Urban Sophisticates in Love
I was looking through my credit card statements last weekend and noticed a recurring $8-a-month charge to The New York Times company.
My subscription, I remembered.
Hey, what writer can consider herself educated if she doesn’t read the Times every day?
Who am I kidding. The real reason I have a digital NYT subscription is for the famous Sunday weddings section.
I never miss it.
These are nothing like the stories we used to run in the Sunday Virginian-Pilot for anyone who could afford an announcement and a wedding dress. Couples APPLY to have their marriages covered in The Times.
Few make the cut.
These aren’t vignettes about ordinary marriages. They’re more like mergers and acquisitions. The rich and socially connected pledging their troth to each other in swanky venues, thus securing their vast family fortunes for yet another generation.
I’m not envious. Neither am I passing judgment on these carefully cultivated pairings. I read “Vows" the way I read about the royal family, or primitive tribes in Papau New Guinea.
To study the mating habits of exotic species.
Put simply, the couples in “Vows” are not like most of us.
It’s true that “Vows” has become slightly more plebeian in recent years. Occasional members of the hoi polloi are allowed to announce their nuptials there now. You can almost see the snooty editors smiling wanly at each other as they lay out the humble details of a Topeka marriage between a teacher who graduated from a land-grant college and his sweetheart, an insurance adjuster.
“See, we DO let the little people in,” they sniff.
Quite near the news of posh weddings - which almost always take place in Manhattan museums and art galleries rather than churches, and honeymoons that are never on a Carnival cruise ship or at Disney World - is a section called “Modern Love.”
It should be called “Strange Love.”
Along with sweet stories of romance this feature celebrates the weird wrinkles that pass for love on the East and West coasts. The more bizarre the tale, the more it sticks with you.
Take yesterday’s, for instance. Even the headline grabbed me:
“When A Boyfriend Joins The Marriage: They Agreed She Could Have Sex On The Side As Long As He Didn’t Know About It. Then She Fell In Love.”
Admit it. You see that headline, you’re reading the story.
Same goes for this Globe headline from last week: “Woman Admits Murdering Her Boyfriend By Smothering Him With Her Stomach Fat.”
Oh, please, let there be a picture, I whispered, as I clicked the Globe link.
Back to the threesome.
A San Francisco-based writer detailed how bored she became with her marriage after the birth of her son. She was itching for exciting sex and wasn’t getting any with her baby daddy so she told him she wanted to have affairs.
So much kinder than just dumping the poor schlump.
Her one-night stands were going well until she met a guy who made a pocket square out of her gloves. She was smitten.
Totally understandable. Who could resist that sort of talent?
She persuaded her husband to meet her clever young lover, the men got along - eventually - and her boyfriend moved into the family home.
For the sake of the couple’s young son.
Yep, the writer reasoned, divorce is terrible for kids. Much better for a little boy to see Mommy sashaying to bed with her hunky boyfriend as Daddy glumly heads for his single bed under the stairs than to deal with the trauma of a split.
I finished the story, which was intended, I suppose, to make the reader feel inclusive and warm and delighted that love can be so modern.
Instead, I felt grateful that I live in Virginia Beach. Where most of the people are normal. And where no one I know has a boyfriend and a husband under the same roof.
My Times subscription is just one of several recurring bills that lard up my credit card. There’s Netflix, Audible, a college football recruiting website and The Wall Street Journal. Sometimes I think I should cancel all of them. They add up.
But eight bucks a month to get a peek at what passes for love among urban sophisticates?