I’ll admit it, one of the perks of marriage I was looking forward to was the street-cred. It really seemed like after a decade of sharing his life with me, supporting me through graduate school, and holding my hand through thick and thin, John deserved a different title than one that could be applied to some dude you met at the bar last weekend who took you out for a drink and groped you in the car. It’s still hard to believe that boyfriend is really the best the English language can do to cover the entire realm between dating and marriage.
A few years ago I experienced the deficiencies of boyfriend firsthand. John was having some issues with his car insurance, and somehow I ended up going by the insurance place to get some more information on his behalf. I wasn’t asking them to reveal details of his account – I had all the details in my hands – I was just asking clarifying questions about their policies.
I remember the lady behind the counter narrowing her eyes in suspicion at me: And why are you here asking about it instead of him? she demanded. Because he picked me up at the corner last night and now I’m just curious to know about the details of his third-party liability coverage, that’s why!! She answered my questions reluctantly and as vaguely as possible, and her eyes never resumed their relaxed state.
Contrast that with today’s experience at an institution that I would consider to hold slightly more sensitive information. I had to go to an investment company’s office to drop off a form on behalf of my mother-in-law – due to an address mix-up their mail was being sent to our house, while John’s mail was going to his sister’s house (there’s a long and boring story to explain such a colossal mix-up but I’ll spare you).
I entered their intimidatingly fancy offices – complete with a front desk about 20 feet longer than necessary and glass art on the walls – feeling every bit like an intruder. Like I shouldn’t be there. I handed over the form and explained about the addresses. This time all I had to do was say husband and mother-in-law and the eyes stayed smiling. They looked up the account, apologized for the mix-up, and ensured me they would fix it immediately.
Marriage does hold a very honoured position in society. Everyone deserves the right to those smiling eyes.*
*Luckily Canada was the fourth country in the world to grant same-sex marriage rights, but most countries in the world still do not, including (I’m ashamed to say) my normally-oh-so-progressive country of origin, Finland. They do allow same-sex partnerships that afford similar rights to marriage and are making some progress toward recognizing marriage by that name.
P.S. I asked for John’s ideas on the title and he proceeded to spend the rest of the time I was writing singing the theme song from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Apparently I was bel-aired. Like I said, street cred.