Wednesday, June 1, 2005

I Never Have A Clue

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 before.

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.


gaboatman said...

A nice story, Mrs. L.  I am glad you are still going to make fun of the runaway bride, though.  From you, we would expect nothing less.  :)

robbush6 said...

Funny thing, the mind and the tricks it plays. The mind is a practical joker, but the stomach is never wrong. Good call, leaving a man at the JP. You just shrank against a pillar. She boarded a bus to New Mexico and changed her hair. Even Ray Charles couldn't hide those bug eyes.

suzypwr said...

There is a slight difference between backing out before anything is planned, and running away by bus across the country, cutting off your hair, and lying about a sexual crime while people are waiting for a wedding that cost about $100,000. Feel free to make fun of her, although she is cetainly not a well woman. Narcissism is a serious disease, right?


sunnyside46 said...

I am always one to trust my gut instinct
If i think of all the pros and cons, i throw out all that data & go with what I feel. i generally make good choices that way

screaminremo303 said...

The worst thing about getting older? Finding those "celebrity birthdays" in the newspaper and realizing that those old farts are the same age, or just a couple years older. I better not look like that when I'm their age.

Marriage feels like a death sentence? Why do you think we call them the "ball-and-chain?" What is the anniversary gift for someone serving "twenty-to-life?"

salemslot9 said...

Sorry to say...I've been down that same road...dead end:(

shaz19743 said...

Sometimes our hearts and heads just arent as reliable as our gut is when it comes to making decisions ......we ponder with our heads and go one way , our heart pulls us the opposite direction but guts tell us when ya gotta go ...ya gotta go !
Sometimes its just too much ex-lax but most of the time its telling us the right thing to do .

mombzbe said...

Good story, Mrs L.  Why am I not surprised that you would buck against the system and go with what was right for you?

I think everyone has done time on the short end of the 'oh crap, I'm late' stick, and breathed a huge sigh of relief upon the realization that they weren't really late, just a bit tardy.  You certainly begin to appreciate Playtex in a whole new light, and flipping the mind-switch from nursing bras back to tampons never felt so good.  Pass me the Midol.

Unfortunately, however, girls these days don't know how good they have it, with birth control available and the demise of the shotgun wedding (although I think it may still be practiced in some parts of the ahem, rural U.S., lol).  Just ask the teen Moms in the mall~~sigh.