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My June Bride Bail-Out Guide 

For those dreading the wedding

A headline touting a "bail-out-the-bride kit" caught my eye. Now there's an idea, I thought, assuming it referred to something that would help a bride realize that she could, and maybe really should, bail out of her big day, but it turns out that the Emergency Wedding Kit just provides fluff stuff like a safety pin and hair spray, which according to the blurb are "essentials."

Clear nail polish, another item included in the kit, isn't what pops into my mind as crucial when we're talking about being on the brink of signing yourself over to somebody for life. Since we're now in the peak stampeding-to-the-altar month of June, I thought as a public service I'd offer my kit of guidelines for when a potential bride is completely justified in heading for the hills, or that already-paid-for honeymoon, alone.

Following are what I consider to be the top bail-out circumstances, which also apply to the gay-bride wanna-be's clutching bouquets on the steps of courthouses all over Massachusetts:

1. If you haven't had physical relations with six other people at a bare minimum. The romantic notion that once you're in love you won't want to have sex with anybody else is one of the most delusional in human culture. Only after you've said "I do" does the ""til death do you part" bit really sink in -- somewhere around the cutting of the cake, as you realize you just vowed to screw the same set of equipment for the rest of your life - that, suddenly, stretches toward eternity before you.

This is where it helps to have already experienced a diverse group of people, including maybe another race or two and the other gender, so you're just not as curious about what you might be missing. It also provides you with at least the memory of variety when you're not in a position to pursue it anymore.

Learning about sex is like learning how to make a pie, a notion I got from a story my grandmother used to tell. When she decided it was time to know how to make a pie, she went up and down the row houses in her Baltimore neighborhood and asked each housewife what her particular pie-making method was. After she'd gathered all their tips together she went home and baked a very successful first blueberry pie. Similarly, you pick up slightly different approaches and techniques from each person you sleep with, culminating with a bigger picture of the "pie".

2. If you haven't had sex, period. While it's warped on society's part to pretend that you won't want to sleep with other people after you're married, the promotion of the virgin bride as some kind of spotless ideal is even more twisted. You simply have got to give your groom-to-be a test run. Nobody would buy a car without trying it out, and the same should be true of marriage partners, since it's a lot more complicated and expensive to switch out a human lemon. Besides, your climactic wedding night will go off better as the culmination of lots of rehearsing, rather than the first read-through.

3. If you're under the age of 30. Early marriage was one of those absurdities that my college friends and I thought had been tossed from the culture for good, like slavering materialism and status labels. Our parents had been herded into them as innocent youngsters and were later divorcing each other as fast as they could. Marriage itself was suspect.

Yet the trend has apparently treacherously returned to girls flashing diamonds their senior year and gliding down the aisle shortly thereafter. My main gag reflex against this goes back, once again, to having to face the same private parts for all the rest of your days, but there's also the self-understanding issue.

I propose the ideal marrying age to be about 60. By then you probably pretty much know yourself and what you want in a spouse, you've gotten to gather lots of those "pie" slices, and you're still plenty young enough to put your bones to work in the marital relations department.

Unfortunately one of nature's most bewildering jokes is that we women are forced to settle down way earlier for reproductive purposes, but at least if you hold out until 30 you've gained some experience and perspective without yet making your eggs curdle from waiting.

4. If you simply don't want to. This reason counts even if you're already standing at the altar in a dress you went into debt for. Maybe-brides, your wedding day, as huge as it may loom, is but the swat of a gnat compared to the rest of your life. Feel free to just say I Don't.

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