The Honeymoon That Wasn’t
Lorna is now Chuck’s wife. Let’s peek into the first month of their marriage.
The wedding reception went well, I think. Cases of champagne were consumed that afternoon. The band mispronounced our name when they introduced us, as in “Ladies and Gentlemen, and now entering the room for the first time as husband and wife are Mr. and Mrs. Churble Gerbil (or some nonsense name).” I wondered if the band had a head start at the open bar.
After the reception, I thought we were supposed to go on our honeymoon. We agreed before the wedding that, because we were poor and moving to Washington D.C. in 3 days, our honeymoon would be a brief stay at his family’s camp in the mountains. It was rustic. This is realtor-speak for no insulation, no electricity and no plumbing. It was, basically, a hard tent.
But we didn’t go to the Hard Tent, as appealing as it sounds. His parent’s house threw an after-reception soiree that he wanted to attend. For out-of-town guests on my trivial side of the family, my sister was also having a get-together at her house. Tension mounted between us. I wanted to go to my sister’s house rather than his parent’s house or a hovel in the woods. He wanted to go to his parent’s party where the company, food and booze were better than at the reception. We compromised. He pouted while we stayed for half-an-hour at my sister’s house. I cried on the way to his parent’s house, enduring a lecture on how selfish I was to disappoint his parents and their guests. We stayed until the wee hours at his soiree and crashed at my apartment. No honeymoon romantic sex.
We spent one hurried day and night at the Hard Tent Hovel. A bat joined us for most of the evening. We had hurry-up-before-the-bat-bites-our-naked-butts sex. It was more obligatory than celebratory. I was happy to pack up and leave only to get to my apartment to pack up a U-Haul to journey to our new home, some 10 hours away.
Chuck found a half-basement apartment that allowed dogs in Bethesda. He had a job as a bookkeeper with a Savings and Loan and I landed a job as a Technical Writer for a Beltway Bandit (an independent research firm that produced government reports). Between the two of us we made less than $30,000.00 a year. That’s why I had to drink the cheapest vodka I could find.
Immediately I went into culture shock: away from my family; country girl confused by the big city; married and living with a man for the first time in my life; and little worker-fish in a big pond with Piranha Boss. She criticized my clothing in front of other employees, told me I couldn’t write (I had several publications at the time), and rearranged my desk while I was working. I dreaded work. My drinking escalated just to dull my new reality.
Hiding a drinking problem was easy when people around you believe you’re perfect. But around people who were looking for your flaws to “fix,” like Chuck, keeping up the pretense of sobriety was nearly impossible. Plus we lived in such close quarters. I drank quickly and heavily when the opportunity presented itself and passed out nearly every night. Chuck knew this wasn’t normal, even though I blamed it on hormones or stress. He had two sisters. He knew about hormones and stress. He watched me more closely; I devised sneakier ways to sneak drinks.
On our one-month anniversary everything fell apart. I had to admit, “Chuck, I think I may have a drinking problem.”
Lorna divulges her 10-year secret. Why did she do it? How did Chuck react?