Hey, TGI Friday! What are you doing tonight? Checking movie times? How couple-y of you! You wouldn't by chance be in a monogamous relationship? You wouldn't by chance be trying to solve the age-old "Well I'd really like to eat after the movie, but I don't know if we can make the 7:10, and if we go to the 8:10 I'll be starving and he'll want to get popcorn, and that's so many calories and I shouldn't even really be having carbs after 6 p.m., so maybe we should just eat before the movie, and go easy on the wine so we don't fall asleep" dilemma, would you? Because studies have found that dilemma to be a telling precursor to the larger, more existential "Holy shit am I going to be doing this every Friday for the rest of my life????" problem, which is to say, you are either married already, or fully possessed of the possibility that marriage is an option for you, meaning the fun and games are over and "fun" for you may consist of checking into the phenomenon that is Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married? if you haven't already. But can a movie with Janet Jackson really be that true to life? And is "truth" really what you want to witness right now? Shit, I don't know; and since when am I sober enough on the weekend to see a movie? So I asked my married friend Stephanie for a review.
The New York Times forgot the TYLER PERRY in Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married? and had to issue a correction last week. (Not surprising. This is the same paper that referred to that little Oscar-winning ditty as "It's Hard Out THERE for a pimp." It's hard out HERE, Schulzberger. Not that you would know from your soon-to-be-tree-lined lobby.) Perry's new self-titled flick features four married couples who take a yearly trip to the mountains to answer the age-old question of why anyone would trade in random sex and complete independence for sex with one person and a mother-in-law. The film deals with many weighty issues (venereal disease! workaholics!), there's a whole lotta asking Jesus for help, love-will-carry-us-thru, blah blah blah, and a hilarious roun-table scene where everyone learns his/her shit stinks.
But really, if you haven't been there, you are probably wondering, "Just How Hard Is It Out Here For A Spouse?" I mean, chances are the marriages you have experienced most closely, your parents', are either long since over (mine) or blissful as a result of circumstances that could just no way in hell recreate themselves in the modern era. (Moe's.) In most marriages these days, that thing happens where your best friend is your husband, and all your other best friends are either single and they don't really get it, or in LTR/marriages wherein they confide everything to their significant other so you can't really be honest with them anyway, which makes for this weird honesty vacuum that is strange. Whereas when you were single every one of your friends' boy problems was an exact replica of some boy problems you'd had with some other boy a few boys back, suddenly you're like, on your own. Together! Which is why, IMHO, this movie has done so well. And since I did that whole pick-out-a-china-pattern, open-presents-at-not-so-surprise-shower only to-act-absolutely-shocked-to-then-see-said -china-pattern-on-the-very-plate-I-registered-for, I thought I could shed some light on the major themes in Perry's film. (Except Janet Jackson's cheekbones. I don't know what the hell happened there.)
Do people who are married really fuck around that much?
There's a lot of adultery going on in the TPWDIGM. Perry introduces the 80/20 rule whereby you get 80% of what you need from your partner and 20% elsewhere. People will make the mistake of going after the 20%, only to lose the 80% in the process (a la Chris Rock's 'Commitment versus New Pussy'). This sound about right. All married people do is think about sex. Are we having enough sex? I mean, it seems good for now, but what if it just stops? What if that kinda lazy missionary sex we had this morning turns out to be the last sex I have for the next month? Think that couple over there is having more sex than us? Is our sex good enough? Should we be having sex upside down in the conservatory with the candlestick? Ooooh, candlesticks, isn't that something a Republican congressman did once? Or was that Richard Gere... Forget it. At least 80% good sex is VD-free.
At the very least, can marriage calm down one's body issues?
Just because Jill Scott loses the fat suit in the film doesn't mean women all of a sudden get married and feel great about their thighs. In fact, some of us have more body issues than ever since we couldn't maintain the lettuce-and-ice-cubes diet we survived on for 8 months before the wedding. Typical conversation:
Me: I'm as fat as a purdue chicken.
Him: Purdue chickens are actually quite lean.
Me: Fine, I'm as fat as a purdue chicken on an HD-TV. You know, honey, like ours! Because all we ever do is sit and watch television anymore and maybe that's why my ASS GREW ITS OWN ASS?
Diane doesn't want any more kids. Terry does. You didn't even lick the stamps yet on the thank-you-notes and everyone is asking when you are going to poop out a kid. When are you having a baby? is second only to How's married life? as the most annoying question EVER. Then, when your friends actually start having kids on purpose—as opposed to those people from high school who call their rug rat a "blessing"—they have to gall to suggest you get on the baby-making wagon. Like everyone's doing it. Like it's so easy and fun. You lose your drinking buddies to women who only want to talk about their uteruses (uteri?).
Angela is all upset that she's the breadwinner and Marcus just works for her. Well duh: in marriage, one person is going to make more dough. But while divorce is the great destroyer of wealth, marriage will at least let you live in an apartment without thirteen roommates. There will be the traditional merging of bank accounts - though it may go something like this:
Him: When are you going to get your check direct deposited into our new joint account?
Me: I did already.
Him: Oh. Seriously?
Him: That's really how much you make?
Me: Welcome to the rest of your life!
At this point, you might also want to bring up getting life insurance...