Tag Archives: marriage

Men With Two Faces

One of my not-so-great talents in life is that I am extremely gullible. It’s probably not very wise of me to advertise this trait on the internet, but for the sake of this post I must share that most things people tell me, I believe. How I managed to work in journalism for several years I cannot and will not explain.

I was reminded of this tendency today by my friend  and colleague J, as I told her and A about my new low, as of this morning, in gym reading material: Star magazine.

“Isn’t that the one that has stuff about space aliens and UFO’s taking over Hollywood?” she asked.

“That’s what I thought, too!” I replied, going on to explain that despite these associations, Star actually struck me as no more absurd than US Weekly, my usual grocery line tabloid of choice. And with an equally, if not more extensive selection of celebrity photos in the “stars! they’re just like us!” vein–which I think we can all agree is the highlight of US Weekly indulgence. (I mean, come on: who doesn’t like a picture of Reese Witherspoon pushing a grocery cart?)

I then told the two of them about the reason I’d brought up the magazine in the first place: a feature about Sandra Bullock and Jesse James. Old news, I know. (Not as old, however, as the copy of Gourmet that I picked up at the gym a few weeks ago–from 2002. Newsflash: if anyone has some extra cash burning a hole in their proverbial pocket, UNM could use it.)

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Men, Women and George Eliot

Even more enjoyable than re-reading Beloved, I have discovered, is re-reading Middlemarch. (And no, I am not actually that virtuous–again, it’s for class.)

With Beloved, there’s really no way to do any sort of skimming; you’re either paying attention and getting something out of it or you’re not. With Middlemarch, though, it’s not too difficult to breeze through the parts about taxes and local politics while savoring those about marriage and relationships.

Which I am clearly, and quite happily, doing. I know a lot of people hate this book. It’s written in a bizarre and antiquated omniscient voice, is not far from a thousand pages long and has more characters than most books have chapters. I understand. But I don’t agree.

Because the thing about that weird all-knowing voice–as well as the reason I love this book and the reason I do think it might be one of the best novels ever written–is exactly how brilliant that voice is. Nearly every page is littered with insights into the human experience so piercingly accurate that one can’t help but consider the possibility that George Eliot actually did know everything that every person has ever thought–not just in the fictitious country village of Middlemarch but in the entire history of the planet.

Pardon my enthusiasm. But this is what I found myself thinking as I lay in bed reading last night and came upon passage after passage that resonates with how I think about the world. Especially, of course, how I think about love.

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Storytime: On Being, and Not Being a “Dude”

Less than 48 hours after praising my womanhood, the same guy who had done so commended me for my ability to “be a dude.”

To be fair, I was the one who had used the phrase originally–when we’d quasi-dated the first time about a year earlier. But I wouldn’t begrudge you some confusion. How anyone–most suspiciously, me–could get from the neuroses I express daily in this blog to the performance of any romantic behavior that could possibly qualify as “dude-like” is pretty radically dubious.

So: some background.

I first met this guy (like my avoidance of boy or man? I’m trying) on a bus from Washington to New York about six weeks before I moved from the latter to the former last November. We spent most of that time talking and feeling extremely attracted to one another.

Due to this extreme attraction, things moved rather quickly–quicker than either of us anticipated or intended.

And then, as men are wont to do (especially when they are twenty-four, as he was) he panicked: he wasn’t looking for a relationship–he’d just gotten out of one, he was in school, he had two jobs. I told him that was okay: I was about to move, anyhow–why couldn’t we just keep it casual and enjoy each other’s company? I could “be a dude” about things.

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Arrangements: Attention Jewish Mothers (and Grandmothers)

I’m aware that when a parent, relative or friend of the family tries to set  you up with someone, the appropriate thing to do is roll your eyes, be patronizing and act horrified.

When I find myself in this situation, so as not to alarm people with potentially erratic blood pressure, I usually conform to this etiquette. Outwardly. Inwardly, however, I get kind of excited.

For one, in my case, chances are the person I’m being set up with is somebody’s idea of a “Nice Jewish Boy.” Which can go one of two ways. Often, somebody’s idea of a “Nice Jewish Boy” turns out to be a slightly mysogynistic jerk with decent table manners, strong ideas about European film and a dry, smart sense of humor. Which means I will definitely be attracted to him.

Alternatively, these “Nice Jewish Boys” may turn out to be more in line with what their adoring mothers think: academically focussed, painfully shy and with chivalrous intentions. In which case, I will probably not be immediately attracted but recognize that I should be, and make an effort.

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Thoughts From the Trail

Yesterday was one of those cinematic, sun-gorged New Mexico days when the sky is vast and the mountains all intricately lit and you understand why people never leave.

It was also the beginning of our Spring Break: I coerced S into setting aside her grading for the afternoon and taking a walk with me.

As we strolled (and yes, after approximately three and a half minutes of jogging we did stroll) around a big loop of sandy desert trail, she let out a deep exhale.

“So much big sky,” she said, nodding her head right and left. “So little men.”

I turned to her. “Is that a line from a movie?”

“No. I just said it.”

“Oh.” We continued along, deep in contemplation of this cryptic yet profound observation.

A few moments later both of us turned at the sight of a sprightly, impressively lean male runner coming toward us–bouncing along with a small brown-haired boy on either side. They all looked vaguely ethnic and vaguely good-looking, but moved too quickly for an honest gauge.

S and I looked back toward each other and exchanged dramatic puppy faces.

“Man,” I exclaimed. “It’s just so hard to not always be looking for a husband!”

“I know,” S replied. “I know.”

And then we proceeded to spend our Saturday night on the couch: drinking Amstel light, eating ravioli and watching six hours of “Angels in America” until one in the morning with the sole company of an anemic nineteen-year-old cat.

At this point–twenty-six, single, in our fertile prime, and exhausted–it is hard not to always be looking. But it’s also hard to always look.

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What Comes Before Marriage

I’m pretty sure the second most disconcerting thing my current therapist has said to me–the first, of course, being when he offered his prayers on my behalf–was his off-handed declaration that I should never live with a man to whom I am not married.

“You’ll never do that again, right?” he asked, when I referenced having lived together with my ex.

“Excuse me?” I responded, fairly dumbstruck.

“It’s just a bad idea,” he said, going on to cite data that men and women who live together first are less likely to stay married.

“I’m pretty sure I don’t know anyone who would marry someone before living with them,” I declared.

“I know,” he said. “That’s the problem.”

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