The year is 1973 and the place is that little Italian place off the main drag. You know the one I’m talking about — where everyone is convinced the owner has mob ties, there’s a framed photo of Ol’ Blue Eyes hanging behind the bar, and in fifteen years it will mysteriously burn down and be replaced by a Blockbuster Video store.
On this night, the linguini with clam sauce is being served with an extra side of romantic angst. After receiving a proposal of marriage from her square-jawed beau Tod, the ginger-haired hottie Maura feels obligated ‘fess up about her hidden diabolic lifestyle. Y’see, Maura is a practicing witch, and worries that might not make her acceptable wife material.
Fortunately for Maura, this is the early Seventies and necromantic dabbling isn’t the dealbreaker it used to be in more uptight eras. Tod is totally groovy with his lady being pledged to the Horned One, and even agrees to tag along during her official swearing-in ceremony where she summons a foul denizen from beyond and makes her mark in the Devil’s ledger.
The newlyweds barely recovered from their skyclad honeymoon antics before Maura’s mother Hester swings by their arcane lovenest for a visit.
Hester is also accepting of Maura’s witchiness, though she wonders why her daughter won’t use her mystical powers to “put Tod in his place” and rule the domestic roost. “Witchcraft must be better than women’s lib,” she says, while the hapless Tod sports a worried frown.
While Maura is reluctant to use her powers in such a manner, she eventually gives in to Hester’s relentless hectoring. When Tod refuses to turn off the big game to spend time with the two women, Maura conjures up her own version of the dreaded “Blackout rule.”
Maura feels intense remorse after witnessing Tod’s reaction to this magical betrayal, but that doesn’t stop her from unleashing further whammies on her hubby at Hester’s request. His patience at its end, Tod finally forces the issue by asking Maura to make a choice — him or Hester.
With her mom sent packing, Maura has time to reflect upon her vulgar displays of hellborn power and regret the pettiness of her actions. A distraught Maura tells Tod that she regrets ever becoming a witch, as she seems incapable of controlling her powers.
Todd, being an understanding spouse, decides this is the correct time for him to reveal his little secret.
“Isn’t it great, honey? The one bit of empowerment and agency you felt actually came entirely from me! Not only do you get to live under the cultural confines of traditional gender roles, but also magical ones as well! And, by the way, I actually look like Martin Landau’s creepy cousin and each one of my eyebrows has its own ZIP code! Now make me a goat tongue sandwich with extra eye of newt, sweetcheeks.”
Forget witches and demons and mother-in-laws. When it comes to Bronze Age funnybook stories, gender politics are the real monster.
(from “When You Wed a Witch!” by Carl Wessler and Romy Gamboa in The Witching Hour #36, November 1973)
Recommended listening: Electric Light Orchestra – Strange Magic (from Face the Music, 1975)
More arcane mysteries from the Me Decade.