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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I Married a Hippy



In the fall of 1970 I was giving a lecture on how to take a law school exam to my first-year Contracts students at the Indiana Indianapolis Law School when one of them, Charleyne Adolay, decided she was going to marry me. I barely knew her name, but apparently that was unimportant. Suddenly she seemed to be around a lot, dropping by my office, saying hello in the hall, which I certainly didn’t mind. I thought she was good fun to talk (and a beautiful woman). Early in 1971, while the course, which lasted the entire school year, was still going on, she called me one afternoon and asked if she could stop by that evening with a question. When I said, “Sure,” I assumed it would be about the course, but instead it was, “Have you ever smoked marijuana?”

I had not, and I was shocked, and, well, intrigued. Before I could reply, she whipped out a pipe, some thin papers, matches, and a small bag of the stuff. She sat down at the piano and proceeded to try and roll a joint on the bench. Her efforts fell apart, so she tried again with no better result. Annoyed, and ever the control freak, I asked her if I might could try, and she handed over the task immediately. So the first joint I ever smoked I rolled myself.

And liked it a lot. Fortunately there were many more to come in the future (and, indeed, I didn’t quit until I was in my 50s). But grass was just the start of the things Charleyne wanted to introduce me to. She was a self-proclaimed hippy, feminist, and free thinker (having been thrown out of St. Mary’s College, sister school to Notre Dame, for being an anarchist—great story there). Charleyne was also in favor of free love, which she suggested not long after the joint was smoked, and was very disappointed when I recoiled in horror. SHE WAS ONE OF MY STUDENTS! In those were long-ago days it was not unheard-of for a teacher to have sex with a student, and no one seemed to care much as long as the student wasn’t currently under tutelage—no “A for a lay” was the saying. I huffily informed Charleyne that I couldn’t have any significant social contact with her until the course was over, and she replied she’d call me then.

A month later, when my mother came to Indianapolis for a visit, I wanted her to attend one of my classes, which she was eager to do, so I asked Charleyne and a friend of hers if they would sit with my mother during the period. That all went well (the Contracts students were interested in meeting my mother, about whom I had previously told a story or two—witness some in this blog).

I posted grades in early June and immediately went to Montreal on vacation. On arriving home, as I came through the door (and I swear this is no exaggeration) the phone was ringing. It was Charleyne. She’d gotten an “A” in the course (which I didn’t know, since grading was anonymous), and now she wondered if I would like to meet. I did. By the end of the month we were living together. We had—how shall I put this?—a wonderful time on many levels.

Innocent that I am, on Sunday, July 11 of that year I was talking with my mother on the phone, and when she coyly asked me how life was going now that Charleyne and I were a couple, I knew she really wanted to know whether this relationship was headed for marriage. “The nice thing about Charleyne,” I told her, “is that she doesn’t believe in marriage. What we have together is based solely on mutual consent.” “What an idiot you are,” my mother commented dryly. “Charleyne would marry you in an instant if you asked her.” I protested this was not so, but the conversation left me uneasy.

That night I sat Charleyne down at one end of a curving sofa in our living room, and sat at the other myself. “I’ve had a disturbing phone conversation with my mother,” I began, and then I related what had been said. Charleyne remained mute. I pressed on, certain how this would come out. “Well,” I continued, “is my mother right? Would you marry me if I asked you to?” She smiled. “Yes, Doug, of course I would.”

The floor dropped from under me. All afternoon I’d been asking myself if I wanted to propose marriage. We were in love, and I thought her the most wonderful person on the planet, so commitment wasn’t the issue, but I was sure Charleyne had no interest in marriage, and I didn’t want to sound like I was pressing for it. But now it was all too clear I hadn’t understood what was going on at all. I went silent, doing some quick calculations in my head. “All right,” I told her, “it will take three days to get a license, and this is Sunday, so to be safe let’s make the wedding Thursday.” It was her turn to be flummoxed. “Wow!” she said, eyes wide, “Up until that moment you had been following the script!” “THE SCRIPT!” I bellowed. “WHAT SCRIPT?” At this she confessed she’d been in love with me since the lecture on exam taking, and had decided to marry me before the class period ended. “I knew I would have to go slowly, but look how well it turned out!”

So we threw ourselves into each other’s arms, laughing and crying, and then sat back, spent with emotion, and began planning. Where to get married? Neither of us are religious (both being ex-Catholics), so we quickly selected the site where we had met: the law school. But where in the law school? The Assistant Dean was also a Justice of the Peace, and had performed a wedding earlier in the year inside the school’s moot courtroom. There? No; that room had nothing to do with us. We needed a spot that symbolized the entire school, and one of us suggested the flat gravel roof that covered the building and was accessible by staircase, and that was that. There were hurried preparations to be made; Charleyne, ever the hippy, didn’t own a single dress, and had to rush out and buy one and who knows what other accessories. The Associate Dean agreed to officiate, and I wrote the ceremony, which was primarily the signing of a contract (of course), and included each of us, as we signed the marriage agreement, separately reciting lines from Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Sorcerer”: “I deliver it, I deliver it, as my act and deed.” Since I had to teach a class from 3 to 4 pm that day, we agreed that the wedding would take place at 4:15 p.m. Friends were invited, Charleyne’s family (who lived in Indianapolis—mine were in Texas where Dad was a prosecutor in Dallas) came, and I even told the class I was teaching what was about to happen, so that when the hour was up most of them trailed along to the roof to see this oddity for themselves. Somebody had called a local TV station, with the result that a reporter and a cameraman showed up to film the event for the local evening news (see photo). When the ceremony ended, Char and I shook hands with people, and then left for a brief honeymoon in Chicago.

Once married, Charleyne’s hippy days were over (though she’s a feminist still), and she began acquiring lots of dresses, etc., and buying new fancy furniture and much else. As she morphed into the Baroness Rothschild before my eyes, I found myself telling her, “You know, Charleyne, some people don’t buy things because they’re too expensive.” “Oh?” she said, feigning surprise.

After two more years in law school as both student and faculty spouse (our son Clayton was born in the middle of her last year), she graduated magnum cum laude and we moved to North Carolina where I was a Visiting Professor for a year at UNC. Then it was back to Indianapolis and some very good times too, including the two of us becoming tournament bridge players. Our marriage eventually came to an end, but not because we stopped loving each other. Its termination was inevitable once I finally admitted to myself that I was gay, which she handled very well considering the upheaval it caused [see the March 24th post “The Aging Gay Activist”]. More about all that some other time, but I end this post by noting that Charleyne and I are still very good friends. She’s now practicing bankruptcy law in Indianapolis (a three hour drive from Columbus, where I live), and she drove over six times in 2009 to spend the night and attend various functions with me and my chosen family (I directed a production of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” for example, and then, of course, there was the heart transplant and my New Year’s Eve party where she ended up being one of the hosts; see the January 7th post “New Year’s Eve Party Without the Host”). Half kidding, but half not, Charleyne and I agreed a couple of years ago what when we both reach our 70s (she’s four years younger than I am), and assuming that by then neither has formed a relationship with someone else, we’ll sell our respective homes, buy a Winnebago, and live the good life moving around the country, playing in bridge tournaments.

And we might just do that.
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Related posts:
“Marijuana and Me," July 11, 2010
"Far Too High in Las Vegas," September 1, 2010
"Charleyne and the Giant Cookie," September 16, 2010
"Bowling With Charleyne," February 13, 2011
“A Guide to the Best of My Blog,” April 29, 2013

1 comment:

  1. I don't see either of you traveling the country in a Winnebago but the bond that you share is real. Charleyne is one fabulous woman who might appreciate a hotel suite...

    ReplyDelete