Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Vow. Wow. Ow.

Unless you've been living under a rock (or are a graduate student scrambling to hand in her final paper) no doubt you've seen the shockingly tasteless Vows column in the Sunday New York Times about two married New Yorkers who met each other at their kids' school, fell in love, dumped their spouses and got married.

And again, unless you have been otherwise engaged, you've probably read at least some of the reader reaction and fallout to the piece which, gratifyingly, has mostly expressed shock, awe and total disgust.

You can (and probably have already) Google this to your heart's delight, but some of my fave reactions have been Jeff Bercovici's editorial on the Forbes site, Salon's Mary Elizabeth Williams' smart and sassy observations and the following Tweet reproduced on the HuffPo:

Deborah Wilker
#vowsbacklash - nauseating, tasteless piece in the #NYT- perfect complement to this self-absorbed, nauseating couple
The Times piece is indeed entirely nauseating and insults the intelligence of human beings everywhere by reproducing Carol Anne Riddell's disingenuous claim that the two acted in a principled way and kept it platonic...then told their respective spouses that they were in love with other people:

“The part that’s hard for people to believe is we didn’t have an affair,” Ms. Riddell said. “I didn’t want to sneak around and sleep with him on the side. I wanted to get up in the morning and read the paper with him.”

The retarded thing is that of course the two were having an affair...of the emotional variety. They portray themselves as being powerless in the face of attraction but they actively stoked it along. They passionately pursued a flirtation that led to its logical conclusion: romance. This is called infidelity. For more on this subject, read M. Gary Neuman, a marriage counselor and author of several books on the topic.

It would have been one thing if both Riddell and Partilla were miserably married but that appears not to have been the case.

Here's the thing about marriage, especially when you have kids. With all that is great about it, there is also a certain amount of drudgery, lots of household management and criticism from your spouse. The person you are building a life with is sometimes cranky and combative, justifiably, or not. It is unrealistic to expect that he/she will find you constantly charming, attractive, witty, sexy and otherwise fabulous.

How flattering when someone laughs at your jokes after your wife raked you over the coals that morning! How irresistible when someone tells you that you are remarkable when your husband merely asks you to take out the recycling!

Sigh. This is the oldest, most pathetically cliched narrative. Stuck in the ho-humness of domestic life, a new person appears, making you feel supercharged and romantic and giddy and young and vital and intoxicated with life and possessed of the ability to see endless horizons and new possibilities.

She hangs on your every word, asks your opinion, makes you feel smart and powerful. He tells you how special you are, makes you feel cherished, less trapped. He sees the vital YOU that your dense husband fails to see.

Note to Carole Anne Riddell and John Partilla: If you're not going to be honest with the New York Times, at least be honest with the families you wrecked.

Platonic, shmatonic, atomic.

You dropped a nuclear bomb into the heart of two homes.


Steven said...

What's it to you? The NYT "prints all the news that's fit to print." That includes good news, bad news, and tasteless news. Everything today is a commodity, including children. For some they are only dependents. Now who is writing the "Berlin Diaries?" You or AJ? The world is different than in Joseph Roth's time. We're not heading toward destruction. Easy on the caffiene and alchohol. They're diuretics and you'll feel warmer with less. Have a good time and good luck.

She-Ra, Princess of Power said...

Thanks for writing. But Steven...who?