The Young and The Stupider
Did your mom ever tell you things as you were growing up? You know, things like, “Don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t chew, and don’t date boys who do?” My mom never passed on that particular gem, but she shared a lot of advice with me. Most of it I followed, but there were several words of wisdom that I shrugged off.
Sorry, Mom. You were, and still are, a brilliant woman, and I sincerely apologize for any pain and suffering I caused by not listening to you.
One thing my mom told me at particular times was, “If there’s a doubt, DON’T.” Oh, how different my young life would have been if I’d only applied that.
Picture it. Itsy Bitsy College Town, 1996. It was my first time away from home for anything other than a youth camp. It was my first time living somewhere other than my hometown. Of course, this was a Baptist college so it was kind of like youth camp, only with grades, and the town this college was in was smaller than my hometown. I am pretty sure there were fewer than five three traffic lights, and we had to drive at least 20 minutes to find something other than a Piggly Wiggly to shop at.
I was 20-years-old when I started at this college, having totally disregarded the community college classes I had taken because I believed most of them conflicted with my faith. If you know me and you know how conservative I am now, you should’ve met me then. Scary. Anyway, I went to the college with a desire to be a Christian counselor, but the school didn’t offer those courses at the time so I settled for Elementary Education. I also went to the college while dating someone. He was smart and kind, and was dating me because I was a nice girl who took care of her grandmother, and I was cute. (He once told me, “Pretty you look at, cute you marry.”) We’d been dating for a year, and there was some talk of the future.
I loved the school right away. I was in a funky little dorm that housed some of the most unique and fascinating women I’d ever met. The rooms were teeny, and they had bunk beds. Yes, bunk beds! (We later found we could take them down.) I was quickly told about The Sin Line, an area where girls could not pass lest they be tempted by the masculine scents wafting from the boys’ dorms.
I don’t remember exactly when it was that I met The Wolf, but at some point I was introduced to a young man that I took notice of because he was handsome, but I didn’t think much of. I immersed myself in studying and showering. I left the dorm to go to class, or to go to the other girls’ dorm to take calls or make calls to my family or my boyfriend — because our dorm didn’t have a phone, and cell phones were still rare and the size of Zack Morris’.
As I continued on, I started to pull away from my boyfriend. Why? Because he wasn’t going into the ministry, and as a good girl going to a Baptist college, I felt I should marry someone who was. (Pause to gag.) So when he came up to visit me one weekend, we had The Talk, and the relationship was over. (Relax, he was going to visit some friends who weren’t far from the college anyway, so I didn’t make him waste a 6-hour trip to get dumped! And gas was under $1.50 then — seriously. Besides, I contend the breakup was mutual.)
SO. There I was, a little distraught that the relationship was over and that it had ended so easily. Enter The Wolf. He and I had been spending some time together but I didn’t think too much of it. I was a faithful girl, and I had a boyfriend. I know he was trying to impress me before the breakup though — he just hadn’t succeeded. One night on the way to Krispy Kreme (see, college pals? Krispy Kreme is always involved!) with another friend, he showed me a notebook filled with poetry he’d written. I skimmed over it, said, “I never get poetry,” and handed it to the friend in the backseat. Ouch.
The Wolf was persistent though, and eventually he found my weakness. He talked to me like I was a woman, and he made me feel like I was more than cute.
Still, I had my doubts (also known as red flags). After all, he was three years older than me and this was his first time at college, too. Don’t get me wrong on the next part, but sometimes being superficial is okay — it’s alright to be picky when you’re determining your future. The Wolf had two tattoos and his ear pierced. Neither were attractive to me. He also dipped. Soon, he doubted his calling into the ministry — and hadn’t I just ended a perfectly good relationship because the perfectly good guy wasn’t going into the ministry? Friends, acquaintances and innocent bystanders would tell me that they didn’t think he was right for me.
I found out he drank. I found out he was lying to me when he had told me he’d quit dipping. When I went home for the summer and he was living in an apartment not far from the college, I came up and visited him. His place was a wreck. I found adult magazines. When he moved out, a marijuana joint was found — lucky for him, I wasn’t sure of what I’d seen (having not seen one before).
After he pushed our wedding date back three times, the final date approached. On the eve of the bridal shower being thrown for me at his home church, he took me to a Clint Black concert. I asked him to please only have one drink. He had four. The ride home was terrifying. He dropped me off at the hotel my mom and I were staying at, and I went inside and sobbed. I told my mom I didn’t want to talk about it and cried myself to sleep. I don’t think it was that night, but my mom did tell me that I could change my mind at any time — even if it was at the altar. (You’re shaking your head, aren’t you?)
Young, stupid and naive, I paid no attention to the warnings. I allowed teeny tiny rays of hope to carry me. Everyone put on a happy face for my benefit as long as they could. Then my dad told me if I went through with the wedding, he wouldn’t walk me down the aisle. How’s that for a clue? My dad eventually relented and walked me into the arms of The Wolf — my entire family must’ve been dying inside that day. None of them liked him or our relationship, yet there they were, watching me commit myself to him forever.
Even at the reception, doubt. It was at the cutting of the cake, where we were supposed to feed each other — which is a symbol of the love, honor and respect you have for one another, if you didn’t know. My cake ended up all over my face. Up my nose. In my ear. It was humiliating and degrading, not to mention infuriating. How’s that for symbolism? As I was cleaning up in the bathroom (telling the photographer, “Not now!“), I had serious thoughts of bailing. The marriage certificate hadn’t been sent yet. It wasn’t official.
Leaving town to go on our honeymoon, doubt. Someone ran into us before we even got 5 miles from home, sideswiped us, crunching his fairly-new-to-him vehicle. He jumped out of the car and obscenites flew from his lips. They continued coming even as a woman got out of the driver’s side. They only mildly slowed when her 10-year-old son climbed out of the back seat. The marriage certificate hadn’t been sent yet. It wasn’t official.
Thus began a doomed marriage.
If there’s a doubt, DON’T. And if your friends and family have doubts, you should probably get your own.