That these two hopelessly sincere, decent people took each other in lawful wedded matrimonial bliss and had a wedding party on
Independence Day was not only what's remarkable, but that "Sarah" successfully remade "Paul," who mostly resembled "Pigpen" in the comic strip "Charlie Brown." She got him to start bathing, see a dentist, drive a car, give up drink and smoke, move to the suburbs, join a gym, forsake barroom flirtations, be faithful to her, and the most remarkable transformation -- wear linen slacks and silk shirts. That matched!!
She held up a standard: This is what grownups do. This is how they act. This is how they dress. This is where they live. This is how they love.
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She's an albino. Pale eyes, pale skin, pale hair, poor sight. An albino. She didn't know that, really, until by accident, she ended up at an Albino Convention, found out she was legally blind, that there were whole roomfuls of other people just like her, dancing to "Feelings," with the rhythm off by a beat, people so pale they would make Michael Jackson blush with envy.
After Paul's sudden heart operation, it became clear Sarah couldn't see well enough to cook right for him, meaning healthy – she'd miss the scum on poultry. We, the friends of Paul and Sarah, were worried; so one of us, "Penny," an energetic wife and mom with two young children, brought home-cooked food over to Sarah-and-Paul's three days a week for a while, spaghetti with clams, chicken and mushrooms over rice, broccoli shrimp pasta, simple, decent meals that spiked his appetite and spurred him toward well-being.
Once I brought Sarah and Paul a pound of chocolate as a treat, Almond Roca from Carol's Gourmet, but their dog and cat colluded in a two-animal tag-team candy theft, knocking the box off the window ledge and pillaging nearly the whole thing. When we got back, the dog had a peculiarly er, sheepish grin, yeah, actually a grin, and that cat was really jazzed up, too, leaping and whizzing down the hall, balletic jet?s into space, speeding from bookcase to fireplace, dancing around the room. Freaked, we waited for the pair of furry perps to keel over and croak, chocolate supposedly being so lethal to
animals. Gives 'em brain damage, so they say, which makes me wonder about the implications of men giving women chocolate, how it affects their intelligence, maybe that explains something about the limitations of art, or science, or prayer.
But nobody died that day. They all lived, two legged creatures and four, to rejoice at their temporary bounty. Penny and I went home, positively convinced these animals had a good game going, publicly pretending they were enemies, privately collaborating to rob their owners blind.
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Unlike most men, Paul has a zipper on his chest, not his crotch, and I recall how the scar was still red even a few months later. Open-heart surgery mid-winter. He survived. Sarah and Paul were married a while after she got really frightened saying "my boyfriend" in Intensive Care at the hospital, noticing the nurses didn't seem to pay her that much mind even in a life-and-death situation. The party came later, in gratitude to their friends.
They made a truly odd, and wondrous couple. Not just because she rescued him from bars, divorced-bachelor excesses, drinking, smoking, late hours. Certainly not because he moved into her house in a well-manicured suburb, learned how to drive, started going to the gym, became monogamous. Not because he's a poet, she's a peace activist. And not because he began going with her to Quaker meetings, though they are both Jews, and went picketing with her, getting arrested and going to jail, passive resistance. He's good at taking orders, she's good at giving them. They're both social workers with a vision of change.
She lived in India with her first husband "Amit," an
Untouchable reportedly jailed for something he once wrote about Indira Ghandi's regime. There, Sarah learned to milk cows and separate the wheat from the chaff. After her first husband died, he appeared to her in a dream, wandering – no, hobbling – through a house with too many unused rooms. "Sally" – which is what he called her – "Sally, would you marry me again, if you had it to do all over, would you? Would you marry me? Again?"
And so, on Independence Day, without fireworks or fanfare, Sarah and Paul proclaimed their Union, and it has been a durable and joyous one.