Cumberland Times-News

January 25, 2014

The bum ran off? It’s OK, you’re covered

Jim Goldsworthy, Columnist
Cumberland Times-News

— My current favorite TV commercial is the one in which two young men in gray suits are sitting in the front seat of a car.

The driver blows the horn, and two young women come running out of the house in an obvious state of panicky discombobulation. They are carrying what looks like old-fashioned prom dresses and other accoutrements.

They jump into the back seat of the car and, as it speeds down the road, peel off what they’re wearing and put on the clothing they brought from the house.

This involves a frenzy of heaving, squirming and contorted facial expressions.

Upon arrival at what we can assume is a wedding, the two guys and the two girls (who by this time are dressed) get out of the car and hurry toward the church.

Inside the car, a young boy in a gray suit (The ringbearer? If so, let’s call him “Frodo.”) digs himself out from under a pile of clothing that has been yanked off and discarded by the young women. He apparently is unbattered by all of their thrashing.

The look on his face is wonderful.

If you don’t see this during the normal course of your viewing, you can find it on the Internet. It’s hilarious. Google “TV commercial women dress for wedding in the car.”

(Note: While looking for this commercial, I ran across a website for an “Emergency Bra” that can be dismounted, dismantled and converted into two gas masks. No survivalist should be without one.)

I have been an observer at numerous weddings and a participant in just one — mine, which was 40 years ago last month. Considering my lack of success at trying to be a husband, once has proved so far to be enough.

People used to ask why I haven’t re-married, but they don’t do that any more. They probably have a good idea of the answer, based on their own experiences. I have considered it a couple of times ... but not for long, because it didn’t seem like a good idea.

Some folks I know are happily married, and I am enormously pleased for them.

Two in particular get along famously. He lives in one house, and she lives in another. They get together and do whatever they feel like doing when it suits them.

A recent Associated Press story in our paper carried the headline, “Wedding insurance expands as nuptials get more costly; coverage includes extreme weather, case of cold feet.”

This makes perfect sense. Beaucoup bucks can be at stake here. AP said the average American wedding now costs about $26,000 (other estimates put it as high as $28,000) — a figure that horrifies me.

I grew up abject middle-class with middle-class values that were handed down to me by middle-class parents. To me, 26 large is a LOT of money, particularly when someone gives it to you and you don’t have to pay taxes on it.

I can think of better ways to spend it than on a ceremony that unites until-death-do-them-part two people who, statistics indicate, are apt to be divorced within eight years.

Bear in mind, though, that all statistics (including those some folks use to claim that half of all marriages end in divorce) are subject to manipulation and therefore are debatable. You give analysts from Fox News and MSNBC the same set of statistics, and they’ll use it to prove two completely different points of view.

Still, I wonder this: We have wedding insurance, so what about divorce insurance?

It could be based on the over-under system used in football betting pools. The couple and their family, friends and skeptics could bet on whether they will make it eight years, or if they will bite the dust sooner.

And what about marriage insurance? Confirmed bachelors could take out a policy that would pay off if hell froze over and they inexplicably got married. (There’s no getting out of a marriage by pleading temporary insanity and arguing to the court that you were at the time mentally incapable of understanding the nature of your actions.)

Premiums for insurance that would compensate a bachelor if he fell victim to an unexpected marriage would have to be expensive. He would see it as a form of catastrophic coverage.

Tell you what: Instead of blowing big bucks on your kid’s wedding, make a down payment on the newlyweds’ house. Give them a new car. Sign them up for Obamacare and put it on your tab. Whatever, as long as it’s useful.

My ex-wife didn’t need a multi-thousand-dollar wear-once-and-pack-away-for-good wedding gown. She looked beautiful in her cream-colored dress (and still was beautiful the last time I saw her two years ago). Neither did we need a $250-a-plate reception at a country club.

AP said a woman with foresight spent $500 for a $50,000 wedding insurance policy on behalf of her daughter. When the limousine didn’t show up the day of the ceremony, the bride took a cab to church. Mom recovered the deposit money that the limo driver wouldn’t return.

Wedding insurance can cover all sorts of contingencies, said the AP: The bride or groom gets cold feet and doesn’t show up; one of them is in the military and is called to active duty at the last minute; or the wedding hall goes bankrupt and shuts down.

The last one reminds me that a couple of months back, we discussed two wedding-related events that conceivably could have been covered by some type of insurance.

The first involved a groom-to-be who realized at the last minute that he forgot to book the wedding hall. So he called in a bomb threat to make sure the place was closed that day.

The judge locked him up for a year. The bride-to-be imposed upon him what I would call a wife sentence: She promised to wait for him to be released and then would take custody of him.

Just imagine ... she’ll have a whole year to think up an appropriate reprisal, and he’ll have all that time to torment himself with wondering what form it’s going to take. Wedding insurance might have prevented all that.

And then there was the groom who didn’t leave his bride standing at the altar, but at a gas station. He drove a considerable distance down the road before noticing her absence.

If I‘m the reporter interviewing this guy, my initial question would be: “What was your first clue she was gone?”

“Well,” he might say, “I suddenly noticed how quiet it had become.”

What kind of insurance, you ask, would cover such a situation?

Hospitalization, most likely.