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point me in the direction of albuquerque
or other options to consider
by robert a. melos

Most of my life I’ve wanted to runaway from my problems. I’ve wanted to just up and go, get away, leave my troubles behind me and head for the sunny side of the street. I know I’m not the only person to ever want to just get away from everything causing stress and strain in my life, yet I never did just up and go the way I’d so many times in my life fantasized of doing.

So you’ll excuse me if I have mixed emotions about Jennifer Wilbanks AKA The Runaway Bride. You see, I fully understand her actions, to a point, and even admire her courage to just turn her back on everything, to snub the world, her family, her town, 600 wedding guests, and her fiancé and jog away from it all to try to get her head together.

Okay, so that part of it didn’t work out too well for her, but I really don’t see what all the fuss is. I mean, so what if she was afraid to tell her fiancé that he just wasn’t cutting it in the life mate department and she wanted to rethink the whole ‘til death do us part’ thing? Maybe she didn’t want to hurt his feelings, and figured the easiest way of doing that was simply to disappear? After all, wouldn’t it be easier to just walk away from many situations in life rather than deal with the confrontation so many people seem to thrive on?

I know I dislike confrontations of most varieties, and the thought of hurting someone I love is so repulsive that just walking away, or jogging away, is a much more attractive option. Sure, disappearing out of their lives and the lives of everyone else who loves them might seem a bit harsh and hurtful as well, but it’s so much easier than tell everyone who cares for you that you really don’t give a flying fig about their feelings and while it’s nice to think everyone cares about everyone else, the reality of life is that the only person who matters to any of us in the real world is ourselves.

It’s hard for most of us to admit we are, deep down within our heart of hearts selfish individuals. I don’t have all that much problem with it, but apparently many of Jennifer Wilbanks’ friends, relatives, and fellow town folk seem to have a problem with her acting selfish. I’m guessing it was all the religious crap being slung about, the talk of praying for her soul, and the prayer vigils, and the declarations by town folk of asking God to bring her back to them safe and alive that has gotten so many people riled up.

I’m getting the impression, from CNN and Fox News interviews of the good citizens of Duluth Georgia, that many of the not so good natured country bumpkins, while praying for her safe return, are disappointed in either the fact she did safely return or that she wasn’t at the very least kidnapped and tortured by anyone of a foreign born persuasion, or some other evil origin such as a Yankee or a Democrat. Her fellow Duluthians seem to want an apology for having put them out to the tune of $60K in taxpayer funds used during the extensive searches for her, not to mention the countless emotional hours of speculating what terrible fate may have befallen their sister while they sat under the hairdryers at the local salons flipping through People or Us magazines.

So maybe selfishness isn’t limited to frightened brides with little thought for anyone other than themselves? Maybe selfishness is a human emotion, and all Jennifer Wilbanks was doing was acting on instinct? Maybe the woman, who so many now want to question her sanity, simply did something many, many other women wish they had done before they tied the knot with Billy Bob or Joe Bob, or Billy Ray or whatever?

The lynch mob attitude of the man on the street interviews I saw displayed on Fox News suggests a society of intolerance for anyone who doesn’t do exactly as everyone expects them to do. There seems to be a need for conformity in America that is more of a threat to our way of life than Al-Qaeda or George W. Bush combined. Americans seem to have a growing need to demand justice, in a mob rule fashion, especially in the south, whether it be for a woman breaking under a stressful situation or a wardrobe malfunction causing the breaking of support garments during a football game, and frankly this demand for mob justice has got to stop.

That’s right. We, the American people, have got to wake up and smell the potential nuclear winter on the horizon and reassess our priorities. Get our heads out of our collective butts and start dealing with the fact that a woman running away from a potential marriage disaster is not the news worthy story media organizations desperate for any sensationalism try to convince us it is. Maybe instead of treating Jennifer Wilbanks like she’s a selfish nutcase, we should question why she felt the need to lie after discovering she was the subject of an intense search in her home state?

That’s right. I want to know why she felt it necessary to fabricate a story of abduction, even if she did almost immediate recant it. What kind of fiancé would need to be told such a tale instead of the simple truth that she wasn’t sure he really was “the one” after all and it was time to send back the gifts from the 8 bridal showers and the ones that already had arrived prior to the nuptials. At last report they were only postponing the wedding, so perhaps they should keep the gifts until they make a definite decision concerning their future possibility of wedded bliss?

On the other hand, what kind of wimp is she considering marrying who will take the kind of humiliation she dished out by her actions, and still be willing to marry her? Is he really a spineless loser so desperate to get married he would accept someone who stomped on his heart and publicly emasculated him in front of the nation? Come on. Hillary Clinton may have been ultra forgiving, but does this mean every person humiliated by their spouse or potential spouse has to forgive their hurtful actions?

So I am of two minds on this whole Runaway Bride issues. Three, actually. On one hand I understand the desire to bolt from the gate and get the hell out of Dodge, or Duluth, rather than face a stressful situation, like marrying a spineless loser, but on the other hand I also think her selfishness, while refreshing in the current national climate, is an issue her apparently spineless future husband should address before settling down to have a family. After all, does he really want to be the guy who is dumped before, during and after the wedding?

The third option, and one I’m leaning toward at the moment, is to turn off the television and say the hell with non-news worthy news. There must be other things going on in the world aside from one messed up relationship in Georgia to report on? What’s Al-Qaeda up to lately? Has Paris Hilton made another tape? Do lovers really live longer?

Maybe the third option is a form of running away from it all, getting away from the media styled reality in which we live, but as I stated in the beginning, I’m somewhat of a runner at heart. I’d like to bolt from my problems and society in general and just go and do my own thing without having to answer to anyone for any reason, so if someone will be so kind as to point me in the direction of Albuquerque I’ll quietly be on my way.


Robert is the author of the novels Cool Mint Blue, Melba Ridge, and the recently released The Adventures of Homosexual Man and Lesbian Lad; and the creator of the on-line comix Impure Thoughts found at his web site Inside R.A. Melos, as well as having been an on-line staff writer for QBliss where he had a monthly humor column, Maybe A Yip, Maybe A Yap. In his non-writing time, when he's not studying the metaphysical or creating a tarot deck, he sells real estate in Middlesex County New Jersey, hangs out with his dog Zeus, and spends time at the Pride Center of New Jersey in Highland Park, NJ, where he is on the Board of Trustees.

more about robert a. melos


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tracey kelley
5.3.05 @ 3:20p

Oh, nicely done! I was wondering if anyone was going to do anything on this!

What a freak. You can tell by her eyes that not all the wires connect in her head. What she did was cruel and selfish.

That being said, it sounds like a lot of expectations are not only built up by the families, but the towns in which they live. Must be hard to live with that day after day.

You're right about turning off the tv, or at least, the "news" part of it. It's getting more trumped up by the minute. The way CNN "covered" this story was insane.

robert melos
5.4.05 @ 12:33a

Fox News, the fair and balanced one, has been the worst. As if they were pushing to create news by interjecting more opinion, either through voice tone or flat out demanding she be charged with something for her actions. The anchors were fanning the flames of mob mentality looking for mob justice.

tim lockwood
5.4.05 @ 2:44a

Fox News - the WWE of serious journalism. All that's missing is the metal folding chairs and the huge 'n' shiny championship belt.

As to Wilbanks, the tale is coming out now that - wait for it - this isn't the first time she's bolted when the prospect of marriage reared it's ugly head. Stay tuned, as this could get interesting.

dan gonzalez
5.5.05 @ 5:06p

If there was ever such a thing as objective journalism, it's long gone. The network news is squarely in the crapper now, cable is what we got.

I'll take Fox as an alternative to the moribund, pursed-lipped CNN version of news. Fox is conservative opinion-wise, but there is good objectivie anaylsis there. Lately, though, I've been watching a lot more CNBC, not being able to tolerate schizophrenia of CNN/FOX channel swapping. So far, CNBC seems to have far more and better analysis than CNN, but more centered opinions than either.

stacy smith
5.5.05 @ 9:26p

I say go with option 3. Shut off the TV of things not worthy of the attention they are given, and go for a quiet walk or something.

While it's not running away, it does help to clear out the needless cob webs that clutter ones mind.

dan gonzalez
5.6.05 @ 12:44a

Nah, you're right. How interactive is TV? It's bullshit by design. It makes more cobwebs than it clears, I think.

The problem with walks, though, is that you might wander into some person who's all different than you and stuff, somethin' or someone you could actually learn from. That could get uncomfortable, it's still safer in the living room.

robert melos
5.6.05 @ 1:50a

The media aside, I can see the advantage of running away. While I don't know all of the problems Jennifer Wilbanks faced, or the stress she was under having been through 8 bridal showers and all, I fully understand the need to get away from everything.

I do find it hard to fathom her not thinking the police wouldn't be looking for her, give the recent media blitz of Peterson and Hacker and their murdering their wives. Her actions are a cry for help, more than just getting out of marrying someone, but is the cry for help something we all should be answering? I think the act of running away or walking away from a situation is something we are going to see a lot more of over the next few years.

stacy smith
5.6.05 @ 9:47a

The problem with walks, though, is that you might wander into some person who's all different than you and stuff, somethin' or someone you could actually learn from. That could get uncomfortable, it's still safer in the living room.

Nobody said there had to be conversation. The idea is simply to get away from the boob tube.

Like with Joe's column, I don't understand this whole TV thing. Sure I have 2 in my house, but I don't live to watch it either. More often than not, I have the music stations on as I cannot stand listening to the commercials and other crap that is advertised as "important."

What I understand even less, is how people get wrapped up in these little mini drama's that the media labels as important.

In the Wilbanks case, she lied, so she should have to pay the price. If I were one of her relatives, I would have told her to stay where she ran to as what she would be better off as there wouldn't be anything pleasant with her return.

It's almost as if people use the TV to escape from their lives, but get involved somebody else's. In theory it's considered safe because the people watching are not directly involved, so it has no effect on them. Nice theory, but that's all it is.

The media has people by the balls and they know it. Because of this, anything and everything becomes game to start anything from a conversation to an out right ruckus somewhere.

I laughed my ass of at the few minutes of the news I watched last night. They were talking this nuclear collalition that was started and how they want to get all these countries together, blah,blah,blah and were convinced that it would work.

Iran, Iraq, China, N. Korea, Russia, ect...are not going to stop producing nuclear weapons because they signed a some treaty. The US isn't in any place to slap wrists as the US goverment doesn't honor it's treaties either.

There are people that are going to put a whole bunch of faith in this group that looked as though they'd jump onto any near by tabletop at the first sign of a mouse in search of cracker crumbs. Even worse, they are actually going to believe the bullshit they are trying to put off as fact. The fact is, these countries hate the US! China has had nukes pointed in our direction for years and threatened to blow us off the globe for just as long.

I think they should have warnings on TV for all audience ages. "Beware, unless this is a home improvement show, be prepared to be bombarded with large doses of B.S, sprinkled with drug and junkfood advertisements."

lisa r
5.7.05 @ 10:39p

I've gotten to where I usually read the news online, rather than watch or listen to all the talking heads. I was thinking today while Mom and Dad were watching CNN that the concept of 24 hour news channels is ludicrous. Some days, there just isn't enough news to take up 2.4 hours, much less ten times that amount.

We were much better off before CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and anyone else got started. Not only that, CNN has also managed to ruin Headline News, which used to be pretty good--they'd cover the important stuff in 30 minutes, and that's all you really need at a time.

Now I watch baseball, NASCAR, music channels, DIY type channels, and true reality tv--science programs. Okay, so I watch "What Not to Wear", too. A little frivolity is a necessity of life, sometimes.

tracey kelley
5.11.05 @ 2:42p

Lisa, I think of you every time I watch "Mythbusters."

lisa r
5.11.05 @ 10:37p

I LOVE that show! Now that's applied science.

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