Eighteen
Sandy Steinman
Doorknobs Winner

It  wasn't only her father and mother. Literally, everyone in Lois's family insisted she marry by eighteen.

"It's the cutoff," warned Grandmother.

"Marry rich," instructed Father, “and fast," fearing Lois would fade.  All the prized beauties were snapped up early.

"Maybe, God forbid, deflowered!" Instead of a doctor she might have to settle for a bouncer.

"Marry tall," advised Mother, professing short men had low self esteem. “Tall and handsome," was Mother's prerequisite.

Her cousins married tall, even reluctant Rhoda, pushed and pulled into marriage with equally unwilling tall Zachary.

Ethel, eighteen, married tall Morris to keep him from the draft. He got sent to Saigon anyway.

One night, alone in the kitchen, Ethel whispered to Lois, sex wasn't so hot. "Why all the fuss?” she wailed, “I don't get it."

Lois, then eight years old, an attentive listener, didn't get it either.

At seventeen Lois queried, "don't I have any say?"

"No," said Mother with candour, "Spinsterhood is automatic at twenty-one, a shameful taboo."

At eighteen, Lois inspected herself for telltale signs.

It was true! She'd lost her bloom.

Father shivered at the prospect of being stuck with her. One afternoon, he brought home a short tailor with blackheads in his ears.

It spurred Lois to find someone herself

Sheldon was short, Robert, chinless and James snorted when he laughed.

Suave Alfred didn't want her, but perfect-pitch-Peter, with an enchanting hamster named Twitchy, did, so at the altar they pledged "we do."

Fifty-five years have passed. They still “do.”






First published: February, 2013
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