It’s hard to keep up with the Kardashians.
It seems like just 72 days ago that Kim was getting married, and now she and Whatever His Name Was are getting divorced.
Maybe it’s just their way of encouraging the repeal of DOMA.
“Marriage is like Ancient Rome,” they seem to say, “It is getting gutted from within before anyone will be able to damage it from without. Probably it’s something in the water.”
Even people who are generally Too Serious For This Sort of Thing are weighing in, lamenting the state of matrimony. Perhaps they’re right. Maybe marriage is past reviving. But as long as Weddings survive, we’ll be fine.
Gone are the days when we married solely to make ends meet. Nowadays our ends meet in middle school.
People have been having trouble with marriage as long as the institution existed. You don’t call something an institution if you’re really excited about it, with the possible exception of Dame Judi Dench.
Everyone wants to get married. Nobody wants to be married. Marriage, like California, is a state that seems fun in theory, whose residents mainly detest each other and ran out of conversation material several weeks before you arrived.
But you don’t have to be marrying the right person to have a spectacular wedding.
An alien visiting Earth for the first time during the Royal Wedding last summer might be forgiven for having no idea that there was any commitment attached to the thing. It’s all a show, a party you throw to extract attention and gifts from the people around you. “Marriage,” the crew would write to the mothership, “is just a state you’re in until you can figure out whom to have your next wedding with.”
I often suspect that Kim Kardashian is an alien visiting earth for the first time. It would certainly explain the past 72 days.
As long as you make it to the altar, you’re set. It’s yet another thing that marriage has in common with human sacrifice, besides the fact that it tends to happen in June and afterwards someone’s brother gets inebriated and yells that Quetzalcoatl is returning.
The difficulty is that the only reason we are allowed to make such a fuss about weddings is the idea that they are the entrance to an indefinite, luminous tunnel called marriage from which you may never emerge. Your friends will call you, and you will not answer, because you are too busy doing couples yoga and sharing important anecdotes from your childhood.
Weddings only count because they generally indicate that you have found someone willing to put up with your shenanigans for an indefinite period of time. If there’s a built in end-date, no one will show up, no matter how enticing you make the candy buffet.
We have to pretend that we still believe in the institution of marriage so that we can continue to enjoy the delights of weddings. Photos! Toasts! Bands! Cake! Dresses! Open bars! We love everything about them. Wedding planning is thriving, or would be if it weren’t for those durn hipsters who insist on buying their wedding ingredients on Etsy. (“Then the bagpiper on his fixed-gear bike will release the handcrafted wood-pulp owls into the lake of fire-spinners in a ceremony that is an expression of our true uniqueness and commitments.”)
Sure, there’s the stress.
You get calls at 3 in the morning from your daughter crying that she failed to purchase enough papier-mâché swans and that Everything Is Ruined Now. Nobody calls her mother at 3 in the morning to complain that “I’m worried I didn’t order enough I-statements to use in our fights later.”
If it were possible to do this without dragging another person into it and declaring that we would spend our lives together, believe us, we would. We’ve read the statistics. We know how these things end: divorce or death. Given a choice like that, I’d much rather be divorced!
Perhaps Kim used similar logic. So much for marrying in haste and repenting at leisure. We don’t have leisure nowadays. We have reality shows to star in and Brands to maintain!
George Ade said that “if it were not for the presents, an elopement would be preferable.” If it weren’t for the presents – reports place the profit Kardashian and Kris Humphries made around $250,000 for each day of marriage – forget the whole idea. But perhaps that’s too cynical. Maybe they just hit the Or Worse sooner than anticipated.
After all, marriage is unglamorous. The show isn’t called Say Yes To the Years of Couples Conflict Resolution. Marriage isn’t a word, the saying goes. It’s a sentence. And outside Texas, what sentences still end in death?
But it’s hardly atypical. We know that 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. And you know what divorce means: more weddings!