BY ALEXANDRA PETRI
There are two ways — I think! I was an English major! — of decreasing entropy in a given corner of the universe. One is by adding energy, and the other is by increasing order. What I am trying to say is that if you are reading this, I am married.
Weddings were once a ceremony for transferring land and cattle from one household to another, if you had any. I do not have any cattle, to my knowledge, though I am never certain what is in my apartment at any given time. There was a mouse for several weeks, which I learned only when I tried to extract some bread from a loaf and realized that the loaf was mostly a tunnel.
I am marrying someone who has never had a rodent in his home that was not on purpose. I am bad at compliments, but I think this is a compliment. I am bad at describing things that are too close. It is like trying to describe your own nose without access to a mirror. Whenever I try to tell friends about him, I wind up saying things like, “He is a good man … who likes protein.” He has good grammar. He has a retentive memory. Elephants consult him to reconstruct the finer details of conversations.
Whenever you are in juxtaposition with someone for a sufficiently long time, you begin to play up the minor distinctions in your personalities until you devolve first into Jack and Mrs. Sprat, then Morlocks and Eloi. He is the organized one! I am the one who had a mouse in her apartment! His response to seeing a red flashing light on his water filter is to find a manual and repair it. My response to seeing a red flashing light on the water filter is to accept that the sink will have a red flashing light on it from this time forth until the day I die. He likes to go camping. I do not! He lives on the earth’s surface and plays with butterflies. I dwell in a deep cave underground and feast on human flesh!
As you can tell, I am not a hopeless romantic. Sometimes I will stand on a height and wuther briefly. I like a little pathetic fallacy now and again, but that is as far as it goes.
I was not a little girl who had a clear idea of her ideal wedding. I still do not have a clear idea of my ideal wedding. Unfortunately, this is something many in the wedding-industrial complex expect you will have. The wedding complex thinks that you want people to keep coming in as you try on dresses and ooh and aah ask you if this was not your dream. Once, I accompanied a friend dress-shopping at a place where they serenaded her to the accompaniment of a Josh Groban track, then gave us free tickets to see a production of “The Chronicles of Narnia” live onstage on the same day as the wedding. This is what the wedding complex thinks you want.
To me, a “fairy tale” wedding implies that midway during the reception you will have to go out to the stables and behead the beloved horse who has carried you throughout your travels. A “fairy tale” wedding means that there will be a room, always, within the house, that is locked, where Bluebeard’s other wives’ corpses are kept. A “fairy tale” wedding means that somebody’s siblings are about to lose important parts of their feet. This is not remotely in the lexicon of what I want.
My favorite parts of other people’s weddings were when things went wrong; filibuster toasts, things being lit on fire, unexpected and bizarre requests from the officiant during the course of the ceremony that the couple struggled to perform. I first tried to set up a wedding where as much could go wrong as possible (“Why don’t we hire a Hamilton impersonator and a Burr impersonator, and make them fight?”), but then my mother became involved in the planning.
Fairy tale or not, it seems unfair that this nice thing should be happening in this small corner of the universe when so much else is going on. But I suppose that in the most practical sense, that’s what marriage is, if you have no cattle to bestow: a nice thing that is happening in a small corner of the universe. A vow to try to decrease the entropy in the spot where you find yourself, at least for one other person. Through some combination of contributing energy and contributing order, we will manage perhaps to make this corner of the universe nicer at least for each other. I will contribute the energy, and he will contribute the order, and sometimes vice versa, and sometimes both at once. And if suddenly we discover any cattle in my apartment, they will have to come along.
Alexandra Petri is a columnist for the Washington Post Writers Group. Follow her @petridishes.