By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Goin' to the chapel: If Buzz were introspective, we would pause and contemplate the creeping conservatism that has overtaken us in middle age. It's the thing that causes a vein to throb in our temple as we cry, "Oh, come on!" whenever we hear about the latest expenditure of tax money. "Damn government," we mutter in our best Eric Cartman voice, "spendin' our hard-earned money."
The li'l vein was pounding good when we heard of the "Twogether in Texas" program, which will dole out $15 million in state grant money from the feds' Healthy Marriage Initiative to provide marriage classes to couples—engaged, married or just doin' it. In Dallas, the awkwardly named Alliance for North Texas Healthy Effective Marriages (ANTHEM) will get $950,000 to teach couples how to communicate. Couples who complete the free eight-hour courses, says spokeswoman Tony McGee, won't have to pay the $60 marriage license fee or wait the standard 72 hours after obtaining a license before they get hitched.
Obviously, the way to build healthier marriages—a favored social goal of the Bush administration, except among gay people who perversely insist on forming long-term, monogamous relationships—is to make the act of marriage cheaper and quicker.
Throb, throb, throb goes the vein.
The various classes include information on "conflict resolution, effective anger management and money resolution," McGee says. They're taught by "facilitators" trained by ANTHEM. One course is called "10 Great Dates," which will give couples tips on how to connect. For example, McGee says, "sometimes your woman may say one thing but mean something else."
Listen, men, if you need someone called a "facilitator"—a job title that, like "journalist," is a clear sign of uselessness—here's some pre-wedding advice: Don't marry. (Instead of "10 Great Dates," Buzz suggests some more practical courses, such as "You Are Not Wearing That Shirt, Mister" and "Anal: You Must Be Joking.")
Of course, maybe we're just being middle-age cranky. Why, decades ago, Buzz did a pre-wedding weekend retreat run by the Roman Catholic Church. It was led by a celibate priest who looked just like Rodney Dangerfield. Father Rodney, the lovely future Mrs. Buzz called him. The course must have helped—either that, or shacking up for a year before marriage did—because we've been married a long, long, long time. Don't remember much about the course really, except the part where we split and went shopping at a mall, which has sort of set the theme for a successful marriage. And it didn't cost the government one thin dime.