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Nolan's Pop Culture Review--now in our third calendar year!
PCR #136 (Vol. 3, No. 44) This edition is for the week of October 28--November 3, 2002.

Deadguy's Dementia

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The following Deadguy's Dementia is what could be considered a sequel, and grand finalé to, arguably the most popular Dementia of all time: #116, where Mike described his surprise marriage proposal to his fiancé, Kristin Wilgus. I admit the following Dementia is a lengthy one, but I found it to be an extremely moving tale, and I think you'll enjoy the outcome of this story as much as I did. Along the way, we'll also learn the fate of the Howl-O-Scream gig at Busch Gardens--ha ha!--Nolan

Best Laid Plans....

Hi everyone, sorry I haven't written lately, there's been a lot going on. As most readers know, I proposed to my fiancÚ at Howl at the Moon, (PCR, issue 116, D.Dementia), in early June of this year. She said yes, and as some of you know, I started selling skeletons on Ebay, and took a job at Howl-O-Scream to save up enough money to go get married in Las Vegas.

First of all, the plan was to save money from the aforementioned projects, and use it to go to Vegas in November. We'd stay for about 2 weeks, the first few days would be spent with Kris's mom and son, and then we'd get married by an Elvis impersonator(!) (not MY idea, but if it's within my power: what the lady wants, she gets). Afterwards, my new mother-in-law (a great lady!) would take my new step-son home, and we'd spend the rest of our trip as honeymooners. Then, sometime after our return, I'd officially adopt my step-son and within the following year or so, we'd plan to have another child, and relocate to a larger home a few years after that, etc, etc.. Essentially, I suppose it's another version of the Great American Dream.

It didn't seem unrealistic at the time, but a series of events have changed my plans a bit, even forcing my hand in some cases. I feel perhaps that some of it could have been avoided, but unfortunately the State budget, various company policies, Healthcare Insurance, human frailty, and mortality, have all conspired against us. It hasn't stood in the way of us actually being married, just standing in the way of us doing it like we wanted to.

First, the wedding was postponed, due to the fact that Kristin's grandmother wasn't doing well, and no longer expected to live-out the year. It's not that her grandmother was going to go to the wedding, or anything. It's doubtful she even knew who Kristin was by that point in her life, but we knew that if she died, Kristin's mother was going to go to her funeral. Do to the nature of not knowing when her grandmother was going to go, we didn't want to make Vegas plans that would be cancelled immediately and possibly non-refundable, so we decided we needed to wait until February.

I started-up the skeleton business I'd been planning-out for the last 6 months, and found it to be at least modestly successful. When Kristin's grandmother ended-up dying shortly afterwards, we began to wonder if we could go ahead with a November wedding again. All signs looked good, but we thought it'd be prudent to see where we'd be standing in a few weeks.

A few weeks passed, and I found Howl-o-Scream (Busch Gardens) to be a lot of fun, but very exhausting work. It wasn't too bad, but with a company that size, even your own boss doesn't recognize you, let alone remember your name. It really felt dehumanizing to work there. Perhaps I took it too personally, or something, but it's really amazing when a company of that size candidly tells it's 900+ new hires that although they will not be paid for it, they need to be on the premises a half-hour before their shift, just in-case security decides to run random car searches, because if you're late by a single minute, you will lose your seasonal bonus, NO excuse is valid, including random detainment by security.

A single minute...I thought that was merely an exaggeration, until I watched folks lose their $150 dollar bonus for actually BEING a single minute late. That's apparently because Busch Gardens feels that by charging their guests money, the guests deserve to have a complete show available to them the moment they walk through the front gates. They're absolutely right, or course, but isn't that why Busch gardens should have people start a half-hour earlier? to allow them leeway in this world of situations beyond reasonable control? Guests are not my concern until I am on the clock. Perhaps, they could have allowed employees to "punch-in" at the guard station if a search was in progress. In any event, being late by even a minute, under any circumstance including your own death, or car accident beyond your control, you forfeit your bonus, because you obviously aren't conscientious enough.

True, Busch Gardens didn't need to offer a bonus, so it gives them some leeway, but at the paltry pay rate I was getting, it's unlikely that many folks would even bother working there. It's a money-saving gimmick of course. Rather than pay us a decent wage, they make us "double-earn" the top half of our paycheck. If fact, if you do the legalese, if they felt that too many folks were going to make the bonus this year, they could sabotage people by simply getting security to do a massive car search one night. Is that fair? Not only must an employee battle fate, they must also battle the very entity that they work for, to ensure their just reward.

Unfortunately, during my battle with fate, I lost. My uncle, Jan de Hartog, died in hospital, and although I knew I couldn't afford to miss time from my day job to go to his actual funeral, I wanted to at least go to his memorial service. I was very close to my uncle, and really didn't want to miss it. It was on a Sunday, meaning I could do it without missing too much work. Plane tickets were $455 round-trip to Houston from Tampa, so I looked into taking a Greyhound bus, but since I'd be leaving Saturday Evening in-order to get there in-time for the service, I'd be missing a day from Howl-O-scream, and a half day from my regular day job. Calculating everything, including loss of bonus, loss of paycheck, ticket costs, etc. it was going to cost me $350 in lost revenue/actual costs even by bus, with no overnight requirements.

$350 to drive all night without sleep, stumble out of a bus, fall asleep during the memorial service, then stumble back onto the bus to drive through the next night, and then attempt to stumble into work, was not something I felt would be appropriate to the occasion.

I was inches away from canceling when my father called to say that he'd share the driving with me if I wanted to go by car. We discussed it for awhile, and I called Busch gardens to verify what would happen if I didn't work Friday night (til 2 am the next day) and Saturday night. They said I'd lose my bonus, and risk losing my job during a disciplinary evaluation of the situation because I needed to be at work those nights.

So, I quit Busch Gardens, sheerly on the principle of the whole thing, and left for Houston on Saturday. I returned on Tuesday to find that although I'd cleared the time-off with my day job, I hadn't requested paid time off. So it cost me, including gas, hotels, missed revenue, etc. $600, which I was forced to recoup through skeleton sales. I was able to recoup my losses, but it meant that I was REALLY losing money that was supposed to be earned for the wedding. Of course the wages I was going to get from Howl-o-scream, for the season, and the bonus, would have been approximately $800 total

Then, unexpectedly, during a move to downsize, Kristin was laid off from her job. That means that our primary breadwinner would no longer winning bread. Kristin hopes that the 5 weeks pay she'll be receiving, and with both of us selling things on EBay, she'll be able to go back to school to take up a job in the forensics profession. Although I'm making fairly good wages, and we can survive on that in the interim, it won't be easy, and so the Vegas trip inevitably moves farther away.

COBRA (continuation of healthcare benefits when you leave your job) would cost us $500 - $600 a month to keep Kristin and Jordan insured. Jordan needs to stay insured, in-order to secure his current placement in a speech therapy class that's "treating" him for communication skill issues. If his Insurance lapses, he loses his spot. I firmly believe that his quality of life would suffer for it. It's not just a speech thing, it's a processing thing, and this was the time in his life to try and fix it, because without it, he really can't learn much more.

Therefore, we need to continue medical coverage until Kris can get another job and be covered again. Unfortunately it means that even if she started a new job tomorrow, we'd need to keep it up for 3 months before she'd be eligible for a new health plan. My wages aren't THAT good.

Kristin has tried to get government-paid medical insurance for him in the past, but apparently she made too much money the previous year to be eligible for it, despite being between jobs at the time she filed for it. That of course, seems assinine, considering that she was unable to pay for the following year's medical insurance at that time, so why should that even factor into the equation. At that time, I wasn't even in the picture, so as far as the government was aware, a single parent was jobless, with a child, and wanted to ensure that if anything should happen to the child, she should be able to afford basic medical treatment. Not only that, but the child cannot be in the school system WITHOUT insurance.

There's an odd one for you.. no school admission without insurance, yet schooling is mandatory, so I presume home-schooling is the only option available to a single parent. Then a parent must somehow bring-in money to live on while staying at home with her child, all because she had a decent job the previous year?

So, three nights ago, I lay there in bed and thought through our options.

I thought perhaps I could get Kristin onto my insurance as a "life-partner" which is the official term for homosexuals that are unable to marry each other. Some life-partners are able to give each other medical coverage. If I could call her my life-partner, despite being of the opposite sex, I thought I could get her and Jordan onto my plan. If that didn't work, we'd have to get married to get them on my plan.

I thought about it, and thought about it, and realized that, short of winning the lottery, those were our only available options in-order to keep Jordan where he really needs to be.

I nudged Kristin on the bed, and said, "well.. I'm going to have to talk to my boss about it and say, 'I either need to get Kristin on my medical plan, effective next month, or I'll need to leave work early sometime next week to go get married at the courthouse."

Well...the life-partner thing didn't work, so...yesterday we filed for a marriage certificate, and Tuesday (the day after my birthday, and two days before halloween), we're getting married.

Oddly, as we sat there at the courthouse, we were required to read a small booklet with "produced at a cost of $.13 per booklet" clearly stated on the back. It also said that the state of Florida CARES SOO Much about marriage and children, and suchlike, and that this is why this booklet is freely provided to us for our information, to explain the laws governing marriage and children, and divorce. They cared SOO much, that the front cover of the booklet stated that we were required to return the booklet to the front desk immediately, and that it was not to leave the building.

I had a warm feeling deep inside from all that caring that the State had for us. We pay taxes and suchlike, but apparently since we are ABLE to pay taxes, we were unable to secure insurance funding that would allow us to get married at our pace, in the manner of our choosing. Understand, of course, that this funding may not have cost the state a single penny during the 3, or so, months it would be needed, but since we had actually contributed to the funds the previous year, we were ineligible for them, JUST in case something happens that DOES require us to draw upon them. I suppose they figured that we should just go ahead and suffer.

The "wedding" such as it is, will consist of the receptionist at my office (a notary public) speaking the magical phrase in-front of a crowd of 4 other office workers I've known for about 8 months, and Kristin hasn't met at all. It also looks as though Kristin's mother will attend, but it's not known yet if my parents will be able to be there. This will happen shortly after my work shift ends, and following that, we go get Jordan and head to our Reception: A meal with the parents, and then head back to the house that evening (with Jordan in tow) for our Honeymoon.

The next day will be business as usual for all concerned, and life goes on.

We can't even postpone this until Friday, because that would be Novemberthe 1st, which means that Jordan's insurance would lapse. So we have to take what we can get, and run with it.

Vegas isn't out of the question, and we're still hoping to get there for a vow renewal that we'll call our actual wedding, but the date effortlessly glides further back as Kristin enters school, and I also lose $100 a week in medical insurance coverage.

Somehow, through this we're still happy. I try not to dwell on the negative aspects, but really it IS sort of sad when you consider how, as a child, and right up to a week ago, we've both had what seemed to be realistic impressions of how wonderful our wedding would be, etc.. Now we won't have all that, but at the heart of the matter sit's the foundation on which all of this is set: I love Kristin and her son, and she loves me. We make a complimentary team with even what threatens to become a knock-down-drag-out fight for us. There's nothing we haven't been able to resolve through a simple hug and a bit of revealed insight for each of us.

Getting married is just that; getting married. It doesn't matter HOW you decide to show that you're beginning a lifelong trip with someone, what matters is the trip itself, and the fact that you are indeed, planning to do just that. That's all we need, and that's a good thing, because it's all we're getting (for now), since we were able to pay our taxes last year.

It's funny how all of this has really kinda' revitalized our relationship. We call each other all the time now, just to hear the other one talk, and try out the "Mrs. Kristin Scott" name she'll be using soon. We get all silly, and giggly when we talk about the fact that we'll be married in a few short days, like a couple of schoolkids. I suppose that's what the phrase: "like a newlywed" is all about.

Readers: I received the following update just a few days after the previous story reached me.---Nolan

OK, here's the update.

After I wrote the Dementia, my receptionist managed to find a healthcare plan that would cover both Kristin and Jordan for a FOURTH of the cost it would be if they had joined my plan.

I met that information with mixed feelings. I'd sort of found the silver lining to my cloud by then, and certainly looked forward to getting married to Kristin in a few days, regardless of the situation.

Now, here was a way out of the situation, but was it what I wanted?

I thought about, kinda' torn: on the one hand, it would mean that we could still get married in Vegas as we orignally planned. On the other hand, it meant pushing away something that I'd really been looking forward to for awhile now. It was so close now, I could taste it.

I'd already realized that I didn't want the marriage for the wedding's sake, and then I recognized that my concern was primarily towards making this something that Kris will always remember fondly, rather than some kind of utilitarian event. My problem was never with the concept of marrying her earlier than expected, it had been about the fact that I wanted to marry her on her terms, rather than the terms laid out for us by expediency and convenience.

Then I sort of stopped, and realized that this wasn't really my decision, well, not mine alone at least. I didn't want to do it over the phone with Kris, because I was worried about how it would sound to her. You know, kinda' like: "Whew! guess what, we don't have to get married now!" How awful would that be to hear? No matter how I approached it, I'd have to pass that buoy, so I figured my overall intentions would be much clearer in person.

As expected, when I told her what I'd discovered, she met it with a face that worried me. I explained immediately that this wasn't a move to dodge a perceived bullet or anything, it was merely that if she wanted to have the Vegas wedding in it's original form, we still could.

We talked a bit further, and I explained that I wanted her to marry me on her terms, and whatever she wanted to do would be the way we'd handle this new bit of news. I also went on to say that perhaps we should get the insurance through the offer that my receptionist had uncovered, but still get married in two days, OR get married in a couple of weeks from now, to arrange things better.

Kris looked at me with eyes that will forever be etched in my memory, and said, " Honey, I love you, and I want to get married now, rather than later." We embraced, and then I said.. "You know.. the image of you by that window, saying you want to get married now, is gonna' last forever, the way the sunlight's playing through the blinds, and everything.. I sure am glad you cut your hair the other day, that new style really suits you. At least the image I'm keeping is a good one."

That broke the spell, and we laughed a bit, neither of us mentioning the water in our eyes as we hugged each other.

Now, the question is.. is my workplace really an appropriate venue? it seems a bit irreverent around there. Or should we arrange a quick beach wedding, OR should we keep it a legality in the courtroom, to preserve the importance of the Vegas trip. My receptionist gave me her home number, and said she'd be happy to officiate wherever, and however we wanted to do it.

I feel much better about facing it now that it's on our own terms again, and was very pleased to hear Kristin declare that we'd go ahead with the marriage, despite the change of events. When she told me she wanted to go ahead, I hadn't realized I'd been holding my breath until I let it out, and the big smile I gave her was about as heartfelt as they come.

Strange how you learn things about yourself. It's odd when you suddenly realize that you've been taking your own feelings for granted. This was what I wanted all along, I just hadn't completely realized it yet. I was so concerned about her that I had lost track of my own emotional investment in this. I REALLY wanted this to happen, but I was pushing away my gut instincts.

So once again...Las Vegas, here we come. I can see that this trip is gonna' be as worthwhile, as it is incredible.

I'll keep you posted, with pictures whenever possible. If I can pull it off, I'll try and re-stage a picture of her by that window. It's too bad I'm no artist, because I can only imagine how wonderful a painting that would be.

I'm going to get dressed-up for the small wedding, just wait til you see me in my father's black custom-tailored pin-striped suit... Kris hasn't seen it yet, but I look like I own a bank, or two. It turns out that I'm the same size at 30 (31 on Monday) that my dad was at 36, except my underarms are slightly broader. Odd thing is.. I don't remember him actually wearing the suit, but I think I remember the specific trip to England when he bought it. Strange to think that in a weird sort of time travelling sense, I've caught up to the towering father I met as a child.

Makes me wonder what kind of impression I'm making on Jordan, my soon-to-be-step-son/later-to-be-adopted-son. Will he too, one day, wear my suit with pride while gazing at the beautiful one he wants to spend the rest of his life with? Or will he be too damn big for it? (The kid's gonna' be a monster!)

But I guess that's a Dementia for another time, lemme' go get married first!


   Michael Scott and Kristin Wilgus were married Tuesday, October 29, 2002. We here at Nolan's Pop Culture Review wish Mike and Kristin all the very best and hope they accomplish all their objectives without any more delay and suffering. (If it's any help, I think I know where I can get an Elvis impersonator cheap!) They deserve so much better than what fate has given them up to now.
   Michael---soon as you're done with your honeymoon, and this current soft, romantic, and introspective phase of your life subsides a little, I'll be expecting some really sick, twisted-ass Dementias to start coming in here again, written by the same sick, twisted-ass psycho I've known and loved all these years! However, in case that takes longer than anticipated, know this:
   The creaking, noisy door to the asylum will always remain open for you, my boy.---Nolan

"Deadguy's Dementia" is ©2002 by Mike "Deadguy" Scott.  Webpage design by Nolan B. Canova.  The "Deadguy's Dementia" header graphic and background tile are creations of Mike Scott.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2002 by Nolan B. Canova.