Here in Alberta licensing is out-sourced. The provincial governments allow private businesses, like insurance companies, to set up outlets in towns and cities and they handle the paperwork and fees. These businesses handle all types of licensing from marriage to driver’s to hunting/fishing to animals. Because of this, there is often quite a lengthy wait when applying for whatever type of license you might need. Last week I was finally able to get the GDL designation taken off my driver’s license as I had recently received my proof of licensing from the state of Iowa. It took over a large chunk of my afternoon between standing in line and waiting for approval from the provincial authorities who needed to see a faxed copy of my paperwork before giving the okay for the change.
During my second stint in line, I noticed a couple at the counter who were obviously getting a marriage license. I must say I love the rituals associated with marriage in the Alberta province. If you ever have need of writing marriage vows, I urge you to check out the Alberta official ceremony. It even impressed my staunchly Catholic mother and aunt and that is significant. At one point in application process, both parties are required to raise their right hands and swear that the information they have given for their application is valid. I think it’s neat, the seriousness of the application process and the ceremony after all this is a country were people don’t have to marry. There is a common-law option. I watched the couple thinking what most people would think “Isn’t this sweet? Two people starting life together as a committed pair.”
When they were finished, they had to walk right by me to leave. The woman was young but still a bit older than Rob’s oldest daughter by my estimation and the man about thirty, give or take. She was smiling in a dreamy sort of way, and he was putting his credit card back into his wallet (a marriage license is about $77 dollars) with a disgusted look on his face and he muttered loud enough for nearly all about to hear, “Well, that was a waste of money.” I was a bit stunned and I wanted to chase the woman down a few minutes later and tell her to run, far and fast, but I chose to stay in line because you can’t really know what is going on inside a relationship from bits and snippets. Although as I told Rob recently that what you see is generally what you get in terms of how people’s public behavior is usually not far off their private persona. As my old English supervisor, Jerry Wadden, was fond of reminding us at the start of each school year, “These parents are not keeping the good children home and hiding them in closets. They are sending you the best they have.” And so it follows that it is the same with adults. They aren’t saying their best for a stand-up routine in front of the mirror each morning as they brush their teeth. They are giving the world the best they’ve got. I think though, as in the case of this young couple I observed, that sometimes people tend to settle for less than the best they deserve.