Like a horse and carriage

Cranbrook's Peter Warland discusses the benefits of marriage.

Peter Warland

“Unmarried couples find divorce difficult.” -Flubbed headline.

It is unusual for real men to discuss a touchy subject like marriage; to most of them wedlock had been as inevitable as old age and the subsequent decrepitude.

We’d drifted on to the delicate subject after one or two too many beers and the fact that hockey season hadn’t started up again. Harry, who always appeared decrepit, claimed that he’d avoided marriage like a plague but, naturally, had an opinion on the topic.

He was slumped there on the settee looking like a deflated inner tube mumbling, “Sometimes it’s good to be married; it saves all that messing about and going on expensive dates.”

Mac, from the depths of the best armchair offered, “I wasted years dating Bella. We started a bit at high school then met again at that re-union.”

We remembered that re-union. “Anyway, after that party, I asked her out on a date for dinner and a drink and got ready to get serious.”

“Your wife’s name is Janet,” I said, in case he’d forgotten.

“Yeah! I know. But at the bar I met Clare Delune and I had second thoughts.”

Ralphie, who’d said nothing up till then and was working on the serious business of opening another can of beer, muttered, “You ever have first thoughts, Mac?”

Mac muttered, “Yeah! Anyways, I gave up on Bella – or she did on me – and I chased after Clare until I ran into her sister, Jan. She came after me.”

We all tried hard to imagine any woman in her right mind thinking Mac might be a prize. But then, I guess, he might have been presentable once. Years ago, my future bride must’ve thought I’d clean up a bit.

Once, out hunting with Harry,  he’d admitted that he hadn’t always been a confirmed bachelor. He’d lived with a ‘girl’ when they were both much younger. He felt married so he got around to asking her to get properly hitched but she turned him down. “She said, straight up, that she had no intention of getting tied down,” Harry told me.

“What happened?”

“She took off with her boss at the bank. Married him after he got his divorce and then, just for the laughs, they sent me an invite.”

I didn’t ask him if he’d attended the nuptials.

George’s wife, Felicity, came in then with some sandwiches. She asked, “So! What’s the topic today, fellows? World affairs?”

“We were discussing the joys of marriage,” said Harry.

“Like not being involved?” asked Fliss, setting the sandwiches on a coffee table.

“Phil was telling how his wife was his soul-mate,” said Mac with an idiot grin on his face. He’d already abandoned the pipe and tucked into a sandwich.

Phil flushed. “That’s not true,” he argued. “I don’t like the word soul-mate but she was my best friend and we shared some wild, exciting adventures until the family started coming along.”

“And you had to start being sensible,” said Felicity. “That’s the way the cookie crumbles. That right, Georgie?” And she left with almost a flurry of skirts, which was odd because she was wearing old jeans.

“That woman yacks on about a successful marriage requiring falling in love many times, always with the same person,” mumbled George from what appeared at first to be a coma. “Prolly got that from Chatelaine at the hair-dressers.”

“I got fed that one too,” said Mac.

Phil said, “My old man told me once, ‘Marriage is a lot like life in general. Don’t ruffle your partner’s feathers. Don’t do anything to her that you wouldn’t want done to you. There’re no ten commandments to marriage.’ He used to go on: ‘Just that one. I’m still working on it.’ I believe he did until Ma died early.”

“Course,” mumbled Harry, “you end up a grandpa and have to go out and do dumb-ass street-hockey or soccer with kids who’d rather be playing video games.” We all stared at him as he massaged a sandwich with his one tooth then looked up grinning. “My brother’s grandkids, damn it!”