“Will you marry us?” she asked.
She sat next to her fiancée in my kitchen. I’d known him for a while. They’d requested this meeting.
“You guys have been together for years, yes?” I asked, knowing they lived on St. John in the Caribbean, but had grown up in New Hampshire. Old friends with my son Chris, they’d invited him to visit them in paradise more than once. They nodded and explained how they’d heard my work over the years and wanted me to marry them. Flattered, I told them I’d never done that, but thought to myself that since I’m not a pastor, priest or rabbi, I’d probably need to become a Justice of the Peace. No sense collaborating on an artful wedding ceremony only to end up with a marriage that’s, well, not legal.
How, I wondered, does one become a Justice of the Peace?
Well, eight months have passed since then and now I, Bodkin the Storyteller, am indeed a Justice of the Peace. Vetted by the State of New Hampshire and found to be free of criminality and general malfeasance, I have been certified by the governor’s fresh signature. Since I’m able to preside over a marriage that will be enshrined in the State’s official records forever, I hold a public office of sorts. A sacred trust.
I can marry people.
Bear in mind, though, that New Hampshire is a quirky little state. Our Live Free or Die motto? Everybody’s heard it and rolled their eyes. Our first in the nation primary? Everybody despises us for it. Our lack of a motorcycle helmet law? Bikers love it and flock here in June just to ride free in the wind. But what many people don’t know is that here in NH, if you’re a Justice of the Peace, not only can you marry people, you can also issue warrants for their arrest.
There’s a joke in there somewhere but it eludes me.
Or anybody’s arrest, for that matter, at the request of a peace officer. No kidding. That power is conferred along with the appointment.
Issuing arrest warrants feels so diametrically opposed to uniting people in matrimony, it’s almost funny. When I applied, I didn’t know I’d be granted this second power. Then again, I doubt I will ever be tapped to do it. What peace officer in his right mind is going to come to me? Besides, we have plenty of good judges.
I’ll just stick with marriages.
“To have and to hold, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, til death do you part?”
“Good. I now pronounce you husband and wife.”
Sounds nice, doesn’t it?
So listen up, all you fiancees out there. Yes, I’ll give you a storyteller’s wedding, replete with stories, harp music, wit and poetry, and then I’ll issue you a marriage certificate.
Just be sure to keep your wedding vows.
Otherwise, I might issue an arrest warrant.