In 1997, my wife decided we’d better get married, mostly because both of our families would take death or disability as a cue to hire attorneys to impoverish the last one standing.
The deaths of several relatives had already provided examples of shameless hearse-chasing and corpse-groping, even when the dead in question might only be in possession of a heap of empty George Dickel bottles or a few Topps Monkees cards.
We’d already spent a little time among antique dealers, who have to do some backbreaking research to find someone lower on the food chain, but even they unanimously cited immediate family as a benchmark for un-self consciously appalling greed.

So after ten years of cohabitation, during which we’d learned we weren’t likely to kill one another, and could count on each other for some of the more excruciatingly mundane tasks that are probably the root of drug addiction and criminal behavior in slightly less apathetic people, we drove up to the office of the justice of the peace in Warrenton, N.C., the same day we’d made an appointment with our vet to purchase some “Australian Shepherds” (which I still think are some hideous Cockerpoo-Collie combination, given their tendency to spend long hours in silent, immobile meditation, sucking eggs, or killing a broody hen for sport.)

We didn’t inform any family members, because we knew what would happen. My sisters and my aunt would take the initiative, and suggest a proper venue for a Christian wedding, and they’d start to insist that my wife blowdry and Aqua-Net her hair in the soft-focus porno style that still holds sway in the Charlie Daniels listenin’ states.
They’d want us to mortgage the farm for bridesmaids and tuxedos, and a dry party where I’d be slightly less likely to wrap my Republican friend’s glasses around the side of his head again prior to blacking out, not because I meant to, but because 20 hours is a long day to get through, regardless if you’ve managed it with the assistance of enough scotch to send a couple of temperate men to their graves.
If they’d somehow got wind of our getting hitched, I already had a plan. The whole thing would be Cantonese opera or nothing. Tammie and I would spend a couple of weeks training with the masters in a coastal California Chinese enclave, and return to Sword of the Lord Bible Baptist Church to give them a full hour of this:

What was startling about the “civil ceremony” to me, was just how much Jesus had managed to insinuate himself in the law of contracts, a discipline in which he shows remarkably little interest in the Gospels. The justice of the peace was deeply concerned the text of the wedding he had in his office was “too secular”, and he sent his amanuensis off to another part of the building to find the Cotton Mather version.
“This ain’t like jumping off a log.” He said.
“Horseshit”, I thought. ” It is precisely like jumping off a log, except this time, contra the log jumping of the past ten years, which might involve a bottle of wine, a stick of incense and an L. Subramaniam cassette, this one features an additional white guy and some legally binding paperwork.” But I didn’t think he’d appreciate it, and I shut up, as Southerners are trained, by the threat of the lash and excommunication.

We got married and drove up the road a few miles to get our dogs, George and Sally. I named them for my college nonfiction writing teacher and her husband, whose orbit closely paralleled ours for several years. On the way back home. we stopped in Warrenton again to get our wedding dinner of a horrible pizza margherita and a coke. The dogs puked in the car.

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