Wednesday, November 5, 2008

One Way Streets

I think I’ll write a book.

101 Mistakes People Make in Marriage

It sounds kind of silly coming from someone who thinks so little of the whole institution - and has never even tried it, but hear me out. I ask questions, I take notes. I delve into the married lives of my friends, family and strangers who find it irresistible to tell me everything about their private lives over a glass of wine.

It happens.

I think about this topic often, and mull it over like some cow’s cud of a subject - swallow it, regurgitate it, and consider it again. But for blog’s sake – I’ll just summarize one of the scenarios some couples use as a reason to take the plunge..........

Society’s Norms
Let’s say relationships are a road – a journey of some sorts. You begin the way you should, with dinner and movies and a cute little peck on the cheek in your doorway. Things are new and fresh, and get to know each others’ friends and relatives. Time passes; you move in together, you get a dog. And one day you look up and realize this road is a dead-end alley with only one option ahead. Marriage. Since you also picked up a house and a set of matching snowmobiles, and the journey has been a long one, you take the plunge – because it’s what everyone else does. It’s what your parents did. It’s what the Cleavers did. You have kids, refinance the house so you can buy a big-screen plasma, and you become each others’ beneficiaries for your 401ks. Turning back and starting the journey over isn’t an option because it’s impossible to break up a good pair of snowmobiles.

So even though you were happy when you turned the corner and started down the road, you can’t really remember what that feels like because your adjustable mortgage rate just went up and the pinch has made you a bit forgetful. You’re not even sure you know as much about this person anymore, because they’ve changed. They become domesticated, and can’t seem to laugh like they used to. But heck, you’ve got kids with braces.

You did everything you were supposed to do. Everything everyone else on the block did, only half of those people have filed for divorce. You jumped off a bridge because Dad did, and Billy did, and so did Pete.

What’s worse is that you were probably young when you got married. She was hot and energetic, and he was full of optimism and had great abs. 10 years pass, and you can still see why you did this. It hasn’t been so long that you’ve forgotten what you wanted back then, but his naked ninja trick isn’t quite so funny, and her self-consciousness is at an all-time high since she noticed a gray hair growing from her areola. The most you can hope for is that the kids are in bed early so you can watch the game uninterrupted while she reads the latest Oprah’s book club novel in bed, rubbing Oil of Olay on her breasts.

Another 5 years, and the house is almost paid off. The kids are heading for college, and the dog is buried in the back yard with a cross made of ceiling trim, “Buddy” written in large letters with a Sharpie. She spends most of her time with her book club, and he works late with the excuse that he needs to put a little more into the 401k to make up what he lost. You remember each other’s names, but the rest is all routine. Like some mechanical iRobot man and wife, less the extra chick in black leather cat suit or Will Smith’s sense of humor. It’s bland, but you can’t complain. You never argue and your old neighbor Billy’s wife took half his paycheck when she left.

And above all – you’ve got his and her helmets for the snowmobiles.


Char said...

so true

Wow, that was awkward said...

There are only 101?

Periodically Consistent said...

@Char - Maybe its easier to see from the outside looking in?

@B - There were 102, but I slashed "Because he/she is good in bed" due to the fact that this one often works.