How My Mother Influenced My Take on Marriage

My mother liked to meddle. Like an addict with an uncontrollable itch for her next high, she wanted to be in every part of her children’s lives. From steaming letters addressed to my brother open over our old electric stove to rifling through my closet looking for 90210-esq dirty secrets, she reveled in paranoia. One out of 20 times she hit on something. Most times I thought she would have enjoyed a career snooping. It was easy to role my eyes at it then but looking back it was sort of nice to have someone who cared enough about me to sneak through my stuff. Plus watching her reseal my brother’s mail was just fantastic live action entertainment!

Her meddling in my life dates back to the 80s. My mother spotted what I can only imagine to have been a scrappy string bean named Caitlin O’Shea. Pale. Freckly. Menacing. Caitlin fit as the perfect accomplice to my burgeoning empire and aspirations of total neighborhood domination. At the time I was 3 and Caitlin was 5.

My mother took us on secret trips to far-off ice cream shops. In a flash my mother was sending Caitlin care packages while away at Cornell. In between all of that we had both been forever bonded by my mother’s influence, the product of which was The Marriage Pact. The Pact is legendary in our friendship history, but it wasn’t until recently that I realized its significance. Pulling The Pact out of a memento box in my basement led me to discover my mother’s signature sitting  at the bottom as witness to the arrangement.

Alice Muscarella Signature

My mother's signature.

Seeing her John Hancock reminded me that she had forged this friendship before I knew what friendship meant. Even more, she had influenced our desire to have such a pact.

The Pact

This pact is hereby made by Lauren Muscarella and Caitlin O’Shea. Whichever one of the two named above gets engaged first has to fully fund an exotic trip to a tropical island.

Rules and Stipulations

1.    If you run off and get married in Vegas or secretly elope in any other location it still counts. (Yes, this means you must pay for your mistakes, drunken or not)

2.    The one who is engaged (the one paying for the trip) gets to make no decisions at all (that’s right no decisions). The single one will be left with making all appropriate choices, so whatever the single one does the engaged one must do as well. (This is clearly necessary. Obviously the engaged one has lost her head and no longer understands what fun means.)

3.    If you are caught trying to conceal an engagement for any reason of time in hopes the other one will soon get engaged, you will be penalized. The punishment will be left completely up to the single friend.

4.    There will be no economizing – it will be a tropical island of the single friend’s choice. Remember you will no longer be needed for your decisions just for your credit cards. No expense will be considered excessive.

5.    Absolutely no guilt trips. When the single friend holds you to this in reality it is for your benefit.

6.    None of this pre-engagement stuff like promise rings. If it looks like a diamond, it’s a diamond no matter how small.

I’ve asked for three amendments: change tropical island to anywhere, add a clause for groom interrogation, and a ceremony at the end of the trip to proclaim the final decision. I’m still waiting to hear back from Caitlin.

The Pact

The Marriage Pact

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