Dateland: My Annulment


Yesterday, I received an interesting message on my office voicemail. “Miss Parello, I am calling from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago. Please return my call immediately.”

At first, I thought it might be my old friend Satan trying to play a trick on me. Things have been a bit dull for him since Richard Nixon’s death, so he tends to get into a bit of mischief. Why not have Jennifer crank call the Archdiocese for a giggle?

But when I called the number, I was stunned to discover that the Archdiocese really did want to talk to me.

“Oh, yes,” the lady said, after identifying herself as the Cardinal’s secretary. “It’s about your annulment.”

Ahh, yes, my annulment! I suppose, dear readers, I owe you a bit of a back-story on this one.

When I was in my 20s, I was young, stupid, and a bit cruel. I married a very nice boy and, within two years of great confusion on both our parts, I divorced him for reasons that should come as no surprise to any of you.

About a year after our divorce, his fiancée (he wasted no time in replacing me with a safer model, who also happened to have my same first name, which I’m sure made things much less complicated in the boudoir, plus he didn’t have to return any of the monogrammed stuff we got as wedding gifts) called me and asked if I’d have any issue with an annulment.

“For who?” I asked, genuinely confused, first by getting a call from a strange woman who claimed to be my ex-husband’s fiancée and second by the annulment business. In spite of the hard vowel as the end of my name, I was raised Lutheran and not Catholic. As was my ex-husband. And we married in a Presbyterian Church. I can’t remember why….because it was a pretty church, I think.

She wasn’t inclined to give me an explanation on why two non-Catholics needed to get annulled, and I really didn’t give a damn, so I said, “Sure. Annul us.”

That was 15 years ago, and I had forgotten all about the annulment, and my marriage for that matter, until I received an email from my ex-husband about a year ago. “Remember the annulment?” he asked. “Well, we’re ready to through with it.” He asked me a few religion-related questions that his wife had asked me 15 years before, and I responded with a few polite inquires about his family, and that was the end of it.

Or so I thought. Then I got the call from the Archdiocese. Apparently they had been trying to contact me for over a year but had the wrong address. And the annulment was in limbo because I hadn’t signed off on it. The secretary told me all I had to do was give her the verbal OK and the annulment would sail to the final step, which I suspect is when my ex-husband will be required to make a very large donation to the Cardinal’s diamond ring fund.

“When it’s final, we’ll send you a copy so if you want to marry in the Catholic Church you can do so because you’re annulled.”

I laughed and told her I wouldn’t be needing the document. And, surprisingly, she joined in the laughter.

“Oh, I know you’re Protestant, but I’m required to tell you that. I’m not trying to convert you.”

“Well, actually, I’m involved with a Catholic,” I said, referring to my lapsed Catholic girlfriend. “So, does this mean my girlfriend and I will be able to marry in the Catholic Church?”

Silence on the other end. Then, “I’m sorry, I really must go now.”

I’ve gotten older and smarter, but I’m still kind of cruel.

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