It is the darnest thing. Not one person, of the total of 4,309, residents of Amity Township, [ located, just, twenty- two miles south, of the thriving metropolis, of Montague City], has any recollection, whatsoever, of the origins of the everlasting, long-term, antagonism, and enmity, between the Carpenter family, [Joe, Madge, Aunt Frieda and little Judy] and the Morgans, [Fred, Thelma and young Rob]. While, not comparable in intensity or violence, to the historical, widely publicized, “Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s,” such demonstrated, multi-generational, distaste has been virtually palpable, and publically apparent.
At the “General Food & Hardware Store,” the latest conjectural consensus, was that there must have been an old romantic rivalry, between a forerunner of one of the men, and a distant relative of one of the women, at the Romeo Barbershop, the prevailing uninformed opinion, as to cause, was, probably business competition, while another unsupported theory, kicking around at the Capulet Bar and Grill, lent possible attribution to possibly, some earlier act of commercial chicanery, by one against the other. These were all general conjecture; all that was actually known, was that the Carpenters and the Morgan’s, residing in virtually, identical, white, shingled houses, directly facing each other, on either side of Elizabethan Road, have spent, no less than, three generations of valuable time, with teeth, tightly, clenched, glowering, at each other. It is probable, that the contemporaneous families, as well, are completely ignorant of any empirical cause, but are nonetheless, able and willing, to recognize, and perpetuate the fixed assumption, that each is thetraditional enemy of the other. At the Amity Township Church, and other venues of public assembly, members of the two families, predictably, sit far from each other, in order to avoid unwanted social interaction.
The celebrated Carpenter-Morgan enmity, was, universally accepted, by the residents of Amity Township, as a normal part of the local color. But, singular casualties, of this irrational and eternal feud, were young, Judy Carpenter, and Robby Morgan, who, it seems, had been, immediately, and magically, attracted to each other, since their introduction in early kindergarten. Since that time, and throughout their teenage years, they had been virtually inseparable. As they grew older, being ever cognizant, of the classic feud between their respective families, by necessity, conspired to meet in secrecy, and to absolutely refrain from disclosing the existence of their relationship, to their parents. The need for secrecy, did pose certain inconveniences, but ironically,seemed to make the decade, of their childhood relationship, magical and profound. In time, they, inconveniently, fell into the state of mutual and profound love.
The two lovers were fortunately successful, in obtaining, admission to an identical, nearby, and academically respected, College, where they each excelled, in studies, while also finding time to, regularly, see each other. Eventually, mutual plans were excitedly, made for their marriage, upon graduation; but no strategy had yet been devised by the two lovers, for the necessary confrontation and management, of the anticipated reaction, of their belligerent parents, responsive to the news. After much lachrymose, soul-searching, discussion, the two resolved, plainly and simply, to advise their respective parents, of their deep love, and firm intention to marry, irrespective, of the parents’ existing long-term, negative relationship. Their plan was to, firmly, break the news to them, during the final college Spring break, preceding Graduation.
We omit any description of the dramatic details, of the initial, parental, responses, to the introduction of the unexpected, and personally, shocking news. We will, however, relate the fact that, after a course of hysterical debate and emotional outcry, the four parents acceded to the announced plans of their engaged children, motivated particularly, by the engaged couple’s stated alternative, elopement. The parents then, of necessity, set about, the task of devising the necessary plans, and practical logistics, for the wedding. In the course of those very many necessary interactive experiences, and the shared pursuit of a mutual goal, the old enmity, between the Carpenters and the Morgan’s, seemed to be overridden, and eroded, as a useless, irrational, and better forgotten, vestige of the past. The former enemies, continued to morph, from the disciplined, obligation to work together toward a common purpose, to actually, liking each other, and finding their shared, conversational interaction, desirable, and pleasant.
Following a memorably, beautiful wedding, the two erstwhile adversaries, the Carpenters and the Morgan’s, began to socialize; often, crossing the road to visit one another for coffee and conversation, as well as going, together, to after Church, Sunday Brunch. When the end of year, holidays arrived, the combined families, including, of course, the visiting, newly married couple, would sit, happily together, at large, festive celebratory dinners, with food, champagne and holiday toasts. Many of the stated toasts, were, interestingly enough, on the subject of the many rewards of human amity. It was, joyfully, announced, at the major holiday celebration, on the second year of their marriage, that Judy was pregnant. The joyful and congratulatory toasts offered, by family and Amityville friends, at this, particular year’s holiday occasion, were dedicated to the continued, blissful, as well as the new and happy, biological, joinder of the two families.
It was unexpectedly, revealed at some point, at the beginning of their fourth year of the marriage that, that Judy and Robby, were undergoing serious marital troubles. Whether it was caused, as some have conjectured, in part, by insomniac stress, caused by their colicky baby, Robby’s long term employment layoff, Judy’s eczema, or otherwise, no one was aware; not even, truthfully, the married couple, themselves. The atmosphere seemed to have, somehow, hopelessly changed, and they each, discovered the presence of the other, intolerable. Remonstrations by both sets of parents, sessions, joint and single, with therapists and marriage counselors, seemed to be non-availing. It eerily, seemed, as if, the harder the effort to reconcile the couple, the greater the negative animus. Negotiations are presently underway, between the respective attorneys and the estranged couple, regarding the financial details of the divorce, including custody of the baby. As declared by both attorneys, they have never previously witnessed, the extent of such mutual loathing, between a divorcing couple, overtly evidenced, by, tightly, clenched teeth and outright glowering. The official divorce proceedings are scheduled to take place in three months.
At one of their regular weekly, post-Church brunches, the two heart- broken and confused, pairs of parents, have attempted, in vain, to console each other. They find that the situation regarding their married children is, “simply impossible to understand.” Isn’t friendship and peace, they declare, clearly, better and more pleasurable than conflict and discord?
* With profuse apology to William Shakespeare.