WHEN MY BEST FRIEND, Carrie, called me to tell me she was engaged—and to ask me to be her maid of honor—my response was, “Wait, you’re dating someone?” I was so surprised: We had known each other since we were nine, and we had even gone to college together—and yet I didn’t know that she had fallen in love? We were living in different cities at the time, and she had reconnected with another friend from childhood, Brandon, a few months earlier. They had been dating for four months when he presented her with an enormous diamond ring.
I was happy for her. But the thing is, there were rumors about Brandon. Everyone knew that he had hooked up with guys, and he had also apparently dated a guy for a whole summer during college. Carrie had heard the rumors, but she had also just turned thirty. And if you’re single and thirty in Kentucky, you’re basically an old maid.
When I saw them together, it was always a little off. He was either way too affectionate or way too distant, and gradually it emerged that they would get in these massive fights about strange things he was doing: He had lied about his savings accounts, he wouldn’t come home some nights, and he convinced her to move in with him even though she was Christian and didn’t want to live with a man until she was married. He made a show of saying grace when they ate out with friends, but when they were in bed together, he wanted to do really kinky stuff or nothing at all. Plus, he bought a red Volkswagen Beetle. What kind of guy buys a red Beetle?
Ever since we were teenagers, Carrie was the sort of girl who couldn’t wait to get married and have kids. But when it was finally time to plan her wedding, she couldn’t make any decisions. She was constantly crying, and she got to the point where she couldn’t choose the bridesmaid dresses or even when or where to get married. When she finally set a date, she went into zombie mode: She bought a dress and picked out invitations, but she was constantly mopey. It was like he was chipping away at her soul.
At some point I realized that she thought it was scarier to call off the engagement than it would be to just marry him. She was terrified of embarrassment, and she couldn’t see the difference between wanting to have a family and wanting to be in love with the right person. My gut was telling me it wasn’t okay, so I called her parents. Her mom said, “Thank God, we don’t think it’s right either—she’s going to be unhappy for the rest of her life.” They had already sunk tens of thousands of dollars into the wedding, but they said they knew it was a bad idea all along. They were just too afraid to speak up. The invitations were about to go out, so we made a plan: I would go see Carrie the next weekend under the pretense of coming to help with wedding stuff.
Instead, I told her that I couldn’t support the marriage. When I explained why I thought it was a mistake, she started crying. Then she went totally silent for two hours. When she finally started speaking again, she was still shaking and crying, but she seemed almost relieved. I had made the decision for her. “Okay,” she said. “The wedding is off.”
Carrie was mostly concerned about the practical things: What would happen to the million-dollar house they had bought? What would people think in our small, Christian hometown? Brandon was away for the weekend, so she called him and told him she was leaving. By now, her parents had arrived, and when she hung up, we were all like, “Keep the ring! It’s not a family heirloom!” But she left it on the kitchen table.
I’ll admit to having a high opinion of myself, but does that mean I think I have the right to tell people they shouldn’t get married? I could have been making a huge mistake, and I was scared to death that she wouldn’t find someone else. I hadn’t met my husband yet either, and people certainly said that since I was miserable, I wanted Carrie to be miserable too. But I knew she’d be better off alone than with Brandon. And now, three years later, I think I was right: She just got married to an amazing guy who is absolutely perfect for her. And just four months after the breakup, Brandon used Carrie’s ring to propose to a girl who looked exactly like her. They have kids now, according to Facebook. But yes, the rumors remain.
Copyright © 2014 by Eimear Lynch