During the first week of teaching middle school I was approached by a girl in the hallway between third and fourth period who was selling what were unappetizing, homemade cupcakes. I asked her if they were a fundraising project, and she told me that she was raising money for her wedding dress.
At that time I was very new to middle school, and though I sometimes act as if I was born yesterday, I was not born last night, and so I did some quick arithmetic and decided that something was wrong. I asked her if she was getting married, and she said yes. She and a seventeen year old boy had fallen in love and wanted to get married. According to her story, her parents agreed to let her marry at the tender age of thirteen and had signed legal papers stating so if she raised money for her own wedding dress. I didn't question any of her statements. I told her that I wanted to think about it, but maybe I would purchase a cupcake the next day. I immediately went to the counselor and the principal to check this story out. Neither of them had heard anything about it, but the counselor was able to guess her name.
Sure enough, the next day she had a new batch of cupcakes, and by the way, they looked more appetizing. Selling them was a way of raising funds for her wedding dress. I never accused her of lying or, assuming she was telling the truth, informing her that her parents were cuckoo. I played it cool and just didn't buy any cupcakes because I didn't have any money on me.
This went on for some time until she quit carrying around cupcakes. I asked her why she didn't have any more cupcakes, and she sadly informed me that sales had tanked and there were no more takers.
When I asked her about it even later, she said that the wedding was planned to be celebrated over the Christmas Holidays. After the Holiday Season (This time I am politically correct) I asked the girl if she was now married.
"Yes, Mr. W. I got married over Christmas."
"Did you wear a nice wedding dress?"
"It was OK, but it was just an ordinary dress."
"Well, it's just a dress. The most important thing is to keep the love between you and your husband going."
She made no response and didn't look overjoyed, so I kept the conversation going. "Do you like marriage? Is it a big change?"
"It's about the same, really."
"Really? I would have thought it would be a big difference. Did you consummate the marriage?" "Uh oh," I thought. I just opened a can of worms.
"What does consummate mean?" she inquired.
"Oh, never mind. I just hope that this marriage works out great for you."
"Thanks," she replied. I don't see her anymore in the hallways. I need to find out if the matrimonial service actually took place. Call it professional curiosity.