So this morning, I'm browsing through the headlines on my phone while debating how to spend my day off with my daughter and I come across a story that Chris Rock has filed for divorce from his wife of 18 years. After that were a few examples of some of the things that he had said about his marriage during the course of some of his most memorable shows. I look at these barbs and there is a splinter in my mind.
I put the phone down and after a few hours, here I am. Funnily enough this blog began life as a soliloquy to geek marriage but in the face of this news, I feel there is more to be said.
I am married. We've been married for 7 years and I was never the kid who wanted the Disney princess wedding dress…I was far more interested in the level of buffet to be honest. Coming from a background where my parents divorced painfully (TV Movie in the works kids!), my maternal grandparents divorced in spectacular fashion and the few who were married didn't seem to be having a good time, I was not the biggest fan of it.
Good marriages were on TV and when I looked around; my life bore no resemblance, so I settled into the idea of anything but. Until I met someone, not my husband but this guy actually opened me up to the idea of marriage as a possibility. That being with someone did not have to resemble something not dissimilar to Platoon or Apocalypse Now. Ironically this relationship burned bright and ultimately out but I am grateful for the fact that he challenged me and allowed me to see the good in marriage and not the shit that I was told about marriage.
One of my best memories as a child is listening to my parents and relatives listen to comedians. Drinks would flow and my cousins and I would be sent to bed whereupon we would sneak and sit on the stairs, high up so we couldn't be seen and listen to them cackle to Richard Pryor. As much as I loved Richard Pryor though, Millie Jackson was a legend to me. It was the idea that a woman could be as coarse as Richard Pryor, so candid and then give great voice, was mind blowing. I fully appreciate that in these formative years my taste towards the coarse was assured.
As I have grown naturally so have my tastes and my life experiences tend to reflect the people I like. Lately though, I began to wonder about the relationship between the reality and the product. If your export is misery and despair then where is the line, does entertainment feed into and thus create the reality? I think of this when I think of some of the comedians that I like now, Kevin Hart, Louis C.K, Bill Burr and Chris Rock. I have seen their recent shows and laughed like a loon for the most part. But when it comes to the parts about marriage, my laughter isn't as raucous.
With the exception of Bill Burr who recently got married, the other comedians have or are going through divorce. Chris Rock, especially in the last few years has spared no amount of vitriol about the institution, I mean the signs were there, the guy made a film called “Why did I get married?” so we can’t say that we didn't see if coming. However whilst watching Chris Rock and Kevin Hart perform, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of annoyance, this idea that they had been hunted down in the jungles of singledom and then been bound, gagged and fucked into ‘I Do’. The moans about the changes and mundane, the kids and the ‘time served’ plus the need to cut loose with the guys and remember the man they sacrificed in order to be married…I would find myself looking around thinking, “Are you all hearing this?” and the audience lap it up, some of the guys are nodding in that “Yeah bro, I know exactly what you mean!” While partners sit there smiling but confused, should I laugh at what I am, how you see me or how you see us is engraved on features. At least Louis CK and Bill Burr say upfront that they do not come into this arrangement perfect, Louis CK is one of the few comedians to say outright that men are the biggest threat to women.
I know that Chris and Kevin are not the only comedians to talk about marriage in this way. The light hearted antics of Michael McIntyre to Lee Evans are littered with the typical “Oh ain't married life a pile of wank fellas eh eh ain't it?!” I guess what I am saying is that there is an icky feeling surrounding marriage and some of these comedic routines have normalised bad ones as the norm.
These are bad marriages for whatever reason. Somehow, this is what you are supposed to expect and this is the most apparent when you are out with your spouse. I have sat across from people in a pub as my husband hugs and kisses me, who are gobsmacked that a) we are married b) we have been married over 2 years c) we have a kid and d) most damning, we have sex. It is literally like we are a new species.
In my circle of friends, I am not alone. There are 6 married couples that we chill out, game and get drunk with, and at some point we have had the same conversation about the expectation of misery and the men of the piece seem pretty damn happy, bring on the munchies and it’s like a weird blissful bubble that we look at the world through.
These are not the ‘smug marrieds’ of Bridget Jones. The women that I know don’t want to change these guys. They are not the bitch queens, needing approval, the blood and veins and of course the freedom on their men. The guys are not pussy whipped dullards, coming out with their hands up, handing over the keys, the laptop, the money, the dignity and their balls. These wonderful people are just awesome and the big thing is that they tend to be friends, first and foremost.
They literally rage against the dying of the light and do not cater to this idea of marriage. They travel, have fun, build Death Stars out of Lego, play tabletop, bake mean cakes and cook like demons. They drink (a lot), party hard, are intelligent wise and so fucking funny and I love em to bits.
As for my husband, we once had a very serious walk out of the room argument about Keanu Reeves…no lie a literal shout match. He can be a right pain in the ass but guess who is just as much as a pain in the ass…that’s right folks. Yours truly.
I guess what I am saying is that I am sick of the alleged battlefield of marriage. I choose different comedy like Stephen Lynch, not a word about marriage but my god the horror about everything else. I do not subscribe that this is the way it has to be and I am choosing something different, living something different. Try being friends for a bit…if you cannot stand the person as a mate you would willingly have a drink, a pizza and watch a bad movie with then why the hell even bother?
Marriage is just not about that….it is so not what they tell you. Find the meaning for yourselves and for frell’s sake, be excellent to each other!