The perils of marriage at first sight

February 24, 2000|By Kevin Cowherd

LIKE MANY of you, I had been consumed for the past week or so with one burning question: "How's that cute couple, Rick and Darva, getting along?"

Rick and Darva, of course, are Rick Rockwell and Darva Conger, who were hitched about 15 seconds after they met on the blockbuster Fox TV special "Who Wants to Marry a Multimillionaire."

Maybe you witnessed that touching scene where Rockwell, clad in a dapper black tux, dropped to one knee and popped the Big Question: "Dharma, will you marry me?"

"Uh, it's Darva, Rock."

"Rock? My name's Rick."

"Rick, Rock, what's the big deal? Let's not get hung up on names, OK? You say you're worth $2 mil? Of course I'll marry you."

Once you get the name thing down, most marriages tend to really take off.

And I envisioned, in the post-nuptial glow of their Caribbean honeymoon cruise, the happy couple sipping fruity drinks and engaging in the same banter all newlyweds do, playfully asking each other: "Um, who are you?" and "You're not some wack-job who's gonna throw me over the railing, are you?"

Unfortunately, though, it now appears Rick and Darva are headed for Splitsville.

According to both the lovebirds, finally talking to the media after a week of silence, they never actually consummated their marriage and hope to have it annulled.

The strongest comments came from the classy Darva, who as a young girl apparently grew up thinking: "Someday, I'd like to marry a jowly stranger with thinning hair in front of 23 million slack-jawed TV viewers still numbed from `The Drew Carey Show.' "

Now, though, she says she made a terrible error in judgment, was never attracted to Rockwell and told him right away how she felt.

Say, that must have been a golden moment in Rick's life! The judge pronounces you man and wife, a nationwide TV audience is looking on, and the bride suddenly turns to you and says: "You make me sick to my stomach, you know that?"

(On a personal note, though, I loved the wedding photos of the bride and groom flanked by their respective family members.

(You could tell that absolutely no one in the photos had any idea who anyone else there was. That could have been the caterer and one of the guys working the boom mike standing to the left of the groom, and no one would have known the difference.)

Of course, we probably should have seen this breakup coming, given reports that the two stayed in separate cabins on their honeymoon, never a great sign.

"There was a whirlwind for 24 hours, and then reality set in," was how a Fox executive vice president explained the sleeping arrangements to Time magazine. "They're taking a step back and taking it very slow."

Which was probably a good idea. I guess you want to start slow in any marriage -- maybe find out the other person's last name, where he lives, what he does for a living, that sort of thing -- before the two of you hit the sack.

Still, at least initially, the two lovebirds sure seemed in this for the long haul.

That was evident from Rick's insistence that Darva sign a pre-nuptial agreement shielding his assets in the event the two divorced, with this cheerful addendum tacked on: "Then she can drop dead for all I care."

OK, fine, I made up that last part. But Darva seemed equally committed.

On that famous Caribbean cruise, she was seen happily scribbling dozens of postcards that read: "Having a great time with what's-his-name! Wish you were here!"

Another thing that probably didn't help the marriage was a report that Rick might have roughed up an old girlfriend and even threatened to kill her.

Let's face it, it probably didn't make the honeymoon any cozier when Darva picked up the tabloids and saw headlines screaming: "Multimillionaire hubby used ex as pinata!"

Anyway, call me a crazy romantic, but I can't help thinking these crazy kids could still work things out.

I still envision the newlyweds one day setting up house in Rick's Southern California manse, the cavernous rooms echoing with their happy conversation:

"Rock, honey, how 'bout a new Mercedes for your darling wife?"

"Uh, it's Rick."

"Still with the names? Is this how it's always going to be with you?"

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