"For Richer, Poorer, or Fluenter"

by Vicki Benson Schutter

Did you ever have to sing a song called "Little Willy" when you were in elementary school? I did, and it went something like this:

I remember the other kids were very careful not to look at me when we sang that song, and I would stand there feeling myself turning red but pretending I was totally oblivious to it. And all the while, the profound question which that philosophical song suggested would be running through my brain: WOULD it take me three days to get married?

Now after all those years I can finally answer that question for you: No.

Yes, boys and girls, I can now conclusively inform you that "Little Willy" was a poorly researched fable. It does not take three days for a stutterer to get married. Of course, the extenuating circumstance was that my groom didn't stutter and neither did the priest, so maybe if ... Naaaaah! The wedding took less than an hour with only one stutterer, so the data proves that even with three stutterers it wouldn't have taken more than three HOURS. I'm sure that's a big relief to those of you who are contemplating marriage but wary of providing your guests' meals and sleeping accommodations in the church sanctuary. "Those pews get awfully hard after only TWO days," you're probably thinking.

It's pretty amazing, isn't it? After over forty years of the carefree (yeah, right!) single life, I am now Mrs. Stephen R. Schutter. (No, you don't have to point out to me what my new last name rhymes with.) Remember when that article came out which said that after a woman who had never been married turned 35, her chances of being killed in a terrorist attack were greater than her chances of ever getting married? I remember it very well -- so well, in fact, that I was afraid nobody would show up at my wedding because they would all be afraid that machine-gun-wielding terrorists would burst into the church and start shooting. No, actually, I remember it very well because I burst into tears when I read it. I remember thinking at the time, "How can I stand to spend the rest of my life alone?" That was several years ago, though, and by the time Steve proposed to me, I had answered it for myself: "You don't." In other words, you don't HAVE to be alone unless you LET yourself. I finally decided that article had probably been right: I would probably never marry, so I'd better enjoy the life I had. I threw myself into my NSP work and my involvement with Main Street Theater, I went out a lot with friends, I started going to a church which had an active singles' group, and I had just enough dates to make life interesting. By the time Steve proposed, I wasn't even sure if I WANTED to get married; I told him I'd have to think about it. He told me that was okay, that I could have as much time as I needed. But, you see, Steve is a geologist. He knows all about breaking through solid formations, and his solution was to take me to Australia. "My company is sending me to Australia for a week," he told me. "Wanna go?" "I'm afraid I can't accept that kind of a gift from you," I said solemnly. YEAH, RIGHT! I'll bet you believe THAT! I got my butt in gear so fast getting a passport and visa and whatever else I needed, I coulda stripped my transmission!

So there we were at the Sydney Opera House watching Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Gondoliers," sipping a glass of champagne at intermission, and having the Opera House's late supper afterward. Then we returned to our hotel, where they had already turned down our beds and put those cute little chocolates on our pillows (isn't that an incredibly cool custom!), and I said to Steve, "Remember when you told me you wanted to marry me?"

"Yes," he replied.

"Do you still feel that way?" I asked.


"Okay ... Maybe we should go get a ring tomorrow."

The next day we walked down to the Queen Victoria Building (quite appropriate, don't you think?) and found this little jewelry store, and it took me about 15 minutes to pick out a diamond ring. Steve says that's probably a record.

Four months later we were at the altar saying our vows. And that brings me to the big question that is probably in everyone's minds: "Did she stutter on the vows?" Oh, if only it were that simple! Actually, I never even worried about stuttering. I was the bride -- it was MY show -- so if I stuttered, what were people going to do? Huff in horror and get up from their pews and walk out? No, they were going to SIT there, whether it took me three seconds to get the word out or three minutes or three HOURS. Besides, I almost never stutter when I'm repeating exactly what someone says right after they say it. So there I was, standing at the altar in this stage-like area that was up high above the congregation, and I was so nervous that my knees were locked like deadbolts, and then the priest was asking me if I would take Steve "for richer or poorer." Suddenly, I remembered what Daddy had always joked with us -- "When you get married and the preacher asks you 'richer or poorer,' say 'RICHER'" -- and I had this tremendous urge to obey my Daddy and say, "No, just richer," and I began to giggle uncontrollably. I can't imagine what everybody must have thought. Some of the guests probably figured I was having a strange sounding block (but then, aren't they all?), while others might have feared I had gotten into the communion wine before the service. Steve, who was standing there facing me with his hand in mine, could see that I was laughing but had no idea why and feared that I had lost it completely and was going to cackle like a goose for the rest of the ceremony. I found out later that there was only one person who knew what was going on in my head. The minute I started giggling, Mama elbowed Daddy and said, "That's YOUR fault!" Fortunately, I quickly realized that I was sounding like an idiot and got a grip.

Then once the trivial stuff was over, we could get down to the really important business of partying. Steve, Lord love him, let me have everything exactly the way I wanted it, so I planned a great party with plenty of food, booze, and dance music. The NSP party animals (those of you who have been to an NSP convention have sighted the breed) were well represented and simply transferred the party to a different location once the church had to shut down.

So my wedding day was over, and it was only one day. My guests had only been subjected to a little giggling (rather than the the three days of blocking required of Little Willy's parents' guests), and most of them looked like they were having a great time at the party. I had gotten married without having to go through even one terrorist attack. All in all, I think it turned out pretty well. Maybe we should get divorced, so we can do this again next year!

by Victoria Schutter
added with permission, April 7, 1997