This is coming at you a little tardy because I just spend the morning having one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. I went to apply for a marriage license.
Now I know what you are thinking, oh haha, the old ball-and-chain is scared of commitment. I don’t mean it was figuratively frightening to be making my nuptials legal and official. I mean that the DC marriage bureau, by virtue of its precise location within the DC Superior Court building, is one of the scariest places you can ever go.
First you go to a room where you fill out paperwork and then wait to give it to someone that puts the information you wrote down on paper into a computer. Why you can’t put it directly into the computer (e.g. via the interwebs) is not clear. That room, called the marriage licence application center, is next door to the Domestic Violence Unit. Nothin like a little reminder of how this whole thing could go south to motivate you to sign those papers. Yes, Mr. Computer Data Input Man who has a gun, I hear that frenzied screaming next door. Sign me up for some of that. One would think that the domestic violence unit would be just where they put information about domestic violence into a computer, but I’m pretty sure there was actual domestic violence taking place in that room. The armed computer data man had to shout to be heard over the screaming so I could swear my oath that the birth dates and social security numbers on my forms were true and correct to the best of my knowledge.
Then you go to pay your fee, which is $45, even though it says on the internet and form you just filled out that it is supposed to $35. You pay your fee at the Family Finance Center, which is adjacent to the waiting area of the Family Courtroom. There are two bank-teller-style windows, one that says “delinquent child support and alimony” and one that says “other.” I went to “other.” Somehow I was wrong.
While they were processing my payment, I observed the world’s saddest birthday party. Yes, a small child had his birthday party in the waiting area of the DC Family Court, complete with cake, balloons, and ninja turtles (those things are BACK?) Apparently the only circumstances under which this family can be within earshot (eyeshot, gunshot?) of this child is in the waiting area of the courtroom before they go in for a hearing. So they rolled with it. The kid actually seemed ok. But this was no pampered yuppie child though. This is a kid who squirts some of his juice box on the ground for his dead homies.
Perhaps the marriage license bureau is designed this way on purpose. Perhaps they want you to witness the worst of the worst of everything that could go wrong with your life resulting from bad relationship decisions before you make them punch data into the computer. Because if you change your mind, and decide this marriage thing was a bad idea AFTER they punch in the data, it’s $100 for them to modify or withdraw your license. Those are some serious consequences.
To celebrate my survival of this little trip to family hell, and my newly minted license to wed, let’s have poker. At 8pm. At my house. With champagne and ninja turtle cupcakes. RSVP. It’s not like it’s a long term commitment.