Saturday, November 25, 2006

Marriage... Nerd Style

A friend of mine has a daughter who is getting married. Occasionally I get a phone call from her. She talks and talks and talks about wedding preparations. It exhausts me, just listening to her!

I don't see why people don't get married the way my ex and I did, standing on the beach at Santa Cruz with a minister we'd found in the alternative newspaper.

My brother talked me into placing an ad in that very same alternative newspaper called "The Metro" to meet a boyfriend. He told me that if I didn't hurry up and get married, I'd never find someone because I was "getting too damn old." I got some interesting responses but one stood out in particular. It was typed, extremely well-written and self-descriptive in a way that actually told me something about the writer. He was a free-thinker, very politically involved, worked on computers and had written his own programming language. I remember being impressed with that last part.

Most of them were the equivalent of "yeah.. uh... I'm like uh six feet tall and uh dunno how much I weigh either. I got blue eyes and black hair. I like sex a lot. Call me."

I threw them in the trash right away.

I called the guy who typed his response and used an entire two pages to tell me about himself.

Three months later, I married him.

We made the decision to get married one evening as we sat in his house, watching a memory test on one of his many computers. The dots traveled across the screen, went to the next line, traveled across the screen again, and repeated that pattern some ungodly number of times. He looked over at me and said, "let's get married."

I said, "okay."

I was 34. He was 43.

The next day he bought me a CB radio and installed it in my car so that we could communicate when we'd be driving around the Bay Area, usually going to one temp job or another. He worked in Sunnyvale. I had a contract in Santa Clara. We would make up weird conversations to entertain any possible listeners. (If we did something like that these days, we would end up with the FBI or Homeland Security at the door.)

"Get the dead drop before the eagle lands."

The following weekend, we looked through the Metro and found a guy who had a license and could marry us. He charged forty dollars. C. wore his jeans and t-shirt. I wore a bohemian gauze skirt and a peasant top. He wore boots. I was barefoot.

We stood at the shore, close enough to the water that it touched my feet a few times. The minister went through some sort of ritual and we went along, repeating what we were told to say. A few times we looked at each other and I'd swear we both had the same thought: who is this person? I barely know you!

We were finished and went back home to our cozy little house in downtown Santa Cruz. We sat on the same couch looking at each other. I'm not sure which one of us felt more awkward.

TG: "Well, I think this is the part where we....."

CC: "Yeah. That's what people do, I hear."

TG : "Then I want to do something different."

CC: "Okay. What?"

TG: "Let's do it on the lawn in the back yard."

CC: "It's cold out there."

TG: "We'll warm up."

CC: "True. Okay. Let's go. Bring a blanket."

That was our exciting wedding night. We came back in and read our books.

It doesn't have to be dramatic or stressful! :)

Peace all ~



Pam said...

My husband and I were married by his Aunt (JP) with his cousin standing up for us. We stood by their pool overlooking the mts. with a warm breeze wafting by as we said our "I do's". As we both had been married before, we kept it very personal and told family and friend the next day. All were delighted. I'm not one for a lot of hullabaloo and this was perfect.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like it was really cool, I enjoyed that, trying to imagine you guys... Your writing has always been very good but lately ? Remarquable!

LittlePea said...

My husband and I sort of eloped. My sister had just been through a big wedding and I didn't want to have anything to do with a big pretentious, overdone, stressful party and an overpriced poofy dress that I would be horrified to see myself in later on. So we jumped in the car and drove to the next town and got married in a rose garden by a justice of the peace. I wanted to get married-I just didn't want to have a "wedding" so it was perfect for me.

KC said...

Chani, great story.

You knew what you wanted. Done. Simple. Easy.

Me, I knew what I wanted too and that was 2 years of planning and stressing and ultimately, the most perfect day in the history of my world. Because some people (me) are a) neurotic b) total girly-girls and c) slightly insane.

And it was absolutely perfect.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


What a delightful and lovely story and wedding of two adults. You sound so well-suited to each other, but since you refer to him as your ex, the question arises: Why?

Probably having to do with the fact that you really didn't know each other when you married? I suspect few couples do, which surely accounts for the divorce rate.

I have learned from experience that it is far better to be alone than to be with someone who is not right.

I so enjoy your writing and thoughts.

Heather Plett said...

Yeah, if I were to do it over again (which I don't EVER plan to do), I'd do it on the beach. Although, I have to admit, I had a BLAST at my wedding. I don't know when I've ever danced or laughed so much.

Lil said...

I'm smiling having just read your story...doesn't that say it all?!

Gobody said...

Chani, I am amazed at your life. Although I don't live an ordinary life in any way, I am still awed by such magical spontaneity like what you’ve described. Maybe many of the problems arising in marriages are because of all the stress involved in getting married. All the responsibility attached to such a natural, and supposedly joyful, experience.

I definitely think you should write a book about your life, many will be interested including me.

Ginnie said...

I like the spontaneity but were you sober? It's the sort of thing that I would have done way back then...not the marriage part, but the snap decision...except that I made those decisions after I'd been drinking and they were almost always bad choices. How long did the marriage last? (It was a fascinating and gutsy post, Chani)

Z said...

A lovely post, and I'm glad you have happy memories of getting married.

My wedding was planned to be big and gauzy and not what I wanted at all, but after a few weeks of planning, my fiancé realised I'd been right all along, got a special licence and we were married quietly with just our parents there. My mum was all for it, but his parents were a little puzzled......

We had a blast of a party three months later though, on what should have been our wedding day.

Girlplustwo said...

love it. you luscious woman, you.

i am now inspired to write about my non marriage ceremony on my blog...

meno said...


What an interesting tale. We got married in a very non-traditional wedding also, but i would have run away to Vegas to do it if it wouldn't have bothered my mother so much. I was scared enough marrying a man i had lived with for over two years, i couldn't imagine the terror i would have felt if it was a man i barely knew.
I like that kind of spontaneity, i just can't do it.

Jim Armstrong said...

"The Goldilocks Wedding"
Good to read your story - Very important, I think, to note the variety of perfect weddings reported in responses by folks like Pam, mslittlepea, kc and others whose ceremonies were all different, yet "perfect".
When planning our wedding, my wife and I considered several options including the simple, meaningful ceremony on the beach (east coast for us:); the big, splashy money show; even the classic let's-just-go-to-Vegas... In the end we realized that any of these would be fine because, for us, we knew that the wedding's not important in the big picture... the marriage is.
We knew we wanted to mark the occasion with a ceremony, but couldn't settle on what kind? In the end, we realized that we had to do something that included our mothers - otherwise, they would never forgive us. As we thought about why this mattered, we came to the conclusion that ceremonies such as weddings are less "about" the subjects (Bride and Groom) than they are about the tradition, the activities and especially about the people who come together to be involved. With this in mind, we decided to take this occasion to create a great event for our families and friends - to celebrate our marriage within our human/social environment.
This was a revalation for us because as soon as it wasn't about us, the decisions became relatively easy. Budget, invite list, location, food, activities, were all based on what we thought we'd like to give the group to create a memorable, relationship-focused event. We thanked everyone for coming, noted the distances covered by those who travelled from all over, announced anniversaries, and recognized the absence of those who had passed.
In this context we began our own new family, celebrating marriage, family and friendship - the social systems that give support, consistency and continuity to our lives as they play out.
The result, 10 years later, is an event that is remembered to us again and again in conversations with family and friends as comfortable, fun and beautiful. More important, it is an event that became a significant connective layer in our social environment. Still, more important, like you, and others who've contributed here, our wedding was "just right" for us.

Anvilcloud said...

Well, that brought out the comments. :) I guess, for you, life is a beach -- or something like that. (Yeah well, it's almost 5:30 a.m., and I'm not doing too well in my attempt to be funny.) :(

Ashley Lasbury said...

What a wonderful story. You give me hope.

thailandchani said...

Pam, I like the idea of simplicity. It's the relationship that matters, not the showy stuff that surrounds it.


Caro, it was kind of fun. Both of us so awkward. LOL


MsPea, a rose garden sounds perfect to me!


KC, as long as it was perfect for you, that's what counts. I wouldn't have been able to stand all that planning and waiting. I don't do stress well! LOL


Heart, we are "ex" for two reasons. We would have been much better off as friends and we were too much alike. There was no balance.


Heather, if I get married again (which I wouldn't mind one day), I will keep it just as simple. No Vegas though. Vegas is out. :)


Lilithmother, thanks. :) I'm glad it made you smile.


Gobody, see my response on your blog comments section. :)Truly, I am just an old hippie.


Ginnie, yes, I was sober. And so was he. I think at that point I was just riding along with the process of life itself. I've really lived a rather odd, offbeat life.. Some good in that.. some not so good. One of the darker sides of my history is that I was not always good at making good choices. I lived too much in the moment.


Z, good on both of you for realizing it and doing it the way it would work best for the two of you. Sometimes I think people get too caught up in expectations and just end up making themselves miserable.


Jen, I'll look forward to reading that! I'll bet you and J-Dog have something interesting to tell along those lines. :)


Meno, as I said, it was one of the darker sides of my history. Even though I got dry many years before that, that doesn't mean I was sober. :)

J, I can see your point. C. and I were not very "socially networked" and just the two of us seemed fine. We would have had to travel or have other people travel to include since he was from Colorado and I from Los Angeles. No easy way to do that. :)


Anvil, you're funny.. most of the time. LOL .. Seriously though, yeah.. that's kind of been the way my life has gone. I'm not good at lots of responsibility. There. I admitted it. LOL


Onetallmomma, geez... that's nice to hear but begs the question: Hope about what? :)

Peace everyone... carpe diem :)


heartinsanfrancisco said...

I understand. People often think they want someone just like themselves, but there really needs to be some tension or the relationship can stagnate.

It sounds as if you both made two caring and intelligent decisions, to be together and to not be together. Your mutual respect made it possible for your memories of your marriage to be good ones, and not regrets about time wasted or misspent, as so many end up with.

I hope you fnd someone who is worthy of you in every way because he will be a beautiful person.

*~*Cece*~* said...

Your wedding day sounds lovely. It made me smile. Thanks, I really needed a smile today.