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Premarital Planning for a New Age

by Walter Giersbach

Lenore sat rigidly, staring at Robby in what she hoped was a mature and rational way, except her fingers were twitching. “I really believe we need a wedding. You know, like in a church with a priest. It’s the custom, the American tradition.” She raised the twitchy fingers to stroke his wispy goatee.

“Man, here we go again. All that ‘Here comes the bride’ crap. How much you gonna pay for a dress you’ll wear one time? Huh, answer me that.” Robby was confused by the sappiness that ruled women’s lives. He wanted to say, “Be practical.” It wasn’t like his once-in-a-lifetime opportunity last week to buy that 1972 Chevy C/K pickup. He’d been practical telling the seller he had to save money to get married.

“Doesn’t have to be a store-bought wedding gown. I can borrow one from my sister, Rosalie, who got married last year.” She tucked in her stomach, wondering if the dress would fit in another month or two, wondering about the small life growing inside her. A small tug on the goatee emphasized her seriousness.

“Shoot. Whyn’t I just get the license and we do the thing at City Hall? No crap.” Robby seemed to shrink into the worn sofa at Lenore’s mom’s house. What was it about women always having to complicate things? He wondered if Lenore had more beer. The way she was carrying on, he needed something. Her words confused him, like static on a radio that’s not tuned properly.

“Robby, a woman’s gotta have photos, something to remember, to look back on. It’s called memories. What’s the matter with you?”

Robby sank further back into the sofa and crunched the aluminum beer can in and out so it crackled, making Lenore even more pissed. “It’s all that praying,” he said. “Worse, the priest is gonna wanna lecture us, blah blah blah, and order us not to make love till after the wedding.”

“So, we won’t tell the priest if we do it just a bit. Trouble is, you can’t restrain yourself, Robby. You get it in your head to bang me, you let your emotions take over.” It was getting hard to hold down her irritation. “Like you had to do it at the mall. That was just goddamn embarrassing.”

“There wasn’t any clerks around. What’s the big deal?” His fingers betrayed his bravado by tugging at his eyebrow.

“They had cameras, Robby!”

“Cameras in the bedding department? Like someone’s gonna shoplift a bed? I feel like there’s cameras when we do it in your bedroom with that picture of Jesus over your bed. You realize how hard it is for a man to make love when Jesus is staring down at him?” He plucked a hair from his eyebrow and examined it.

“I was so embarrassed at Macy’s.” She put her face in her hands, remembering the people staring as Security marched them out of the store. “All the shoppers standing around rubbernecking like we’d actually stole something.”

“Yeah, they told me never to go back either. So there’s always WalMart, Old Navy.” He was struck by a further point to his argument, and put up his finger to mark the spot. “Another thing about this wedding business, the priest is gonna want to do communion. You know how that sets my teeth on edge? Do you?”

“It’s part of the wedding program.”

“All this body and blood of Christ? Lenore, that ain’t a healthy diet. It’s cannibalism.”

“Robby, listen.” It was now or never for Lenore. “You can’t just Frankenstein a marriage outta spare parts. A few tequila shooters, some back seating, and then say, ‘Whoops, we’re married now.’ You gotta do it the right way or it ain’t a real marriage. There’s rules!”

“Rules were made to be broken.”

“Well you broke them, now don’t break my heart. It’s your kid I been carryin’ for two months. See, Robby, a kid’s gotta know his legal father. Not like Mother Mary always wonderin’ who Jesus’s father was.”

“Ah, Lenore, c’mon now. I’ll be a good father. We can rent a place, make a home.”

“I know you’ll be a good daddy. You’re 32 years old. But you like livin’ at home, your Ma makin’ dinner and washin’ your clothes. This is it, man. I’m almost 20. My cousin Angie thinks I’m an old maid.”

“Yeah, well Angie had her first kid at 16 and didn’t get married till the law forced some dude to make it legal.” Actually, he loved Lenore more than anything in his world. More than his car or his short-haired pointer.

“Okay, here’s the deal maker.” She put both her hands on his shoulders, frustrated that persuading Robby was requiring more time than it took to buy her Ford from the used car dealer. “Do it my way and there’ll be wedding gifts. I’ll let people know you really, really need that 12-gauge shotgun. Then there’ll be a baby shower, and you need a muffler for your car.”

He put down the empty beer can and looked up. “You’d do that for me? A Winchester over-and-under shotgun?”

“We can even skip communion. Pregnant women aren’t s’posed to drink.”

“Okay. Deal.” He put his arms around her, knowing this was the woman he’d want to wake up seeing every morning. He could even try changing a diaper if it came to that. “I ain’t tryin’ to be difficult, Lenore. It’s a scary big step. I’ve never done this wedding thing before.”

“You’re scared? I’m terrified, Robby. It’s me that’s havin’ the baby.”

Copyright © 2015 by Walter Giersbach

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