You have to go to an ugly government building, get through metal detectors (at least in Montgomery County) and answer the same types of questions -- questions about your family history and the types of sexually transmitted diseases you're bringing into the marriage -- you'd answer if you were donating blood.
With straight face during our interrogation process, the marriage-license lady asked us: "Are you two related in any way?"
"Of course we're not related. But like all normal couples, we role-play like we are from time to time. It's the same boring fantasy everybody reenacts: I'm the creepy uncle, and she's precocious niece, physically blossoming into a woman, a very sexual woman, before my very blood-shot, alcoholic eyes. She's always had a thing for her Uncle Pedro, and I am just a man, so society's disapproval is no match for our carnal desires. You know, that sort of thing."
I didn't say all that, but I did giggle enough during the questioning process that I'm sure the woman asking the questions had some concerns about how serious I was taking the whole marriage thing. But like most things, the joke wound up being on me because I lost our marriage license before I even had a chance to get our ministers to sign it.
|Whaddaya wan a piece o' dis cake? Howabouta piece o' DEZ NUTs?!|
If you're wondering what happens if you lose a marriage license before you get a chance to mail it out and get it validated, the process is pretty simple. All you have to is go back to the ugly government building where you got the initial license, pay another $50 and try to hang on to the document long enough to get it signed and mailed out before the expiration date, generally 60 days from the date the first document was issued.
On the day I chose to do this, I just happened to have my nine-week-old Boston Terrier, Judith Weiland, with me, and I didn't feel comfortable leaving her in the car while I ran this particular errand. So I decided to bring her with me to the Register of Wills. Judith hasn't really gotten the hang of the leash just yet, so her main method of transportation is this little black carrier bag that sits on my shoulder and looks like, well, it looks like a purse.
I didn't think it would be a big deal to stroll into the Register of Wills with a little dog sleeping peacefully in my little black purse. But I forgot all about the metal detector and the machine women have to put their purses through, the same machine airports use to inspect the contents of travelers' carry-on bags.
"Just go ahead and put your bag through the machine over there, sir." That's what the old, leathery Telly-Savalas-looking security guard told me to do when I stood before the checkpoint, unsure of how to proceed.
"But there's a dog in the bag," I said.
"What the hell do you have a dog in here for?" Telly asked, which wasn't an unreasonable question.
"Shes like a service dog ... like a dog that's in training to be a service dog ... like a dog that's going to be in training to be a service dog soon," I told him.
Telly paused for a moment before ordering me to "open up the bag."
Judith really came through for me here. As soon as I unzipped the bag, her undersized head popped up, and she licked Telly's nicotine-stained fingers until falling asleep mid-lick.
"That's just a goddamn puppy!" Again, Mr. Savalas was right on the money with his assessment, but he wasn't mad because his next words were "Just go on through."
I was pretty excited when I strolled into the marriage-licensing department. The only thought running through my mind was: "I can't believe I got away with that! I can't believe I got away with that! I can't believe ..." I may have even been skipping a little bit, too. So between the hitch in my gait and the purse on my shoulder, it would be easy for the people sitting in the marriage-licensing place to make a few assumptions about me.
The place was pretty empty at the time. There were two workers and a couple of men who were trying to get themselves a marriage license before Pennsylvania changed its mind. I went over to the unoccupied worker and explained my situation. While I was waiting, the gentlemen were presented with their marriage license, so I casually leaned over in their direction and said: "Just be careful not to lose that thing fellas. Cause if you do, you'll be in the same situation as me."
Both men -- a tall, older white man and a short, middle-aged Asian man -- laughed, and the white guy said, "Is that what happened to you ..." Then there was a brief pause, and I caught the man looking from me to my purse then back to me again. "You and your ... spouse?" was how he opted to word the question. Clearly this guy thought I was gay, too. And how could you blame him? Here I was skipping around the marriage-licensing center with my tiny dog and my big ole purse acting gayer than, well, gayer than a couple of gay dudes who just officially got gay married.
What I did next was completely unnecessary. Instead of just saying, "Yep, we just lost the damn thing," I went out of my way to make sure this guy knew the "spouse" in question wasn't of the same sex as me. "Actually, my W-I-F-E is the one who lost it. My W-I-F-E is always losing things. Crazy how bad my W-I-F-E is with this stuff. I love my W-I-F-E, but that's the one thing about my W-I-F-E ..." I'm pretty sure he tuned out around the third wife reference, but I kept going for good measure, and when I finally finished my heterosexual manifesto, there wasn't much left to say. So he went back to enjoying the special life moment with his spouse, and I went back to petting my purse.