Saturday, November 24, 2007

Little Cassandra

"I'm not going to marry a poor man!", she said. It would have been considered a calculated comment, had it not come from a third grader.

It was one of those rare summer days, when nothing was being skinned, chopped and prepped for the winter. The women were sitting around the kitchen table, nestling their hot teacups in their hands or nibbling at the petit fours that were left over from the neighbor's wedding party. The topic of discussion was the wedding of course; analyzing the bride, groom, clothes, families, food, flowers, guests and music of the previous night. Most of the children were playing; running in and out of the kitchen, chasing each other and occasionally squealing.

Everyone stopped talking, words and pastries hanging in mid-air with the young girl's announcement. Had we not been shocked at the fact that she had declared that she thought of marriage in front of a group of adults, we would have been shocked by her cynicism. I'm pretty sure we all just stared at her. Which is probably why she continued, undeterred. "My husband is going to be rich and handsome; I won't accept him if he has sisters--they meddle too much; he has to be educated, but doesn't have to work in his field if he can make more money doing something else. He has to worship me and make me look good where ever we go. I refuse to worry about things like budgets and limitations." She was speaking in earnest.

One of the ladies at the table laughed and said, "Won't he have to be a little crazy to want to marry you? You're not that pretty, you're not rich and you have sisters. Why wouldn't he find someone better than you?"

She gave the woman a baleful look, "He won't find anyone better than me, and I don't care if he's crazy. I prefer it. That way, his family will be glad someone married their son. I'll be a hero."

There was an awkward silence at the table. Even if everyone thought of marriage and planned pairings and weddings from the time they had children, no one spoke of it in such a way. Especially not the girls, and never so young. Her mother's laughter broke the silence, almost proudly. "Well, I don't have to worry about this one!"

No one else laughed, though. This was as uncouth an exchange as this group of gossips had seen in a while. In the ensuing silence, everyone was making mental note to keep their sons away from this family and to warn their friends of their ways as well. Everyone in this group took credit for a good and happy match made, even if they had been casual by-standers. But no one wanted to be associated with a potentially bad match that could come back to haunt their own children's prospects.

We all finished our teas and pastries in silence, in a state of shock of sorts.

I heard she got married last week. They say her husband is indeed rich, handsome, doting and sisterless. I have yet to hear anything about his mental state, but if the past is any indication, it is not really a concern to any of the parties involved.

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