Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Why do I read?

I was perusing on Monday and I found the article below. Something bugged me about it, but I couldn't figure out what until now:

Married at 24: Crazy in Love or Just Crazy? by Elissa Schappell, Marie Clare.

...It was November 1986. I was fighting my way down the congested stairway at Track 10 in New York's Penn Station, heading for a southbound Amtrak train, when the hand of fate flung my future husband and me together...

...It wasn't the discovery of my inner murderess that made my blood run cold. It was the idea that I wanted this man — not for the challenge or the novelty or the kicks. I wanted him to be mine. Forever. And I wasn't ready for that sort of love. It was too soon!...

Too soon? She was 24. How many kids did the Duggars have by then?

...Having never lived alone — I'd gone from a communal house in college to having roommates in New York City to living with Rob — I had never had any privacy. Even though I didn't feel dependent on my roommates, I wasn't exactly independent. In hindsight, it would have been good for me to realize I could live alone, with no one to let me in when I forgot my key, no one to pay the bills, no one to talk to me in the middle of the night when I couldn't sleep.

On the other hand, Rob and I hadn't had a chance to develop the deadening domestic routines that can come with years of living alone. We had no issues regarding how the bathroom should be cleaned, no boring rituals like insisting every Sunday be spaghetti night. And while we were both occasionally haunted by the specter of old lovers, there was no tangible wreckage to deal with. No insurance dramas, no divvying up of real estate or sharing of country houses. No issues of custody regarding pets or children.

Yes, it's better that you never grew into an independent person because now you don't the burden of . . . fighting over when to clean the bathroom? What?

Even if I got married tomorrow morning, I wouldn't have any drama regarding domestic routines, real estate, pets or children, because I have none of the above. Yet I have been living independently since my junior year of college. Someone has to clean the bathroom at some point in time. I don't see what that has to do with paying your own bills or forgetting your key. How did she get out of the house? I guess that's a function of her living in New York, because in LA, you can't get very far if you don't have your car keys.

And yet, even as I was grateful for my mostly happy marriage, there were times when I was jealous of my unmarried friends' romantic dramas. It's twisted, but when my friends talked about how, through some intricate web of sexual liaisons, they'd all gotten genital warts from the same guy, who supposedly got them from a girl who'd slept with a famously promiscuous rock star, I envied them [sic] the rock star's genital warts.

That's just nasty. She needs to get over herself.

But there's been a downside for me, too. While I knew that committing to Rob obviously meant a big change in my life — it would really cut into my dating — it never occurred to me how tying the knot might affect my career... I was a wife. Off-limits. Some days it seemed everywhere I looked — publishing, retail, the art world — doors were opening for single women simply because they still had sexual currency to spread around.

Boo-freaking-hoo. I'm so sure Rob is sorry that his lifelong commitment to Ms. Schappell "cut into [her] dating" and prevented her from spreading around her "sexual currency" in hopes of sleeping her way up the ladder of success.

As a feminist, I was embarrassed and horrified by the idea that a woman today (say, me) would use sex, or the promise of it, to get ahead, but it did seem you could move up the ladder of success a lot faster if you were potentially available. When, at a party, a very famous, very dashing older novelist put his hand around my waist and asked me if I wanted to go skinny-dipping later that evening, my first thought was, Wouldn't that be a story to tell the grandchildren? Forget that — wouldn't it be good for my career? My second thought: I'm married. "I can't," I said, regretfully holding up my left hand, feeling like I was flashing an invisible handcuff. "Oh, come on," he said in a conspiratorial whisper. Then, before I could answer, he shrugged and moved on. I felt a pang.

Her first thought was "a story to tell the grandchildren?" If she went skinny-dipping with some old dude, she wouldn't be having any grandchildren. At least not with Rob. And apparently, she couldn't have told grandpa no if she hadn't been married? I have repeatedly turned down old dudes, and I don't have a ring, I mean, "handcuff."

The more I read this, the more I want to call up Rob and tell him, "Take the baby, and get out now!"


Stephanie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Catherine Avril Morris said...

Take the baby, and get out now!


I have to say, though...she's right about the thing of living alone creating weird, controlling behaviors as to how things "should" be done in the household once you live with someone again. I dunno, Bianca, maybe you're just not as freaky-deaky as some of us, but that exact thing happened to me. My brother was my first roommate after a couple years of living alone, and I was actually glad, because he's totally, um, well, NOT a clean roomie, so it was like this crash course in How to Deal with the Fact that Someone Else Does Things Differently than Me, and Is a Lot Dirtier than Me.

(I'm also a freak about how the glasses go into the cupboards and the bowls too, but at least I know enough not to try to force my OCD craziness on anyone else. I just wait till Erik's gone and then I rearrange things how I like 'em. Heh. Don't tell anyone.)

And being jealous of her girlfriends' STDs, well, I get it. She's jealous that Things Happen to them. Nothing happens to her anymore; she's safe. There's no mystery. At least, that's how she's looking at it. It's a weird thing, commitment. I think about it a lot, the closer we get to our wedding (only 4 months and 5 days away! Eeek!). I read things about people feeling so joyful to marry the man of their dreams, and I wonder what's wrong with me, because this whole thing isn't exactly joyful. It's more scary and abstract and strange. And the closer I get to it, the more abstract it seems: The Rest Of Our Lives. What does that even mean?? Then I remind myself that it's about these core things I love about Erik, and those are the things that stay true and solid through all the weird feelings. I have to assume I'll get back to normal once we're married. Right?

Hmm, I think I'm gonna go get on Amazon now and look up books for pre-brides on these kinds of feelings...maybe it's not normal after all... :)

Bianca Reagan said...

So stephanie, you aren't a skeezy ho bag? I thought you went skinny-dipping with dashing older gentlemen, like in The Devil Wears Prada and The Second Assistant. Isn't that how single young women get ahead?

catherine, no, I'm not "freaky-deaky." Oh my. I do like the secret rearranging thing, though. I have specific ways of organizing my belongings because I can find them more easily. Adding another person into that equation, esp. someone who wants to be helpful but doesn't place things the way I do, could be challenging at first. But I'd get used to it.

I understand about the nothing happening, and the Rest of Our Lives concept. However, I'm a point in my life right now where I don't see a relationship as the defining factor for my happiness and excitement. Even if I do end up in a committed relationship, I don't see that as the completion of something. To me, marriage is a partnership where you share your lives. Emphasis on the lives. Just because two people decide to be together potentially forever doesn't mean that your fun ends. It means you get to share your fun with someone who loves you.

Catherine Avril Morris said...

Hmmmyeah, I like your description of marriage. I'm going to try to focus on that. :)

Bianca Reagan said...

Catherine, I'm glad you like my description.

I love that I'm giving people in committed relationships advice, when I still can't find a relationship of my own. I am so going to be Suze Orman or Sue Johanson or (shudder) Tyra Banks, just telling people what to think and having them follow me for no logical reason. Well, that latter description more applies to Tyra, because Suze actually has a financial background. I don't watch Talk Sex regularly, so I don't know about Sue.