Monday, July 23, 2007

Scenes from a Marriage: What Other People Think

Lazy Sunday afternoon. As a follow-up to feeling appropriately jealous of some peoples' junket on the Silk Road, Bill reads Trespassers on the Roof of the World while I am on a transatlantic three way call.

Anoop: Ofcourse Veena will give you a successful strategy for getting married. Veena, go on.

BM: No, trust me on this. The worst kind of people to ask for strategy are the ones who are successfully married

Me: Anoop, may I call your attention to the word "successfully"?

BM: Well, you have the most successful marriage I know. If I ever get married, what you have is what I would aspire to

Anoop: How ironic. But true, yes.

BM: I know. It is so ironic, isn't it?

So to which one should I take umbrage here? That I have become the definition of "uncool" by virtue of having a "successful" marriage? Or that two of my closest friends had such low expectations of my marriage? And by extension, of me in general?


Tabula Rasa said...

if you think you're uncool now wait till you have kids.

Veena said...

Kids? Kids? TR, please tell me - are you and TPB one of those couples who are going to move to the midwest so that you can make (and raise) babies? Oh no!

And who have you been talking to? My mom?

Falstaff said...

I'm not sure the (purported) success of your marriage has anything to do with your uncoolness. All married people are uncool. Period. It's like having a house in the 'burbs. It doesn't really matter how nice a house it is.

If it's any consolation, having low expectations of someone's marriage is actually a way of having a high opinion of them in general - at least in my world. The theory is that the less cattle-like you are the harder you're going to find it to stay hitched. Back in college, for example, if we said so-and-so would make a good wife, the implication was she wasn't good for very much else.

The Black Mamba said...

Veena: Have I ever accused you of being cool?

Then the question of having a "successful" marriage (quotes yours). As I have never been married, my criteria for and definition of a successful marriage could be significantly different and impractical. That aside, I am sure I never said having a successful marriage was a virtue. Please refer to your copy of The Complete Works for Oscar Wilde for more on this. (I am sure I don't need to refer to specific plays).

And why do you think we had low expectation - are you implying that making a marriage work was one of your great latent strengths? And that was the one strength that defined you? phew, lets not even go there.

TR: Good point there. Though some people do manage to regain some semblance of coolness once their kids are pre-teens.

Falstaff: I am sure I am missing something here.

Your definition of marriage seems to be too archaic - are you suggesting that only a stepford extra will make a good wife?

You don't really need to be cattle-like to make a good marriage work. Then again, I have never considered marrying a cow.

Veena said...

TR: Now that I look at my comment, I think I have been a bit hasty. I mean, even professors have kids all the time, and I am sure you will be great at parenting et al. As BM says, you might even regain some semblance of coolness in 11 years :)

Falstaff: I agree that marriage makes one uncool but its not exactly binary - there's enough of a range there. There is a difference between having a house in Evanston and having a house in Schaumburg. There is a difference between having a house, and having a house with color coordinated rugs and bathroom towels(like the Oregon house you were in recently). No?

And you and BM can figure out this cattle marriage stuff.

BM: No but until yesterday, you never accused me of the opposite either. Yesterday it was implied by the word "successful". And since this is about what you (other people) think, I don't care how you define successful to be though I suspect it ain't significantly different from mine. And reading Wilde will take you on a slippery slope - enough evidence to argue all three sides, no? :)

Arey, you guys were the ones who told me that it was ironic! You tell me why your expectations were lower. And no, I am under no impression that making a marriage work was one of my strengths. But you, of all people, should know how effortless it is to make this particular marriage work

The Black Mamba said...

Veena, minor digression. can't help but voice my opnion on this whole house in the suburbs business.

A house in Evanston, unless you work there or go to school at Northwestern is wannabe coolness. I would prefer someone who chooses to live some place for better reasons than to score more points on the "coolness" checklist.

Btw, I would assume color-coordinating a home would be the easiest this in this day and age. I would be more impressed if someone actually got mismatched rugs and towels. That would be cool (if they manage to get it right).

Also, when do you decide to get a house in the 'burbs might as well do a good job. People with super soft, super fluffy towels win any day over those who just buy the towels from the nearest discount store. Details count.

end digression.

Well, if cool is just another clique, I will have none of it, ty. I have no problems with referring to specific behavioural patterns or traits as cool. But trying to be cool on the whole is an oxymoron.

My definition of a successful marriage is where 2 people manage to retain some fragments of their identity (which really means, they still are individuals, not a blob called "we"). Oh, and they still have a conversation, not just communicate.

And let me elaborate on the irony. As you might recall, back in the day, I was definitely a firmer believer than you ever were in the institution. And me seeking relationship advice from you is like a devout student of the Talmud seeking advice from a heretic. (ok, so I exaggerate a bit.)

One important flaw in my model of the world though. I had forgotten an important variable - Parental Pressure. Where mine is close to non-existent compared to yours.

Tabula Rasa said...

heh! see what i meant about coolness? kids are *the* coolness drain, just about. especially in america, where you can't even hide them behind a nanny, and end up going around using the word "playdates" in every conversation.

as for our "plans" (rofl) let me first get through typing up these silk road notes then i can check what's next on the agenda. (have to say i wish i could retire with my copy of trespassers.)

Space Bar said...

my favourite kind of discussion! i'm tempted to poke my cynical nose in but i shall refrain.

Veena said...

Space Bar: One line comments not allowed. You better say all cynical things and keep up the image.

BM: Hello? Have you been hanging out with 15-year olds who write scrapbooks on Orkut? You are actually getting all serious on a blog? God, I don't believe this!

Anyway, quick thoughts.

A house in EV is wannabe coolness? How do you just decide that without knowing the reason? It could be because its close to the lake. It could be because its has some of the best restuarants in town. It could be because its closer to the city. I wouldn't live in EV because I want to get on someone's cool list. (I wouldn't live in EV when the city is so close and affordable but thats a different issue) That would defeat the whole purpose, no? That's really the worst kind of pretentiousness that is.

As for color-coordinated / mismatched towels and such, the point is this: its like me meeting someone who looks all made-up. They might be super good-looking but if they look like they have taken some pain to get that way, then my default assumption (however misguided!) is that I am very unlikely to have anything in common with them. Because in my mind, the time and effort that someone takes to do that can be effectively utilized elsewhere (like that conversation bit you were going on about later) and that they are making a choice not to do that tells me something about them. However nice they look. Or their house looks. Ofcourse there are exceptions but you see the point.

Yeah ok. See what you mean by the irony and I don't necessarily disagree. The only point was you should know very well that my issue was with calling the institution "marriage" as that implied adding all the religious, sexist, social context / paraphernalia to it. Its not like otherwise we were going to break up and run away or something. That's why I was surprised.

And what do you mean "you were"? You don't beleive in it anymore?

Anoop said...

The irony I was implying was that you were the one who was resisting marriage the most, and here you are, happily married and all. Those of us who weren't resisting marriage are no closer to getting married than we were a few years ago. It's amazing what some well-placed parental pressure can do.

Of course the success of your marriage has nothing to do with your husband, has it? :) Give the chap some credit, I say. He accompanies you in gallivanting around the world and stays out of your way while you are off to make the big bucks. How could your marriage not work? BM, I'm sure you'll agree...

Veena said...

"He accompanies you in gallivanting around the world and stays out of your way while you are off to make the big bucks"

Anoop: You know what I have finally realised? After being blind for so many years? There's no point, absolutely no point in blaming Bill alone. Its people like you (MY friends) who encourage him to get away with doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in life.

Samantha David said...

fantastic post!
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