Monday, April 4, 1994

An Early Marriage

Does it still count if you got married in the third grade, and have never been formally divorced? I ask this because I was married to Ashley Orth during recess one morning in the fall of the third grade. At the beginning of fourth grade Ashley left Charles Wright to go to a public school, and I haven't seen her since.

Even though the whole affair didn't last more than two weeks, I remember the wedding quite clearly. I remember how after the wedding I kissed the bride then ran away to play soccer, like going off to war. Soon after, the bell rang and we all went in for Math -so much for a honeymoon.

The day after the wedding, I gave Ashley the gold plated necklace with a lapis lazuli pendant that I had proudly bought for ten dollars in the J.C. Penney's jewelry department. For this gift she gave me a kiss on the cheek behind the blocks. Maybe if I had bought the fourteen karat gold necklace I would have gotten a kiss on the lips, but who knows?

It is with a pang of regret that I recall those first few days following the marriage. Each day we sat next to each other at our little desk. Sitting there in conjugal joy consecrating Mrs. Munn's spelling class. And each day Ashley drew a pie graph with a section for both me and my best friend Brian Stern. Ashley would explain how the size of each piece represented how much she liked us. Each day I watched as my piece of pie grew smaller and smaller, and Brian's grew larger. Finally, according to the chart, Ashley liked Brian more than me; after that day Ashley and I no longer sat at the same desk during spelling class.

What still bothers me is this: we were never formally divorced. Our marriage was quite official of course, complete with bible ceremony, witnesses, and preacher. Trevor wasn’t a real preacher I guess, but he was the most religious guy we knew. Well, he brought a bible to school sometimes and could name some of the books in it. As I remember his sermon was short and to the point. He said, “Girls have cooties,” advice which in retrospect may not be so bad. I guess the fact that Ashley kissed my best friend behind the blocks just two weeks after our marriage would be considered the same as a divorce.

If I remember correctly she went on to break Brian’s heart too, and didn’t stop until she had dated all the non-drooling guys in our class. But I was the first, and that means something, right? In fifth grade, several of us made a pact not to date Ashley anymore. We all agreed that she had to be stopped. A week later, Aaron Gonter had broken down and secretly started dating her, though I don't think he lasted more than a few days before getting dumped. I suppose a nine-year-old’s resolve is as fragile as his heart.

I guess I found some closure to this chapter of my childhood when many years later Ashley came back to Charles Wright after having left to go to public school in the 6th grade. It was senior year, I was feeling very confident about life and Ashley had grown into a very kind and sweet young woman--nothing like the serial heart-breaker I had once known. Anyway, it’s not like I wanted to marry her or anything, I had already done that in third grade. I just wanted to take her out on a date... As it turned out, not much came of the date. It was cordial, but it was clear that we had, what’s the expression? Grown apart. The spell had been broken, and next year we would both go off to different colleges and follow our own paths. I no longer worry that we have never officially gotten divorced. Hey, Washington’s a no fault state, so nobody’s to blame, right?