Double-Plus Ungood

January 29, 2010

When I started thinking about this entry weeks ago, I decided that, whatever the topic, I was going to write an excoriating response to Wrecked-Um’s December 31 post (“The Incapable Wrecked-Um”) wherein he expresses so extreme a disgust for his pregnant wife that he suggests men push their pregnant lovers down the stairs, thereby avoiding the “9 months of  mental and emotional HELL [their] knockupee[s] are about to put [them] through.” And that was just the opener on this topic.  I was going to attack the post from a feminist perspective (wow, look at the woman-hater!), from a generational perspective (it’s one more foot in the grave for Generation X if we can’t even love the families we create), and from a writer’s perspective (we can do better than this for our blog!). I was going to be the self-referential straw that broke the camel’s back here at 30POV. I was going to tear shit up.

Then I woke up. A little. Just enough to get out of the way before the hypocrisy lightning could strike me.

To be clear, nothing is ever going to make me like what he wrote, and if this dude were my husband, I’d divorce him so fast that he’d have road rash. Hey Wrecked-Um, it’s not cool or edgy to say things like that; it’s dick, pure and simple. Were you joking? I’ve decided that it doesn’t matter.  And the fact that so many people, both men and women, cheered you on in the comments section made me temporarily not want to write for this website anymore.  It made me think that we 30ishes are a sorry lot.

But.

Then I got to thinking about one of the main challenges I’ve encountered since  getting married. By now, most of my friends are married, and right after each beautiful, expensively dressed bride (or groom) walked down the aisle, something strange happened: everything from then on was JUST FINE. REALLY. NO PROBLEMS HERE. OH LOOK, IS THAT A HUMMINGBIRD? Women and men with whom I’ve had lengthy, intricate discussions about their relationships, frustrations, recurring hurts and mistakes were all of a sudden purporting to now be happy as clams every day. Their lives turned perfect, as if they’d had plastic surgery to correct their tendencies to be melodramatic, or distracted, or selfish, or disloyal, or closed off, or…

But just like plastic surgery (and clams), something was fishy. Because I’m married too, and I know from the inside that marriage is, to put it so lightly as to be euphemistic, not easy. I love my husband, but that didn’t keep me from discovering that I’m not the world’s most adept long-term companion in ways I both could and couldn’t see coming.  At first I thought I was part of a vanishingly small minority of people who somewhat lack the natural instinct to be a spouse, who have to work at it so hard and in so many ways that it feels like getting another degree (I even went to hypnosis, for chrissake, and all I learned was that charlatans apparently circulate the same “soothing music” CD; once a “Reiki master” tried to blank out my mind with the same disc the hypnotist used). I thought maybe I was delayed, that my selfishness was hard-wired when everyone else’s had fallen neatly away. It seemed like all my married friends had fit perfectly into their “adult suits” while mine was still in the process of being yanked into place with huge binder clips. I am not “sample size,” and I thought maybe I was the only one.

I couldn’t keep my struggles to myself; I take the perspectives of my friends very seriously when I’m making a decision or wrestling with a problem. If I had a Jersey Shore name, it would be “The Committee.”  So I talked to my friends. And to their friends. I even talked to the friends who had worn perma-smiles since their wedding days. I needed perspectives on how to be better. And it turned out that all it took was one person who was willing to admit that not everything was perfect to get people talking about the strange, sometimes unpleasant things going on in their own marriages. It turned out I was actually flattering myself to rate my own situation as high on the chaos scale; some folks beat me by a nose. Hearing that I’m not the only one who feels as if she signed up for the Ironman Triathlon while still on training wheels didn’t solve my problems, but it sure did make me feel less alone.

The “moral” of this story is that, in my opinion, we shouldn’t feel like we have to pretend everything is ok just because we’re big, serious grown-ups.  Whether I like it or not, I have something in common with the man who penned that post that I loathe: neither of us is afraid to admit that the cultural milestones that our society has trained us to believe are joyous can actually be stultifying and scary.  The wonderful thing about the street-smart practicality of our generation is that we don’t bother as much with other people’s judgments of our behavior (and I’m wearing my Converse to work until someone tells me it’s a breach of contract). So why should we  pretend, for the sake of our images, that the most important parts of our lives aren’t also the hardest? I won’t; I can’t!

And Wrecked-Um: congratulations, not empty ones, on your soon-to-be baby girl.

6 Responses to “Double-Plus Ungood”

  1. Sam, kudos! Seriously. Not only for finding something truly insightful and interesting to share with us from Wrecked-Um's horrific vomiting of his darkest thoughts into a blog post, but for having the chutpah to go after a guy that legitimately scares me. (And I'm twice his size.)
    And Wrecked-Um, I know you're reading this…Helluva job stirring Sam up so much that you inspired her post!

  2. WreckedUm says:

    That was fantastic. I am beaming from ear to ear, and trying to come up with something to type, but that's all I got. Thanks for seeing something beyond your disgust, I don't think I can ever ask for any more than that from anyone reading what I write.

  3. emmy em says:

    Sam, this is fantastic. And really, I'm the only single one left of my friends & see them all beaming & happy. It's comforting to hear that it's not as easy as it looks.

  4. Joe Bag of Doughnuts says:

    This is a bit confusing. Somewhere in there you showed disgust for Wreckum's post. But then you go on to say with more words that are probably needed to no pretend your marriage is perfect. Isn't that what Wreckedum said his marriage was in also too many works? Not perfect that is? Granted he was far more colorful and entertaining at it. Maybe a little on the other side of extreme, but that was the gist I think.
    And don't get out of shape about the whole pushing the pregnant woman down the stairs thing. Trailers don't have any stairs. Well not large sets anyway. They have 2-3 steps at the most to get inside and what harm is a little push from there going to do anyway?

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