Whenever I drive by the First United Methodist Church at 21st and J streets, I think of when I got married there. Whenever I pass the Centennial United Methodist Church on Freeport Boulevard near Fruitridge, I think of when I got married there, too.
Just to be cyclical, er, secular, about it, I got married in a house in Curtis Park once, too. That’s right: three marriages. Worse: three divorces. Yes, I know what you’re thinking: When it comes to me and getting married, churches and houses are bad luck.
It’s not my fault, though. It’s in my genes. (Obvious bad pun bypassed here.) A few months before my dad’s death, he, his fourth wife, her niece, my then-wife (the third in the series) and I were at breakfast one morning. We decided to tally our marriages. The glum under-the-thumb sum: 14. (Kindly, our waitress took pity and loaned us a calculator.) The kicker: The niece had never been married. (Lucky she was there. She lowered our average.)
So, for me, marriage is a (multi-)family thing. I know some may say I’m pretty cynical about matrimony, but this is unfair. I’m very cynical about it. Regardless, I think I could be forgiven for swearing off marriages forever. (’Cause, Lord knows, I swore enough during ’em.)
But I haven’t forsworn them, even though it’s tempting, since, hey, why ruin a good shtick? All that misery has to be good for something, right? (Please say yes.) Plus there’s divorce’s financial toll to consider. (Because once that alimony stops, boy, I’ve either gotta get me a job or another wife.) And then there are the kids. Of which I have none (I think), for which I, an honorary ornery old man since birth, could not be more grateful.
I gave up long ago, however, on the “everyone has a soul mate” idea. (Then again, if it is true, there’s some guy out there with four: his one plus my three. To whom I say, you’re welcome. Or, my condolences.) If I can find someone to put up with me for even three minutes, check that, three years, I’m ahead of the game. But of course that would only matter if I was looking. Which I wasn’t.
But wouldn’t you know it, just when I was fantastically content with living solo, not having to answer to anybody for anything, publicly snarking away about my simpleminded, er, single-minded singleness in Sacramento – it happened:
I ended up in love. (Sickness bags available upon request.) OK, yes, so I do know how disgusting it is when snoogly lovebirds roost nearby. They’re all gaga, and I’m all gagging. But there are some advantages to all that lovey-dovey stuff. My gal and I can clear out a restaurant and have the best table in the joint in minutes, even faster’n you can say, “You’re schmoopy,” “No, you’re schmoopy!”
But love is one thing; marriage is quite another (or three). Some of us aren’t fit to be hitched. Which is why it was all the more shocking when, in March, I, uh, well, um, proposed. For those of you thinking, “Poor woman!”, all I can say is, hey, she knew what she was doing when she accepted. I’m not sure what’s weirder, though: that I actually proposed, or that God didn’t strike me dead when I did (or at least kneecap me so I couldn’t get down on ’em anymore).
But it wasn’t time to send out the invitations just yet, for the wedding wasn’t gonna happen anytime soon. It’s just like she and I kept telling each other: There’s no need to rush; why ruin a good thing? Patience is a virtue; we have all in the time in the …
Baloney! I’m 58 years old, just old enough to forget I’m 58 years old. While that’s hardly ancient, it’s old enough to have made some mistakes (I can name three) but (finally) have learned from them. And so, the knot was tied June 26.
Is the fourth time the charm? I guess we’ll see. Lawyers are standing by. But it better be. ’Cause not only am I going waaaay out on a limb again, I’m blowing my best running gag.
Besides, there are only so many churches (and houses) in this town.
Mark Drolette is a longtime Sacramentan who marries a lot. Between (his latest) proposals, however, he managed to have his first book published: “Why Costa Rica? Why the hell not?”