This year I missed Manyu’s and my anniversary. With it being so close to Valentine’s Day and with me not even knowing which day I’m supposed to celebrate, I don’t always give the day the recognition it deserves. Never before had I forgotten it completely. 

Our anniversary is either February 18 or 19. I am not sure which. Our Taiwanese marriage license says February 18, but that was the day we went down to the courthouse in Taipei to sign the papers. As I mentioned in a blog a few weeks back, Manyu and I married on the lucky day for marriage according to the lunar calendar. This meant half the people who got married in Taiwan that year got married the same day. Manyu and I jammed into a courtroom with several hundred other people. The judge called us up eight couples at a time, said a few words, and we were married. On that particular day, all of the restaurants in the city with a wedding hall had been reserved for a year, so our celebration took place the following day.

A traditional Chinese dinner for bride, groom, and guests is an elaborate ten-course meal. After every third course, the bride leaves and comes back in a different dress. During the times Manyu left the room for her wardrobe changes, I got up and mingled with guests at the various tables. This was not what the groom was supposed to do. One, I made some of Manyu’s friends and family nervous, because they feared I’d try to have a conversation with them in English. Two, my real job was to sit quietly at the head table and lead the applause when Manyu walked into the room wearing new clothes. 

I also messed up the marriage license. City authorities needed proof I was not married. I immediately called my mom in the United States and asked her to dig through the papers I’d left with her and express mail my divorce documents. When I brought the papers to city hall, they stated (correctly) that a divorce decree did not prove I wasn’t married. It proved I wasn’t married to the only woman I’d actually been married to. I went to AIT (American Institute in Taiwan) to ask for help. Since the US does not recognize Taiwan as a country, we have no embassy there. If we did have an embassy, it would look and act exactly like AIT does. The guy at the Americans-with-problems window asked me to raise my right hand. When I did, he asked, “Are you married?” I said, “No,” and he handed a form that said I was single. “That’s it?” I asked.  “Yeah,” he said. “How you gonna prove you aren’t married.” 

I forgot about our anniversary this year because I am recovering from recent prostate surgery. It’s not a great excuse, but one Manyu accepted. Next year will be thirty years. I’ll do something special then. 

Steven Simpson