At noon on a chilly Monday, the line was shorter than she had expected. Though the nylon dividers were set up for a much larger crowd, the only people who stood between Carol and the metal detector were making up a large, boisterous wedding party. Several of the women in the group wore glittering pink dresses and high sandals. The door to the street was propped open, and the women clutched woolen scarfs around their shoulders. One by one, they had to revealed the thin straps and open backs of their gowns as they passed through security.
“Brr. They look beautiful, but cold!” Carol was wearing jeans and a bulky green sweater beneath her jacket.
Carlos was squinting at the pricing board. “It’s only $35. Wait, who’s going to pay?”
“We can use a credit card, don’t worry.” Carol avoided the question. She thought he should pay. It would add a little romance to this otherwise dry business.
The officer cheerfully ignored the loud beep that went off as she passed through the metal detector. On the other side, a handsome man sitting behind a desk smiled widely.
“Oh no, we’re just getting a Domestic Partnership.”
Carlos came up beside her as the handsome man handed her a number. A11.
“Your ID, please.”
“Do you need mine, too?” Carol asked.
“Well, it takes two to make a thing go right,” he grinned again. Was everyone always so happy at City Hall?
Carlos and Carol walked into the yellow light of the hall. Around them, smiling couples prepared for their entry into legal coupledom. And though a Domestic Partnership could be dissolved easily for a small fee, many of these couples were preparing to brave the far more legally precarious slopes of marriage.
Now serving A11 at counter 10.
Carol followed Carlos to their summons, she paused at the entrance of the dingy chapel. Glittering bridesmaids were lining up for a procession in the cramped space, attempting, with their ceremony and beauty, to conjure a dream wedding atmosphere. A dream wedding at City Hall. Carlos pulled Carol’s hand and she wished them luck, following in her own small procession to the bureaucratic desk of the City Hall clerk.