Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Cereal Aisle Gossip

I ran into Phyllis in the cereal aisle today.
I haven't seen her in about a decade .
She looks great, pretty much the same at 70 as she did at 60.
She and Fitz sold their home of 40 years and downsized to a patio home with no maintenance. Which explains why she was suddenly shopping in our neck of the woods.

After all the pleasantries and  the usual question about how one's garden is doing in this drought she said,
" Fishy, do you remember my grand daughter Caitlyn? She is getting married today to a High-wa-yen".
Before I could put my tongue in park I said,
" As opposed to a Low- wa-yen?"
She laughed, generous as always in her forgiveness.
" No! Fishy she's marrying up with a boy  from Hawaii "
" Then why on Earth are you standing here by the Fruit Loops? Shouldn't you be down at Adeles  drinking mimosas and getting polished?"
She laughed again.
" No! Caitlyn and her man have gone modern on us.  They went off to one of those island resorts for a package wedding. They live in Washington, but some time this Fall they are coming here for a visit and we'll rustle up some kind of reception for them."     

" Well Phyllis, you don't look sad about it so you must be a thoroughly modern Granny".

The truth is Phyllis and Fitz are  allergic to weddings.
Caitlyns mother, Eryn.  had a few difficulties in that area. She walked away from Caitlyns "donor dad" a few hours before the ceremony. She walked away from her second daughter's donor too. When the girls were 6 and 4, Eryn got reacquainted with, and then actually married, her high school sweetheart.  She managed to stay put for almost a month before leaving. She forgot to take the girls with her so eventually Caitlyn called Phyllis and Fitz and asked if they would come and fetch she and her sister. Thing was Eryn was going to work everyday, talking on the phone to Phyllis regularly and just never got around to mentioning she'd left her new hubby and her daughters. When Phyllis confronted Eryn about this oversight she said, "Well, I knew you and Daddy would be fussed about this so I was trying to spare you til after all the bills had come in for the wedding. I'm real sorry  to disappoint y'all. Again."

In the midst of this family drama is when I  first met Phyllis. She and Fitz  went on and remodeled their house and made sure the girls had a stable life. They added a separate suite above the garage for the times Eryn would be living there too. It all worked out. Just last year Eryn got married and stayed put.

Thinking back to what a lovely child Caitlyn was I asked Phyllis where they were registered.
She replied, " Well, they didn't do all that. They set up a website about  ' their story'  which they update every few days. There's a place on there where you can make a " donation to happiness" and then they post about  what made them happy."

Very modern indeed.
I smiled, trying to think of a response that would not convey my  absolute shock.
Phyllis gave me a pat on the arm and said,
" I know Fishy, I know!  It sure shocked me and Fitz too"
"Phyllis, have you met him?"
" We met him at Christmas time. He came home with her then to meet everybody. He's a little bitty thing. But he's real cute being a mix and all. His mother is Portuguese and his father is a native islander. He seems devoted to Caitlyn, but Fishy I have concerns because he says his religion is nature."

" Well maybe Caitlyn will be able to bring him into the fold".

" This all seems so different than anything I ever expected.  You know Fitz and I came up with rules. You courted for a year, were engaged for 2 years, married for life. We've rarely missed a service or a bible study in all these years and we've gone on just about every marriage retreat the Presbyterian church has offered.
Times change.   I guess Caitlyn has made  a necessary choice by moving across the country and finding her own way so far from any family.  Her High-wa-yen  has a good education, a fine job, he's 29, never been married, hasn't fathered any children and doesn't have diseases. These days that's about all you can hope."

To hear something so bleak delivered with a smile and a laugh is ... disturbing.
Made me wish they were handing out mimosas instead of apple juice in the next aisle over.
I cannot begin to imagine what Blowfish would think if I came home to say I thought the pertinent criteria for a mate was no diseases, no donor children, no divorces, educated and employed.

I will never , ever understand women who spill their guts like that.
Telling every detail of everything they know.
I doubt Phyllis has ever had a secret in her entire 70 years and  I know for certain I would never tell her one. I hope for Caitlyn this is the beginning of a wonderful marriage. I will not be sending a donation to their happiness. The very idea of setting up a website to solicit monetary donations to your packaged wedding with strangers is offensive to me.   I  did say a prayer of gratitude that Phyllis did not seem a bit distressed over not being invited to the wedding of the grand daughter she raised. 

I also offered up a prayer of hope that Phyllis's viewpoint of  our current culture is an aberration not the norm.
But I think I heard a statistic recently which indicated  only 50 percent of couples  living together today are married.  This disturbs on countless levels. It's even a bit frightening. Not because I am the parent of a 20 something daughter. No. It's about the speed at which our culture is changing. Like the other side took over the world while some of  us had our heads down hoeing our rows, paying taxes and  gratefully making it to our Sunday pews.



Pam said...

I love this post. Hi-wy-yen. I can hear it now. Many folks around here say it the same way. Now, I'm all for modernizing some traditions but "donating toward happiness" is beyond the comfort level. Here's the problem ~ kids start out with everything. They don't NEED anything. But yet, *things* are expected. And for this reason, I don't shop much off registry lists. Very interesting post! I do know some couples who have set up websites for wedding information, but none just to solicit donations. I wonder if it would work for me .... I've been married 20 years and the linens are worn out, can you donate???

sparringK9 said...

that is gross. I started doing wedding gifts on the first anniversary. i figure you gotta demonstrate to me why you deserve an expresso maker for going to an island without me. F.Y!

V was

more people should elope as well.

fishy, if your store starts giving out mimosas it might help with the sticker shock. maybe you can suggest it.

Jenny said...

I love it when you post stories from your life and community.

I'm so tired of people changing the rules on traditional marriages and yet seem to keep the idea of a gift intaect. Destination weddings to me say, "we really only want our close friends (because who would pay all that to join them?) but we still want gifts". It's all disturbing and dumb. Asking for cash is crass.

But I guess looking at the history of the family, maybe they don't have a good idea of tradition?

Regardless, another great read for my morning coffee.

Buzz Kill said...

Well, that explaines why women are always tying up the cereal aisle right in front of the granola section when I'm in a hurry.

I've never heard of a true, cyber marriage but it doesn't surprise me. It's the age of facebook (which I still don't have).

I'm all for couples "shacking up" for a couple of years (worked for me and the Mrs - so far). It should be mandatory. Then you'd have less marriages, less divorces and less gift obligations - for me. It was a nice story.

fishy said...

Not only was the donation website a shock so was the telling. If your child or mine did this do you think we would tell friends in the grocers?

What size linens?

yes! gross and tragic!!!!! LOL at your first anniversary rule and V's votes for eloping.

They are going to need to pass the mimosas soon. I asked the veggie man this " are you honestly charging $1.89 a head for that puny looking iceberg lettuce?"
He looked sheepish then said,
"it's going to get worse".
Now that we are heading into serious drought I can only fear what's coming next.

You don't have stories from your neighborhood grocers? Surely y'all yakity yak about Tofu recipes and Beano?

The cultural transition from the life long honoring of traditions by both Phyllis and Fitz to the get away wedding and donation site of their grand daughter is a stunner.

I reckon I can understand why Caitlyn would not want to deal with her mother over wedding plans and/or expenses. However, if a couple chooses an alternative path do not ask the traditionalists to pay for it. Love your word choice: "Crass" is perfect.

Sadly, I am sure this must be a terrible heartbreak for Phyllis to not be in attendance at this much beloved grand daughters nuptials.

Phyllis said they would be uploading the ceremony video to the website/ donation station. So I guess "cyber ceremonies" are here. Seems to me they should receive "virtual " gifts too! ie this is what I would have given you had you given me a cupcake, some punch and a smile.

LOL, I've rarely met a man who didn't like the shacking up option. On the other hand, had I actually lived with Blowfish before the wedding? He'd still be waiting.

moi said...

High-wa-yen is going to have me laughing out loud for days.

The Cyber Wedding? Not so much.

Aunty Belle said...

Oh mah!

Poor' Caitlan.

Looky, Fishy, ya know whar' I'se goin' wif this--marriage is meant to be holy, not some TV sitcom joke. The moment ya start un-holy izin' it, weird stuff happens to society--ain't never been no society that made it whar' marriage wuz weak an' disrespected.

fer any who want to know the score on marriage stats, take a look at
Snapshot of Marriage (A US study 2003--see link below). Real interestin' stuff in it:

65 % of second marriages end in divorce. Divorce rates has gone down since 1980s, while 50 % of marriages end in divorce, it is NOT true that 50% of FIRST marriages end in divorce. A chunk of the divorce stat is of 2nd hitches bustin' apart.

Children of married parents perform better in school, are sick less often, less likely to die in an accident, have lower rates of drug use, teen pregnancy etc.

This is easy to "know" wif'out any stats--it's nature. Common sense. Exceptions to the rule merely prove the rule.

Pam said...

Re cyber wedding: I do have a friend whose son was getting married in Vegas, with no one there but a very few family members. But they sent out a link to the wedding chapel so anyone could watch it live with them. I was working late that day and suddenly remembered the wedding link, so was able to watch it live .... and I have to say, it was a lot of fun. So not all of the cyber-stuff is bad. My London niece, who has family and friends all over the world, had a wedding site showing a photo of the couple, info about the venue and posted the menu so guests could make their selections for the catering (it was a sit-down dinner kind of English wedding) ... but after much cajoling, she finally added a link to a gift registry, which was handy for us so far away.

fishy said...

say it aloud in NC regional dialect to get the full effect.

I do indeed feel sorry for Phyllis and Caitlyn. Like you, I believe marriage is a sacrament and should not be entered into with an exit strategy.

There are many wonderful uses of cyber technologies to share in the planning and participation of weddings. Mostly wonderful that friends scattered can be participatory. But as Boxer pointed out, to baldly ask for funds is just plain crass.

I may have been ignorant and mean.
A sociologist friend called to say in some island cultures to start a couple off with gifts of "wealth" is the tradition. If the grooms family/friends are too far away to participate then the paypal donation website serves as a way to honor their native traditions.
I guess the definition of "wealth" is key.

I wish them the wealth of a blessed with joy marriage.