We don’t have the institution of marriage here in the Pond.
You see, in a fish-eat-fish world you have to make do with whatever you can find on any given day.
If sometimes that’s just dinner (no movie) with a little plankton, then you just have to thank the Lord you’re not bored.
However, the concept of happy-ever-after-dinner is itching above my eyeballs today because of news coming from India.
Two brothers in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh took eighty of their closest friends over to a neighboring village in order to witness their marriage to two local girls.
You know, in India weddings can come quicker than the response from one of their call centers.
The groom’s mum meets the bride’s mum at the hairdressers and before the bride and groom have ever done anything as dirty as setting eyes on each other, their wedding date is set harder than their mums’ perms.
Anyways, in Uttar Pradesh, utter mayhem ensued very shortly after the double marriage ceremony.
Some snitchy witch suggested that the grooms had asked for a dowry.
In case any of you are not familiar with this term, it means that they wanted the brides’ families to cough up cash for the privilege of having their daughters bonked in wedlock by these two fine specimens of manhood.
Dowry payments have been banned in India for forty years. They are a vestige of the continuously decadent West trying to sully the purity of the arranged marriage with the grime that is money.
The ban, however, hasn’t stopped the killing of almost 7,000 women every year when their husbands and in-laws discover that the new addition to their families came with slightly less moolah than the price of a mule.
As my granny always used to say: “Ashes to Ashes. Dust to Dust. Coffers to Coffins.”
I am sad to hear of this negative development in Indian culture, because I have always been fascinated by the concept of fixed nuptials.
I have a couple of Indian friends who have had their way to the altar arranged for them.
For one it has worked like a snake charm. For the other, like a cobra fang.
This does not deter me from believing that there are folks who know you better than you do and know just the right kind of girl or boy for you.
What an expression of caring and hope it is for your mum, maiden aunt and that woman next door who is always baring her false teeth at the garbage collectors to get together, scout about and select the perfect little man or maiden with whom you can form a bridge over troubled water.
They have seen it all. How can you not accept their judgement as the grace of perfection?
However, as often happens, our own fickle urge to slap and tickle, our own helpless greed gets in the way to spoil the beauty of romance.
Which is why I am forced to report to you that at the fateful double wedding in Uttar Pradesh, blows were exchanged very shortly after the vows and the two brothers were severly beaten by the brides’ defenders. Who may, for all I know, have included their fathers’ bank managers.
The brothers and members of their party were forced to squat on the ground and cover their ears. (This is a traditional Indian school punishment. In the Tame West we call it ‘Impersonating a Politician’. )
Only the local drought prevented severe waterboarding.
Members of the grooms’ wedding party, those that still were in contact with their faculties, called the police.
But in a strange, Shakespearian twist of fate, the brides’ possee became imposseeble.
When the policemen arrived, they were mistaken for, well, men, for friends of the grooms, for uniformed extortionists, for squalid symbols of male hegemony in a world that has no interest in a woman’s looks and is only focussed on her lucre.
This could have been Manhattan on any given Sunday.
The brides’ crowd beat three of the policemen to a pulp. They beat another to a corpse.
The brothers were chased out of the village. Their new wives, perhaps grieving the fallen policeman or merely fearing for their own lives, declined to go with them.
And so another day goes by in which the good intentions of love are thwarted by the sickness that is man’s relationship with mammon.
It is my sincere belief that the US Congress should, in honor of the fallen in Uttar Pradesh, meet at its earliest convenience and declare that, gay or straight, the only type of marriage that will henceforth be legal is the one arranged by the elders of the family.
You see, we in America suffer from the fact that money gets in the way of so many loving relationships. It is the number one cause of divorce.
Even when we try and forget the cash for a moment and believe we are marrying for love, we’re often far too naive, vain and self-obsessed to choose the right partners.
And America, more than ever, needs us to choose the right partners.
As in government and education, our elders know better. So let us use the example of the news from Uttar Pradesh to honor and support the concept of arranged marriages based solely on the elders’ knowledge of our personality rather than some economic expectation.
It will give back to our baby boomers (who, if any of them still has a job, it is as an angst-ridden psychotherapist) a role in society that they thought had gone up in smoke.
It’s like the draft, except that you’re not just a number.
What could possibly be more romantic than that?