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A Tale of Two Women

This is a tale of two women. My late ex-husband wed me way back when in the '70s. We experienced our holy Roman nuptials on the same day as a family acquaintance of his. Enter the virgin.

She was fair of coloring, form and statuesque beauty. A blonde Calabrian, the jewel in the crown of little Italy, Josephine, or Josefina. I was a good ole girl, still quite young, but always denigrated by the Italians for my status, being married to my handsome Italian stallion.

In contrast, Josefina had an arranged marriage to a family-approved young lad of similar background. For the five years of their engagement, the future bride and groom were never allowed to be alone with each other, or have any physical contact, not even holding hands.

Indeed, if Josefina and her beau went anywhere, some old Aunty (Zia) was their designated chaperone. It was the '70s, post women’s liberation, why did they accept that?

Enter the virgin. After their devout nuptial Mass, there was a massive wedding reception, where all the guests pinned cash to Josefina’s wedding gown. In those days, $27,000 was a fortune, for the virgin on her wedding night. Yes, exit the virgin. She had immaculate conception, I did not.

Josephine had spent five years waiting, anticipating. Unfortunately for all concerned, waiting was not worth it! Disenchanted with her husband’s holy blip, she kept up appearances for three years. Josephine waited, but kept having pregnancies. Such was the lot of Josefina. Her husband made her flesh creep, and his fat kids looked like him, totally spoilt by their grandparents.

Josephine got in the ear of her father. Right, Mamma wanted grandchildren, she could raise them. Josefina filed for divorce, quickest in little Italy. She was a "keeper." She kept the house (a wedding present), the lavish white goods (also wedding gifts), his kids, the beach house, two big flashy cars and the gardener! Exit the virgin.

After all that waiting, Josefina got her figure back and went back to work in her couture, doing drinks with the girls. I divorced my husband, in yet another contribution to amicable divorces.

Ironically, Josefina’s father brainwashed the local parish priest, taking him to Roma to acquire an annulment, despite Josefina’s offspring. So, all was well in little Italy. Officially, Josefina was still intact. We do believe in religious miracles.

I did not retain my virgin status, but never mind. A tale of two women, cultures apart, but still sisters in some sense. Enter the virgin!

— Julie Grenness

Julie Grenness is a poet and writer in Australia. She’s a former teacher who now tutors and mentors young people.

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