Every Sunday, I read through the wedding announcements in the newspaper and try to figure out each couple's chances of making it.

I find it intriguing, when you get right down to it, that most people marry somebody they knew growing up, met in school or at work.

What are the odds, I wonder, that your soulmate grew up next door to you, sat next to you in biology class or works in the next cubicle?

It is, indeed, a remarkable coincidence. But that's often the case if it's the first marriage for both.

Understandably, some people find out too late that their real soulmate happens to live in Argentina. Who knew?

Handicapping

Perhaps it's jaded, but those who have been down the aisle a few times learn to handicap their chances by reading between the lines.

If the couple attended private schools and graduated from expensive colleges, their chances of happiness may be enhanced by a factor of money.

If the bride works at a local tattoo parlor and the groom attended but did not graduate from high school, their future happiness could be limited by a factor of money.

Occasionally, that mathematical theorem works exactly the opposite.

But sometimes you can predict the outcome by the number of attendants in the wedding party.

If the bride is accompanied by two high school friends dressed in mauve, and the groom has one army buddy outfitted in a bright blue prom tux, they're probably going to make it no matter what.

But if the groom's entire fraternity is decked out in black ties and tails and the bride is surrounded by Barbie dolls from her debutante ball, their chances of wedded bliss are reduced by how many are cousins, multiplied by how many don't know they are cousins.

Bass boat

Maybe it would be more entertaining if we published divorce notices:

Mr. and Mrs. Joe Blow are pleased to announce that after 20 years of marriage they can no longer stand each other and parted company after a really nasty fight last Christmas Eve where emergency vehicles were involved.

Mrs. Blow was represented by the law firm Dewey, Cheatum and Howe. She will retain the family home, all accumulated assets, including his bass boat, and be absolved of all credit card debts she incurred during a shopping spree and girls' night out prior to the final court date.

Mr. Blow could not afford a lawyer and was late for the hearing because his mo-ped was repossessed.

The couple's two children have received counseling but still plan to make both parents suffer by playing them against each other for the rest of their lives.

After a beer bash with his buddies at the municipal golf course, Mr. Blow will reside beneath an Interstate 26 overpass.