Marriage equality and etymology

Another hot one. The manhole covers seared grill marks into the platforms of my stilettos as I dashed across Hollywood Boulevard and into cool confines of the commercial establishment I call my office. The barista must have seen me coming; my usual Frappuccino was waiting for me. I grabbed it and ducked into my corner.

Apparently the barista wasn’t the only one on the lookout for me. Before I could get settled a middle-aged couple in Hawaiian shirts, khaki shorts and flip-flops loomed over me. They both had wire-rim glasses and spiky gelled hair, one auburn-haired, the other dark.  “Lexie Kahn?” one of them asked.

aloha shirts alt“Who wants to know?”

“I’m Pat,” said the redhead. “And this is my…uh…spouse, Chris.”

They giggled and eyed each other sheepishly. “We just got married,” explained Chris, “As soon as Prop 8 was struck down, we dashed off and did the deed before some legal boomerang could hit us in the head.”

“But now we’ve got to party,” Pat said. “That’s where you come in.”

“Uh, sure,” I said. “Frappuccinos for my new friends,” I called out.

“No, no,” Chris said. “We’re having a reception next month and we need to get the wording of the invitations right. What can you tell us about the origin of marriage?”

“You know I don’t do social history. My work is strictly etymological, capeesh?”

“Yeah, we know,” one of them said.

“And we’ll pay upfront,” the other said, slapping some bills on the table.

“Okay, have a seat. Marriage entered English with the Norman Conquest, from Old French mariage, from marier, ‘to marry,’ which is from classical Latin marītāre.”

“What? Didn’t the English marry before 1066?” asked Pat.

“No, they wed.

“The New Oxford American Dictionary, 2nd edition, defines marriage like this:

1 the formal union of a man and a woman, typically recognized by law, by which they become husband and wife.

• a similar long-term relationship between partners of the same sex.”

Slap! Pat and Chris gave each other a high-five and a kiss.


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