Do you know what I’ve discovered? Trying to find couple friends as an established married couple, who aren’t insane, full of crap, religious fanatics, nasty-ass swingers, or Amway sales people are like trying to find a virgin in the Playboy mansion. You know, like the couples in the movie “Couples Retreat” who irritated the hell out of one another at times, but would go to the ends of the Earth to be with each other and help each other over the hurdles of life.
“Couples Retreat” Movie Trailer|| Vince Vaughn, Kristen Bell, Malin Akerman, Jason Batemen, Faizon Love, Kali Hawk, Jon Favreau and Kristin Davis
No one ever tells you if you can manage to make friends in high school and college that that is as good as it is going to get. But once you move (which statistics show Americans do every three years or so), or your roommate from your “Friends” days marries an asshole, or you marry late in life, or you’re shy, it is damn near impossible to establish a Lucy and Ricky Ricardo relationship with a Fred and Ethel Mertz—best buds forever who stick with you through thick and thin.
“I Love Lucy”||Ricardos and Mertzs||Google Image
I thought the only ones having trouble making couple friends at this stage in our lives were my husband WW (White and Wonderful) and me until I read an article from 2007 and discovered that couples of all ages were facing the same hurdles: “Doubling the tension: Being a couple is hard enough, but socializing with other couples can be tough” by Rita Pyrillis from Crain’s Detroit.com. WW and I could have written that article. In our quest to find “normal” friends who live in the same town, we have met some of the weirdest, oddest, rudest, sorry-ass couples known to man, and we were beginning to think the problem was us. We had begun to ruminate maybe we had bad breath or horrible body odor until we started asking other couples if they had suffered similar nightmarish couple ventures. Come to find out, compared to most, we were doing all right—most of the others were completely traumatized and had decided to give up the ghost and become hermits.
As soon as I realized that couples from all age groups and all nationalities were suffering the same dearth of relationships and nobody knew why, I decided to take up this subject at my “moonlighting” job on Curious Talk-Radio as my alter-ego, Big Mama. What I learned from that show blew me away. I was stunned by the things I heard and I’m still not sure how to process it all.
TRANSCRIPT OF “BIG MAMA SPEAKS”
CURIOUS XM RADIO, CHANNEL 127||airing 12:01a.m. – 12:59 a.m. Mon – Fri
“Big Mama Speaks” radio show opens with the theme song from the 1980’s TV sitcom “Cheers”: “Where Everybody Knows Your Name”—written by Gary Portnoy and Judy Hart Angelo.
“Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got.
Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.
Wouldn’t you like to get away?
Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,
and they’re always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see,
our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows
Your name. . . .”
BIG MAMA: Well, good evenin’, Babies. How’s life out there in the twilight zone tonight? If you’re hearing my voice then you’re workin’ the midnight shift, comin’ home from the four to midnight shift, or you’re Cinderella and you’re just plain doing things you shouldn’t be doing after the clock has struck midnight. You know Big Mama’s motto: nothin’ good happens after midnight except moi, Babies, so you might as well go home, stay out of trouble, and hang with me tonight!
Tonight’s show is dedicated to all those lonely couples out there, looking for “coupmance.” You know, couple romance, just like two straight guys can have a “bromance”—I mean good friendships, no swingers shit—(get your mind out of the gutter, Bruno). So many married people are looking for compatible married couples to be friends with in all the wrong places and coming up with . . . bupkis! Let’s call it what it is. There is no other way to express it. But why is it so hard to find couples to just “hang” with, Babies? We don’t need a rocket scientist to solve our dilemma; you know what I’m sayin’? We just need people to do the right thing by each other.
After a lot of thought and discussion with my man, WW, I’ve decided that in order for couples to meet other quality couples in life, we have to have what WW calls our “Nyeculturnik-dar” operating at all times. Nyeculturnik is Russian (from the adjective “Некультурный” ) and basically means a “really crude person.” WW says most of the crap that happens in life is because people are being “Nyeculturniks” (Did I tell you that I’m married to one smart white man and he speaks several languages—Russian being one of them?). Anyway, WW says one has to have a fine-tuned radar to ferret out the really crude people (stingy, humorless, rude, and disrespectful), and you do that by immediately discerning who people really are underneath (and I paraphrase Maya Angelou): “People will always show you who they are; when people show you who they are, believe them—the first time, not the ninth time!”
So, Babies, I’m interested in hearing from my audience. What are some of the worst “coupmance” dates you’ve experienced in your search to belong and build community? Call in and tell Mama your stories and we’ll do a little “coupmance” commiseratin’ together.
Walrus overwhelmed by the generosity of a birthday “fish gift”|| pinned by Tan WeiJie on Pinterest
CALLER #1: Hi, Big Mama, I’ve got a real “Nyeculturnik” story for you. I’m from Atlanta, Georgia and my husband and I moved here after graduate school, and we’re having the dickens of a time meeting other couples. After not meeting anyone in over two years, we recently met a couple that we thought we’d have a lot in common with and invited them over for dinner. I just graduated culinary school and made a dinner that I had hoped would be a real gift to jump-start our friendship. I made spinach salad with goat cheese and walnuts with a homemade raspberry dressing, herb roasted chicken with roasted tomatoes and English summer peas, garlic mashed potatoes, and a lovely grilled peaches and cream dessert. The meal was bookended by fresh lime margaritas and a lovely pinot grigio. The couple stayed for hours. We all seemed to have such a good time and the other couple volunteered that we should get together and have dinner at their house the next time. Well, the next time came and my husband and I were so excited, but when we went to our “coupmance’s” house, we were informed that they were just too tired to cook and would we mind going to Chuck E. Cheese with them and their three children because it was one of the kid’s birthdays. (I’m from another country and I had never heard of Chuck E. Cheese or I must admit, I would have fled and gone screaming into the night.) To add insult to injury, when we got to the restaurant, the couple raced ahead and paid for their families’ meals with a coupon and left us standing there at the counter to pay for our own meal “sans coupon,” in a sea of colorful balls and screaming kids, to eat the worst food I’ve ever had in my life. Two hours later I had a splitting headache from the cacophony of little kid screeches and this couple had the nerve to suggest that “y’all, we’ll have to get together and do this again real soon—wasn’t that fun!” Did I mention that their kids were the worst brats this side of the Atlantic Ocean and the “birthday girl” kept peppering us with one annoying question that was on a continuous loop all evening: “Where’s my birthday present—didn’t you bring me a present—everybody else gives me presents?” Did I also mention that I’d never been in a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant before and never plan to go again? In fact, my husband is getting a vasectomy after that experience into multi-color-ball hell.
BIG MAMA: Lord, have mercy, child! You mean to tell me that you put all that effort into cooking a fabulous meal for this Atlanta couple and they pulled the cheap-ass stunt of making you pay for dinner at a cheap-ass restaurant with their nasty-ass kids and never told you beforehand?
CALLER #1: Yep, and my meal for them was delicious, if I do say so myself, Big Mama. We don’t have kids and our home is nicely appointed and given to hospitality, relaxation, and peace. In other words, their experience with us was not a goddamn noisy Chuck E. Cheese, house of horrors which still causes me to break out in hives when I think about it!
BIG MAMA: Um, um, um, um, um! I hear you, Baby! Change your cell phone numbers and move to the other side of town so that you’ll never even have the potential of accidentally running into these cheap-ass mofos. Generosity is one of the key components of any relationship. If people aren’t generous in the beginning of a relationship, it will only get worse with time. Hang in there, you’ll find a good “coupmance.” Don’t get discouraged.
Caller number two. My producer says you hail from Boise, Idaho. What’s your “Nyeculturnik” story?
CALLER #2: Blessings to you and yours, Big Mama. I am a Christian and I try to build my friendships within the Church because that’s where I feel God is “calling” me to invest my time and energy. The Bible says that “light should not fellowship with darkness,” and I truly feel that “birds of a feather should flock together so as not to fall into sin.” Well, I have developed a friendship with another mother in my Bible study group and we hit it off real well becaise she seemed like the “perfect” Christian woman. I had planned to invite her and her husband to play golf in the near future to try and build a relationship as couples. Recently I dropped by my new friend’s house to drop of a gift for her birthday and her husband was there with her. I hadn’t been in their home more than 10 minutes when I heard him mutter, “You said you were going to stay for just a minute, so why aren’t you leaving”? At first I thought I had misunderstood him and said: “Beg pardon—what did you say”? He repeated it— just loud enough for me to hear— but not enough for his wife to hear. (She had walked into the other room to get me a cup of coffee.) “You said you were going, so why don’t you GO,” he said. I was stunned, Big Mama, and I couldn’t move fast enough to get out of there. I sit beside this man and his wife in the same pew every Sunday and he treated me like I was a Communist or something. Wouldn’t you call him a “Nyeculturnik”? Wait a minute . . . is “Nyeculturnik” one of those Communist words? Oh, dear. . .
BIG MAMA: Girlfriend, I hate to break it to you this way, but you’re fucked. I think there might be two “Nyeculturniks” in your story”: the husband and you! (Lord, Jesus, where do I begin?) First of all, what is this “light should not fellowship with darkness” thing? Who you callin’ darkness, Miss Thang (according to the Bible you read, we “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”)? Do you know that not too long ago in Christian history, the Scofield Reference Bible defined the scripture you quote as God not wanting whites and blacks to date or intermarry? Well, history has proven that Mr. Scofield was full of shit and way off base. So who died and made you God so that you get to determine whose heart is “dark” unless they reveal that to you? Don’t misunderstand me, I get what you’re saying about people showing their true colors and revealing their “Nyeculturnik” ways, but how can you predetermine someone is a “Nyeculturnik” just because they don’t attend your church?
Some of the biggest assholes Big Mama ever met belonged to churches I’ve attended. Not that long ago, WW and I joined an adult Sunday school class (our last foray in trying to make the modern church thing work) that was called, “Building Relationships.” This class was in one of the richest, whitest, most prominent churches in our area. The leader encouraged us to sign up to eat dinner together in small groups once a month in order to get to know each other in our overstressed and overworked congregation of lawyers, doctors, politicians, and CEOs who all lived in million-dollar mansions (except for WW and me). When I went to sign up for a group with the coordinator on behalf of WW and myself, the woman looked me straight in the eyes and said there were no more spaces available (“sorry”) because most people in the Sunday School class only owned six place settings, not eight. Really, SERIOUSLY?! I grew up in the ghetto and even I had more than six place settings. The plates may have been cracked and mismatched but you could eat off of them. And if that didn’t work, there were always paper plates from the corner store. WW and I left that church as soon as the Sunday service was over and knocked the dirt off our feet, so to speak, never to return.
Now as to your friend’s husband, a newborn baby would sense your “church-going” man was the epitome of rudeness and he wasn’t going to get any better. My advice to you is that you’d better flee that “couple relationship” because honey, “when a person shows you who they are, believe them the first time . . .” In the meantime, darlin’, if you really want to experience the best that God has to offer from his great community on this planet, try widening your circle beyond your church and go out and meet people with an open mind. You just might be pleasantly surprised at the quality couples you find.
Caller number three: My producer says you’re calling from Morgantown, West Virginia and you’re having an Aretha Franklin “Nyeculturnik” issue. What’s the problem, Baby?
“Respect for Others”||copy of a Jeffrey Michael Green painting from Fine Art of America Gallery
CALLER #3: RESPECT, goddamn it, Big Mama—I need respect! I can’t get respect from my best friend’s new husband. She married a Neanderthal and now she expects us to have this cozy couple relationship and I just can’t do it, Big Mama. She says that if I loved her I would ignore her new husband’s jabs because she knows him and deep down inside he doesn’t mean the racist things he says. What I’m trying to determine is if my friend’s new husband is a “Nyeculturnik” or not?
BIG MAMA: Hum . . . give Big Mama and our listening audience a couple of examples.
CALLER #3: It started the night before their wedding. We flew all the way to Bermuda for a destination wedding with my friend and this hillbilly and when he met me and my husband (we are an interracial couple, they are white), the first thing he said was: “Cindy told me you were a salt and pepper couple; I got no problem with the race-mixin’ for the most part, but I do think people should stick to their own kind in general ‘cause Coloreds and Whites approach life differently. If God had wanted us to mix and match the races, he would have made us all zebras, if you know what I mean—yuck, yuck!”
BIG MAMA: Oh, no he didn’!
CALLER #3: Oh, yes he did, Big Mama. Now he’s joined the Tea Party and dragged my friend with him and what he says about our first black president, I can’t even begin to repeat or I will really explode and you will lose your listening audience. My friend says if I knew his mother than I’d understand. Bullshit, the hell with his mother—that hillbilly is responsible for his own thoughts and words.
BIG MAMA: Calm down, Baby. No need to call people names. Some of my best friends are “hillbillies,” and they saved by life at a time when it needed saving which is another story for another show. As far as this dude is concerned, Flee, Baby, flee! No respect means the inability to build a decent “coupmance,” and with lack of respect there can be no true bond. Your friend’s husband is a “Nyeculturnik” from way back, and your ex-roommate has become a “Nyeculturnik” by not standing up for her friendship and defending you against her new husband’s ignorance. Big Mama’s so sorry you’re losing a friend, but your personhood can’t afford her or her husband.
(SOUND OF THE CHEER’S THEME SONG STARTS TO PLAY)
BIG MAMA: Well, that’s all we have time for, Babies. Big Mama’s gonna have to call it a night. But until we meet again, keep working on your “coupmances,” and to rip off a phrase from the playbook of the late, great Soul Train’s Don Cornelius, “I’m Big Mama and as always in parting, I wish you Peace, Love, and Happiness”!
I am discovering that this “couple romance” thing is a huge deal because it is one of many aspects of “community.” If you have it, you feel as if you belong—if you don’t, you feel isolated, lonely, and lost at sea. This is so because humans were not built to live outside of community, and having friends to socialize with, no matter what your social configuration (single, married, or married with children) is a necessity for strong mental health. It doesn’t just take a village to raise a kid, it takes a village to provide community in order to survive our life and times on Earth. In case you haven’t noticed, it is pretty rough living on this rock.
In fact I’m feeling a little weary myself, and I’ll probably take a rest next week because WW and I are going to the wineries and hot-air ballooning with a couple we met a couple years ago. They are the salt of the Earth and just knowing them has made our lives so much richer and fuller. From the moment we met them, we knew they were a gift from God. We can talk about any and everything and never run out of interesting conversations. I’ve never known an evening to drag with them, yet we are so different. They are younger and I am old enough to be their mother, we are religious and they are not, we are an interracial couple and they are white, the husband is a Republican and I am a recommitted Democrat, they like sports and WW and I would rather drink poison than attend a sports game, we are singers and actors and they can’t carry a tune, WW and I knew each other 6 years before marrying and they met on an online dating site, we’ve been married for thirty-four years and they’ve been married for two years. They inspire us to “keep it real” with their new, freshly-minted love, and they say we inspire them with the longevity of our romance—we all have the ability to laugh at ourselves and to “pee our pants” from laughing at the humor that flows continually from each other. Our “coupmance” husband and wife also excel in Big Mama’s litmus test: they are generous to a fault, funny as all get out, deeply kind, and passionately respectful to everyone. It doesn’t get better than these two when you’re building a “coupmance.”
A note of interest: All the stories used on the Big Mama Talk Radio show actually happened to WW and me in our quest to find community and belong at various points in our lives. The names and the towns have been changed to protect the “Nyeculturniks” they represent.
“Community is a sign that love is possible in a materialistic world where people so often either ignore or fight each other. It is a sign that we don’t need a lot of money to be happy–in fact, the opposite.”― Jean Vanier, Community and Growth
“Ever console or scold people hurt in human relationships that satisfaction comes from God alone? Stop. Adam’s fellowship with God was perfect, and God Himself declared Adam needed other humans.” John Ortberg Jr., Everybody’s Normal Till You Get to Know Them
“Our lack of community is intensely painful. A TV talk show is not community. A couple of hours in a church pew each Sabbath is not community. A multinational corporation is neither a human nor a community, and in the sweatshops, defiled agribusiness fields, genetic mutation labs, ecological dead zones, the inhumanity is showing. Without genuine spiritual community, life becomes a struggle so lonely and grim that even Hillary Clinton has admitted “it takes a village”.”― David James Duncan
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