The first step before the big wedding day in September is to pick up a marriage license. I’m meeting the fiancée in Union Square before heading to City Hall together. She is wearing a blue paisley coat so is easy to spot amongst the crowd of Occupy Wall Street protesters, Peeping Toms and a woman raising awareness about gender equality by walking around topless.
We were going to take the train down but I spy an alternative option, a free taxi. My bank has an old fashioned New York style taxi that gives customers free rides wherever they want. I’ve seen it driving around town but never been fortunate enough to catch it before. Luckily for us the taxi is waiting on the roadside where we are meeting.
We get in the taxi. The driver turns round to look at us and says:
“Ah, I was looking at that girl wearing a paisley coat and I remember how my mother always said never trust a girl who wears paisley. Where you guys going? And can you show me your bank card please?”
I show him my battered old bankcard.
“City Hall on Centre Street, please” I say.
“Oh, why are you going there?” He asks.
“We are picking up our marriage license.” I say.
“Oh great. Nice place. I had my second marriage there.” He says.
He starts the taxi and we begin our journey.
As the trip progresses he starts outlining his previous three marriages with women from across the world, ending with the killer line of “I’m not interested in marriage anymore, I don’t need that type of personal validation.”
Feeling I should respond I say: “No, of course. Good for you,” receiving a dig in the leg from the fiancée in return. I look at her and shrug my shoulders.
We arrive outside City Hall. The fiancée gets out and as I leave he turns to me and says: “Those girls in Paisley man, good luck, you are going to need it.”
We walk up the steps into City Hall and follow the signs to the marriage zone. It looks like an old bank, a long corridor of a hall with rows of desks where all that lovely romantic administration happens.
There is no response from her. I can see why she is so desperate to marry her this very second. You can’t let a golden goose like that get away.
There is a short line for the reception with just one happy couple before us. One of the girls is tall and thin; the other girl is short and portly. The short one is wider than she is tall. Low center of gravity, not unlike Diego Maradona.
She is sporting a pair of those Beats by Dr. Dre headphones that everyone can somehow afford these days. She is bobbing her head along whilst the tall one is on her phone.
The two girls walk up to the counter.
“We are here to get married today.” Says the tall one.
The short one, headphones still on, keeps up the head nodding.
The slightly weary looking receptionist says, “Ok, do you have your confirmation print out?”
“No” says the tall one.
“Ok, do you have the money order?” Asks the receptionist.
“No.” Says the tall one.
The wide one starts swaying her head. Must be a good bit of the song.
“Right.” Says the receptionist. “Well you need to get a license first before you can get married. Then after 24 hours you have 90 days to get married”
The tall one, looking crestfallen, looks to her headphone-loving lover. There is no response from her. I can see why she is so desperate to marry her this very second. You can’t let a golden goose like that get away.
The receptionist says: “Well you can sign up today and comeback tomorrow to get a license. Just use these computers here.” She walks the couple over and sets them up.
It’s our turn and we are served by that receptionists replacement, a deeply flustered annoyed man who hates his job, weddings and happiness. He takes on the approach of a depressed bank clerk and barks every order at us, never offering eye contact.
I turn to my future wife and say: “Magical isn’t it?”
I finally get eye contact from the guy but the look in his eye is then far from magical. I hand over all the documents and am given a number, much like at a cheese counter and told to wait “over there.”
We sit down and wait our turn. It is an amazing place with lots of people in full bridal gowns. Some look happy, a few look nervous and one or two are eyeballing any available exit. I keep tabs on those two girls and note that they never speak the entire time and those headphones remain on throughout.
As the fiancée and I wait there in the Bank of Weddings I turn to her and say: “I imagine this is how you thought it would be when you were a little girl.”
Thankfully, they call our number, before she has a chance to confirm.
Follow Tom on twitter: @twgreaney
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