Friday, October 13, 2006

Gittin' Hitched in the 5-4-0

Note to new readers and people who haven't stopped by in a while: This is a really long story that I told as three posts. I have republished them so that they now appear in order.

Recently, I was talking to someone from Chesapeake, Virginia. He kept referring to his home town as "7." When I asked him about it, he said "757, yo. I'm representin'." Representin' a wealthy bedroom community? Ugh.

While I understand regional pride and the need to show off your loyalty to your home, I want to reiterate that he's from Chesapeake, a suburb of a resort town and a naval base, a burg with all the identity of a Wendy's and all the charm of an industrial park. Seriously, Chesapeake is sort of like Norfolk's foreskin; it's a little extra leftover piece, which could easily be excised.

Me, I come from 540. Generally, there isn't much need to represent 540, as most of the people in Southwest Virginia don't leave. Moreover, as many of my neighbors don't look beyond their families when searching for life partners, the clan aspect becomes pretty redundant. In terms of East side/West side, well, there's East side, which is Southwest Virginia, and West side, which is West Virginia. However, nobody really makes much of a big deal about the whole thing. We don't communicate much, as most Southwest Virginians don't write letters, and many West Virginians don't know their letters.

This isn't to say that there aren't feuds. The Price family battles with the Flintchums over real estate, while the Pickles hate the Tickles because of a clerical misunderstanding. The Noonkesters distrust the Raines' because of a little legal misunderstanding, while the Linkouses (Linkii) are envious of the Quesenberrys, because the Quesenberrys have fully functioning frontal lobes. And, of course, the Hagas envy the Linkii because the Linkii have uncrossed eyes and don't sport gills.

All kidding aside, the McCoys came from here, and the Hatfields don't live too far away, so I guess that Southwest Virginia has had its fair share of a fussin' and a feudin'. Today, though, the only real leftover from the old family clan days is the area's heavy degree of nepotism, which my wife and I discovered when we got married. Since neither of us is particularly religious, we decided to ask a friend to officiate our wedding. However, the Commonwealth of Virginia requires that a minister either have an official congregation or post a $500 bond if he or she wishes to officiate a wedding. By the time we figured this out, we had already decided to have our wedding at Fairy Stone State Park. We'd bought the food, gotten the clothes, hired the band, ordered the booze, and gotten a hairdresser. More to the point, we still didn't want to hire some random minister or lawyer to officiate the wedding.

On to plan B. We decided that we would get legally married two days before the wedding, but would count our official wedding date as the day in the State Park. The next step was choosing a town hall to get married in. We initially considered Roanoke, but decided that we weren't really too excited about standing in line with a bunch of pregnant sixteen year olds on their lunchbreaks. Besides, Roanoke's town hall is an ugly white concrete building with no charm whatsoever. Christiansburg's town hall was a little more relaxed than Roanoke's, but was also ridiculously ugly, and we decided against it on purely aesthetic grounds. Finally, we chose Pearisburg's town hall. Built in 1851, it was a nice brick building with white columns, a box hedge, and ambiance to spare.

About a week before our planned wedding date, I called the Pearisburg town hall to ask about the procedure for getting married. When calling a town hall, one usually gets a harried civil servant who is rushing to finish the phone call. This was a little different. When the phone rang, a woman with a molasses-thick accent answered.

"Giles County."

Jaaaaahhhles Cownny? "Uh, yes, I was wondering about getting married at the courthouse."

"We don't marry people at the courthouse."

Shit. I'm going to get stuck with a Unitarian minister. "You don't bailiff or a justice of the peace?"

"Nossir. We got a minister on call."

"Really. Well, okay, do we need to make an appointment?"

"No, the minister's always around. There's just one problem."

Let me guess: he's inbred. "Yes?"

"The minister's a woman."

"Oh, that'll be fine."

"Yew sure?" The voice sounded suspicious. "Yew sure yew want a woman marryin' yew all?"

I thought about pointing out that I was planning on marrying a woman, which would seem to suggest that I have a high regard for the fairer sex. On the other hand, this didn't really seem like the time to get obnoxious. "Yeah, that'll be fine. When are you open?"

"Eight AM to five PM. Yew sure about this?"

What is this lady trying to tell me? "Is the minister okay? Does she have any problems I should know about?" Gills? Permanently crossed eyes? Is she a Haga? A Linkous?

"Naw, she's fine. It's just that she's a woman."

"Well, I'm sure that will be okay. Thanks."


When I told my fiancee about the phone call, we laughed for a while, but soon forgot about it.

To Be Continued


  • funny. regional pride is always the best pride, no? giles county sounds like fun!

    By Blogger Namaste, At October 15, 2006 at 3:06 PM  

  • Well, there's something to be said for regional identification. As for Giles county, well, it makes you realize that The Beverly Hillbillies carries more than a grain of truth!

    By Blogger Crankster, At October 15, 2006 at 6:51 PM  

  • Giles county is a hell of a lot of fun.

    Especially if you can learn the language.

    When I lived up there, every morning I'd stop off in the local convenience store and get a coke before heading out to work, and every morning the same three old guys would stand in the front of the store sipping coffee and commenting on everybody who came in. The thing was, that they were kinda deaf, so they commented very loudly.

    Because of my penchant for wearing all black, I was "Miss NEEEEEEEEW York City" (or sit-ah as they'd say it). They'd comment on my hair on any given day, or heckle me "Hey, did yer granny die? Why you wearing all black, girl?"

    Fun times.

    Also amusing was my attempt to understand the word "uhl." As in: "Yer car needs to have its uhl changed."

    And I'd reply "oh, OY-UL. Gotcha."

    "Well," (long pause...) "If yew wanna say it all fancy-like."


    By Blogger misanthropster, At October 18, 2006 at 10:54 PM  

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