I guess I’d better clarify where I was coming from and clear up the mystery of why it wasn’t necessarily insanity that made me start thinking about marriage again, this time to Charlie. It might have been, sure, but I repeat, not necessarily.
Yes, yes, of course, if you’re going to quibble, I was already married, to Maggie, but that’s not the kind of marriage I was thinking about. What Maggie and I patched together was more like an anti-marriage, something two people still so stuck in the Sixties should’ve known had no wheels before trying to drive off in it.
Let’s go back to a winter evening when she and I were stretched out hippies shacking up, but one before I obsessed about talking a reluctant and more sensible Maggie into marrying me.
(Funny thing with memory — I can remember how determined I was to convince her, but not why. Probably, I was afraid of losing her, but who wants to own up to that?)
Anyway, Carl, who was going to be my first best man, although none of us knew it yet, and I sat on the floor and smoked some of Maggie’s high quality hashish while she was at work. Maggie kept it and a little clay pipe wrapped in tinfoil in her living room, sort of like a hippie candy dish.
Feeling blessed and blissful, strung out sweetly, Carl and I got in his car and headed for Tuckers, a bar over on Elmwood near Breckenridge. Our plan was to drink some beers, shoot pool and meet girls if any strayed in range.
This last intention alone should’ve clued me in that I was a discretionary attribute or two light on what a successful marriage might require, but the concentrated weed had relieved me of certain objective abilities.
For some reason, Carl — as hippie as they come, a conscientious objector with long, thick hair a half-foot past his shoulders — always drove big, roomy cars, and we were sitting in one of them when he suddenly started laughing in that mellow way hashish ushers in on the road to nirvana.
“I forgot I was driving,” he explained cheerfully.
We were in line in front of a traffic light along that stretch of Ferry where the old trees hover like sheltering angels and the secluded mansions wait to crumble, just then.
This, I concluded once I was clear again, is no way to conduct a life, even one as strange as mine. It was so at loose ends, anything could happen. I didn’t want that much opportunity. I didn’t think I had the tools or the foundation to handle it.
So, I got more committed to partnering permanently with someone after that, stabilizing before I worked my way into an intractable mess. My system of serial best friends wasn’t going to get me through. Being that much at loose ends felt crazy, and I was already so near the perimeter.
This premature conclusion I blame completely for inspiring me to talk Maggie, whose intuition was better but her will less resolute, into marrying me and most of the damage that followed.
Of course, anyone can be temporarily nuts enough to zero in on a bad idea. But carrying through with the acts that blow it into full reality takes more, and that’s salesmanship for you.