Monday, April 26, 2004

I've been married more than once.

There. I said it.

Right now you're wondering how many times. Well, suffice it to say if I get married again the state is going to take away my amateur status. I'll have to go pro.

This past week my Father asked me for the very first time in low these many years, why I got married the first time, much less the times after that. I don't think anyone has ever asked me that question before.

The answer to that would require some thought for sure, but since I've really only been busy plucking and covering gray hairs of late, I figured now was as good a time as any to finally figure that out.

First of all, you should know I grew up a good Southern Baptist girl. I began dating very early (thirteen), but that was not unusual for girls my age in the south. In fact, when I was a sophomore I came to school one morning to find that one of the best looking guys I knew..who had graduated only the year before... had married a freshman. She was thirteen years old. She showed up in class wearing a wedding set on her Mrs. finger big enough to choke a horse and a roach clip in her hair. She was nothing if not classy.

I dated different kinds of young men, but they all had one thing in common. They were old. Not one or two years older. They were either in their final two years of college or working in some sort of supervisory capacity in a local manufacturing plant. If their class ring wasn't dated 1979 at minimum, it simply wouldn't do. I'm sure Freud would have a lot to say about that.

Even though I dated guys old enough to be called men, not one of them managed to penetrate my invisible cloak of chastity and get to any base I might have possessed. If they tried anything other than to kiss me, they were going to suffer not only the humiliation of having their hand firmly moved but they were likely to get a lecture as well. I'd made up my mind I was never going to have sex and there was not one thing they could do to persuade me otherwise. Sex was icky, it was a sin and I was pretty sure it would hurt something awful

My younger sisters (step-sisters...although we never use that term) did not share my fear of the dirty deed. Both dropped out of high school and were married by the time they were seventeen. My step-mother had to sign a permission slip for each of them. At my baby sister Leslie's wedding reception, (she was sixteen) a lovely old hag patted my hand gently and whispered just loud enough for everyone in the entire room to hear, "Don't worry, Honey. I'm sure you'll find someone to marry." I was seventeen. Who was I anyway? Ellie Mae Clampett?

Around that time I had been dating a guy that was determined to find a way to unlock the chastity belt. I'm betting he studied all the other guys, thought about their approaches and ultimate failures and came up with the single most perfect getting-a-southern-virgin-to-give-in-plan ever devised.

He told me he wanted to marry me.

And there it was. Those simple, lying, little words were the master key to the chastity belt guys had been trying to unlock since I was thirteen.

He was good, this guy. He didn't just say it. He gave me a ring. A ring I later found out had belonged to the girl friend before me, but a ring nonetheless. I had no choice. I had to put out now.

To say the thought terrified me is the understatement of the eighties. I was petrified. I didn't want that "thing" near me and I held out as long as I could. I made up excuses... some of the same ones that had worked so well in freshman year gym class. Mention ovaries and cysts and periods to a man and you're usually home free. That is, unless he is a horny college junior. Then no amount of mysterious woman stuff will dissuade him.

It was prom night, 1981. I was wearing a long, white, lacy dress I had bought for $99.00 with the money I made as a waitress at Shoney's. I had so much baby's breath in my french-twisted hair I could have roamed free among the wild life in spring fields and never been spotted. I wore tiny little satin ballet slippers dyed white to match my dress. I was just way too foxy for my own good. You can see why he wanted me so badly.

He was wearing a black tux with shiny shoes and a red rose on his lapel and he and my best friend's date stood at the top of the stairs of her house and sang, "New York, New York". As soon as he uttered the words, "Start spreading the news..." I knew he was going to usher me into womanhood sometime that night. I mean come on. Frank Sinatra. I never had a chance.

We went to a swanky restaurant about two hours from home and my friend Kaye and I thought we were oh so clever because we signed the guest register as Mr. and Mrs. blah-blah. When we arrived at the junior prom, I was moved nearly to tears by the beauty that was the crepe papered high school gym. The theme was "Stairway to Heaven" and when we danced to Styx singing "Babe", I was in love. Or in heat. Or something.

After the dance, we had a few minutes before we had to be at Kaye's house for a breakfast party her mom was preparing. Apparently when you're a twenty year old guy, a few minutes is all you need to make magic.

His Dad owned some land that didn't have any houses on it and so off we went across the field in his sporty tan and green Chevy Chevette. Yes... Chevette. We parked and there under the full moon with only the stars as witness, he got what he had plotted to get. I was no longer a virgin.

I'd love to tell you that the beauty of that moment has brought a smile to my face over the years since that star lit night. I'd love to... but that would be a big dog lie.

The cold, hard facts are this: it lasted about four minutes if you count the foreplay, which consisted of unzipping his tux pants. He managed to climb over the stick shift and onto me and it was all over before I realized just what the heck he was doing.

I burst into tears.

Where were the fireworks? Where were the tears of joy he was supposed to shed as he was over come with the magnitude of the gift I had just bestowed upon him? And most of all, why didn't I feel like a woman???

I turned to him, crying so hard I'm sure he thought he must have hurt me terribly with his giant manliness and I said the words every guy wants to hear after he's just had sex with a woman.

"That's it????"

I could hear the faint sound of his manhood being sucked up inside his body. I'm hopeful that those words haunt him to this day.

Oh yeah.... I'm supposed to be talking about why I got married.

I'll get to that later.

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