Apropos of Nothing: A Reflection on Marriage Nuptials
An Editorial by Jamie Beckett
Believe it or not, I’ve been married a lot. I don’t mean I’ve been married for a long time. No, that’s not my thing. I mean I’ve been married a lot. As in, if you see me at a wedding there’s a really good chance I’m the groom.
I’ve been married so many times that when my son was about five years old he once commented, “Wow, dad you get married a lot, huh?” There were three of us in the room when he said that. There was me, my son, and an older gentleman who was two days away from officially becoming my father-in-law.
My son was right, of course. I can’t very well fault him for stating the obvious. I do get married a lot. I maintain that the exact number of marriages I’ve entered into is nobody’s business but mine, and whomever I happen to be married to at the moment.
But to give you a sense of the situation, let’s just say I’ve been married enough times that an official from the Clark County Marriage License Bureau once reached out to me about appearing in a television commercial they were planning. I declined, of course, but certain hotels in that city still offer me a special discount. One even has a newlywed weekend package plan named in my honor.
What happens to me in Vegas generally involves a wedding ring, three to five really exciting days, and a protracted legal proceeding.
Of course, I take little responsibility for my plight. I’m an American after all. Nothing I do is my fault. I’m pretty sure that’s in the Constitution. You can look it up if you want to.
No, I blame television for creating the conditions that caused me to fall prey to MMD (multiple matrimony disorder). When I was young and television was still in black and white, I was often encouraged by random strangers to settle down after kindergarten to watch the mid-afternoon movie. In our neighborhood this was considered a suitable replacement for hiring a trained babysitter. Then again, giving a kid a shot of brandy before naptime wasn’t considered out of the question back then, either.
Things were different in the old days. Mom smoked unfiltered Camels while making dinner and sang the low parts of show tunes as the soothing tobacco smoke reworked her vocal chords. Dad said, “Good morning,” before leaving for the office every day, and often greeted us with a semi-cheerful, “Hiya, Butch,” when he got home. I can’t remember him saying much more than that. He was a man of few words. Still is. He still calls my youngest sister “Butch,” too.
Anyway, the mid-afternoon movies often featured 20 year old films made by established stars. Actors like Mickey Rooney, Lana Turner, Elizabeth Taylor, Doris Day, and Clark Gable filled my head for many years.
By the time I was 7 years old it seemed perfectly reasonable that an adult would be married 4, or 5, or even 6 times. I asked my folks about fidelity and longevity in marriage, but Mom was in her Old Man River phase that year, and Dad just continued to say, “Hiya, Butch,” as he headed for the wet bar in our rumpus room.
This topic is on my mind a lot these days because my son, that wonderful little boy who has such a way with words, is getting married. He’s grown up now, of course. He’s 30 years old. That’s about the age I was when I was getting married for the third time. He’s just getting started. This is marriage number one for him. He says this is it. She’s the one. He’s getting married once, for life, and that’s that.
I’m not entirely sure where I went wrong. Maybe we didn’t let him watch enough television. Maybe the history of Hollywood just never took root in his brain the way I’d hoped it would.
Perhaps if I’d introduced him to a good lawyer earlier, when he was still young and impressionable, things could have been different. It doesn’t matter anymore. What’s done is done. The kid’s settling down and there’s apparently nothing I can do about it.
Kids. No matter how hard you try, no matter what kind of sacrifices you make for them, they end up becoming adults and going their own way. If only I hadn’t quit smoking all those year ago, maybe he could have become something.
Ah well, I still love him. Even if he does only get married once.