[Read "Run, Bride, Run!" by Cary Tennis.]
Cary Tennis is a completely amazing writer. I have re-read his article about 10 times today and every time I feel something different.
I could never find the words to explain my feelings about Jennifer Wilbanks and her plight. Of course what she did wasn't right -- and it was maybe a little racist (her fake claims about her attackers), and it was definitely stupid -- but really, why shouldn't we run away from things that frighten us? Maybe we shouldn't let it get to the level where we have to freak out the entire country, but hey -- we all deserve to run away sometimes.
Cary just puts pen to paper (or fingers to keys) and so simply gets to the heart of some of the most inchoate feelings.
Shame on you, Salon! I get most of my news from your site. So a few days ago, as I realized that the Runaway Bride story had become big news in the mainstream press, I was so pleased that I knew nearly nothing about it and that Salon hadn't given it the same ridiculous coverage that sites like CNN had (they published an article on her bridal registry, for God's sake!). When I first heard the story I thought to myself, "Oh that's too bad, she's disappeared" and then thought, "Oh, she's OK now, good." That's all I needed.
Why is this story a bid deal? The only thing I can think of is that the news organizations have grown tired of Iraq and would rather ignore the president's plummeting approval ratings until he can pull another al-Qaida operative out of a hole. You guys can do better.
It's really no one's business. This poor woman wanted to get away. It's not her fault that her crazy family (who probably pushed her into a 600-person wedding anyway) launched the most massive manhunt since Laci Peterson or Gary Condit's intern. Sure, she shouldn't have made false statements to the FBI, but the president shouldn't have lied about WMD either, and he still has his job. No one's suing him to recover the costs of his lie.
Please leave this story alone; it's just not news. At the very least, don't give it cover-story placement!
Why is no one looking at the man she was running away from? Perhaps it was the situation, but I thought I got a glimpse of the fanatic in his eyes and his words. Sure, she was wrong to fake a kidnapping, but does that mean she is wrong about the marriage?
I hope, if they do marry, she won't spend the rest of her life wishing she had stayed in Las Vegas.
-- Earl McDonald
Great work, Mr. Tennis. You nailed the essence of this story about an easily startled anorexic who looked like she'd just caught sight of a Peterbilt barreling down on her scrawny, well-dressed ass.
She panicked. Who wouldn't, when pondering the final details of what appears to have been a Duluth, Ga., coronation sponsored by her parents for her parents?
The poor girl has my heartfelt sympathies. Now somebody please get that tormented woman a sandwich!
-- Geoff Woollacot
I laughed with pleasure when I saw that Cary Tennis, one of my favorite Salon writers, whose dreamy and dynamic pieces I always enjoy, was going to write on the tragicomic affair of Jennifer Wilbanks. I was still laughing and smiling as I read the first few paragraphs of the article. I even read a few especially apt or hilarious sentences aloud to my fiancé.
But, my smile vanished as I read the following paragraph:
Go, frightened bride of the South! Run from that Bible-toting paramour with the square head, flee the harsh whisky-soaked legacy of slavery and politely simmering women, flee the pecan groves and peanut farms, flee all those Southern belles who never ring and all those good old boys who are neither all that good nor all that old! Flee! Go! Run away!
I think I speak for many liberal Southern Christians, and many who fall into only one or two of those three categories, when I sincerely say: What the fuck?
I know it's common among some liberals to execrate and demonize the American South just as viciously as their spiritual twins on the other side of the fence execrate and demonize countries full of brown-skinned people. I consider the two identically despicable and indefensible. I honestly never thought I'd have to encounter this kind of ignorant prejudice in Cary Tennis' writing, and I am as disappointed as I am angry.
I've been to Duluth, Ga., and I've seen the pictures of Jennifer Wilbanks' fiancé. It's none of my business, but I suspect that she did the right thing in leaving town, even if she did the wrong thing by not telling anyone. My advice to Jennifer is "Leave Duluth and don't look back."
-- John Mize
This is perhaps the single most silly, funny, astute, thought-provoking, trenchant, and sadly beautiful piece of writing I have ever encountered on Salon. Cary, you are a master.
Who cares about this third-rate soap opera story? Our environment is being disseminated, Bush is in power, and fundamentalism is on the rise. Should we use precious editorial space on spoiled rich kids who had second thoughts about her life's drama? Enough with the microscopic coverage! Millions of women on this planet go through horror, hunger and patriarchal abuse. Where are their personal stories?
Come on, Salon. CNN has been taking care of this distraction of a story. I know you are better than those other media outlets.
-- Rawi Hage
Give me a break, Cary! Or is your article satirical and over my head? You make it sound like Jennifer Wilbanks was just off on a lark, sowing some wild oats or some such nonsense.
What she did to her family, fiancé and friends was completely heartless. I cannot comprehend why you would think her fiancé should still marry her. How could he ever trust her again, after she has exhibited such cruel narcissism?
And if planning a wedding stresses her out so much, what will she do when something happens that's actually stressful? "Sorry you are sick and need your mommy, Junior, but your illness stressed her out so she's vanished again."
It is beyond my ability to understand how someone could be so selfish as to put her loved ones through what must have been the most hellish ordeal of their lives. And now you basically cheer her on? Ridiculous.
-- Lainie Bardack