If I had to rank the things that graduates of my high school were good at, it’d look something like this:
4) Going to Tonga to convince people to become Mormons
3) Getting into a hoity-toity East Coast school
2) Growing/selling/smoking marijuana
1) Getting married
Now, of course, my rankings may be skewed by the people on my Facebook friends list, but in spite of all the nerd cred I repped in last week’s update, I’m Facebook friends with a wide range of people from my high school, and for every one of them who is selling weed to high schoolers, there’s at least two who have up and gotten married since graduation.
I usually find out about these weddings in one of two ways: Either Facebook proudly announces that the happy couple has been married, accompanied by pictures of the two of them clutching onto one another for dear life, or I see an update in my newsfeed from some name I don’t recognize.
“Mary Rubinowitz started playing CafeMafia?” I’ll say to my computer. “Who the hell is Mary Rubinowitz?” Then, upon further investigation, I figure it out. “Oh – it was Mary Anderson. She married Steve Rubinowitz two weeks ago. They already have 15 kids and a minivan.” And then I go back to eating Chef Boyardee out of the pot that I cooked it in because we don’t have any more clean bowls.
Marriage to me is a lot like home burglary or soccer fandom: It’s one of those scary things that always happens to ‘other people’, and when it strikes within your circle of friends you’re completely blindsided by it. It could happen to you too! Lock your doors! Don’t like the same sports as people from Europe! And above all, don’t ever grow emotionally close to anyone!
It’s always struck me as one of those traditionally adult activities that you begrudgingly do later in life, not unlike a colorectal exam. Picking one person who you’ll ideally spend the rest of your life with seems like such a monumentally important decision that I’m shocked anybody can make that kind of decision without a solid few decades’ worth of life experience.
When I was a sophomore in high school, a girl in the band who’d been awkwardly flirting with me invited my main bro Alexander and I to go to the Oregon State Fair with her and her friends – because that’s what you do when you live in Salem and it’s August.
Alexander and I went to the fair with them, but they seemed wholly uninterested in talking to or even looking at us; this is presumably because Alexander and I were a couple of codependent nerds who spent most of our time making highly obscure in-jokes about The Fifth Element and Mystery Science Theater 3000. Of course, any idiot would’ve known that from the get-go, so why bother inviting us in the first place?
Within an hour, the girls ditched us by the 4H pavilion, and, bemused and rejected, we spent the rest of the afternoon making fun of barnyard animals.*
*At one point, a cow we were looking at unleashed this neverending geyser of piss, and Alexander started pumping his fist and chanting, ”Go! Go! Go!”, and all the farmers were giving us dirty looks, and it was fantastic.
Shortly after graduation, that girl moved to a barely-inhabitable Southern state and got married to some guy there, and is now raising his toddler son from a previous marriage. Every morning she wakes up and sees her husband off to work, takes care of a young child, cooks dinner, makes pancakes on weekends… You know. Mom stuff. Earlier tonight, Alexander called to tell me he and his friends were going to WinCo to buy 300 sparklers so they could make a bomb and blow shit up in his backyard.
These are the sorts of things I think about when I see that yet another of my graduating class has found him or herself a spouse. Are they more or less mature? Lucky or unlucky? Was there a point at which they decided that they’d had enough of their freewheeling, responsibility-free 20s and wanted to jump right into an institution so classically nerve wracking that mankind has no recourse but to crank out terrible sitcom after terrible sitcom about it?
Usually my first reaction to finding these wedding announcements is a bit on the scornful side – I look down my nose at my Facebook newsfeed and think up something snide about how my high school cranked out a bunch of people who are in just too big of a hurry to grow up, and then go back to watching the video of the penguin farting in the other penguin’s face.
But that’s kind of hypocritical, because one of my absolute best friends from college is married and I’ve got no problem with that at all – the only difference is I know that he and his wife are one of those high school power couples who really love each other, and also appreciate the lucrative financial aid situation offered to married people.
Hell, the only reason I’m staying in Oregon as long as I am is because I want to go to another friend’s wedding in mid-July, and I’m totally thrilled that they’re getting married. If there wasn’t a free meal involved I’d probably downgrade my emotion to ‘approval,’ but that still beats my gut reaction to the nuptials of my graduating class.
Maybe it’s actually the opposite of what I said earlier – maybe marriage is something that I only expect to happen to my people, in a way. It makes sense when my friends get married to their significant others because I’ve seen them together, I talk to them a lot, and I can tell that it’s two people who know what they’re doing.
It’s different when it happens to obscure acquaintances I haven’t seen since high school, because I tend to assume that they haven’t changed in the slightest since then. I can’t get my head around that girl playing house in the Deep South because my last memory of her is her and her friends giving Alexander and I the slip in a large hot tent that smelled like manure. Some mother she’d make. Because I have no new picture of these people in my head as they are today, I’m imagining a bunch of hormonal, catty 18 year olds traipsing down the aisle together, and that’s probably not true for at least 20 percent of them.
Hey, and in other news, how about that gay marriage thing in New York? About time the government quits sticking its nose in peoples’ personal lives and minds its own damn business.
Truman Capps is just as shocked as you are that he keeps updating late when he’s living at home with no job.