“Tell me about this act of bonding into couples,” C.W. said this morning when we met. I could tell he was feeling mischievous for he had assumed the appearance of a rural farmer/preacher from the 1930s, complete with a tall brown hat with a rounded top. He evidently thought it was cute but it embarrassed the hell out of me.
“What’s to tell; it’s what people do.” I was feeling a little peeved over his appearance, being as how we were walking along one of the main streets in the city. “Two people get married and live with one another. What was it Zorba the Greek called it? Oh yeah, ‘The full catastrophe.’”
“According to some. Others like it fine.”
“So any two people can do it? This marriage?”
“No, in our state, as in many others, the couple must consist of a man and woman.”
“Why is the state concerned with it?”
“You’d be surprised what the state chooses to concern itself with.”
“I already am. And we are just getting started.” He remained silent for a good five minutes as we walked. He insisted on tipping his hat to everyone we met and I was looking for a place to hide.
“From what I can tell, marriage was first conceived as a method by which a man could legally document and protect his multiple concubines from raids by other men. As polygamy shifted into monogamy, the concept centered on the relationship between a couple.
“Why is it considered so important?”
“In some cultures, it’s not. In ours, religion took it over.”
He frowned. Or at least his shape frowned. “This religion. We must talk about it. It seems to, as you people say, ‘screw that above us a lot of things’”
“I think you are trying to say ‘screw up a lot of things.”
“Whatever. Now let’s get back to marriage. Do your female units still regard this as a cataloging and legalizing ownership matter?”
“Please don’t call them ‘female units.’” We had talked about this before. “And, in our culture, only women of certain religious followings still adhere to the ownership paradigm.” Many of the educated and those unaffiliated with a religious sect do not accept it.”
“Other than satisfying this mysterious religious longing, are there any other benefits to marriage?”
“Oh yes,” I said. “There are many legal privileges available only to those with marriages recognized by the state.”
“Isn’t your so-called ‘state’ too busy to attend such trivialities?” he asked. “I mean I have noticed the critical condition of your life-support system.”
“Some say so,” I said as I turned my head to avoid the eyes of a policeman to whom C.W. had just tipped his hat.