For some reason,
I always thought I was petite and blond until I looked at my yearbook
pictures in junior high school. Who's the dark haired, skinny
girl in the back row with the boys? She's so tall.
For some reason, I also thought Robert DiNiro was older than I am. Like ten years at least. I mean the guy has added a few pounds in recent years. And did you notice his gray hair is getting white on the sides? Wow, he's really getting up there. What? We're the same age?
Lately, I've been making fun of the runaway bride like everybody else. But I conveniently forget that I got cold feet too, once.
For some reason, like every other female programmed to graduate from college and get married, I just assumed marriage was something I wanted to do. Until I discovered it wasn't.
Back in the
sixties, when getting pregnant without benefit of wedlock usually meant
an emergency marriage and the birth of an eight pound premature baby
seven months later, my period was late. I'm sure that's more than
most of you want to know, but that has never stopped me from sharing
After doing the math I called the other person who participated in the babymaking to give him the news. "I think I'm pregnant." Ever the gentleman -- and he still is, I might add -- he stepped up to the plate, "Well, then, we have to get married." After waiting four years for him to say the "M" word, I was strangely disappointed.
He sounded like a governor announcing that he wasn't going to commute the death sentence of a condemned prisoner. His words had that effect on me. I could hear doors slamming and locking one after another after another. I felt like I was walking the plank and getting ready to dive into shark-infested waters. Having a baby was supposed to be a happy occasion. I felt like my life was over.
The next day we went to city hall to get a marriage license. As we walked the five blocks or so from his office to that monument of bureaucracy, I found myself lagging farther and farther behind. When we got to the lobby of the building I hid around the corner while my boyfriend asked some guy in an elevator operator's uniform where the marriage license bureau was.
The guy gave him directions and then I heard him say, "Where's the lucky lady?" I was pressed against the cold marble of a pillar trying not to be noticed. I leaned around and made a meek little wave in his direction. The last thing I wanted was attention. But the guy thought he was Cupid or something and escorted us to the elevator that would take us up to the second floor along with a carful of other people with similar intentions.
We got off on the second floor and stepped into a fluorescent-bulbed, bilious green room with dozens of unattractive couples standing in line, waiting to pay the city for permission to get married. Some were even taking the final step and having some clerk marry them, too. I began to feel like you do when you look over the ledge of a very tall building -- hmmm, that's a long way down. Better step away. The combination of green walls and bad lighting, along with couples who looked like subjects in a Diane Arbus coffee table book, gave me heart palpitations.
There I was with a man I loved and always thought I wanted to marry, but when push came to shove, if you'll pardon an expression, I panicked. I couldn't breathe. The walls were closing in on me. I turned around and headed back to the elevator. He looked at me, puzzled. I said, "I don't care if I'm pregnant, I don't want to get married." I don't think I've ever been so clear about anything before or since.
I couldn't get out of there fast enough. I needed some air. I remember getting outside and feeling like I'd just escaped with my life.
A few days passed and it turned out I wasn't pregnant after all. I did get married a few years later. I wanted a baby so bad I could taste it, so I decided to marry the next guy who asked me. I'm so pragmatic. Unfortunately, I wanted out the day after the wedding. But I stuck with it for eight years and two kids before requesting my freedom.
So you'd think I could be more sensitive to the plight of the runaway bride. Nah. I'm still going to make fun of her.