On the day of our marriage, we ran out of propane in our heating tank. It was on one of the coldest days of the year, and the gas company told us they couldn’t fill it for a couple of days. So, before my ex woke up, I walked across the street to the gas station and filled a gas can with diesel.

Pouring it down a hole in the side of our house that led to a tank in the basement I thought this is what you do during an apocalypse. You find a substitute to keep what barely passes for a home running, so when people start killing each other for fuel, there’s still a way to stay warm and mobile in the short term, even if that way is more expensive than the old way, even if it’s Saint Patrick’s Day, and your soon to be wife wants a respectable marriage on a day that reflects her Irish heritage.

As for myself, marriage was never something I wanted, she knew that, and only after a year of prodding, an aptly timed ask, and a moment of stupid selflessness on my part, did I willingly agree to it. Besides, my idea of a marriage always looked more like someone willing to enter a trance and run naked through the forest until the animals no longer feared him, not a ritual where cake, a ring, and a soon to be joint bank account steal the show.

Well, despite my issues with conventional marriage, and my embarrassment over the fact that we couldn’t afford a honeymoon, our wedding ceremony turned out great, she looked beautiful and was happy I think, and we made the best of it with the promise that we’d make it a better one later, when both of us were at least employed.

Still, waiting in the drive through at Macdonald’s in Littleton NH, part of our honeymoon getaway for the day, I couldn’t stop thinking about how cheap I was, how cheap we both were, me more than her, I think.

I thought to myself we were like Charlie’s family in Dahl’s book where, because they had no choice but to normalize poverty, the goal posts of a silly chocolate bar and the promise of the better life it represented had to be magnified through a ritual survival song only they could feel the sweetness of.

Sinking my aching teeth into a Big Mac that represented my wish to live “large and in charge,” while in the passenger seat of my wife’s jeep, I thought about how I’d submitted my manuscript to a couple of first book contests around that time, and I remember thinking maybe I’ll hear back today and the promise of a university job would suddenly open to me, like Wonka’s factory for Charlie.

I was like a cancer patient waiting for a miracle, or a heart patient in the hospital waiting room waiting beside a snack machine he can’t afford to eat from, waiting to hear back about how long it will be until he is next on the list, and until a compatible heart arrives.

Now it’s my intuition, and not my penis or intellect, that I allow to tell me what I need to know about all this marriage business, which is that, while I long to belong to someone or something other than myself, it’s not worth it if I must order up and die first in order to make the fantastic miracle probably not happen, and that if I’m married to anything I’m married to thinking about what I really want.