February 16, 2005

It's All Her Fault

I married way too young (18) and it was all Donna Reed's fault. For the younger puppies out there, Donna Reed was one of those black and white TV shows introduced in the USA in 1958. It featured Donna, a pretty blonde with a Barbie doll body, her perfect doctor husband, their two perfect children (a boy and a girl, but of course), and their perfect house, homelife, neighborhood, friends and life in general. That Donna wore a dress, pearls and heels while dusting furniture and cooking dinner never fazed me in the least. As if Donna wasn't picture-perfect enough, they stuck Shelly Fabares in as the daughter. Come ON, it just isn't fair! The basic theme of the show was "situations" and "situations resolved" and all were laced with a bit of comedy. I grew up on this shit. I loved it. It felt comfy cozy to me. It inspired me to dream about days to come. Those bastards!

So off I went into my 18th year planning my wedding and believing in my heart of hearts that mine would also be the perfect marriage with the perfect husband and one day, the perfect kiddies. It's not as though I was a completely stupid young lady, I just didn't know enough to allow reality to shake me out of my dream-state.

I'd love to go into every sordid detail about this practice-marriage, but so as not to incriminate myself with my written tongue, I will come to a crashing halt at the end of the honeymoon story (much like the entire marriage did).

The well-planned wedding day turned out wonderful; glorious even! Around 7 p.m. we two took off for our honeymoon, leaving the revelers to celebrate amongst themselves. We had a long drive from Staten Island to Pennsylvania. That's right folks, no early 70s wedding was complete without a trek to that love-paradise in the mountains - The Poconos. We had rented a private cabin ... keeping away from the mainstream hotel at Cove Haven.

Upon arrival, we checked in at the office then drove about a mile up the twisting road to our luxury accommodations. In retrospect, the inside of this place looked like the set of a poorly made, low-budget porn flick. If I had more time, I'd take you on a room by room tour, but I don't, so I won't. Just think red velvet ~ everywhere.

We each showered and changed into appropriate honeymoon garb, he in his skin and me in my flowing whiter than white, lacy and revealing negligee. So many people had suggested that we stay in town overnight and head to the mountains early the next morning but then, people also argued that we should wait a few years to get married too. We simply weren't open for advice. We were, after all, 18 and 19 years old! Who could know better than we did?

We were laying in bed facing one another and talking over the day's events ... both of us completely exhausted. Suddenly, I noticed while I was talking, my brand new husband was staring off behind me at the wall. Just staring, expressionless. I turned to the wall, turned back and said "What?" He just stared, stared, stared. I then laughed and nudged him saying "Hey cut it out, you are trying to scare me" or something to that effect. Without warning, he straightened himself out, went stiff as a board and then went into a full blown grand mal seizure.

I knew he had epilepsy and I knew he had experienced a seizure or two in the past. Until now, I had never seen this happen. I tried turning him onto his stomach but he was a pretty solid guy and it wasn't working. I tried hard to get at his tongue, but his jaw and teeth were clenched tightly and it took me only a second or two to realize this wasn't going to happen either. At one point his outstretched arm came up and clocked me so hard I thought I'd pass right out. I raced to the phone and reached the main office. I screamed at the man to get an ambulance and he assured me that the house doctor would be right over.

Then I did the mature thing ... I opened the door to the cold October mountain air, ran outside and started racing down the side of the mountain in my white nightie, flailing my arms about and yelling "HELP ME HELP ME!" It's okay to laugh, I do every time I recall this. I didn't run far before I realized I'd left him alone back at the cabin, so I turned quickly and climbed back up, just in time to see headlights coming up the winding road. The doctor jumped from his car and ran to me as I stood there in my semi-nakedness trying to catch my breath. The man only spoke German. I did not. Great. I pointed into the cabin and he ran to my foaming-at-the-mouth husband who was still shuddering, though more calmly now.

Within seconds, the desk clerk walked into the room as well. Thank God I now had an interpreter. The doctor worked his magic and injected my husband with whatever it takes to make seizures go away. He stayed to help me clean up a little then offered me a pill. I'm sure he felt I needed it, but I gently pushed his hand away ~ no way was I going to be anything but completely aware for the rest of this particular night! As the two men stood talking and giving me instructions, it occurred to me for the first time that I wasn't decent, but it all happened so quickly that I forgave myself instantly and shrugged it off. Later on, of course, I wanted to die from embarrassment, but at the moment, it just didn't feel important.

My instructions were to let my husband sleep until he woke up on his own. It was important not to wake him at any cost. Apparently this could have brought on another episode. I spent the remainder of that night sitting next to him with one hand on his arm, staring and waiting. He slept quite peacefully.

When he awoke the next day around noon, I was all but delirious. He hadn't remembered a thing. While recounting the whole ordeal to him, I could see him run through an entire spectrum of emotions. He was embarrassed, concerned, and frightened, but mostly angry. It suddenly became my fault that we drove that distance after such an eventful day, that he had forgotten to take his Dilantin for two days that week, that he opted to drink champagne at the wedding, that I couldn't help him by myself without "calling in the troops." Oh yes, and apparently, it was even my fault that he was epileptic to begin with!

The remainder of the honeymoon week was spent worrying about whether or not he might have another attack. Oh we attended the shows at the cabaret, we went horseback riding and we even took a boat out on the lake, we enjoyed some good meals and we socialized with other way-too-young-t0-be-married couples, but there was an underlying stress the entire time.

We came home feeling physically and mentally spent, extremely unsure of ourselves, and quite frankly, feeling cheated.

I will offer you this much in closing, the marriage dissolved completely after a few hellish months and that wasn't soon enough for me. I'm not up to snuff on the legal ramifications of writing nasty, disgusting and vile stuff about a specific person, and so as not to find out the hard way, I'll stop here.

Clearly I must have missed the episode about Donna Reed's honeymoon. Dang.


Blogger Wally said...

I feel kinda bad for laughing so hard, but I hope that the "tears" in my eyes (from laughing so hard) compensate for your experiencing a Honeymoon in Hell!
I can only imagine how much money that the producers of The Donna Reed Show would have paid you back then for this script!

12:42 PM  
Blogger brooksba said...



This was truly the wedding night from Hell.

I've witnessed one person have a seizure before and I freaked completely out. I sat there, holding them on the floor, petting his head as if he were my dog (our dog, who doesn't count as seeing a person have a seizure, because, hey, he's a dog, used to have seizures). I was just thankful he came out of the seizure in about 2 minutes, but those were the longest 2 minutes I had ever experienced. I think if it had been a second longer, I would have called 9-1-1.

Another great piece of writing. Thanks for sharing the story!


3:03 PM  

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