Wednesday, May 04, 2005

She Used to Do the Pony, She Used to Do the Stroll

Here Be Monsters has an excellent post on the story (cough) of Jennifer Wilbanks, the runaway bride in Duluth, Georgia. What a country! What a news industry! Those were minutes and brain cells that we'll never get back.

According to HBM, one of the New York City tabloids says that in the South, an unmarried woman of Wilbanks's age is presumed to be "insane, in prison, or gay." I laughed out loud to read this. Ms. Wilbanks didn't sound desperate for a husband, from what I could tell. The wedding was going to be pretty lavish, the groom is from a prominent family in that town. Everybody around her was so happy FOR her, they just took for granted that she was happy herself. Wrong-o. Personally, I find pre-wedding jitters to be a believable and serious thing. The couple of people I've known who have honorably backed out of a church wedding after the invitations have been mailed, I rank as some of the bravest people around. I would sooner bolt at that point rather than face the music. I was sure all along that Ms. Wilbanks had bolted; it was the likeliest explanation.

What I don't quite understand is why the families were so publicity-hungry, even after the whole emergency turned out to be a big misunderstanding (to be charitable--"hoax" would be uncharitable). Why is the groom appearing on Sean Hannity, of all shows? Why is the father of the groom "forgiving" Wilbanks on ABC, NBC, and CBS simultaneously the other morning (separate taped interviews, but his face was on three channels at the same instant)? Why is the bride's uncle standing up in front of the TV cameras saying that Jennifer had some issues the family wasn't aware of? No shit, Uncle Sherlock. I think, if not shame, at least reticence is called for by the principals in this situation. Just go inside and pull the shades. The cameras will go away pretty soon.

The groom is willing to give her another chance. That doesn't make him a saint; it's what he should have done. They'll go through worse things in the course of a marriage. I hope it works out for them in the end, but in any case, the family should just make a brief written statement to the Duluth paper. Remember when we and the TV networks made utter fools out of ourselves over a jittery bride? Well, briefly, here's how that turned out...

Final thought on the subject: You know why the Duluth authorities are pissed and considering throwing the book at the bride? Not because of wasted manpower, not because she's trashy. They're embarrassed because they treated the groom, who was decent and blameless through the whole thing, as a murder suspect.

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