Thursday, July 03, 2008

Friendly Neighborhood Heathens at Your Service

So Joel and I got our marriage license today at the same courthouse where Alissa and Todd went, no trip to Center City Philadelphia required. We had to wait for a few other couples to go ahead of us, including a man and woman with a toddler.

The toddler was, um, unclean. It wouldn't have bothered me, like, at all, except that his mom kept singsonging, "Grubby baby! Grubby, grubby baby!" to him. Oh, and her babydaddy burped right into my ear when he sat down. Nice. I believe that's what they call "Klasse."

The couple on the other side of us was pretty fidgety. The guy kept saying, "I can't believe we're finally doing this. I can't believe we're doing this. How long has it been? Eight years?" at which point it took all my self control not to place my hand on Joel's arm and say, "Oh, honey. Who would have thought that when my uncle and your grandfather arranged our marriage all those years ago in exchange for a flock of goats, that we would someday really be here, in love!"

Flock of goats, herd of goats? Herd.

So we sat down and requested a self-uniting license. The clerk didn't even blink, to the point that I was sure she didn't hear me. All the websites say "You have to tell them BEFORE YOU BEGIN YOUR APPLICATION," and this lady was not messing around. Her name plate actually said, "No Nonsense." (No, it didn't, but it should have. She was tough as nails.)

When we got to the part where we swore on the Bible that we weren't cousins, all I could hear in my head was Forrest Gump saying "No, sir, we are not relations" when Lt Dan asks him and Bubba if they're twins. See, this is just what it's like in my head. At this point, another couple walks in. No Nonsense tells them to have a seat, there are a few couples ahead of them. "I have a question," the woman in the newly arrived couple asks. "When we called, they said it was $45, but no one told us it was cash only, so-"

Cash only," says No Nonsense.

"But we live all the way in Pottstown, and we don't-"

"Cash only."

You don't take credit cards at all? Because no one said-"

"You need a MAC* machine?"

"No, we'd have to go all the way back home and-"

"There are other couples ahead of you, ma'am," No Nonsense says. No Cash starts to get teary. "Do you have a check?" I asked No Cash. "Oh, they take checks?" she asks me. I throw her a life line. "No, but I will. I have enough cash on me to do you a favor." No Cash is all flabbergasty and crows, "You must be a Christian!"

No Nonsense actually makes eye contact. "I don't have cash." I shrugged. "I usually don't either, I just thought the self-uniting license was $90." She starts typing and muttering, "Course they told her she has to have cash.' We always say 'Cash only.' Don't be coming in here and telling me you don't have cash." The muttering is a little unnerving.

We finish up. No Cash has already filled out a check for $25. It turns out that they have a $20 bill, so they don't need all $45, just $25. Maybe I should call her Not Enough Cash. Anyway, Joel and I launch into our typical Jackass routine of dropping things, trying to hand each other the wrong amounts of money and causing general mayhem and confusion. We get our act together. We're all set. Not Enough Cash is all set.

"This is unbelievable," she says, "You are such a good Christian."

Having already suppressed the staged arranged marriage conversation for my own amusement and stifled my Bubba voice while swearing on the Bible, I can't resist a little "You Don't Have to Be Christian to Be a Good Person" Activism. "You're very welcome," I said, "but for what it's worth, I'm not a Christian. God bless *you,* though!"

"I can't believe that!" Not Enough Cash says. My mind is racing, wondering what I'll say if she asks us what we "are." And then, from the same part of my brain that conjures up quotes from Forrest Gump, I hear a Hanukkah song that burned itself ifnto my brain last December when I was editing video from a Jewish Day School's holiday concert. It's catchy anyway, but you combine the tune with two hours of lining up audio tracks of sweet children's voices singing and you have the potential to have a song stuck in your head for, oh, 5 years.

"I'm a Jew!" the song goes. I"m a Jew! I'm a Jew, and I'm proud to sing it, too! I'm a Jew, I'm a Jew, I'm a Jew!" That's just the chorus.

Except... I am not a Jew. (Just a little Jew-ish. :) So I just hug Not Enough Cash and tell her I hope she has a beautiful wedding. "We're heathens!" Joel says as soon as we're out of earshot. We hold hands as we dash for the elevator and leave with our self-uniting license. Just your friendly neighborhood heathens.

*I love how "ATM" never really caught on in PA.


Carl said...

You're such good heathens.

cindy w said...

What's funny is that I *am* a Christian and I would've told the girl I wasn't, just to make a point too. I think you handled that wonderfully.

shannon said...

Personally, I love our friendly neighborhood heathens.
Glad the process to get the license was less painful than it could have been.

Alissa said...

Yup. Good old Montgomery County. Less ignorant than Bucks County, cheaper than Philadelphia County. That should be our new slogan. Glad it all worked out for you. :)

Michael5000 said...

Just wandered over from Pulp. This story is friggin' hilarious. Mazeltov!