistible, on account of being unavailable.”

    Heh. And beware rule34 ;P

  106. Whoa, first I’m hearing of this! May you both enjoy a life of rampant awesome together. Congrats!

  107. Either I’m suffering from sudden onset aphasia, or my wife is having a lot of trouble parsing “Peter Watts got married!” I’ll keep trying to tell her–it’s such wonderful news! Congratulations!

  108. WOW!!! As a veteran of a 30 year union, I wish the two of you the best of luck. Sometimes biology has nothing to do with pure emotion. The odds can be beat with a little determination and a whole lotta love. I saw that here in wonderful St. Clair County, and have to wonder… What took you so long, big guy? Both of us send you our heartfelt best wishes!!!

  109. @proudinjun you didn’t ask me, but I’m going to toss in a comment based on my life. When I was crazy and 20, I got married after only dating someone for 3 months. Years later, divorced.

    I remember reading some articles speculating on the nature of romantic reactions and thinking that, next time, I should wait for at least 1 to 2 years for the chemical stuff to wear off to see if I still enjoyed hanging out with ’em. Years later, I met someone, and there again was the immediate click, like I felt like I knew. Got married after 4 years of hanging out and enjoying his company.

  110. @sheila, I agree wholeheartedly! My husband and I were best buds for 2 or 3 years prior to getting married. Still have a very passionate marriage. Did the article say how long before the “chemical stuff” wears off? I’m still waiting!

  111. Catching up. Had to read this twice before I believed it. Congratulations! Fantastic news! Here’s to a bright future together 😀

  112. Well shit. We only knew each other for a couple months about 30 years ago but even with that short introduction to all that is Peterness, I would have put money on you never getting married. Back when we were both at Huntsman, I was married, and I still am, so there might be hope for the two of you.

    Good luck to both of you.

  113. @sheia and proudinjun – hear, hear!

    (Okay, romantics and under-25-year-olds, cover your ears and hum aloud!!!)
    I say, wait until the sex has trailed off to about once a week. If ya can still stand the bastard after the haze of humping has dissipated, we have a winner! And if the sex is still more than once a week after several years, Good God Almighty, marry him anyway. You can always console yourself after the divorce that you had all those years of crazy sex while you were young enough to.

  114. Congratulations!!