If you haven’t read Part 1 – Ah, Look At All The Lonely People, you might want to read it first.
Part 1 Summary
Betty and Gene are both thirty-five years of age. They are both single, never-married, but desperate to find love and start a family. They are very different people, but they find themselves in the same small, Akron bar after work on a Wednesday afternoon.
If that extremely rare species of male and female frog can find each other in the huge swamp full of other creatures on that Animal Planet documentary, then the only two single, thirty-five-year-olds in that small bar had no problems making connections that fateful Wednesday afternoon.
This is the way people met before the Internet, children. And it was a good thing in this case because it is doubtful that eHarmony would have matched those two up, even if they were the only two people in the database.
And this, of course, started off as just a light conversation between two pleasant people. It grew in intensity as each realized they had met a nice, attractive person who was the same age and had never been married. And there was a spark. The heat that overcomes you when someone tweaks your love interest. Neither of them had felt that spark in a while, so this new one was intense. By the end of the conversation, a date was planned for Saturday night. This was easy to schedule on short notice because neither Betty nor Gene had anything better to do that night. Their string of boring Saturday nights had unexpectedly come to an end.
And this was, in the history of first dates, one of the best ever. Whatever spark was generated that Wednesday had turned into a raging fire at the end of the night. Now, of course, this wasn’t love, it was infatuation. They were not teenagers, but their desperate situation was making them both behave strangely. It may have been infatuation, but it was rampant infatuation.
It’s not known how many phone conversations Betty and Gene had the following week. It was at least one, to plan that second date. And the second date was even better than the first, with the infatuation level rising to torrid levels. This relationship was so out of control that it ended bizarrely. Gene was very logical, careful, and not impulsive. Everything he did was well thought out and carefully planned, but in the literal heat of the moment, that didn’t matter much. At the end of the evening, he proposed.
Now, this is a horrible move for many reasons. You don’t really know the woman; she doesn’t even know you. You are very different people. You don’t match up well socially; you come from different economic classes. Your personalities work well as friends, but not so much as lovers. Now you have rushed things and risked ending the relationship before it even began and with it, any slim chance it had to work out given enough time. It was a desperation move. A “hail Mary” pass blindly heaved to the end zone. In his head, Gene could here the game clock running out, five seconds, four, three … “the pass is in the air …”
But the unexpected proposal did present a dilemma for Betty. There was now an offer on the table. There had been several of these offers over the years that had been rejected because the guys weren’t good enough for her high standards. Now you are presented with an offer significantly inferior to those. But you are desperate. You thought there would always be another chance at love, but it never came. Some guy you just met has proposed to you. This just isn’t right and there is so much wrong. But that same game clock is ticking in her head, three seconds, two, one …… She can either grab that pass for a touchdown or let it fall to the turf.
This was a big decision, so the intelligent thing for Betty to do would be to tell Gene she needed some time to think about it. That maybe they were rushing things. She would take time to consider all the consequences, maybe talk to her friends to get their perspectives, before making such a huge step. And she did think about it – took her about 2.5 seconds to respond. So, what you have is a ten-day courtship. Ten days, just ten days. Ten, only ten days. A week and a half, that’s all.
And while this pronouncement caused unbridled joy in one household, a few miles across town, it was met with shocked apprehension. Betty’s parents were happy that she was getting married and happy that she was happy, but a ten-day courtship with a factory worker was difficult to accept. Betty’s mother was probably 100% percent against this pairing, but she never expressed those feelings. Sometimes you have to support your children even when you think they are making a mistake. And she knew she couldn’t talk her head-strong daughter out of this decision if she tried.
So, Betty and her mother threw together a traditional wedding as fast as you could in 1957. I’m sure her mother pressured the printer and the baker to cut in line in front of other customers. And at some point, their families had to meet. There is not an English word for the degree of awkwardness present at that event.
The wedding went off without a hitch. There were probably rumors that the wedding was rushed due to those “unplanned circumstances”, but of course there wasn’t time for anything like that in a ten-day courtship. And besides, Betty couldn’t care less. She had a beautiful, albeit rushed, wedding. It may not have been everything she wanted, but it was a wedding she never thought she was ever going to have.
However, this was just the beginning of the concessions Betty would have to make. It actually started before the wedding. She paid for her wedding ring because she wanted a much larger diamond than Gene could afford. Even at age thirty-five, he was dutifully turning over his entire paycheck to his mother, and receiving an allowance back. They would now be living in a small apartment. An apartment! Betty surely didn’t see that in her future.
Instead of a luxurious honeymoon in the tropics, they would be vacationing like“commoners” at Niagara Falls. But that really didn’t matter much. They had only been together about three months, and the passion was still intense. Which means this was one steamy honeymoon, with lots of time spent inside the hotel room – maybe even in the afternoon, if you get my drift.
But was this enough? At some point, the heat was bound to cool off, just like in any relationship. Then you would have two very different people living in that small apartment. And by the time they figured out that maybe they had both rushed into this, it would be too late since they were already married. This had all the makings of a disaster waiting to happen, but something totally unexpected happened on that honeymoon that changed everything.
End of Part 2
Part 3 – What Happens in Niagara Falls Doesn’t Stay in Niagara Falls