Getting married

The best love story I have gleaned from a correspondent, was about his marriage, nearly seventy years ago. He was fifteen at the time, and his bride was fourteen. Well, almost fourteen; for even in those days — in the rural hick Midwest — she had to exaggerate slightly. Neither was “properly” schooled. They met as near neighbours (only a few miles between their family homesteads). But he was already a man of means; had been working a couple of years with “beeves.” I bet he wasn’t a vegetarian.

I don’t give names or addresses of gentle readers — unless of course they are Democrats or Liberals — but lets call this man Fred. How he came to be reading the Essays in Idleness, might also be our little secret, except I will tell it. He reads Christian websites, sometimes, and one thing led to another. I noticed that he wrote English well, and could spell; there was a quote from Shakespeare.

Decidedly, the sort of character whom any progressive would smear on contact. Indeed, I tested this supposition by repeating Fred’s story to one of my more progressive friends (a schoolteacher) — who wrinkled his nose, and asked if Fred is “a Catholic or a pedo,” with that hard bigotry that is always looking for a soft target.

He isn’t Catholic, but I said he was. (I meant it with a small “c.”) Being misinformed gives schoolteachers pleasure, and who was I to deny this to the grim little fellow, childless and three times divorced?

Fred had, I think, nine children, plus two or three more (locals) by adoption. He and his wife were disappointed by the total, but as their grandchildren may be counted in the dozens, they have made it up. They were, by his account, very happy, still living in the house he inherited, though now somewhat retired from his beeves. One never retires, completely, he explained, the animals make such good company. But the people are even better, out there, and let us not forget the books. Both he and his wife learnt to read, young, and were avid consumers of novels, together, until recently, when she died.

“Just sitting quietly, on the verandah, with your books and each other, and maybe a beer and a pipe, is God’s plan for the early evening, and the sunset of your life.” Grandkids will be somewhere, playing in the dirt.

Fred’s philosophy of marriage is, to marry your childhood crush. She should be pretty, but not too much, or she might grow vain. The important thing is, she should laugh at your jokes, and know how to cook. His wife was a fabulous cook, and taught all his daughters. Good plain wonderful “comfort food,” everything turned just so. The years pass, and you grow together, “in the Christian way.” And if you lose her, it is only for a time. Fortunately his kids would never put him in a nursing home, which is truly “the end.”

He has one son who turned out bad, however. Went off to the city (a large town, by contemporary standards), and fell in with troublesome sorts. Became a lawyer. Didn’t marry until he was thirty, and then just abused the woman until she left; she was a fool for marrying him. He’d already wasted ten years “dating” one victim or another. No woman was good enough for him: he’d been to a college. Godless, he specialized in evicting people.

Every good-sized family produces a black sheep, unless it doesn’t. Or often the black sheep is an only child — spoilt rotten. But he met an only child once, who was a saint. “You get what you get.” And anyway, you have to love them, you don’t have a choice.