I’ve always considered the idea of getting married to be much along the lines of getting a soup tureen. Sure, I guess it would be nice to have a soup tureen, but really, what the hell would I do with one? I don’t have space to keep it. I don’t know how to make soup and, to be honest, I’m not even terribly sure what exactly a tureen is and I might use it wrong. So, if anyone ever offered me a soup tureen, I can imagine my response would be something along the lines of, “No thank you.”
I have yet to actually have anyone offer me a soup tureen but I have been presented with the concept of marriage. I must confess that my response wasn’t quite as polite as the imagined tureen incident. In fact when the subject was broached, my manners went out the window and I laughed in my girlfriend’s face. The idea of anyone getting married was preposterous enough. The idea of anyone wanting to marry me was obviously a hilarious joke or a clear indication of a damaged mind.
I’m not going to come right out and say it was the latter but, upon discovering that it wasn’t a joke, I really did have my suspicions. Let’s face it, I’m not exactly the catch of the day and I’ve been thrown back in the water enough times to prove it. So I really had to wonder about the mental stability of the one I loved. Being the good little feminist consensus decision-maker that I am, I tried to negotiate. First we clarified terms.
“Can you share with me what getting married means to you?” I asked, trying to keep the cynicism out of my voice. “But we know we love each other. Why do we need to prove it to anyone else by getting married?” I asked, trying to keep my eyes from rolling involuntarily. Satisfied by her reasoning that “people give you stuff,” I didn’t hear the rest of what she was rambling on about. It was something about love me and sharing and commitment.
Next I tried to reach a compromise. I suggested a commitment ceremony that would honour where we are in our relationship right now but not bother with the scary “’til death to us part” business. It’s not because I don’t see myself spending the rest of my days with her, I do. It’s because I’m well aware that things and people change. None of my past relationships have lasted, despite my magic eight ball informing me that “It is decidedly so.” Why should this one be any different?
I said I was willing to wear a ring as a symbol and a reminder in case I forgot, but I wasn’t budging beyond that. A small commitment ceremony with one or two friends in attendance seemed to cover the important bases as far as I was concerned. I was convinced she would love the idea. She started to cry. Apparently, she did not love the idea.
“I don’t want to have a stupid you’re-good-enough-to-commit-to-for-now-but-not-get-married-to-ceremony” she said, wiping away a tear, albeit in a very butch manner. I went back to defining terms.
“What is the difference for you between commitment and marriage?” I asked scratching my head like a confused cartoon bear.
You ever have one of those arguments that goes on and on until at some point it dawns on you that you have no idea what you’re arguing about anymore? You suddenly realize you’re not arguing from opposite sides anymore but just arguing and kind of saying the same things as each other using different words. If you haven’t experienced this, be forewarned because it does happen and sometimes it results in an engagement.
We were sitting on our couch and it seemed we had agreed that we love each other very much, that we want to commit to staying together and making our relationship work long-term, that we want to have some kind of ritual attached to this commitment and to celebrate it with a few folks that we care about. There didn’t seem anything left to say except, “Okay, so you wanna marry me then?” in a Napoleon Dynamite voice. The stupid voice might not have been necessary but it’s how I cope sometimes.
She looked at me with that “you’re exasperating” look I’ve come to know so well and said, “Do it properly!”
“Okay, okay,” I conceded and went into the kitchen to fetch a twist tie to make her a ring. I came back to the couch and tried to put it on her finger. “Do it properly!” she repeated. “You have to get down on one knee.” So I did. This took a bit of doing as I’m a fatty with bad knees, but I managed to huff and puff myself into the required pose and tried to put the green twistie on her finger once more.
“Do it properly!” she insisted. “You have to take your shirt off.”
Apparently I’ve still got a lot to learn about marriage. And apparently, I’m getting married.