I will never get used to this; and by “this” I mean being one of a dwindling number of people who accurately remember the story. Who were there as front row witnesses to events those involved wish would be forgotten..
Today I’m going to vent about a situation where my honset, not easy to say advice was utterly and completely ignored. But I wasn’t wrong, even if I’m someday the only one who remembers.
The story goes like this. Entitled Son (ES) meets Old School Piety (OSP) in a club one night. They were both with friends in the crowded and noisy place, trying to have the required “good time.” As the two were not totally repulsed by one another, they chatted and laughed and he promised to call. ES meant what he said (unless something better came along, of course) and when he had time he gave her a call. OSP was pleasantly surprised, though rightfully suspicious of all males after a hearty Catholic school education. They dated successfully for a time, met each other’s friends without incident, and gradually became a part of family times and celebrations.
They found they had things in common. An interest in nice cars and fine things. A love of Christmas. Travel, amusement parks and live events. He thought she was pretty and didn’t care about her ugly baby pictures; he didn’t laugh at the “jokes” told by her sisters. She thought he was handsome, charming, sentimental and totally under appreciated by his family.
Now of course ES and OSP were following the approved courtship path for couples of their age and circumstances. They bought gifts with care. Planned special times together. Neither had any other promising prospects for a long term relationship and OSP stopped looking. ES always looked, flirted and made himself available but there were no takers. In due course ES and OSP were engaged, had chosen the white dress and attendants, found a venue and priest.- a wedding shower was about to be held in ES’s backyard.
It was then, comfortably seated around the dinner table, that ES could hold back no longer. No one ever found out what prompted the sudden release of feelings, but there they were. The truth, despite a lifetime of efforts by ES, refused to be held back, buried or denied a moment longer.
“I don’t want to get married.”
The shock waves of his admission were intense. Only after poor OSP had a ring on her finger and a date on the calendar did ES have the nerve to voice his doubts. And even then to his most sympathetic of audiences, his parents. Parents who had given him every chance, a lifetime of pampering, of indulgence and pushing for greatness, not understanding why it eluded a son who had everything. Later they realized they should not have been surprised, but in those days ES could still shock them.
ES, never one to think about anybody else when his own soul was suffering, reverted to form as OSP’s (fully justified) reaction began to enter his awareness, itching what conscience troubles him. ES was taken aback by their concern for the girl who they expected until just then to be their daughter in law. OSP had.been welcomed by ES’s family and they thought highly of her. Sometimes his mother would joke about OSP being “too good” a catch for her son. They were not nearly as upset at voiced doubts about a wedding, as they were about the delay, and the fact OSP knew nothing of this. She would be blindsided as they had been, but far worse.
Once ES’s conscience was unburdened, he saw little need to take the very urgent (very good) advice he was given that night. His parents urged him to talk to OSP now. That night. Postpone if not put off the wedding; deposits didn’t matter, no one would care. They said they loved him. They said they wanted him (and OSP) to be happy.
Days passed before ES’s mother (a card carrying honesty enforcer) learned ES had yet to break the news of his doubts to OSP. That’s when ES’s unwilling sister (yours truly) was dragged into the whole mess by OSP herself. A tearful phone call followed. Doubts could not be denied or explained away, though OSP tried, for she wanted so very badly to be married. To be a Mrs somebody. When OSP asked for my advice, knowing my brother as I did, I hesitated before conscience forced the unhappy words out in to the air, over the pone line.
“Don’t marry any man OSP, my brother included, who has doubts about marrying you.”
Time stood stock still but my inner thoughts raced once the words were out. It was the truth, advice I stand behind today. But it was not what she wanted to hear, probably not what any bride wants to hear. The trouble was, when I said those earnest words I didn’t know how very badly OSP wanted to be a wife. Anyone’s wife. Even a guy who wasn’t ready, who didn’t have the nerve to tell you to your face.
Turn out, entitled and pious were made for each other; he’s remained unchanged and she forgiven him much. Flirting with intent. A hair trigger temper and verbal abuse. Career upheavals. His less than supportive reaction to her pregnancy, surgery and chronic illness. Second, third and fifth chances. I sometimes wonder if OSP regrets ignoring that advice I gave so long ago. If she does, she also proudly celebrates 25 years as ES’s wife, a dubious accomplishment to be sure.
I can’t help but wonder as I slap the stamp on the anniversary card propriety compels me to buy, if being a Mrs. was worth it.