The newlywed scam

6 Jan

A neighbor who’s been checking the mail texted a photo of what’s arrived recently, ranging from a New Yorker issue to a statement for my old corporate Amex card. What caught my eye was an envelope with the message “Urgent Information for Marriage Certificate Holder” addressed both to me and the boss lady.

That didn’t sound good.

Although our vows included a promise to divorce in a timely manner along with the phrase “no annulments; that would be cheating,” my wife, Theresa “Reese” Darby made them on the stage of a gay strip bar before either of us knew what would happen over the next few days.

That is, that the cathartic experience of being surrounded by people who either symbolized or in some cases were literally part of virtually every chapter of my life would prompt me, not just to come out about my past escorting career, but to resume it as part of a road trip retracing the wild, crystal meth-fueled road trip that led to its undoing. (If you’re just joining us and are befuddled, start here, then here.)

So after making that decision, I told Reese she should hold off on sending in the license to give herself time to think about whether she really wanted to be legally entangled with me, however briefly. (If she didn’t send it in, the marriage would be annulled by default.) Yes, that would feel somewhat like compromising the integrity of The Art Gay Marries a Woman, but on the other hand the ceremony itself — even given the fact that are marriage is a travesty — had already had powerful transformative effects that I could never have anticipated. The decision, I felt, should be hers.

I just didn’t want to know. This journey has included as many lonely, fearful moments as transcendent ones, along with plenty of reminders that I may well have driven myself off a cliff.

It may well play out that I’m nothing without my my former platform as far as the art world is concerned, and in the world of escorts my appeal now, as then, is as niche-y as it gets. My departure from the Houston Chronicle has generated just enough attention — most of it uncomprehending and riddled with inaccuracies — that a Google search will render me unemployable by nearly everyone, but not enough to make the few exceptions take interest. On this journey, many of my stops — particularly in cities with little-to-no market for my services — have been at the kinds of hotels that offer weekly and monthly rates: that is, the kinds of places where I encounter people who have either lost everything or are barely keeping it together. I don’t hold myself aloof from these folks or discount the likelihood that I will soon join their ranks. So the thought of learning I’m an annulled man, not a married man, on top of all that didn’t hold much appeal.

When I saw the photo my neighbor texted, however, I couldn’t stop myself from finding out. I went to the website of the county clerk that issued the license, did a simple search, and … voila, I am, in fact, a married man. It took her a few weeks, but my wife sent the license in and is still my wife. Just not for long. It’s strange to feel so relieved to still be part of a farce of a marriage, but when your farce is as meaningful as ours, annulment just isn’t nearly as satisfying as divorce.

As for the “urgent letter,” zooming in on a detail revealed it came from the Family Protection Center in Burlington, N.C. — one of a few aliases, apparently, that also include Mortgage Protection Center and Superior Performers Inc. From the Times-Georgian:

A handful of people have turned in the letters they received from a party calling itself the Family Protection Center with a post office box in Burlington, N.C., and (Carroll County Probate Judge Betty) Cason said at least two of them have listed the wife’s name as “Sophia.” “Carroll County Courthouse” is listed as a notary on one letter obtained by the Times-Georgian.

According to records in Burlington’s Tax Office, Family Protection Center does not have a business license in the city.

Family Protection Center is not listed as a registered insurer on the North Carolina Department of Insurance Web site; however, the letter states “All coverage information provided by Independent Life & Disability agents representing multiple A and A+ carriers offering specialized Marriage and Life Event Products.”

“Our first insurance scam,” my wife swooned via text after agreeing to wait to begin divorce proceedings until I return to Houston, which I appreciated. I was there for the wedding; I’d like to be there for the divorce, too.

3 Responses to “The newlywed scam”

  1. Hoax January 6, 2012 at 7:39 pm #

    I must say…I love your wife. Good choice. 🙂

    • reliablenarratives January 7, 2012 at 12:47 am #

      I know, right? I was very clever about it, too, getting myself rejected by four women so as to woo her into proposing to me via Twitter.

  2. hjbott January 7, 2012 at 5:25 am #

    Hey, Devon, divorces are painful affairs in themselves regardless what the prior input may have been, farcical and/or in-depth intents.
    BTW: the Chronicle letter/email campaign is underway and gaining momentum. Get your boots ready to tromp through the Houston exhibition maize with pen-in-hand..

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