February 19, 2004

The bride wore black

In today's NYT, Craig Smith describes a marriage ceremony in Paris between a female police officer and a dead man:

"I had what you can call a perfect wedding," Ms. Demichel said the next day, chain-smoking beside her new mother-in-law in a Paris café.

I don't know if the connection between this story and the current American concern about non-traditional marriage pairings is irony or chance. But I'm sure that singer/songwriter Teddy Goldstein didn't know about the French practice when he wrote his comic song Widow:

... the thought of a wife
while I'm still alive
makes me skip a breath,
why it's enough to scare me to death.
Still I care for you, more than I often care to show,
So I started thinking about how

Some day, babe, when they lay me in the grave,
I hope you'll be there, wearing a black veil.
I said some day, babe, when they lay me in the grave,
I pray that they'll be calling you by my last name, saying "so sorry, are you OK?"
I guess what I'm trying to say, why I'm down here on bended knee,
What I want to know,
is, will you be my widow?

So when I die, and the preacher asks "did he have a wife",
Baby well that's your cue, to stand up and say "I do".
Because I'll let it now be said
I will marry you when I'm dead.
So you should be thinking about how


I hasten to point out that the French practice is a sentimental remedy for the death of a fiancé(e), and has nothing to do with the difficulties of marriage to a live spouse.

Posted by Mark Liberman at February 19, 2004 09:51 PM