When I was young, back when dinosaurs did the disco, I vowed two things—never would I own a car or get married. Well, times change (as did disco) and a hurricane and its near-death swipe at us forced our investment of $1,500 into an evacuation clunker. I still maintain no driver's license, however today I co-own a '97 Lincoln (incapable of contraflow but gets us around town). Also, I now have a marriage license and a four-year anniversary coming up this May 16th. I may not co-own a husband, but I do drive him crazy on a regular basis, and I am proudly united in love with him.
Environmental and economical logic was my motivation to avoid a car for decades (and my reasoning still holds true and sound). Additionally, my disdain for the "institution of marriage" still rings in my ear, but my heart is that of a romantic, and I am grateful I relented and said yes to his reoccurring proposal of several years.
There was much about the trappings of marriage that just didn't sit right with me. For instance, why is the legal system involved in my choice of who I shake the sheets or share household chores with? And what's with that whole ring thing? It seems like an overpriced ball-and-chain. Jewelry is cool, but a diamond ring procured by slave labor is bad karma.
Times have certainly improved the protocol, but remember that when I was growing up, a woman (a grown-ass woman, an adult, an individual) was expected to take the man's name—to honor and obey that man—and her father was to "give her away" after being asked permission by the wannabe husband? No wonder it just sat like sour milk with me.
Happily, times have changed. Women feel comfortable keeping their own name, picking their own mate without permission or approval, forgoing the debt of a fancy ceremony, choosing a tattoo rather than a ring, and damn sure not regurgitating the words "honor and obey." And now a woman can marry a woman if she wishes. Thank you Supreme Court for making same-sex marriage a constitutional right. Thanks to changing times and attitudes, the prospect of Boyfriend becoming Husband was remarkably more palatable than I would have imagined. Still, I was in no hurry.
Sure, I knew he was the one for me and that I wanted to be in a committed relationship with him forever, but, still and all, why conform to making it legal? Our cats and dogs didn't give a flip whether we were living in sin or not. The Lincoln was already legally mine. And our landlord didn't care. So why do it? Did he think I would gain some financial security if we were married and he skipped off to that heavenly bar above before me? Inheriting debt is more like it. No, I think it was a gesture of romance. And that became clear when he proposed, on bended knee, in the storeroom of our shop, next to the trash can. Now, what girl could turn that down?
I guess I kinda accepted his request for marital bliss. I mean I remember telling my friend Dawn about it and allowed her to offer a backyard cookout reception for somewhere, sometime, in the sort of near, maybe not too far off, future. So about a year or so later, it became official as he was heading to the store one evening for some dog food and asked if I needed anything. I answered, "Wine. But do you need some money or do you have money?" And he replied, "Yes. I have money. So will you marry me for my money?" I gave a thumbs-up and said, "Sure. And make it Chardonnay."
He became the gather and hunter of all necessary paperwork, identifications, and documents. His leather briefcase became his dowry. He was gonna seal the deal, make it real. He was committed. The day of the walk down the aisle, or rather to the bus stop, and then to the department of licenses and stuff on Poydras, was all spur of the moment—for he knew how we both could procrastinate. "Come on, Debbie, let's take a ride downtown and at least get our license. No, Debbie, ya look fine, just throw on something, grab your identification. If nothing else, we'll see what, if anything, is missing from our paperwork."
So there we were half awake after a long previous evening of working our weekly Taco Tuesday Pop-up and still smelling of grilled onions and garlic. My dress was in need of laundering, he needed a shave, I couldn't remember if either of us passed a toothbrush near our teeth, and, well, it didn't really matter since we were just gonna get the pre-wedding documents in order—not a big deal.
"That will be $45. Sign here. And would you like to get married today? Here is a list of the three judges across the street at City Hall, and they require cash." We called, found a judge to officiate in her courtroom at one that afternoon—enough time to visit the bank for $80 cash, enjoy our wedding luncheon at our favorite Thai café, then a fancy hotel (lobby) to digest our pad thai, take a sitting-up cat nap on the lobby couch, and get ready for the Happily Ever After stroll to City Hall.
The judge was instructed to make sure my last name didn't change and make certain no "honor or obey" words were used. She loaned us some plastic flowers and took her cash-only fee. She was very sweet and, to our surprise, also under investigation as of that evening by investigative reporter, Lee Zurick, for possible illegal marriage fees. Only in New Orleans! And we wouldn't change one bit of our wedding day—it suited us just fine.