It is slightly possible that I am a little cynical about what the marriage-industrial complex has deemed necessary for those looking to tie the knot. It might be a reaction to the slew of reality TV shows that have turned a generation of brides into profligate, vain, delusional wannabe princesses who think the whole world needs to stop and genuflect before them on their special day. It may be because the vast majority of weddings I have been to have nothing to do with the couple getting married even though they may have planned every little detail. Maybe it is because all of the expectations that swirl around getting married make it impossible for some young couples to overcome the disappointment of what happens after all the wrapping paper is thrown away and the first credit card statement comes. It might also be the many ceremonies where the most irreligious of couples pledge left, right, and center to dedicate their marriages to God to the point where you think they are inviting JC into a life-long, platonic three-way–and then they head out to the parking lot for a couple of shots, high fives, and “fuck-yeahs”.
It might also be the fact that I have a big old gay chip on my shoulder. John and I were together 13 years before it was legal for us to get married. Yes, that is right. Our 13-year “engagement” was five years longer than the average marriage in the U.S. And the hets take all of the marriage rites, rituals, and respect for granted. Like getting to do Prom all over again (oh, the gay chip is getting bigger). Certainly the gays are stepping up to the plate these days and grabbing all of the ostentation and entitlement they can get their hands on.
Don’t get me wrong, I have no problems with big weddings, or making the day special, or really celebrating the start of a life-long partnership. My problem is with the fact that too many couples get lost in the trappings and lose sight of what’s really going on. Or worse, they are bedazzled by the trappings into wanting to get married in the first place.
Perhaps it is no surprise then, that I really loved this book:
Marry Me by Dan Rhodes
A shortish book of very short stories all dedicated to the before, during, and after of weddings. Most of these stories are under a page long and all of them are witty, and honest, and biting, and a little wicked. It’s an odd little book that I picked up on a whim at the library not quite sure what to make of it. But I figured if reading one or two lines could cause me to break out giggling in the stacks it was worth a go. And it was worth a go. I chuckled on pretty much every page. It might help to be happily married or happily single when reading it. I’m not sure what someone in a crappy marriage might think of it. In some ways they could see it as a how-to manual. Rhodes does present numerous ways one can cut the marital knot in the most straight forward of ways. There were so many things I wanted to quote here, but I think this one will strike a particular chord with readers/writers/grammar nerds.
“On our honeymoon my wife lay beside me, writing a letter to her best friend. When she had finished, she asked me to check it over. I was glad to help, so I carefully read it through. Her handwriting is very neat, and her spelling and grammar are pretty good, but there were one or two minor glitches for me to point out. ‘See here?’ I said. ‘You’ve written “the most biggest mistake I have ever made” — but it should just be “the biggest mistake I have ever made.” And this bit, where you’ve put “it feels like a life sentance,” that should be “sentence.” I’d only caught one more error. ‘Where you’ve written “I dont know what I did to deserve this,” you need an apostrophe in “don’t”. ’ I explained that it was a contraction, and that it was the job of the apostrophe to take the place of the missing letter. She looked very serious, nodding just a little as she took it all in.”