Apple I, 1976.
I’m never getting married and I’m never having kids.
I mean, marriage and children are fine, of course – so long as the children aren’t sitting close to me on an airplane or in a movie theater – but along with pro sports and Crossfit they fall into the category of things that I think I can live a perfectly full and happy life without. I’ll gladly attend your weddings, not just because there’s free food but because I think two people promising to love one another forever is a beautiful thing. But for myself, I’m just not that interested in marriage or family life.
Of course, my Dad said the same thing to my Mom on their second date, and look how well that turned out.
Mom and Dad, third from the left.
My parents got married on August 1st, 1976. Porn was still shown in theaters, Apple was just three nerds selling mail-order computer kits, and the world had only months before been exposed to the chart-topping majesty of Frampton Comes Alive! Ever the romantic, Dad picked the date because the first of the month would be an easy anniversary to remember.
They got married in front of a handful of friends and family in my grandparents’ backyard in Portland. Mom wore a nice white dress, Dad wore a Travolta-esque white suit. They made the wedding cake themselves – a sheet cake baked in a copper bowl they borrowed from my grandmother. Because they couldn’t get a justice of the peace to come to the house on a Saturday they instead hired a Unitarian minister, who insisted on performing a brief ceremony instead of just saying, “You’re married – let’s eat!” the way they wanted.
Their honeymoon was a trip to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland. Afterward, they moved into a small, crappy apartment in North Portland. They were both 22 years old.
As of today, my parents have been married for 38 years. That’s Three Mile Island, VHS killing Betamax, Iran-Contra, the entire run of the TV series Cheers, the end of the Cold War, the entire run of Frasier, the rise of the Internet, the entire run of The Office, and the acceptance of the word ‘twerking’ in polite conversation. The world is barely recognizable today compared to what it was in 1976, save for the fact that all the continents are in the same place and David and Kelsey Capps are still married.
That’s a pretty tough act for me to follow. It’s not that I’m scared of commitment – it’s that I quite honestly can’t comprehend a commitment of that size and scope. The longest friendships I’ve had only go back ten, maybe twelve years. At best that’s less than a third of the length of my parents’ marriage – and I wasn’t sharing a home with those people, much less raising a neurotic child.
Being with someone for 38 years is impressive under any circumstances. Doing it when the divorce rate stands at 50% – even higher for people who get married in their early 20s – is a goddamn miracle.
Well, okay, no. If 50% of people are able to do it I guess it’s less of a miracle and more of a lucky coin flip. But if I were to get married I’m pretty sure my marriage would wind up on the losing side of that coin flip.
I’ve never met anyone who I’ve loved more than I love myself. That’s not a pleasant thing to admit, but it’s the truth. Marriage is all about sacrificing some of the things you want in order to build a stronger relationship with someone you care about, and right now I’m about as open to the notion of compromise as your garden variety Republican Congressman.
Case in point: Recently I was talking to one of my married friends and he mentioned that in an argument with his wife of two years she’d asked him to stop spending so much time with his drinking buddies and instead spend more of it with her.
What is this, North Korea? I thought as he recounted this. This aggression will not stand, man. If I were him I’d be thumbing through the Yellow Pages for a divorce lawyer. Actually, no, I’d definitely use Google.
And then, much to my surprise, he finished the story with: “…so, yeah, I’m not going to be out at the bar as much now.”
“Wait,” I said. “You’re actually going to do that?”
“Well, yeah, of course! I love my wife. I want her to be happy more than I want to hang out with my friends.”
The way that he said it, it was clear that he knew he was making the right decision. And that floored me, because until that moment I’d never considered that giving up something you love because someone else wants you to could be the right choice.
Did I mention that I legally officiated a wedding last summer?
It’s not that I’m some sort of selfish only child sociopath. It’s just that the two most important things in my life right now are my friends and my career, neither of which I’m willing to compromise on, both of which are usually the first thing to go on the chopping block in a marriage-type situation.
I’m certain that I’ll continue to have relationships with women whose lives and priorities line up with mine. And honestly, I haven’t even ruled out the possibility that I might change my mind on marriage somewhere down the line. I’m only 25, and against all odds there might be at least one woman in LA who watched The Wire and doesn’t have “Live, Laugh, Love” tattooed on her ankle.
Right now, though, I can’t imagine loving somebody the way my Mom and Dad love each other, and I’m sure as hell not going to legally promise to love someone forever if I’m not certain that I can make it at least 38 years. If I never meet someone who gives me that sense of certainty, I won’t feel like I missed out – I’ve got a lot of goals for my life, but marriage isn’t one of them.
But if, like my Dad, I happen to meet a woman who gives me a reason to add marriage to that list, well… I guess I’m pretty much fucked, aren’t I?
Truman Capps’ rice cooker only makes enough for one person anyway.