When I was 19, I went to a lawyer and filed for divorce from my abusive, annoying, semi-illiterate husband. I was nursing Angie, who was six months old at the time, and squeezed the lawyer appointment in between feeding Ang and going to class ( I was attending Sarah Lawrence at the time on partial scholarship).

I don’t plan ever to remarry, and this isn’t just because I’m hell-bent on being poor and a shitty mom, as President Bush would have you believe. I could just bitch here about how much his latest welfare “reform” strategy– which aims to steer single moms into marriage– angers me, but instead, dear reader, I’ll relate a story.

In Spring of 2001, I took a break from writing my novel and went to the Bay Area with Ms. Elka. We went to her lovely sister Elly’s dance performance in SF, and I wore a sexy outfit in hopes of snagging a hottie in tights and screwing his brains out later on. Half an hour into the show, one of the performers did a skit where she wore a wedding dress and stood in front of a full-length, brass-lined mirror, tape recorder in hand. She’d play the recorder and it would emit her own voice, which would, in turn, ask her: “Do you, ______, take you, in blissful matrimony, from this day on?” She was marrying herself, in front of us, and herself, to herself. It sounds hokey now, but it was fucking funny at the time.
I was in the third row, drunk on free red gallery wine, laughing my purple-tinted teeth off, and when the ceremony ended, the woman turned around and lifted her left arm. I saw it in slow motion: the gerbera/rose/lily bouquet sailing, slowly: over the head of the performer, over the heads of the women in the front row, over the head of the cute fae guy sitting in front of me, and into my unsuspecting, unhappy lap. I cringed: I’d NEVER caught a bouquet before, so how befitting was this, this catching of a bouquet belonging to a woman who’d just conducted a self-marriage ceremony?

19% of single moms say they would never marry- neither their children’s father or anyone else, for that matter. Count me as one of them. President Bush could GIVE me the entire $2 billion he’s funneling into the program, and I still wouldn’t remarry Angie’s dad, because I have something President Bush never will: self-respect.

That night at the gallery, I clutched the bouquet against my heart and returned smiles from kind strangers for the rest of the evening: “Oh,” they laughed in recognition, “you’re the one who caught the bouquet?”
I never did get laid that night.

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