FACT: Will and I were introduced by mutual friends at college.
FACT: One of our mutual friends, whom we lovingly refer to as “Crazy Jen,” was off campus during the semester that Will and I met.
FACT: Jen was about as anti-romance as you can be if you are still, somehow, boy-crazy. She was also really goth-y.
FACT: When Will and I, still merely acquaintances, discovered that Friday the 13th and Valentine’s Day were happening in conjunction with one another, we decided that we’d have to fetch Jen from Indiana, or go to her, or something.
FACT: Several of our friends had seen The Replacement Killers the weekend before, and told us that it was terrific. We made plans to go see it together on Thursday.
FACT: The following things happened on Thursday: 1. Jen replied to my email, in which I had sneakily suggested that I was going to call her and wondered if she’d be home, with the bad news that she was scheduled to work all weekend. 2. Will and I, independent of one another, realized that going to the movies together was not unlike a date, panicked, and both backed out.
FACT: Since kidnapping Jen was now out of the question, Will and I tried to come up with a new plan for the weekend, since we felt obligated to amuse one another. (Note that this, somehow, did not strike us as being too date-like.) Will suggested that we drive to Vegas and get hitched by Elvis. I responded favorably, being an Elvis fan. We talked it over, coming to the conclusion that we wouldn’t get back in time for classes on Monday. We then decided (at least one of us may have been drinking) that it would be a good idea to get married locally, and have it annulled on Valentine’s Day. We went to the local police station, having deduced that it was the only place at which we could acquire information about the Green County, Ohio, marriage requirements at approximately midnight. They told us where to go (the county courthouse).
And this brings us up to date (the date being Friday, February 13, 1998).
I had told Will that I would only marry him if there was coffee involved. He arrived at my dorm and woke me up at about 7:30, bearing a thermos of weak coffee. Really awful coffee. The worst.
We drove to Xenia (the same one from the They Might Be Giants song) and went into the courthouse to find out what we needed to do, if anything, and where we could find a justice of the peace. We left armed with the knowledge that we needed only our drivers’ licenses, $40 for the license, and our parents’ consent if we were under 18 (we were not). I believe we were told that we ought to look in the phone book to find an officiant.
We went back to school and ate breakfast in the cafeteria (something that I think I did a total of three times while at Antioch), then found our friend Hilary, who was going into Xenia and offered to drive us back to get the license. (I am really not sure why we didn’t get it the first time we were there. Maybe the office was closed, or maybe we panicked a little.)
When we sat down in the office, we grabbed hold of each other’s hands and held on tight. I think I almost broke his hand. He was so nervous that the capillaries around his eyes swelled so that he looked hungover, or perhaps as though he’d been in a fight. We signed the paperwork and handed over our forty dollars.
When we returned to campus, we were both a bit sobered by the knowledge that we actually had a piece of paper allowing us to legally get married. I suggested that perhaps, since we knew nothing of annulments or their cost, we ought to wait and get married the following month. February being (usually) 28 days, March would also have a Friday the 13th, and we could get the marriage annulled on April Fool’s Day instead. Will agreed, and we set about notifying everyone of our upcoming wedding.
The reactions were very funny. Some people knew it was a joke. Of those people, some thought it was funny, and some warned us that we would almost certainly fall in love, because that would just be even funnier. Some people thought we were already in love. A lot of people suddenly knew who I was. I guess that’s what happens when you announce your engagement to an infamous senior.
That night, Will came to my dorm again, with an “engagement ring.” He had driven to Wal-Mart, or possibly Meijers, with our friend Adrian, and given him several dollars in quarters for one of the machines that gives you jewelry in little plastic bubbles. From that selection, Will chose a purple ring – one of the little metal ones. I know you’ve all seen them. I made him get down on one knee, and he proposed. I accepted, giggled a lot, and didn’t take the ring off for about four years.
to be continued.