Sunday, May 01, 2005

21st Century Marriage

The nation is all of a doo-dah over Jennifer Wilbanks, the Georgia bride who repented in haste. From the news reports, she's obviously a very confused young lady: she traveled from Georgia to Albuquerque by way of Las Vegas. By bus. By way of Las Vegas. Reminds me of the night we went to Birmingham by way of Beachy Head.

I picture Ms. Wilbanks vividly: here's a virginal 32-year-old young lady, hardly more than a girl, really; fresh out of high school and feeling for the first time that spirit of rebellion that comes to all thirty-somethings. She hankers to leave her little room in Mom and Dad's basement (it used to be on the second floor, but Jennifer threw such a fit about her "privacy," that Dad finally fixed up a room downstairs) and strike out on her own. She meets John Mason, a nice young man; here, at last, is her means of escape. He proposes; she accepts. They set The Date.

A week or two before the big day, Mom sits Our Jennifer down and finally has that little talk that all mothers have with their daughters, sooner or later. She explains, as delicately as she can, about the Needs of Men and What One Can Expect on the Wedding Night. Jennifer listens calmly, but inside she's feeling a tempest of horror and revulsion. She had no idea that marriage was like that! In short, Mom has chucked a spanner, or should I say a cherry bomb, into the works.

What is Jennifer to do? She cannot possibly marry a man and do that . . . that thing. But she can't postpone the wedding or break the engagement off altogether; people would call her a giddy little schoolgirl, too young ever to have thought of marrying. But she isn't! She's a big girl now! No, there's only one rational course of action: stage an abduction and flee to Albuquerque. Whatever else it may accomplish, it will avoid any chance of being embarrassed hereafter. Secretly, Jennifer can't help thinking one delicious little thought as she plots and plans: How they'll miss me when I'm gone!

Well, the best-laid plans of mice and maids gang aft agley. Like Leopold and Loeb, Jennifer overlooked one little detail: she forgot to pack money for the trip. (Albuquerque turned out to be one of those places that use money.) So there's nothing for it, but to 'fess up and fly back to Georgia. But there's still one way to save that last shred of dignity: on the trip home, don't square your chin and hold your head high, 'cause people will say you're stuck up. Instead, cover your head with a brightly colored towel. That way, you won't attract attention to yourself.

Welcome home, Jenny! We hardly missed ye.


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