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Trapped Into Marriage!


Mario V. Farina

Copyright 2018 Mario V. Farina

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Mario V. Farina


"Dear, what you said last night, was that a proposal of marriage?"

"I guess so," I said.

"Would August 15 be good, Bob? It's a Saturday."

"I guess so."

"Oh, darling, you've made me so happy!"

I was a bit puzzled. Having never proposed marriage to anyone, I didn't realize what a wonderful experience it might be for a woman to be getting one. I hadn't literally meant what I said, of course; it was just something to say under certain conditions. The whole thing would blow over in a few days. I was sure of that!

We had been dating every day. In the taxi on our way to the restaurant, Julie quietly said, "We need rings."

"Rings?" I exclaimed, "what kind of rings?"

She laughed. "Wedding rings, silly. And an engagement ring for me. I think Gifford's is the jeweler I respect most! Shall I make a date for us to go together? Or, have you done something about this already?"

For the first time, it began oozing into my brain by osmosis, this marriage thing was something that would not blow away. I could sense no wind in the air that was strong enough to do this! I had to make a response to Julie's question and, at present, could find nothing ruminating in my brain that would suffice.

My name is Robert Hannaford. I was 23, a college graduate of Millicent College in Winterdale. I worked at Onside Insurance, starting there in May of the previous year as a junior analyst. I lived in a small apartment on second street in this city. I had met Julia Emerson some months earlier at a dance and we began dating. We were seeing each other almost every day.

"Engagement ring?" I finally asked. "Are they expensive? I don't have a lot of money."

"They're usually a diamond of some sort," she said. "Maybe a thousand or so. It could be something temporary with less cost, perhaps a zirconia. Where the wedding rings are concerned, people who get married exchange rings at the marriage ceremony. You've been to weddings, haven't you?"

I had not known much about weddings. At my age I as more interested in motorcycles and smart phones. I was paying monthly on a small Harley I used for going back and forth to work and for shopping. I responded, "Where weddings are concerned, on TV, I've seen couples visit nice elderly couples in the country and get married. Would this work for us?"

"You're talking about getting married by a Justice of the Peace," Julie said. "The marriage could be like this if it has to. Didn't you know it's expensive to get married?"

"Not really," I replied. "Why couldn't we just say 'I do, and I do' with a Justice of the Peace, and have it done with?"

"Oh, Bob," she said, "a woman dreams about and looks forward to her wedding from childhood. There are no limits to her imagination. Justice of the Peace is never in her thoughts! Didn't you know this? Where have you been all your life?"

We arrived at the restaurant. The fare with a small tip took half the money in my wallet. "Tell me about the expenses while we're eating," I said.

The host at the Olive Garden escorted us to a booth. We both ordered soup and salad and started nibbling on the breadsticks that were quickly delivered. "First, there's the gown!" Julie said.

"I've seen them in movies," I commented. "Is this a standard thing? Are they used most of the time? Wouldn't a pretty dress do just as well?"

"Yes! gowns are used for most weddings. That could be a thousand, even more. At the very least, a gown could cost a couple of hundred!"

I was stunned. "I-I had no idea," I stammered.

"No idea? I could say the same thing about what you're telling me!" she murmured. "Let me lay it all out for you. A wedding involves a lot of things to plan for and a lot of costs. The groom would not be responsible for some of this. The parents would have to get involved since they usually have to pay a large portion of the costs. A date and place for the wedding has to be decided, a marriage license is needed, there are costs for the rental of clothing for the groom, a reception to plan for, musicians to pay, flowers to buy, rehearsals to make, dinners to arrange, a car to rent, and, so many other things. A marriage license is needed."

"Arrangements for a honeymoon would need to be made," she continued. "The groom would normally pay for this; sometimes, both the bride and groom. Yes, with a Justice of the Peace, a wedding could cost almost nothing, but most couples don't do it this way! An average church wedding could, conservatively speaking, cost from ten to fifty or sixty thousand!"

"Holy mackerel!" I exclaimed. "Is that all?" I added with my voice heavily laden with sarcasm. I had become much annoyed during what I considered a brutal recitation.

"I've just begun!" she responded matching my cynicism. "We haven't said anything about children, where we're going to live, how we'll provide sufficient income for the family, life insurance, health insurance, saving for a house of our own, investing for retirement, . . ."

"Investing for retirement?" I couldn't help interrupting. "We were in our early twenties!"

"It's never too early to begin planning for the future!" she insisted. "People are living longer these days. Retiring at age 65 or even 70 could be much too early."

Salad, arrived in a large bowl, and we each scooped a portion into our plates.

I was overwhelmed by what Julie was telling me. I had gotten involved into something I did not understand and could not control. "I feel I've been trapped into this marriage!" I blurted.

"Trapped by what?" she said too loudly. "Me?"

"No, not exactly," I managed to say. "Maybe by your charms?"

"Charms my eye! There were other things on your mind! What about me? Couldn't I say I was trapped also? Didn't you propose to me?"

"I guess so," I admitted. "Isn't there a way we could get married on the cheap?" I asked imprudently. This was the wrong question, at the wrong time, asked in the stupid way!

"You mean by a Justice of the Peace?"


She didn't reply right away. "Give me some time to think about it," she said.

Minestrone Soup was delivered and we ate in silence. I began to understand my question had been irreverent. I expected an angry response. Her countenance gave no hint what she was thinking. After much time had elapsed, she said, "The answer is yes! I know all this is difficult for you. Too much to plan for! Too expensive! I'll take care of everything! Let's get married next Tuesday. On the cheap! I'll take care of everything! And pay for everything! We'll go see a Justice of the Peace. I'll give you the address. Don't worry about the rings. I'll take care of this. I don't need an engagement ring right away. Dress nice."

"What about a marriage license?" I asked. "You said this is necessary."

"I'll take care of this, too! No cost to you! Are you willing to do all this?"

"I guess so," I said.

Julie picked up the check and paid for the taxi ride to our homes. She told me she'd phone with the address of the Justice of the Peace, and when to meet her there. She said she wouldn't meet with me again until our wedding day. I didn't like that restriction, but agreed to it. I didn't worry about where we were going on a honeymoon or live because she had promised to take care of everything.

She phoned me a couple of days later. "Friday, she said, two o'clock, 112 Hillsdale Road, Centerville. Got that?"


She hung up.

I allowed plenty of time to get there. She hadn't said anything about transportation, so I took the Harley. I arrived at the address twenty minutes early. A sign reading "Justice of the Peace" was posted on the lawn. I saw her car was already there, so I was not surprised, when she opened the door. We entered a cozy living room. Light strains of music flooded the room. I recognized the tune as, 'Beautiful Dreamer'. At the front of the room, there was a small podium, and several chairs in front of it. I assumed this would be the place where the ceremony would be conducted. Julie greeted me warmly, and asked me to sit down in one of the chairs. After a moment or two a middle-aged man, white hair, a little stocky, and balding, entered the room, along with a woman, who I imagined was his wife. She was also middle-aged, gray-haired, slim. They smiled at me. The woman sat in the chair beside me, the man stood behind the podium, and Julie on my other side.

The man spoke. "We are gathered here to join Julia Emerson and Robert Hannaford in holy matrimony. In accordance with the wishes of the bride and groom, the ceremony will be trimmed down to its barest essentials." Looking directly at me and Julia, he said, "Would you stand please." Then, speaking to me, he said, "this wedding cannot be conducted today because there is no marriage license. However, Ms. Emerson has requested that she make a statement." He then addressed Julie. "Are you prepared to make your statement, Ms. Emerson," he asked.

"Yes," she said. "I wrote it all out ahead of time." She handed a sheet of paper to the man, had one to me. "I won't read my statement," she announced. "I know what I want to say." Then the, facing me she said,

"Bob, dear, you told me that you felt you had been trapped into this marriage, and I suggested to you, that I might have been trapped also. I would like to call this talk, 'Our Emancipation Proclamation'! From this point, I declare my freedom from any trap that you might have set for me, and I also release you from any trap that you may feel I set for you! I had not realized when you proposed marriage to me, you were incompetent and ill-prepared to do so. You had no idea what marriage is and what it means to be married. I would advise you to pick up a good book from the library on the subject of what are the responsibilities of each partner in a successful marriage. Then, begin preparing for the time when you are actually ready to take this step. As for you and me, I would recommend that we not see each other for a time. Date others. If you wish, you may give me a call a few months from now so that we can decide whether there is a future for you and me in both our lives."

"There is nothing for you to do now except leave. I will stay here with Mr. and Mrs. Michael Swan to take care of any loose ends that there might be from this visit go in peace, and God bless you!"

I learned a great deal from the Emancipation Proclamation. It changed my life. I will phone Julie about a year later, but that's another story!

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