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Black Lamb


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Archive for the 'All Marriage Issue' Category

April 2007 in Black Lamb

Volume 5, Number 4 — April 2007

April 1st, 2007

The All-Marriage Issue


In our cover article Terry Ross introduces this special All-Marriage Issue and opines: “Now I may be thick, but I don’t see how it follows that if the pressures of modern life lead to marriages not working out, then something is wrong with the idea of marriage. Why not say something is wrong with the pressures of modern life? Why put all the blame on little old marriage? Instead of changing marriage, why not change modern life?

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Marriage Issue, Month summaries | Link to this Entry

The All Marriage Issue

Including a modest proposal

April 1st, 2007


This issue of Black Lamb, among all the so-called “themed” issues that we’ve published — All Movies, All Mother, All Father, etc. — has inspired the most heartfelt reaction among this magazine’s writers. As editor, I expected the subject of marriage to give everyone, whether they had been married or not, something to write about. But I couldn’t have predicted the variety and depth of what came in.

When I sat down, however, to write something about marriage, a subject I’d never tackled before, I understood. To write about marriage, whatever one’s opinion of it as an institution, is to write about love. And to write about one’s own marriage(s), as many of the Black Lamb writers did, is to write about one’s own need for love, one’s ability to love, or one’s failure to understand love. It’s a damned touchy and perilous undertaking, which I suppose explains my own reluctance to have taken it on before I blithely declared it the topic for this month’s issue.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Marriage Issue, Ross | Link to this Entry

Guilty pleasures

How literature can wreck a prefectly good marriage

April 1st, 2007

househusband.jpgBY CATE GARRISON

I am racked with guilt about my husband. When I hear him come home from grocery shopping or walking the dog, I start like a child caught red-handed in mischief, jump up from the computer where I’ve been writing, and run, with a shit-eating grin on my face, to help him unpack the heavy, brown paper bags he’s hauled from the car, or to unclip the pooch from his leash. When I hear the sound of the vacuum cleaner starting up and realize, once again, that my more conscientious spouse is embarking on the much-neglected housework, I dash to pick up a feather duster, or a toilet brush, and pretend I was always intending to play my wifely part. My conscience is pricked not so much by the thought that as a woman these chores should fall to me (though despite decades of feminist striving I frequently still do) but by the deep-down, incontrovertible knowledge that, baby, I done him wrong.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Marriage Issue, Garrison | Link to this Entry

Remembering Eren

April 1st, 2007


In the autumn of 1975 I accepted my first job in regional theater. I was invited to be in the first three plays at the new Hartman Theater in Stamford, Conn. Other than summer stock I had worked only in New York or on national tours, and I thought it would be a new experience. Little did I know.

The opening show was Gogol’s The Government Inspector (the source for The Inspector-General, a wonderful Danny Kaye movie), a play which to my knowledge is unique in two ways. The first is that it has forty-four speaking roles; this means that at the first readthrough, when the cast is sitting around in a circle, after you’ve added the table the director sits behind and the table with the model of the set on it, the opposite side of the circle is hidden from you by the curvature of the earth. The second is the brevity of exposition: one speech. The mayor of the town — who’s a crock — has gathered his henchmen to tell them that he’s gotten a letter from his cousin in Minsk (as I remember) telling him that an inspector is going around incognito, looking for graft. Then the postmaster (me) comes running into the room to warn his co-conspirators that there’s a guy in the post office behaving very strangely, and we’re off to the races.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Marriage Issue, Bogert | Link to this Entry

Marriage schmarriage

April 1st, 2007


judgestern.jpgMaybe I’m too jaded from all my years of work in the negative end of the proposition to be a really fair commentator on the hallowed institution of marriage. I’ve done pretty well in my own two attempts, one sailing along for more than twelve years before breaking up on the shoals, and the second still running briskly on a long fetch against pretty steady winds after nearly thirty. But that divorce, way back in the Seventies, left its scars on my psyche, and on hers and the kids’. We all got our ration of sadness out of that, and one of life’s hardest lessons about the fragility of hallowed institutions and the emptiness of human expectations. But all of life is risk of some order, and there’s something in our tribal nature that craves relationship. It’s worked out better for me this time, much better.

But the divorce work I do, maybe thirty percent of my law practice, continues to exact its toll.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Marriage Issue, Gardner | Link to this Entry

The One-Third Plan

April 1st, 2007


I spent most of my life being unmarried and when that started to bother me, I began to look at all of the marriages that surrounded me, and that I read about, and began to form some conclusions.

pensivegal.jpgIt is too easy to get married and divorced. Getting married should be at least as arduous as applying to college or taking out a loan. I would like getting married to require escrow accounts, psychological and physical exams, financial audits, property and parenting agreements, and penalties for premarital pregnancy. I would also like to see divorce trials reinstated so that dumping a spouse could not be a unilateral process of filling out paperwork. If both spouses wanted out, they’d have to tell the court why. It would be wise to follow Eastern Orthodox practice and limit a person’s lifetime marriage allotment to three. And although I’m a hardbutt on certain people getting and staying married, I also know that it is not for everyone. I also suspect that the way most couples practice marriage is bound to drive the parties crazy, celibate, homosexual, or all three.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Marriage Issue, Kauffman | Link to this Entry

Third time a charm?

April 1st, 2007


Today’s the day we’ll say “I do,” and we’ll never be lonely anymore….
—The Dixie Cups, “Chapel of Love”
(Words and music by Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, and Phil Spector)

No one jerks off more than married men.
—Lenny Bruce

One woman told me that if we got married we’d always have a date for New Year’s Eve. So we did, and it was true. I have always had a date that night, just not with her. We had a big (200-plus people) wedding, rabbis, flower girls, my best man smoking weed in the crapper before the ceremony.

I’ve been married three times really, but only twice legally. You see, back in the dark ages of the 1960s, divorce was illegal in New York, owing to the gigantic influence of the cardinal who perched in St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Yes, in wicked, sinful New York divorce was not an option.

So, the usual sham substitute was an annulment based on breach of contract: Yes, your honor, she/he told me we would have children, but now she/he doesn’t want any.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Marriage Issue, Goldberg | Link to this Entry

I do, I did, I will

April 1st, 2007


Marriage is the commingling of ingredients in a spaghetti sauce.
The End

handsclasped.jpgJust in case our assignment was about the other kind of “marriage,” the “people” kind, I did jot down a few notes about that as well.

Marriage, as we all know, yet are constantly reminded of anyway, is a holy, or civil, or ungodly union of a man and/or a woman and/or another man and/or another woman, or maybe it’s the other way around. I tell you, I have a lot less trouble figuring out the spaghetti sauce. Anyway, I’m pretty sure it has to do with consenting adults over the age of eighteen, or maybe twenty-one, though it could be much different in countries frequented by National Geographic reporters or Jerry Lee Lewis.

I am hesitant to expound upon this most delicate subject without first consulting renowned experts in the field. My research and travel budgets are somewhat limited, so I consider myself extremely fortunate to have two such experts right in my own house. Who’da thunk it?

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Marriage Issue, Ferrandino | Link to this Entry

A harrowing tale

April 1st, 2007


One wickedly warm day in April over twenty five years ago, I swayed dizzily in front of a minister gazing into the eyes of my almost-to-be husband. He returned my gaze with a look of growing suspicion as we stood with our backs to the edge of the lake. The temperature had climbed into the nineties, the humidity close behind. I was trying desperately to control the violent shaking in my knees, which was becoming more uncontrollable by the second, despite the Valium my well-meaning sister-in-law had practically forced down my throat. Whoever invented “foundation” garments and plasticized control-top pantyhose could not possibly have lived anywhere near the sticky Gulf Coast. Good thing my dress covered up the sauna in which I stood, however unsteadily, in the semi-mud by the water’s edge. I balanced on one good high heel —I’d broken the other when I tripped getting out of the car. The train on my dress was trashed, torn by my ragged heel, dragged through the mud, destroyed. No matter, I planned on finding a pair of scissors or a stout safety pin before the dancing began. My dearly beloved was suffering as well, his face and gleaming head purplish-red in the Texas sun. The sweating minister stood facing the water, dark traditional garb gathering up the sun as he ran his finger around the inside of his collar. Daddy dear had a strong grip on me while my knees kept threatening to buckle. I was hugely regretting the tranquilizer threading through my veins, not to mention my lack of breakfast and lunch and the three or four margaritas I’d managed to put away the night before (in between the three beers and who knows how many shots of tequila). My brother stood past the groom’s shoulder glaring at me. He and his wife hadn’t been prepared for the condition in which they’d found me that morning.

“Are you getting up today? I hope you’re not getting cold feet?” (In other words: please don’t tell me I wasted two plane fares from New Jersey!)

“Go away, I’ll be fine.”

“Didn’t anyone tell you not to get drunk the night before your wedding?”

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Marriage Issue, Hart | Link to this Entry

Nyet, nein, non, no!

April 1st, 2007


ladyrefusing.jpgIt’s celibacy, not chastity.

Just a peeve of mine; I don’t use “celibate” to mean “doing without sex.” I use it to mean “forgoing marriage” or “unmarried,” and celibacy is embedded in my hemoglobin. I never “got” the whole marriage thing.

Chastity is quite another animal. Chastity sucks.

But where was I….

OK, here: I was compatibly unmarried to the same person for a very long time. A very very very long time. Throughout our history, we got the same tedious roster of questions, and I always delivered the same responses:

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Marriage Issue, Browning | Link to this Entry

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