Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Perfect Wives Club

I've always had mixed feelings about marriage.

When I was 18 I declared, rather impetuously, that I would never get married. But I've grown up a little since then, and I think it's a fine institution. I've been to about eight weddings in the past year-and-a-half, and all the couples seem very happy together. I'm sure that one day I'll join their ranks, and I'll like it just fine.

But there's something about the word "wife" that seems so foreign to me. How could I be a wife? It's a role that seems fraught with all kinds of cultural expectations and stereotypes. Wives cook nutritious meals, drive small children around in giant SUVs and hem things. I don't do any of those things. In fact, I have made a point of actively rejecting such practices, a decision that could probably be traced back to college when I took a class called "Psychology of the Family" to fulfill my minor requirement.

In this class, we learned about how married women are more likely to be depressed than unmarried women. One study showed that while unmarried couples who live together tend to share household responsibilities equally, married women take on about 70 percent of the household chores and child-rearing--even when both spouses work full time. So horrified was I by this bleak picture of matrimony, I determined it was in my best interest just to never learn to do these things. The result is that I'm a 26-year-old woman who can barely make spaghetti, but I'm ok with that. Fortunately, I found myself a guy who's ok with that too.

But there are moments when I wonder if I'll ever be marriage material--particularly after a recent run-in with the dreaded Perfect Wives Club.

Here's the back story: A couple of months ago, in an effort to recapture his high school glory days, Matt joined a baseball league. Every Sunday there is a game that consists of much manly back patting and yelling of things like "Atta Boy." Last Sunday was the first time I actually attended one of these games, mainly because they always take place at some ungodly hour of the morning somewhere in the Valley. (If you're not from Los Angeles, it's hard to imagine the amount of scorn that can be infused into the word "valley.") Sunday's game was also in the Valley, but at least they had the decency to schedule it in the afternoon, so off I went.

Matt had already informed me that there is a small cadre of wives and significant others who go to almost every game. Not only do they go to every game, but they bring snacks for the team and keep score and hand out candy bars to the guys who make the best plays. I encountered two of them on Sunday. They walked up to the stands--where I was busy leafing through the latest In Style magazine--carting lawn chairs, a portable stereo and a cooler full of Gatorade and candy bars.

"Oh hi," Perfect Blonde Wife said. "It's nice to meet you...finally."

Chagrined, I put my magazine aside and attempted to follow what was happening on the field. For the next eight innings, I listened to Perfect Blonde Wife and Perfect Brunette Wife discuss the following topics:

1. Who made the best offensive play (Matt, yay!)
2. What decorations to have at the upcoming end of season party (baseball themed, of course)
3. What snacks to prepare (rice krispie treats in the shape of baseballs)
4. How hard it is to get to baseball uniforms clean

At this point, Perfect Blonde Wife turns to me and says, "was it hard to clean Matt's uniform that one time it got really dirty?"

What I was thinking at that moment went something like this... How do you remember the time it got really dirty? He spends three hours a week rolling around in the dirt with it. It's always really dirty. And why would I be washing his uniform for him? Neither of his arms are broken. Even though we now cohabitate, we're still individuals capable of cleaning our own clothes as we have been doing for the past decade or so of our lives, thank you very much.

Instead of saying all this, I smiled serenely and said, "it wasn't a problem."

So maybe I'll be never a Perfect Wife. But I sat through the whole game, and even let Matt pick the movie we watched later that night--which I think makes me a Pretty Good Girlfriend.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Catching Up

I know I've been away for a while, but let's jump right in with a discussion of the series finale of "The Sopranos."

I'm sure many viewers will read lots of existential meaning into the abrupt cut-to-black that ended the ground-breaking show. I'm not one of them. I thought it kinda sucked.

Did the dark, silent screen mean that Tony has finally made his violent exit from the world? Or are we meant to believe that it's not really an end...that the movie never ends, but rather goes on and on and on and on? Maybe the tension-filled final minutes in the diner were meant to represent a kind of purgatory, and the Soprano family is destined to eat fried onion rings together for all eternity.

Who cares. In it's heyday "The Sopranos" was a brilliant, original, operatic drama. The last couple of seasons it seemed to become bloated with its own importance (sort of like Tony Soprano himself). After a penultimate episode that saw the end of Silvio's pompadour, the death of teddy-bear-like Bobby Baccalieri, and ended with Tony holed up with a shotgun--all I wanted this week was some good old-fashioned whacking. Instead, I got a philosophy lesson courtesy of Steve Perry.

I'm choosing to believe that in those final seconds, Tony went uncharacteristically gently into that good night. However, the main things I will take from this finale are a bit more prosaic:

1. That you should never trust a guy in a Members Only jacket and
2. That I'm not the only one who requires three attempts to parallel park

Moving on...

Last week, I vowed to go on a strict Paris Hilton-free media diet. After a week spent following updates on her scheudenfreude-filled trip to the pokey, enough was enough.

Why? I wonder. Why this frenzied fascination over a woman known for little more than sporting an impressive array of blond hair extensions and coining the phrase "that's hot?"

The only explanation I can come up with is that Paris is sort of like a modern-day Marie Antoinette. Anger over her shamelessly irresponsible and over-privileged lifestyle has reached critical mass, and it seems the only way to restore the balance is to chop off her head. Or, you know--since we don't do that anymore--take away her hair extensions and send her to jail.

Think it's a bit of a stretch to compare Paris Hilton to Eighteenth Century French royalty? Well, I would point out that her name IS Paris, and that both women seem to share a love of baked goods.

And finally...

If, like me, you're desperately in need of something to restore your faith in pop culture you should check out the film Once. It's a really beautiful and understated love story. I saw it this weekend, and I adored it. You will too, promise.