At Long Last: Gwen Ch. 05byBedu©
Chapter 4 concluded with Will warning Derek not to lay a finger on Barb.
It was May already and Gwen and I had accomplished a few things and Gwen had accomplished some major ones including conducting a brilliant job interview and refurbishing our house. Her next tasks were to get her medical and dental records to where we were living and this entailed finding competent doctors and dentists. In a university that has a medical and dental school, this is not a difficult task and Gwen handled this easily.
I contacted a contractor who came to the house and I discussed with him an addition that I could use primarily as a golf room with a hitting net and putting green. It was feasible, but costly and I nixed the idea given that I could always go to the golf course and practice.
I had three consulting trips looming and Gwen said she had decided not to go with me to save money for our Hawaii trip. I convinced her to come with me on one trip and she chose the Texas one over the Delaware or Michigan trips.
As she indicated she would, Gwen contacted my minister to inquire about his availability and that of the church and she ran into a brick wall. While both the church and he were available in early or mid-June, he adamantly refused to discuss a wedding with Gwen on the grounds that I had to have been duped in some way into marrying Gwen.
Gwen was both shocked and hurt and she came to me fighting back tears of frustration over the treatment she had received from my minister. I phoned the minister and arranged an appointment for Gwen and me to visit him.
We met with the minister on a Tuesday morning and we really dressed for the occasion. I had on a dark suit and dark red tie and Gwen wore a white frilly blouse with a dark blue suit. Harold, my minister of ten years greeted me warmly and Gwen not nearly so warmly.
I summarized my understanding of what Harold had told Gwen and he agreed that she had provided a faithful rendering of his words to her.
I then said, "Harold, why would you say to Gwen that I am not a candidate for marriage to her."
Harold nodded and said, "Will, I've known you for ten years and I believe you've been in a pew every Sunday you've been in town for those ten years. During these ten years you've been a generous benefactor of our ministry here, but you have not, to my knowledge, attended one men's breakfast, one work detail, or one reception, and I've seen at least a dozen women practically throw themselves at you and you've politely walked away from everyone and every activity in this church. You are not a social person in any sense of the word. Were you, you would have kept company with at least one of those dozen women, some of whom were quite intelligent and quite engaging. Now, suddenly, you appear with a considerably younger woman, quite a beautiful woman at that, and say you want to be married. If you feel the same way in a year, come back and we'll talk."
"Is that it?" I asked. "Is there room here for discussion?"
"Yes, there is, Will. In a year if you feel the same way, come back and we'll talk. Will, I'm trying, as your minister, to protect you from yourself and this woman, whom I fear has designs on your status, connections, and money."
On a 'stun scale' of one to ten, Harold had just delivered a ten. I sat very still for the longest time and then looked at Gwen and asked, "Is there anything you'd like to say to Harold?"
Gwen said, "Yes, I would."
She then stood up, leaned on Harold's desk and said in a controlled voice dripping with venom, "Fuck you and the horse you rode in on, you pompous asshole."
On a 'stun scale' of one to ten, Harold's comment had just dropped to a five and was replaced by Gwen's newly assigned ten.
We were all seemingly frozen in some kind of odd tableau with Harold and I shocked into speechlessness while Gwen glared at Harold.
I have no idea why, but I suddenly started laughing and said, "That's my Princess," and I stood and took her by the hand and led her out of Harold's office. As we exited, I turned slightly and said, "Thanks for your time, Harold."
Harold had nothing to say, but not because he lacked manners. He was simply too shocked to say anything.
As we walked out of the church, hand-in-hand, Gwen was very upset at her outburst and said, "I'm sorry. That was a terrible thing to say."
I laughed again and said, "Let it go, this time. It may have been terrible, but it may well have been warranted."
"Oh Will, I'm so sorry. I was just so angry at the way he treated you. He thinks you're a sixteen year old throbbing hormone, or a doddering old fool."
I noted, "Add to that he alluded to you as a gold-digging young woman. I think he did a pretty good job of insulting us."
We had reached the car and Gwen said, "I do admire the fact that he was so forthright, though. There's nothing namby-pamby about him."
"You, either," I added.
Gwen laughed and I added, "He was holding four aces and you had a Colt .45. I think you won that hand."
Gwen suggested that it was a hollow victory because she wanted a church wedding and we had no options at this time. I thought a moment and suggested, "We could try Campus Ministries."
Gwen said, "Of course! Why didn't I think of that?"
"Shall we?" I asked.
"Sure," Gwen responded. "Let's go there now."
We drove to Campus Ministries and parked and walked to the building and read the directory that listed various Protestant denominations, as well as Islam, Hillel, Buddhist, etc.
I asked Gwen what she thought and she said, "Let's try the Methodists. I'm up-to-here right now with Presbyterians."
We found the Methodist's office and walked in and a young man asked, "May I help you?"
Then he looked carefully at me and said, "Professor David?"
I was startled and said, "Yes."
He grinned and said, "I'm Harry Mikeluk and I had you for statistics maybe ten or twelve years ago."
"You did? Which course?"
Harry responded, "Intro."
My response was, "Oh Lord."
Harry nodded affirmatively, "You were really at a loss about how to teach sophomores."
Gwen burst out laughing and said to me, "You taught Intro?"
I looked at Gwen and said, "Well, you know, the old rotation thing where every so often everyone has to teach the Intro course."
Harry burst out laughing and said to Gwen, "He was awful. But, oh my gosh, did he pound the Gaussian Curve into our heads. I think I still view the world through the prism of the Curve."
Then Harry stuck out his hand to Gwen and asked, "Who are you?" Gwen smiled at Harry and said, "I'm Gwen Davis. I'm this old fossil's fiancé."
"I'm happy to meet you. What brings you here today?"
Gwen said, "We want to be married and we want a church wedding and we're looking for a minister who will marry us."
"Well, here I am," Harry said. "Let's talk."
"Wait a second," I injected. "You're the minister?"
"Yes, of course," Harry responded.
"Are you old enough to be a minister?" I asked.
I heard Gwen say, "Oh, you idiot."
"Yes, Professor, I'm old enough. I've been out of seminary six years now."
"Oh," was about all I could muster.
Harry grinned and asked, "Refresh my memory. What was the other distribution you taught us that I never understood?"
I thought for a second and said, "I think you're referring to the Pareto distribution."
"That's it," Harry exclaimed.
Gwen looked at me and rolled her eyes and said, "You idiot, that's not Intro material."
I looked at Gwen and said, "Intro material is what the professor teaching the course deems it to be."
Gwen stuck her tongue out at me.
Harry asked, "Are you sure you two aren't already married?"
Gwen said, "Oh, we're sure. We're not married yet."
Harry asked, "Have you been living together for a while?"
Gwen responded, "We met nearly six months ago and within twenty-four hours we knew we were destined for each other. We've not been apart since except for the week it took him to move from here to my place in Virginia."
"Wow!" Harry responded.
I asked, "Why did you say, 'Wow?'"
Gwen injected, "Don't answer that question, Harry. Will understands people about as well as you understand the Pareto distribution. Just let it be."
Harry gave a long pause and said, "Look, this is interesting. In the last minute and one-half, Gwen has called you, Professor, an 'idiot' twice and she just told me not to answer a question you asked. Does that upset you?"
"Upset me? No."
"Why does that not upset you?" Harry asked.
"I'm not sure why I should be upset. She certainly doesn't mean I'm literally an idiot or she'd have nothing to do with me."
Harry nodded and said, "OK, and what about Gwen instructing me not to answer your question?"
"Oh, she means that you would answer the question and I wouldn't understand the answer and then I'd ask more questions and become more confused and we'd waste all our time on something that is actually irrelevant to the task at hand."
"What do you think of the Professor's answers, Gwen?"
Gwen laughed and said, "He's precisely correct."
Harry mused, "Fascinating."
"Do you two make major decisions together?" Harry asked.
Gwen responded, "Absolutely. I bring up any and all topics to Will for discussion."
"Would you agree with Gwen, Professor?" Harry asked me.
"I don't know..." and I turned to Gwen and asked, "What major decisions have we made?"
I knew from the look on Gwen's face that she was almost beside herself trying not to laugh out loud. Finally, she said, "Let's start with, I want to teach and not follow a traditional tenure track, and then we'll think about whether you should take the acting chair position, and there was our decision to move to Alabama, and our discussions about Charles and then our decision about Barb living with us and how we dealt with my crazy chairperson, and redoing your house, and things like that."
I looked to Harry and said, "Yes, I agree with Gwen."
Harry responded, "Do you, Professor, bring up major issues with Gwen?"
"I don't know. Ask Gwen."
Gwen erupted into laughter and turned to Harry and said, "Harry: do you get the picture? Will is in the world, but he is not of the world. His mind is on issues, on problems, on his reading, his writing, his teaching, his golf game, and so forth. I deal with the domestic agenda and we discuss issues as they arise."
"Fascinating," said Harry.
Harry continued, "Do you have any major differences on issues of finance?"
Gwen laughed again, and said, "I don't know of any."
"No, no differences."
"What kind of spiritual life do you share?" Harry asked.
Gwen responded, "We've attended church regularly and I pray and thank God for my blessings and I know Will does and I see him reading portions of the Bible and Koran pretty frequently."
Harry asked, "Professor, how would you answer that question?"
I said, "Gwen answered it adequately."
"You say you've attended church regularly, but you're here at Campus Ministries looking to be married in the Campus Chapel by a clergy man or woman. Why have you not approached the clergy at the church you attend?"
Gwen looked to me and I nodded to her so she said, "Will has lived here for 30 years. I'm new here so we went to see his Presbyterian minister whom he has known for ten years and the minister treated me like a gold digger and Will like a kid in the candy store or an old fool. He told us to come back in a year if we were still serious."
Harry was frowning and clearly thinking about Gwen's response. After a lengthy pause, Harry asked, "What reason or reasons did he give to think you, Gwen, were out to take Harry to the cleaners or you, Professor, were being deluded by Gwen?"
Gwen looked to me and I said, "It would be best if you spoke to him if it's important. I don't' want to try to interpret his reasoning."
Gwen asked, "May I speak to Harry's question, Will?"
"Surely," I responded.
Gwen turned back to Harry and said, "The minister seemed to be saying that Will is so remote from people that he's not the marrying kind. Additionally, the minister pointed out that in the last ten years a number of attractive women have tried to interest Will and he's not been interested. Suddenly Will shows up with me in hand and the minister seemed to think Will had lost his mind and I was out to take Will for everything he had."
"I see," Harry said.
Harry must have been thinking because he was silent, as were we.
After a few minutes of silence Harry looked up and said, "Watching the dynamic between you two is just fascinating. If you had not told me differently, I would have thought the two of you had been married for years. I'll be pleased to marry you. When would you like the ceremony?"
Gwen smiled and reached her hand for mine and I took it. Gwen asked, "Is the Chapel available on a Saturday in a few weeks?"
Harry got up and checked a handwritten calendar and said, "No, but it is available in three weeks."
Gwen asked, "Is it available at 1:30 p.m.?"
Harry shook his head negatively and said, "Both 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. are open, though."
Gwen looked at me and I shrugged so she said, "12:30 p.m."
Harry noted it on the calendar and Gwen asked, "What's next?"
Harry asked, "Do you have time now or should we schedule another session?"
Gwen looked at me and I shrugged so she said, "Whatever it is, let's do it now."
Harry said, "C'mon, let's go get a Coke or a cup of coffee and we'll look at another few issues related to marriage."
"Just a second, Harry," I injected.
"Yes, Sir," Harry responded.
"Are you married, Harry?"
"Gwen gave me one of her looks and Harry began laughing and said, "Yes, five years."
I nodded 'OK' to Harry.
Gwen remarked, "Ever the pragmatist," to Harry who again laughed.
Gwen suggested that I call Walt and confirm with him the change of venue and change of time so I phoned Walt and Gwen signaled for me to activate the speaker feature on my phone.
Walt picked up as the three of us strolled across campus towards the Student Union.
"Walt, it's me, Will. How are you?"
"Fine, Will, and you?"
"Good, Walt. We getting married here in Alabama instead of Virginia and the date is June 14.
Walt said, "Alabama?"
I responded, "Yes, that's what I said."
Walt reiterated, "Alabama? Does Alabama have electricity yet?"
"Yes," I responded, "for four hours a day everywhere and Birmingham has it six hours a day."
"Isn't that wonderful?" Walt mused.
"How" Walt asked, "does one get to Alabama? Are the roads passable?"
I looked at Gwen who held out her hand for the phone and she took it from me and said, "Walt, this is Gwen."
"Hi, Gwen," was Walt's cheery response.
"Walt: stop being so provincial. Boston has ruined you. Be a little cosmopolitan and take a plane to Birmingham, rent a car, and we live an hour away."
Harry appeared greatly amused by all this.
Walt continued, "Alabama has a bunch of rednecks who are still fighting the Civil War."
Gwen sounded a bit exasperated when she said, "Knock it off, Walt."
I signaled for the phone and Gwen said, "Here's Will, Argue with him."
"Walt: Alabama has never fought a Civil War. Get your facts straight."
Walt almost screamed, "Alabama never fought a Civil War! What was going on between 1861 and 1865?"
I responded, "Walt, you ignorant history student, that was The War of Northern Aggression and I don't need a best man. Good bye!"
And, I clicked off the phone.
Gwen and Harry both had big eyes. I smiled and said, "Give him a minute."
In less than a minute my phone rang and I answered. Walt was yelling, "For crying out loud, Will, I was only teasing."
"Walt: If you come down south with that snotty, know-it-all, superior Yankee attitude, you'll go home with your head in your carry-on bag."
"Fine, fine, Will. Yes, I'll be your best man and I won't poke fun at the Johnny Rebs."
"Hey what, Will?"
"Go read the Declaration of Independence."
Go see what Jefferson wrote about a people's right to disband an oppressive government and form a new one and put that into the context of the Confederacy."
"Oh, my God, Will. I do remember that introduction to the Declaration."
"Good. Now you know why we call it The War of Northern Aggression and not the Civil War. There was nothing civil about that war. We weren't on the right side morally, but we did have Jefferson on our side."
"I'll do that, Will. I'll see you on the thirteenth of June. Send me directions to your house from the airport."
"Will do, Walt. Thanks!"
I logged off the phone and looked at Gwen and said, "I know. You have to pee. We're on our way to the Union right now."
Gwen stuck out her tongue at me and Harry split his sides laughing and said, "Promise me that you two aren't already married."
"We aren't, Harry, but as I said, I knew twenty-four hours after meeting Will that we would be."
"Really! That's fascinating."
I noted, "Harry, you're easily fascinated."
Harry grinned and said, "Couples like you don't just show up very often. You really are quite fascinating."
We arrived at the Student Union and Gwen headed for the bathroom and I got Gwen a Diet Coke and a cup of coffee for Harry and me. When Gwen returned, Harry noted that the two issues that are most disruptive to most married couples were money and sex.
Harry wanted to know how we handled finances. Gwen said, "Will makes it and I spend it."
Harry shook his head and asked, "Would you agree with that statement, Professor?"
"That seems about right," was my response.
"Does that seem equitable to you, Professor?"
"Yes, I told Gwen to invest and bank her money and spend mine."
"Fascinating," Harry murmured.
"You know, Harry, if you were one of my grad students, I'd have you buried in the library for six months until you learned to stop using that word. We are not exotic animals in the zoo."
"Sorry, Professor. I'll try and watch that."
"Don't try. Do it."
Gwen injected, "Will, Harry is not one of your grad students. Stop bossing him around."
I looked at Gwen and she gave me her, "I'm going to kill you" look.
Harry watched us and said; "Really, quite fascinating," and then he clapped his hand over his mouth and said, "Sorry, Professor."
Gwen turned to Harry and said, "Really, you better drop that word. The pot is beginning to boil over here," and she nodded in my direction."
Harry thought for a minutes and then said, "You know, I don't think we even have to discuss sex with you two unless you have a question, but I do have to ask you, Professor, why did you tell Gwen to bank her money and spend yours."
I looked at Harry and said, "Unless something catastrophic happens to Gwen, she's going to outlive me by twenty years."
Harry nodded and said, "Boy oh boy, are you two marriage material. Give me your address and phone numbers and I'll be in touch."
We parted ways with Harry for the time being and Gwen very gratefully thanked him for his time, effort and interest in us. Harry said it really was his pleasure.
Gwen took my hand and said, "Shall we go?"
"Do you have to go potty, first? I asked.
Gwen punched me in the tummy as a response.
"Fascinating," was my reaction. "Professor, how did you feel when Gwen punched you in the stomach?"
Gwen cracked up and laughed so hard she had to sit down. When her bout with mirth ended she looked up and said, "Damn! Now I do have to pee!" and she stormed off to the bathroom.
When she returned she gave me one of her looks and said, "Not one word!"
My response was, "Fascinating. Professor, how did you feel when Gwen just threatened you."
"Stop it, you idiot!" Gwen shouted and a number of people looked up in surprise at us. She grabbed my hand and pulled me towards the door leading out of the cafeteria.