Just a continuation of my Feb 15 post:
"Hey -- do you want to get married on Halloween?" my ex said blandly as we were driving down Route Seven in the fall of 1974. Notice he didn't say "Want to get Married?" What he said was "Want to get married on Halloween?" The date was not negotiable.
It wasn't one of your more romantic proposals. Especially followed by the pathetic statement "I'd get $180 more //OR SOME NUMBER I AM NOT RECALLING WHAT NUMBER// a month from the Veterans Administration if we were married instead of just living together." Now where's the romance in that? No mention of love anywhere, only money. But then we had been living together for two years which is quite enough familiarity to beat the crap out of your average romance. But heck, it was the mid 70's and we were idiots.
I had a lot of things to consider. My mother had developed a physiological response to our living in sin arrangement. She had mysterious gall bladder attacks following each of our visits. There could only be one answer to his wretched proposal. "Okay," I said flatly with a tightening knot in my stomach. I was 23 and didn't know any better. He might never ask again, and I loved him, I thought.
On the day of our ill-fated union, we both went to work as usual. We came home and had a terrible fight. He wouldn't allow my parents to come to the ceremony because that would mean his parents would have to come too. Now, I am an only daughter and this faux paux of exclusion cast him in a bad light with an entire array of aunts, uncles and cousins for years to come. Some still haven't forgiven him though we have been happily divorced for two decades .
"I'm not marrying your parents. I am marrying you," he said bluntly. He wouldn't even allow mom and dad to take us to dinner afterwards. So we went to Val's Pizza and each ate a slice in icy silence. Then we went shopping at a discount store, like it was just another day. Finally we visited married friends whose babies screamed in the background while they fought and needled each other. Inside my head the regrets had already begun: I've promised to spend my life with this man - I thought to myself in horror. What have I done?
Perhaps those who wield hearts, flowers and hand-trucks full of valentines know something we didn't know then, something we failed to learn during our five-year marriage. "Oh to be young and in love," people say. Well at this point in my journey, I wouldn't go back for all the chocolate in a mall Godiva store! I'll leave that to all the rest of you. So get busy young lovers, in only a few short decades you'll be fully vested old fools like me, trying to recall the debacles of your youth.