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2:24 p.m. - December 20, 2005
A Child Bride in BFE Land.
I was at going Krogering one recent Saturday night after covering a high school basketball game (yep, that’s a sign of someone who is totally settled down. Back in my heyday I would be at the Silver Dollar tossin’ ‘em back and discussing the play of the Athenians on the hardwood with my fellow sports idiots. Now, after a game, I’m buying formula, milk, and kitty litter. Yippy Skippy! Anyway…let’s veer back to the sentence at hand) and when I had gathered my provisions I headed for the appropriate check out line.

There were two Ambers there, one was the checkout person and one was the bagger. (Note, I refer to the check out people as either Amber or Ruth (or Darlene) as noted here.) I know they were both under 18 because they had to call someone to the aisle to scan my bottle of wine.

Yes, in Indiana, only those over 18 can run a bottle of wine over the little scanner.

Well, the two Ambers were in a little conversation, and the bagger said to the scanner.

”Wow, I can’t believe that you’re going to graduate early to get engage.”

And the other Amber said, “No, to get married. I’ve been engaged for a year and a half.”

I so much wanted to use one of my allotted time-outs right then and there.

The Amber who was getting married was:

1. Not pregnant
2. Not part of some odd religious sect that I could see (no wild hair piled everywhere and no jean skirts).
3. Seemingly intelligent – as when she talked she used subjects and predicates correctly.
4. Again, not pregnant.

So there was no shotgun involved, or any stress or duress. She just felt, that at age 15 ½, she found THE one and now was going to marry him.

Ulp!

I know there are people who had children at a young age, and got married at a relatively young age and are happy.

I’m just flashing back to when I was 17 or younger, when I was lucky to even look a girl in the eye and say, “Hey…um…hey….do you…um…would…um….”

And she’s going to get married.

In the past, for sure, people got married at that early age. Back in the dark ages, it made sense because the species needed to procreate as most people kicked it before the age of 40 due to various and sundry diseases, or various and sundry pillaging.

And it wasn’t so unusual to get married that early way back in the early days of this country. Again, the life span wasn’t all that great, and you needed to start breeding young ones to help out.

Can you just see it?

“Mommy, where did I come from?”

“You came from Mommy’s tummy.”

“Why?”

“So that when you turn 10 you can go out and help dad in the fields.”

“So that’s it! I’ve been bred for labor. Why, I’m nothing but a slave….WAAAAAAAH”

(Later, little Johnny becomes a labor leader and tries to sock it to the man. Being the 1800’s the man can sock it right back at him. Sorry, Johnny. Better luck next life.)

Of course spouses didn’t really spend much time together except for Sundays, since the men all worked 12 to 14 hours a week on the farm, or at the mill, while the wives all kept house and raised the brood of kids and they no doubt were both too tired to do anything at the end of the day when the kids went to bed except to acknowledge each others presence before they fell asleep, so there was no real chance for spouses to get on each others nerves.

I mean, you can tolerate someone one day a week, right? And half of that was probably spent in church, and back then you said NOTHING and acted prim and proper.

Face it, I’m basically saying that Charles Ingalls is a bit, shall we say, anomalous.

In the Leave it to Beaver era, basically people got married a bit older than that – early to mid 20’s. Mom did her vacuuming in a dress with pearls, and Dad worked, then came home and drank his scotch and water while reading the evening news in the den, avoiding his family until dinner time. Then, after dinner it was time for some family heart to heart talks.

”Dad, can I have an advance on my allowance.”
“Who are you, anyway? And where’s my bourbon?”

As the decades have rolled on, we’ve been getting married later and later, on the average. Which I do think is positive trend, as people are now trying to find themselves before saying “I do” to someone that you may not know as well as you think you know.

I don’t think my first true love, at age 20, would have reacted well to some of my idiosyncrasies that I’ve developed over time. Sure, she was rather zany, but I’m not all about the zany – I’m also about the wacky, the cynical, and the slightly askew. I don’t know how much of a fan she’d be of me belting out random obscure songs like “Shu Ba Da Du Ma Ma Ma Ma” upon waking up in the morning.

(Well, I’m more of a morning person than some. Don’t hate the player…)

My second true love, at age 23, also would have had to put up with my obsession with sports, along with my music obsession, along with my obsession to know every miniscule fact about everything that I find interesting. Oh, she knew about those tendencies, but living with them for 75 years or so takes a special, certain someone, preferably one without access to weaponry.

So I waited until I was almost 30, and I’m happy I did. I think all my wild oats were sewn, I had been there, done that, wrote the treatment and got the option for the screenplay, and I was ready to move into a mode sedate, serene lifestyle of domestic tranquility. So I did ordain and establish a constitution…er…I’m happy I’m married to the love of my life.

And I really didn’t want to go through a divorce. This lovely town in BFE land has one of the highest divorce rates per capita, and I recall working with someone who had step siblings and half siblings that she grew up with in the same house, and I think the rare and elusive half-step brother or something just odd and weird like that. She may have been related to herself when all was said and done.

Then there was the woman who was on husband number four, and the other three worked in the same factory she did. (What happened was that spouses could not work on the same shift in the same department – so if you got married to someone you transferred shifts more often than not – and well, if you never want to see your spouse then working opposite shifts is the way to go. Otherwise, not some much…)

So back to this sweet young thing who wants to walk down the aisle at an age where I was mostly worried about how dry the acutane I was taking for my zits were making my lips. (I had to use a product called Bag Balm on them. Yep, I was a sexy beast, with my zits, dry lips, bag balm, my baby porn-stache, my nerdlinger glasses…)

She got engaged at 15 ½, and ostensibly without duress. That means she could potentially spend 85 years with this guy.

Now I am passing judgment over this young’ in who wants to get married at such a tender age? Well, it is her life, but I’ve seen a lot of kids, around her age, make an important choice (their choice of college) based on where their significant other is going. Many times what happens is that within six weeks, that couple is split up, because it such a huge buffet to choose from.

I had serious girlfriends, but the temptation was always there – and when I didn’t have a girlfriend it was just a heck of a lot of fun. (Ok, yes I did go to a single sex school, but weekends were made for parties, and by gosh we had a plethora of them).

Kids that age just have a roving eye more so than people a little more mature– it’s just human nature.

At any rate, I wish this young Amber best of luck on her impending nuptials, even though I can’t imagine my little girls getting married at that age. (To be honest, I don’t want to see them date, like ever…)

Come to think of it, there is one positive about getting married that early, from a father’s perspective.

There’s no way there could be an open bar with a bride that young. So that’ll save some big money at the reception. Cost containment could be the key to my retirement!

 

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