This week’s excerpt for Sweet Saturday Samples comes from Chapter 47 of Little Ragdoll, “Adicia’s New Identity.” While Adicia and Ricky are waiting for their marriage license to become valid, they’re going to stay with Adicia’s old family friends the van Niftriks in the Meatpacking District. Her friend Betsy is shocked to find out a modern woman is voluntarily entering an arranged marriage of sorts, but Adicia and Mrs. van Niftrik try to convince her of the merits of such marriages.
“That’s a huge elevator,” Ricky marvels.
“Well, this place did useta be a factory. They must’ve used it for transporting huge bales of grain or lots of dead cows or something from floor to floor.”
Adicia knocks on the door after the short ride up to the fourth floor. She knows the van Niftriks go away on vacation during the summer, so she’s not entirely sure anyone will be at home during this particular week. After about half a minute, she finally hears approaching footsteps.
“Adicia! We didn’t know you were coming to visit us!” Betsy says. “I’m home on summer vacation from Vassar. Are you in the area, or did you just drop by to visit? And who’s this, your boyfriend? I never even knew you’d gotten yourself a fellow!”
Betsy is dressed in an ankle-length pink dress with white flowers and a lace-trimmed neckline, turquoise beads hanging down to her waist, a lot of golden and silver bangle bracelets on both of her wrists, a mood ring on her right hand, and open-toed white plastic sandals. Her long brown hair is hanging loose, with a crown of daisies wound around it. She wears no makeup except for an image of two fish painted on her right cheek.
“It’s not permanent,” she says when she notices Adicia staring at it. “I just had it done in the Village. Some woman was painting astrological signs on people for a buck. I’m Pisces, the fish who are chained to each other for all of eternity, no matter how hard they’re trying to swim away. You’re Cancer, the crab. We’re both water signs.”
“This is Ricky Carson, my fiancé. We’re getting married at the courthouse tomorrow. We know this is a really huge imposition and favor to ask, but is it okay to stay here overnight while we’re waiting for our marriage license to become valid? I guess you can come to our ceremony if you want, since we do need witnesses. I would’ve gone up to Marjani’s place, but I didn’t wanna leave our moving van with all our stuff sitting out in Hell’s Kitchen overnight. Someone would probably break into it.”
“You’re engaged?” Betsy shouts excitedly. “Of course I’ll come to your wedding! Are yous guys eloping?”
“I guess we are.”
Betsy leads them into the apartment. “Mom, Dad, is it okay for Adicia and her boyfriend to stay here overnight? They’re getting married tomorrow at the courthouse and just need somewhere to stay till their marriage license becomes valid. They’re eloping.”
Mrs. van Niftrik rushes over to them. “How nice to see you again, Adicia! Of course you and your young man can stay here for a little while. We have a guest bed for the two of you, and we can put up a spare wooden panel to give you some privacy.”
“Just one guest bed?” Adicia asks, blushing. “One of us will have to sleep on the sofa bed.”
“You’re not sleeping together yet?” Betsy asks. “I thought all couples nowadays took the car for a test drive before getting married. If I had a serious boyfriend, I’d be trying him out beforehand, and my parents would be cool with that. Is it because of what happened with that Ethan punk? But surely if you’re enough recovered from that rotten thing to be getting married, you’d be okay with doing that by now.”
“This is not a love match, at least not for me,” Adicia admits as she sits down on the davenport. “It’s a marriage of convenience, kinda like an arranged marriage. We’re both running away, Ricky from his snobby, out of touch, rich parents, and me from my own parents, who were forcing me to marry some grotesque creature forty years older than me. This prize they picked for me was in prison for fifteen years for beating his first wife to death.”
“We won’t be consummating our marriage right away,” Ricky agrees. “I hope Adicia grows to love me over time, just like my feelings of being in love with her will change into a more mature love after enough time has passed.”
“You’re marrying someone you don’t even love?” Betsy asks. “And you’re okay with this decision? Gee, I didn’t think anyone still had arranged marriages outside of really religious folks. Even if you’re compatible in other ways, what’s going to keep you married if you’re not in love?”
“I like him as a friend,” Adicia says. “Part of me really wishes I could’ve had a husband I fell madly in love with and felt butterflies in my stomach for, the kind of love at first sight Allen and Lenore had, but maybe it really is true that a strong bond of love can come from growing instead of falling in love.”
“You can tell us more about this over supper,” Mrs. van Niftrik says. “I’ll make it early tonight for you two. I suppose you’re right on some level. Maybe more hasty marriages and painful divorces could be avoided if people weren’t only thinking with their hearts when they got married. Being blindly, passionately in love with someone today doesn’t mean you’ll still get along and be able to run a household and live together in the long run, after the fireworks have died down and it’s time to get down to more serious, grownup matters like raising kids, paying bills, and dealing with medical emergencies.”