Reality Truck: The Death in 'Til Death Do Us Part'
"A relationship is like a shark...It has to constantly move forward or it dies. And I think what we've got on our hands is a dead shark." Woody Allen, Annie HallWeddings have a way of bringing people together. Unfortunately, it's usually people you hoped you'd never have to see again as long as you lived. Weddings are filled with festive activities like the "ex-boyfriend gauntlet" and the "shrimp stampede." (I swear you could put a bunch of millionaires in a room with a buffet and every one of them would sprint that fifty-yard-dash to the shrimp tray like they'd never seen one before and would never see one again.)But if there's one thing nobody likes at at a wedding, it's a cynic. Well...probably nobody likes a clown either, 'cause they're scary...Anyway. The bride and groom are smiling those dewy-eyed smiles at each other through tears of joy, and the cynics are amusing themselves by mentally calculating the odds of the happy couple sticking it out till their parents pay off the second mortgage it took to finance this fiasco.Oh yeah, a cynic might say, you start your lives together full of hope and optimism, thinking at last you've met the person who's going to be there for you, brimming with love and support when the world is full of misery and woe -- who's going to make life a little better, a little smoother. Yeah. Enjoy it while you can. Loser.Because when the honeymoon ends (and it will), you realize that far from providing refuge, this person is actually going to be the source of most of that misery and woe you're so worried about; that nobody but your mother has the slightest interest in making your life easier; and that you, you moronic little wretch, have recklessly pledged (in front of God and everybody) to permanently lash your life, credit history, and tax returns to a badly listing mizzen mast of despair in a doomed, and now institutionalized, ocean of discontent -- pathetically trying to weather the squalls of infidelity without getting your brains bashed out on the cliffs of familiarity while gamely negotiating the dreaded straits of contempt. The very best you might hope for is to beach yourself on the shores of irreconcilable differences, before you end up floundering in the shoals of criminal justice after an unfortunate harpoon incident.Huh. Did I just share too much? Well. Anyway. What I've learned in the past few weeks, is that these are not appropriate sentiments to share with everyone in earshot in a receiving line. Nobody but Melville ever really appreciates a well-crafted nautical metaphor. I am, however, thinking about cross-stitching my theories on some pillows I could scatter strategically around my rec room of love.The only good thing about being the lone cynic at the festivities, ever-ready to rain on someone's parade, is that you're rarely invited back for the second go-round. Which is a blessing, because everybody knows the food isn't nearly as good at second weddings.Having said all this, I ought to acknowledge that pessimism aside, I do believe in marriage, I just don't believe in first marriages. They never work out. I doubt I could be serious about a man who's selected me to be his matrimonial guinea pig. My goal is to only date married men. I know they'll have at least two of the qualities I require: their spirits have already been broken, and their expectations are low.And should I ever get serious enough about one of these guys, I can reasonably expect them not to be as invested in all that wedding stuff. (And I think they have a word for guys who are interested in all that crap: chicks.) I can't imagine, for example, any man who's been through a divorce being able to keep a straight face while reciting vows he's written himself. That kind of squishy sentimentality provides guests with way more information than they need. I went to a wedding in my hometown a while back where we were all held emotional hostage by a groom who used the ceremony to philosophize endlessly about the meaning of love and how no one had ever felt this way before, blah blah blah. I'm thinking "Just what the world needs. A jeeter Sartre. Shut up Gomer."I saw something in last week's paper about how divorce rates are ruining family values, so the proposed solution is to make divorces more legally difficult to obtain. Great. So divorce rates will fall and murder rates will rise.When I recently ran into a newlywed friend of mine, I congratulated him and wished him luck (in a rare moment of sincerity). I guess he assumed I was being sarcastic because he sneered something about luck not being necessary. Ha! That's rich. Marriage has to be the hardest work this side of ditch digging, but at least with marriage you get the prospect that somewhere down the road, you'll really be able to let yourself go.