Did I ever tell you guys about the time the Lord sent the sixth plague of Egypt against me to tell me that I was not supposed to marry Bekah?
Now, how did that hit you? As a joke. Of course, that is a joke.
No. Not to Rose. We have talked about this. Let’s talk about it again.
Christianity had done something terrible to my mother. It had made her power hungry. She had a woman’s kids banned from stepping on church grounds once. She had told me I was being unholy by not doing the dishes. She had ruled her husband, her children, and even made a few jabs at her mother for the sake of the Lord.
The Lord had an opinion on everything I did and every one of these opinions were handed down from on high to the lips of my mother. She used to tell me how to act, who to hang out with, who to talk to, and who to love, based on visions and talks that she had with the Lord. God had only one way to get to me as far as my mother was concerned, and that was through her.
So, when I was marrying Bekah against Rose’s will, it was only a matter of time before God weighed in on it. And that day hit me about three days after I got the flu. I went to the clinic, got a prescription and the next day God smote me.
I had been hit with the sixth plague. The plague of boils. The wrath of God had come to my flesh to tell me I was not to marry this person.
My entire body broke out in a deep red rash. It hurt to do anything. Everything itched. There was no position in bed that was good enough. No saving myself from the chaffing. I did not want to be touched and with every growing minute the rash grew worse.
Bekah was in town, but I walked across the driveway to talk to my mother to see if she had ever seen anything like this.
She had. It was in the Bible. “Finally, you will see,” she said. “Finally, you will look upon your poor body and see that this is not right. You should not be marrying this person. God has lain his hand on you in the last possible way he could. You would not listen to me. You would not listen to Mumble. You would not see any of the signs from God. So now you have earned God’s wrath.” She grabbed my face, looked into my pain-filled eyes, and she wept. “Please call this off before it kills you. Listen to me. I am The Mom. Listen to God. He is trying to save you from these people. Throw her out of your house and repent for living with her in sin. Find God again, and he will cure you.”
This is what I got from my mother.
When I walked into the doctor’s office, he looked at me for less than a full second or even a half a second before he said, “Yup, that is a penicillin rash. Take this.” He scribbled out a prescription. “It will suck for about another day after you take that but then you’ll be fine. I’m putting that you are allergic to penicillin in your chart. Stay away from the stuff.”
“So, not the wrath of God?” I asked.
Bekah looked at me and laughed. She had no idea what I was talking about.
“Not today. Just an allergic reaction, but if you see any frogs in the sky come back and we will talk.”
“Thanks, Doc,” I said. When I got home I didn’t even go see my mother. I wanted to see her in a few days when the rash was gone and come up with some quippy way of saying God had changed his mind. Maybe he had been having a bad day, and now that he was looking Bekah wasn’t plague worthy. I wanted to come up with something funny to let my mother see she was being stupid.
But things were beginning to lose their humor. I was starting to get pissed. Usually when I got this way, I would go talk to my mother. My Droogs. My pastor. God himself. But I was pissed at all of them.
She was finally here. Finally, all the bullshit was over. Finally, I could be with a girl who understood me and wanted me. Who really wanted to be with me for me. It was so easy with her and everything told us we were supposed to be together but not a single person in our lives was happy with that. Everyone wanted to get into me and Bekah’s relationship and make their mark. To warn me or to just fuck it up.
Now I have thought a lot about what to talk about next, and, after a long night, I decided it would be the ring. The next hot disaster was the way in which I asked my wife to marry me.
It was Thursday. Thursday was my day off and Bliss showed up at my door early that evening and woke me up. When I let her in, she stood in the middle of the floor of my living room and stared at me for a while. “Where is my sister’s ring? I want to see it.”
I paused and looked at her.
“What do you mean?”
“My sister’s wedding ring, where is it? I want to see it,” Bliss said.
“I don’t have it yet. I am trying to save up.”
“How much do you have saved up?”
“Good morning, Bliss. How can I help you today?” I asked.
“Well, I think that if you are going to propose, you should do it already,” she said.
“Don’t have the ring yet.”
“What if I told you that you could borrow the money from me?”
I looked at her and sighed. “No.”
“I can buy my own ring for my own wife. I don’t want your—” But there it was. I almost said Lynch Money. I could hear my mother’s words coming out of my mouth. I was appalled but more than anything, I was scared. “You are not buying my wife’s ring.”
“She is not your wife. Not yet, I’m trying to get you there, but you are not listening. If I gave you the money and you paid me back later, could we get it done and could you get the ring?”
“Yes, but I would rather wait and save up for it myself,” I said.
“No, this is taking too long and it is time to either do it or not. Are you going to propose to my sister or not?”
This was the second time a Lynch woman, who was not my girlfriend, had asked me this question. Same tone. Same concept.
“Yes, I am going to ask her to marry me.”
“Good. Get in the car, we are going shopping,” Bliss said.
I said sure. I just needed to do something at my mother’s house. I walked across the driveway and up to the door. I held my hand up to knock. Then what? Tell my mother that they were forcing me to buy her a ring. That they were going to give me the money so I would do it already and they could nail it all down. Is that what I was going to do? Go run and tell my mommy?
But there was no one to call. No one to talk to. I couldn’t regroup. I couldn’t ask for advice. My mother was a chomping monster desperate for us to break it off. Bekah’s parents were taking over my life. Her sister judging everything that I did. My Droogs were pointing at everything Bekah said, at everything her parents said, and every word that Bliss said, and they kept saying the same thing.
“Are you watching this? Are you looking at what is happening in your life? You have lost all control of everything. You have lost control of your will, and this is just the beginning. After the wedding bells end, there is life. A life of this, and more.
One day, Bell asked Burg what it was going to look like when me and Bekah had kids. He said it right in front of me but not to me, as if he were some fucking commentator on my fucking life. As if I were not right there sitting with my head in my hands trying to figure out how to stop from losing the most important thing, the most precious thing, and the only thing, in my entire life.
I didn’t knock. I just walked across the driveway and got in Bliss’s car. We drove to Columbia. She said she and her mother had gone to the jeweler in town and they didn’t think I would like anything there. Bliss drove me to Columbia, and she kept telling me that I needed to get off my ass and make this happen. She needed assurances. Her family was putting a lot into this wedding. They needed to know they were not wasting their time.
When we got to the jeweler, she looked at me and said I had a budget of three hundred and thirty dollars.
I wanted to spend so much more than that. I wanted to spend at least a thousand. It was my plan to save that amount. But we were there, and Bliss was pissed. She had gone from being one of my best friends to being mad at me all the time, and all I had done was make her sister happy.
I bought a ring I hated. Accrued a debt that infuriated me, and we drove home. I had to get out of this mood before I saw Bekah. I had to change the subject. I had to plan a proposal. I wanted it to be awesome. Wanted to take her breath away and give her exactly what she deserved.
But I had a $330 ring.
She deserved so much more.