Arranged marriages

Ever since I turned 30, my moms vocabulary seems to have gradually shrunk. It now consists of only about five words, usually arranged to form this question: When are you getting married?

If I had a nickel for every time Ive heard the question, Id be able to afford a mail-order bride. Maybe even one who can speak English.

My mom and others ask the marriage question so often, Im tempted to tattoo the answer on my forehead: Im a journalist, not a psychic.

But if I did that, my mom and I would never talk. Shed just look at my forehead and shake her head. And her expression would say: Where did I go wrong with this child?

Sometimes, just for fun, I feel like scaring my mom by saying I wont get married until one of these things happen:

Ken Starr completes his investigation.
Ross Perot produces a chart-topping rap song, My name is Ross, just call me boss. When I become your president, the interns will be more hesitant.
Ellen Degeneres and Elton John fall madly in love – with each other.
A pair of Amish men are arrested for selling drugs. (OK, this already happened. But I still dont believe it.)

Its not that I dont believe in marriage. I just believe it should involve two people who love each other so much, theyre willing to risk living together.

Its certainly a big risk. If the marriage goes sour, you can lose some of your most prized possessions. Just ask John Bobbitt.

But I could be wrong about the importance of love. After all, millions of people in my native country, India, believe in arranged marriages, even though such marriages sometimes produce children like me.

The families of the bride and groom usually do the arranging, uniting two people who hardly know each other. The honeymoon is like a first date, except youre certain to get past first base.

To many Americans, an arranged marriage may seem more like a deranged marriage. But such marriages tend to last. Divorces in India are as rare as hamburger joints.

Like me, most Americans believe in falling in love before marriage. Many even believe in falling in bed before marriage. The only mystery left for the honeymoon is whether the hotel accepts American Express.

Considering the soaring divorce rate, such marriages are more suspect than O.J. Simpson.

So maybe David Weinlick has the right idea. About four years ago, the Minnesota man got tired of people asking when he was going to get married. So he just gave them a stock answer: June 13, 1998. He even planned the entire wedding, the first man ever to do so. But an essential part of the wedding was missing. No, not the wine — the bride. Weinlick, 28, decided to let his friends pick his bride, after they interviewed a couple of dozen women in several states, including the state of desperation. He married the bride-elect, Elizabeth Runze, before 2,000 shoppers at the Mall of America. And he was all smiles afterward. That could mean the wedding was a big success, or perhaps Weinlick had been licking too much wine.

by Melvin Durai

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