And the Answer Is…

by | Nov 13, 2023 | Home Life, Our Story

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Home! It is so nice to be home, no matter the state. It is nice to be able to hang my hat wherever it lands, to throw on the old sweatshirt, too ratty to take out, and to verify that the mousetrap works. Whew!    

We went to Paris! What a wonderful trip. I had never been to Paris, missed it by a few countries, but I now understand its draw. History, romance, food, coffee, art, and the people. Paris has it all. People dress up, too, so nice to see. Dresses and leather shoes, so cool not to see pajamas everywhere we went. I had anticipated the rumored dislike of Americans but found that untrue. We felt welcomed, comfortable, even honored. I only speak one word of French, a good one as it turns out: “Croissant,” which I was able to use often! 

The question “Did you get married?” seems to be resting on the top of a lot of people’s minds…We did, but it wasn’t easy, so here’s how it went. A few months ago, we decided to get married in Paris, after all, Paris is for lovers, the Cowboy had reminded me more than once. He spent a lot of time researching how it worked, but the bottom line is, “not that well.”  In order to get married in France, you have to have a Visa and be a resident for 90 days. That’s a chunk of time and we’d have to practically move there. The second half of that issue is that you cannot get a Visa for more than 89 days. The two don’t work together. So, a few weeks ago we paid a visit to the Carbon County Clerk (Red Lodge), the same courthouse where the Cowboy’s great-grandmother had married her high school sweetheart, after divorcing her husband in Pennsylvania, taking the two youngest daughters of her seven children, hopping a train, and somehow finding her way to Montana in 1926. They moved to Armstead which no longer exists as a town, but now sits under a dam. They lived happily-ever-after and we thought it was a good omen.

The clerks were most entranced by these two old fools asking for a marriage license and asked who was going to officiate. We said, “Well, nobody. We’ll recite our own vows to love, honor, and obey.” Both of us were hoping to hear the “obey” word, but it didn’t happen.

The clerk said, “No, you can’t do that. You must have an officiant, someone approved by a court and this license is only good in Montana.” Oops, we hadn’t thought of that. She handed us a sheet of paper and said, “Call one of these seven guys. They’ll do it.” It was Friday afternoon, at 4:00. We started dialing, no answers from the first four.

I then noticed one of the phone numbers was an Idaho 208 number, and Cowboy dialed. I heard, “Great. Where? City Park, gazebo. You got it. We’ll be there in half an hour.” It was pouring, and everything was wet. Of course, we didn’t have umbrellas and I didn’t have any wine. Oh well.

Twenty-nine minutes later, we were in the gazebo, wet and cold. We all shook hands, and our new friend Andrew said, “Do you want long? Short? Secular? Religious? I got ‘em all.” 

By this time, we were drenched and simultaneously said, “Short.” Andrew said all the usual words, but added in, “Do you promise to laugh together as long as you both shall live?” He had us there. That’s so important in any relationship. We each said, “I do. “

Andrew said, “You are husband and wife, I’ll meet you in the library in ten minutes.” That was it.

As it would happen, the rainstorm was also a lightning storm, and all the lights in Red Lodge were out. The librarian dug out a flashlight and we signed the necessary paperwork and Andrew promised to mail the documents in for us. We then did what any good Montanan would do to celebrate, we went to a bar. It was an upscale wine bar called Babcock and Miles, not a rough-and-ready Montana bar. Friday night, 5:00, the bar was jammed. The lights were still out, but they allowed us in, and we ordered. The Cowboy looked around and whispered, “Watch this.” He stood up and got everyone’s attention and announced our recent nuptials. The crowd broke into applause and cheers, and suddenly there were too many drinks and a lot of food at our table. Everyone was laughing and cheering, a great omen!

But we still planned to get married in Paris. We would write and recite our own vows, because after all this was not our first rodeo and we knew what we were doing.

A month later, we were in Paris. We each wrote a poem, dedicated to the other. We found a quiet spot on the Seine, amid hundreds of locks without keys and did our thing. We are married. In Montana and in Paris. The beat goes on.

We had a wonderful, fun-filled courtship, and are starting a fun-filled life together. We love each other and promised to laugh together. What else do we need?

Check out Gail’s newest book,  Murder in the Parsonage  Book One in the Maggie Monroe series. It is listed as by Helene Mitchell, her pen name.


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Gail Cushman:
Wrinkly Bits Author

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