Jimmy Cross married letters from a girl named Martha. They were not love letters, but Jimmy hoped that one day they would be.
The things they married were largely determined by depravity—or whim, anyway. Once the Supreme Court of the United States finally ruled the indefensible Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, the walls came down and the floodgates were opened, all bets were off and all manner of marriages were on. Among the things they married were pocket knives, wristwatches, ink-jet printers, microwave ovens, chewing gum, cigarettes, favorite books, boxes of pancake mix, lighting fixtures, heavy machinery, and Star Wars action figures made and sold by Kenner between 1978 and 1983, on and off their display cards, in every condition, with or without their original accessories. These things that they married were things of every shape, size, and weight. There was no rhyme or reason to what people married, once people could marry anything and everything. There were no rules.
Henry Dobbins, who was a big man, married a can of peaches in heavy syrup over pound cake. That can of peaches had previously been married to a man named Gabriel, but they had divorced after Gabriel had had an affair with a cheap pair of headphones. Dave Jensen married a yellow legal pad. Ted Lavender married a Led Zeppelin T-shirt and Mitchell Sanders married his own glass eye. Norman Bowker married his diary. Sebastian Cooper tried to marry his house but a cloud on the title precluded the union.
What they married was partly a function of social rank, partly of professional specialty.
Kevin Carpenter, a session guitarist, married his Marshall stack. Dr. James Perkins married his sphygmomanometer. Gary Silva married his gavel, after courting his robe. Raymond Carlson got hitched to his still.
Timothy Richards married his high school sweetheart, his high school locker. He needed special permission to remove his locker from the row of metal lockers built into the wall of the school, just outside the entrance to the library on the second floor, but his parents, who were wealthy, paid for everything, including the wedding and the newlyweds’ house in Nyack. When, fifty-odd years later, the locker took ill and ultimately died in the house, at the foot of the Richardses’ bed, Timothy buried his wife in the backyard. When he then sold the house to another young couple, he asked only that he be allowed to visit his home one last time before he moved out for good. The young couple granted him that one small favor, only to discover that Timothy had killed himself with a shotgun in the kitchen. The couple buried Timothy Richards in the locker in the backyard. As it happened, the young couple was a man, a landscaper by trade, married to a shovel.
Many married weapons. Jose Aguila married a machete. Larry Matthews married an M-16 gas-operated assault rifle. Jeffrey Willis married a Swiss longsword.
In addition to the usual things, they married whatever presented itself, or whatever seemed appropriate. Frank Chapman married a volleyball. Scott Lawrence wed a DVD of Glengarry Glen Ross. Eric Watkins married a pair of prescription sunglasses. Stephen Wheeler’s marriage ceremony was interrupted by a man named Andrew Larson who claimed that the bride, a fedora Mr. Wheeler had found in a secondhand store, was already married to him, Mr. Larson. “Secondhand, indeed,” at least one guest muttered.
Women, for the most part, just married other women, because it seemed like the smart thing to do.