I had drinks with My Friend Brody (MFB)* on Friday night. He’s one of my BFFs from church in high school (before some of us started worshipping satan**), but he moved to Wisconsin and then Illinois after high school, so I only see him every few years when he comes out to Arizona to visit his mom and stepdad.
MFB is kind of like a freight train. Once he gets started on a story or a rant, you have to hop on for the ride, because there’s no stopping his momentum, and any attempt will just get you run over. You don’t resent him for it, though, because he has good stories.
Friday night we got to talking about marriage. Generally speaking, I’m fascinated by other peoples’ perspectives and experiences regarding marriage. I’m constantly ruminating on questions like What makes a marriage successful? What causes a marriage to fail? What are realistic expectations of a marriage? Should I always like my spouse? Should I always love him? Is a lifelong commitment worth the challenges of committing for life, simply for the benefit of having a partner who is contractually obligated to have your back? Do people who say they loooovvveeee their sexy man on Facebook actually love him so much they feel uncontrollably compelled to announce it publicly, or are they mostly worried he’s sleeping with a coworker and think announcing their love via social media will remind him they’re going to cut his balls off if they find evidence, so he should stop?? So of course I was happy to let MFB rant about his married life to Jess, the woman who seems (from an old friend who’s met her a couple of times’ perspective) to have been created simply to be the perfect woman for MFB.
MFB: You know, people think my marriage is easy because my wife is a hot piece of ass. That’s bullshit, though. Marriage is hard work all the time. The fact that my wife is a hot piece of ass is completely irrelevant to the premise of my marriage. Sure, it was relevant 8 years ago, when we started dating, but now, it doesn’t matter. We have bills to pay together! We have kids to raise together! We have arguments to get through together! The fact that she’s a hot piece of ass doesn’t make any of those things easier.
(This was the condensed version of the rant. He probably said, “hot piece of ass”, “irrelevant”, and “premise” 12 times each during the entire thing. I wish I had it on video, because it was a work of art.)
Beyond my entertainment at his description of his wife, this concept that the fact that his wife was desirable didn’t impact their marriage disturbed me. I tend to assume at least part of why people get divorced is because one or both of them isn’t attracted to the other person any longer. Men “trade-up” to trophy wives after the one they married in their early 20s “lets herself go”, right? So logic follows that if you keep things high and tight and he still thinks you’re a “hot piece of ass”, life should run smoothly. I mean, if you can’t control the economy, the weather, or your children, at the very least you can hit the gym and figure out how to get really good at eyeliner to have some security that your marriage will continue to function, can’t you?
But I guess if that were true, Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt would still be married. Like Baba Booey*** always says: For every hot chick, there’s a guy who’s sick of fucking her.
So of course I went home and had this conversation with Jason:
Me: I was discussing marriage with MFB tonight and he told me it’s irrelevant that his wife is a hot piece of ass. He said it doesn’t make his marriage easier. Like it doesn’t matter anymore that he’s attracted to her. It sort of bothered me and I’m not totally sure why. Do you think whether I am, or am not attractive is irrelevant to our marriage?
Jason: … uh… no? I mean, I definitely think you’re a hot piece of ass. Is that what you’re asking?
Me: No, I’m asking if whether I’m a hot piece of ass or not matters to you.
Jason: … … … I feel like this is one of those questions there is not a right answer to.
Me: I guess I kind of want it to be something you like about our marriage. Like you’re proud that you’re married to a hot chick or something. Which I suppose is fairly vain and pretty sexist, so if you don’t feel that way, I maybe need to get over myself. I’m just saying it seems like I work far too hard to stay attractive for it just to be irrelevant. Like why am I skipping donuts and french fries, and learning how to contour if it doesn’t matter?
Jason: When do you skip french fries?
Me: Probably a part of me also hopes you’ll continue to put up with my crazy if I continue to keep myself together, physically. Like I’m allowed to be a drama queen and occasionally run away with my circus friends if I keep up my end of the bargain and not let you see me putting on spanx or watch when I’m shaving my armpits. Which is also shallow and completely anti-feminist.
Jason: I feel like you’re overthinking all of this.
Me: You do definitely see me at my worst, though. You have watched me give birth three times. I couldn’t even watch me do that. Gross.
Jason (seeing this isn’t really a conversation I’m having with him, so much as myself, moving on to Instagram): Mmmhmm.
Me: Also, you’ve seen my dye my roots. That is not a good look while in progress. And you’re still married to me. I guess that’s the positive side of the lack of importance of physical attractiveness. If it was the most important thing, it would be far more work to hide the upkeep.
Jason (no longer paying any attention): I guess.
Me: I did think it was really adorable that he kept referring to her as a hot piece of ass like this was a completely indisputable fact. It was clear that even though he doesn’t think it causes their marriage to be perfect and easy, he firmly believes she’s a stone cold fox. Maybe MFB has it exactly right. I mean that’s really all anyone wants, don’t they? To possess physical beauty, but for it not to be the reason for our greatness? To be both a hot piece of ass, and loved for reasons completely irrelevant of this fact?
Jason: This is where I can change the subject and we can talk about that documentary on coffee I wanted to tell you about, right?
*I’m physically unable to mention him in conversation with Jason without using his full title. Merely “Brody” just doesn’t roll off the tongue.
**I’m watching the current The Real World season and there’s this really great racist girl who is sure atheists worship satan, because she missed the part about how the whole point of being atheist is not believing in god-like figures. She’s the best.
***Howard Stern’s executive producer. I learn all my life lessons from The Howard Stern Show, obviously.