It was a festive, caring time in the Leske family’s normally dysfunctional household. The invitations had been sent out, the minister had been paid, the formal wear and limo had been rented, and the bar at the Eagles’ Lodge was fully stocked with inexpensive, low-quality booze.

The faces of gathered relatives and well-wishers seemed aglow with a palpable sense of hope and excitement for the future. Saturday, Kyle W. Leske and his high-school sweetheart Tracy Esterzycek, both 18, of Pelmacher Memorial High School in Grove Prairie, were legally joined in sacred matrimony at Holy Christ Almighty Lutheran Church in neighboring Blano. Everywhere there was a feeling of joyous celebration, all of which was oddly inappropriate, considering that the occasion heralds the start of a miserable and desperately unhappy life for the young couple.

“I love Tracy more than anything in the whole, wide world—even my wheels,” says Leske, beaming from ear to ear with a slavering, slack-jawed dullard’s grin. Visibly undisturbed by any real grasp of the horror of his situation, he joked with his “groom’s party”—a group of fellow auto enthusiasts from his third-hour machine shop class—about his luck at finding such a “babe-licious” bride. Unaware that he and Esterzycek’s sex life will come to a complete stop within six months, Leske claims that Saturday was the happiest day of his life, even if 80-hour work weeks at minimum-wage service industry jobs will rob him of all enthusiasm for existence before he can legally enter a tavern.

The same sentiment is echoed by Esterzycek, a below-average student who hopes to one day work at a hair salon.

“Kyle, I love you, true blue, so I say I do,” she says, reciting a poem she wrote for an English class in which she received a C-minus. Speaking in an arithmetic, monosyllabic, uneducated drone, she maintains her pie-in-the-sky fantasies of future family bliss with Leske in total disregard of her own vast lack of competence or skills in essentially any area. Desperate to procreate, not only from misplaced attempts at achieving adulthood, but also in a pathetic bid to preempt potential loneliness, she seems unmindful that her lack of maturity will result in the rearing of freakish, simian children whom she will viciously abuse, both emotionally and physically, in a vain attempt to stave off the agony of her daily life.

Family and friends also seem unable to acknowledge the couple’s horrible fate, smiling and laughing in the face of these three basic truths: Esterzycek will achieve medically dangerous obesity within three years, Leske has never read a book for enjoyment in his entire life and people do not have to remain with the first person they have sex with for the rest of their lives.

At the wedding rehearsal, they cried and hugged, deluding themselves into imagining that the upcoming ritual is something besides a mistake.

As the wedding rehearsal drew to a close, well-wishers surrounded the couple offering smiles, encouragement and approval, despite the years of uneducated, unhappy, poverty-stricken alcoholism and domestic violence which await the hapless teenage simpletons.

In fact, many of them, especially the older relatives and more devout members of Holy Christ Almighty, even privately thank God that the two teens are choosing to “do the right thing” and thoroughly truncate their development as human beings, rather than “live in sin.”