Yosemite Story ~ Part II
Karass: A group of people linked in a cosmically significant manner.
Duprass: A karass that consists of only two people, usually married.
Wampeter: The central theme or purpose of a karass.
“Bokononisms” by Kurt Vonnegut ~ Cat’s Cradle
The most efficient way to travel in Yosemite Valley is by bike or by shuttle, since cars are restricted to the parking lots. We did not have bikes so we either walked or shuttled on the “subtle shuttle.” It was great. On a daily basis we rode the shuttle to Yosemite Village, Mirror Lake, the Ahwahnee Hotel, Housekeeping, Yosemite Falls, or Nevada Falls. We never climbed to the top of Nevada Falls, but we often made the trek to the pool at Yosemite Falls. There Miriam and I would practice water ballet – fully clothed, of course.
One day, after tootling around the valley, Face and I found we were alone on the shuttle; the rest of our party had disembarked. A single brother and a single sister without a chaperone was a social taboo in the commune, so I was somewhat uneasy and desirous to return to the campsite as quickly as possible. As fate would have it, the particular shuttle that we were on was taking the longest route around the valley, so we had little choice but to go with it.
During the ride, Face expounded his beliefs on God, Christianity, the roles of godly men and women, and marriage. He obviously bought into the whole submission doctrine. I thought he was too rigid and was glad he wasn’t the boss of me. I was relieved when the shuttle stopped near our campsite.
I got the rebuke look from the sisters upon entering the camp with Face, but I blew it off. It wasn’t like anything had happened. After supper, Face said he wanted to talk to me. I wasn’t too keen on this because I figured he had more submission doctrine to inflict on me – in fact, I thought he was going to rebuke me. Instead, he asked me to marry him. I was shocked, surprised, flabbergasted, but also agreeable. He was cute, he had blond hair and blue eyes, he was from California, so I said yes. Then I asked him what is last name was and how old he was. He replied that his last name was Hart and that he was eighteen, the same age as me. Cool.
When we told the others that we were going to get married, we were met with waves of disapproval. The next day I was hauled back to Fresno for even more waves of disapproval. According to the Patriarch, it was more spiritual to be single than married, a position that the Matriarch rarely missed an opportunity to impress upon me. It did not bother me. I was used to waves of disapproval, having ridden a fair number of them in Durango.
I had no idea when or how the actual wedding would take place; I just knew it would eventually happen, and so I relegated the idea to a convenient storage place in my mind. I was spoken for – that’s all that mattered. Later I was really thankful for it.
One afternoon, Brother Mose asked to talk with me. I liked Brother Mose; I thought he was cute and very spiritual. On this particular afternoon, I assumed that our tete-a-tete was going to be another rebuke for getting married. (Brother Mose was very spiritual about such things.) Instead it was another marriage proposal – for another brother. Brother Wannabe/Deepeeboo – “WD” for short – wanted to marry me and had commissioned Brother Mose to make the proposition. I said, “No thank you. I am already going to marry Brother Face.” It was liked getting asked to the prom when you already have a date. At that moment I was really happy to be engaged to Face because I thought the Patriarch would force me to marry WD (I had heard about Stork and Tara, you know.) I mean, WD was a nice guy and all, but no way I was going to marry him or anyone else except perhaps Brother Mose; (Brother Killy was already taken.)
The Wedding ~ Part I
Face came back to Fresno and set about getting us married. His uncle Gordie was a doctor, and he gave us a free blood test. We got a ride to the courthouse to get a marriage license. At the license bureau, the clerk checked our application and informed Face she could not issue him a marriage license because his divorce papers had not yet been recorded. WHAT!!!
Apparently Face had been married before, a small detail he omitted to share with me in all his talks on marriage. He had plenty of ideas about what a wife should be, but somehow missed the one about a husband not being married to another woman. When I asked Face his name and age, it did not occur to me to ask, “By the way, are you married?” I mean, who would? He was only eighteen. Who would figure a guy would run away to Mexico at age fifteen with his girl friend, get married there, live separately with his parents, mope around the house until his folks finally relented and allowed him to marry at sixteen years of age only to have the marriage dissolve into a rage fest? Who would suspect that action? I certainly didn’t. My faith was a bit shaken.
Face asked the clerk if he could hand deliver the divorce papers himself, and if so, would she then issue the marriage license. She said yes, so we shuttled around the various departments until he got hold of the divorce papers. He gave them to the clerk who told him it would take about an hour, so we hung out in the courthouse park. During that interlude, I reconsidered the whole marriage idea, pondering what I was getting myself into. I wondered whether I should go through with it or FLEEEEE!
However, the same curiosity that got me to the commune was prodding me into marriage. I wanted to know what it was like. Face told me later he was sweating bullets, worried that I would bolt, but my silence assured him that I would submit to his will. Poor guy. He was deceived. My placid expression and acquiescence was merely my obeying a higher calling to my will. I always did what I want to do, and what I always wanted to do is to KNOW – it’s my prime addiction. That iron will, that settled determination creates a calm exterior that makes people think you are going along with them. When one’s chief aim is to observe Life, one doesn’t get too fussed about the details.
The Wedding ~ Part II
August 2, 1972
I was on dish crew. Someone came and told me it was time to get married. I went out to the front porch where Face was waiting. Brother Hiram and Brother Killy played “There Is Love” on the guitars. Clayton Foust signed the marriage certificate. The Patriarch had given a minister’s license to Clayton; I hope it is legal.
After the signing, Face and I took a walk around the neighborhood during which Face told me his expectations of a wife – mainly submission. We went to our room off the garage, looked at each other, and consummated the marriage. Brother Killy and Sister Miriam walked by outside our window singing “There’s an empty bunk in the women’s dorm tonight.” At that moment I realized that EVERYBODY KNOWS WE ARE HAVING SEX! I discovered one of the downsides of living in a commune – every body knows everyone’s business. That night everyone knew what was going on in that little room off the garage. It was embarrassing.
I dreaded facing everyone the next morning, but what else could I do? I wore my scarlet letter as I sat down to breakfast. For once, there were people who were even more curious than me in the room.
Yes, folks, we did it. I am no longer a virgin.
Let the wampeter begin.