Do you know what I discovered? Everybody’s talking about the dissolution of the marriage of Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise. Who didn’t see that coming? If you really want to know the real predictors of the longevity of a celebrity marriage you just need to visit your neighborhood beauty parlor, barber shop, or nail salon—you’ll never be taken by surprise again. At my weekly spa the technicians have names like Mary, Jane, Carol, and Judy but in real life their names are Jungyoon, Yunjoo, Joohee, and Wonjin. They all pour over People magazine as if their lives depended on it. They know more about Hollywood celebrities than the celebrities’ own mothers do, and they predicted the demise of the Cruise/Holmes marriage almost to the day.
For years I too had the “gift of prophesy” of predicting how long a couple would stay married because for a good stretch of time in my life I was a wedding singer. By the time the rehearsal for a wedding was over, I could tell if the bride and groom had the fiber to go the distance or if they were just bullshitting each other and themselves. During those days (60s, 70s, early 80s), my overall conclusion about the brides and grooms I met were that they were in “lust,” but rarely in love. Oh, they thought they were in love, and I’m sure it would have come as quite a surprise to them to hear otherwise. But if their union lasted more than a hot minute and I got to meet them again on their 20th or 30th anniversary, I usually found that by that time they were “growing up” in love because they had journeyed through Hell and back and had truly discovered the hard work of choosing to love each other rather than exiting stage right when the thrill was gone.
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As a wedding singer during that time, I had three songs that I rotated by popular demand: Paul Stookey’s “Wedding Song: There is Love,” Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly,” and Fiddler on the Roof’s “Sunrise Sunset.” If I had $100 for every time I sang one of those songs at a wedding, I’d be rollin’ with
The Donald (no, not that slimball—never that slimeball—but I’d definitely be a baller). I was thinking about my wedding singer season the other day, and those songs kept ringing though my head as if on a loop (possibly precipitated by the great Holmes/Cruise marital take-down) when I went to get my nails done recently.
WONJIN: “Well, how yu doin’ my friend?
ME: “Hey Judy, how’s life—what’s the buzz?”
WONJIN: “Hangin’ in der, my friend—not too shabby—can’t complain. Hey, you hear how Katie Holmes kick Tom Cruise ass? People say she run divorce escape-plan like ‘Mission Impossible.’ Baby-girl one smart cookie, that’s what I say.”
JOOHEE: “Oh yeah. People say that that Puss in the Boots guy’s marriage to 9 to 5 actress is toast too, but I don’t want to say too much until I confirm it with the People. I not surprised, though. That Antonio has got the look of a real player, but I wouldn’t kick him out of my bed even though he not Asian. Hee, hee!”
ME: “Auntie, you so nasty. What would Antonio Banderas want with an old woman?”
JOOHEE: “How he know if he never try? What that thing you tell me last month: Once you go Auntie-Asian you never go back!”
ME: “You’re a hoot, Auntie. The expression is ‘once you go black, you never go back’ and I was talking about myself. Only Black people can use that expression. Somehow it gets lost in translation when you use it.”
JOOHEE: “I can see you never taste ripe Asian fruit, my friend or you’d be singin’ a different tune—forever!”
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JOOHEE: “Anyhow, I gave that Puss-n-boots and his Melanie five years when I first read about them in the People—they been married ten years more than I said they’d be. And divorces come in threes, you know. Once People tell me Demi and Ashton on their way down the toilet, and then Katie ditched Tom ass, I knew another divorce comin’ our way faster than you can say kimchi.”
JUNGYOON: “What all they problem, anyway? I understand why poor people break up—no money! It’s hard to be all lovey-dovey when you ain’t got pot to piss in or window to throw it out of. But how come rich people can’t just get along?”
WONJIN: “They got money, but they get bored and like to get milk from a different cow. Sometime they like Asian flavor and sometime they like other flavors. They think maybe next cow give them chocolate milk, ain’t that right my friend. Tee-hee-hee-hee . . .”
ME: tuning into the iTune stream in my head)
“Well then what’s to be the reason for becoming man and wife?
Is it love that brings you here or love that brings you life?”
(“Wedding Song: There is Love” by Paul Stookey)
Bored Couple” funnypictures.blogspot.com||image from
JOOHEE: “Well, finally Angelina and Brad finally got engaged. People say her ring cost $500,000. That no chump change, my friend. I need me a man like that—Asian or no Asian. I think somebody tell me engagements come in threes too. ”
ME: “I think you me mean ‘deaths happen in threes,’ Mary.”
JOOHEE: “No, this time, I right. Although I a little worried because karma comes in threes and it is a bitch. After what Angie and Brad did to Jennifer, I keep waiting for the other rock to drop.”
ME: “Do you mean the ‘other shoe. . .’ oh, never mind.”
JOOHEE: “All I know is Angie and Brad not safe from the karma gods until Jennifer finds happiness with her man. Last month People rumored that Jennifer and Justin may be engaged. They even show what they thought might be her ring from three different angles, but it was false alarm. They were pictures of rings she give herself. I think she fuckin’ with our minds, if you really want to know. People think that too. What wrong with these modern American couples? Why he no put a ring on it?
(ME: zoning out to iTune stream in my head)
“Strumming my pain with his fingers
Singing my life with his words
Killing me softly with his song
Killing me softly with his song
Telling my whole life with his words
Killing me softly with his song.”
“Killing Me Softly” (by Charles Fox and Norman Gimbel)
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HYUNJOO: “Auntie, look at this—it’s the new People magazine for this month. It says Vera Wang is leaving husband, Arthur Becker. There’s your third celebrity divorce for the month because Demi and Ashton don’t count—they ancient history. And this People story is about death of an Asian mixed marriage. That makes me sad—I like mixed marriages. I think if we all married each other there would be no more racism and war.”
JOOHEE: “Silly girl—you talk crazy. I think everybody stick to they own kind—everybody be much happier. Look at Vera Wang . . . she marry that white man and 23 years later—Pow!—People say he leave her ass. Nice Asian man would still be there.
WONJIN: “Auntie, old woman, you don’t know what you talkin’ about.”
ME: “Hyunjoo, that was a nice thought Baby-girl. You’re young, and hope always springs eternal in our youth. But your Auntie and I are old and we know that racism will always be something we’ll struggle with as people because it is an issue of the heart (and OLD PEOPLE really resist change—don’t we Auntie) . . . Besides we don’t all need to intermarry each other (nice to do if you want) to accept one another. We’ll get better, but we’ll never get over the need to feel superior to one another. The best we can do is to love each other as we are where we are for who we are and take a sledge hammer to our own prejudices when they pop up. Speaking of international relationships, are we still going to see Avenue Q next week, Wonjin?”
WONJIN: “Sure, but only if we get to sing my favorite song in the car.
ME: “You only like that song because the Asian character sings it to her white husband and gets to scold him, the entire cast, and the audience about their racism.”
WONJIN: (WONJIN/a.k.a. Judy breaks out in an atonal voice belting “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist” by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx like a scalded cat while all the customers in the shop scream in protest):
“Everyone’s a little bit racist it’s true.
But everyone is just about as racist as you!
If we all could just admit that we are racist a little bit
And everyone stopped being so PC
Maybe we could live in – Harmony!”
ME: “And on that note, I’m turning on my massage chair, plugging in my iPod, and I’m taking a nap—this is supposed to be my therapy time, not my eardrum bursting time. Wake me when you find an interracial couple in People who you think will go the distance. I’d like to place a bet on that. Preferably an Asian married to an African-American, because you all know. . .”
JUNGYOON, HYUNJOO, JOOHEE, and WONJIN: “Once you go black, you never go back!”
(ME: sleeping while listening to iTune stream in my head)
“They look so natural together
Just like two newlyweds should be. . .
. . . Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears”
(“Sunrise, Sunset” from Fiddler on the Roof by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick)
“Interracial” Marriage||image from funnyanimalsite.com
JOOHEE: Wake up, my friend. Did you hear what People have to say about Joraan van der Sloot? He may
be getting engaged. WTF! Go figure! How a convicted killer get a woman to marry him in prison, and his ass
in jail (in Peru) for twenty-eight years? I tell you right now, if what People say be true, I give that marriage two days—maybe one week, tops!
I am discovering that real love takes a lot of work. Whether it is the love of a petulant toddler, a rebellious teenager, a thoughtless spouse, or an unkind friend—to love is to sacrifice. I don’t believe in staying in a marriage where it is abusive (physically or verbally), or the partner is a substance abuser, or if the partner is so self-centered that the spouse has to play second fiddle to his or her ego more often than not. I know nothing about Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise’s marriage, but I suspect, given the cult-like nature of Scientology that infused their lives she might have escaped a volatile situation by the hair of her chinny-chin-chin—or else why the subterfuge? (Hey, get off my case: I read People and I know these things—so there you have it!)
But as Americans (without an oppressive cult-like religion breathing down our throats), we’ve really been sold a bill of goods about love. We’ve been told that it is something we “fall into” rather than “grow into over time.” We’ve also been told that love is a “feeling,” but it is more than that. Love is actually a choice—an action. Feelings will ebb and flow like the tide, but the ability to choose to give and receive love is always with us—it is organic and it grows as we make the choice to choose love over self-centeredness over and over again. I have been fortunate to find the man of my dreams and to be married to him for 33 years after dating him for six. He is not the same race, his family did not openly embrace me, he is better educated, and our initial “hot” bodies that we had when we were young that caused us to drown “in lust” for each other now sag in all the wrong places and increasingly feel more like the Pillsbury Dough Boy when we cuddle together at days end against the slings and arrows of the outside world. We have been to Hell and back together. But I love him and he loves me in all our twilight failings and oddities—so much more today than we did the day we first said, “I do.”
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“Love is action. Love is tolerance. Love is learning your partner’s love language* and then expressing love in a way that he can receive. Love is giving. Love is receiving. Love is plodding through the slow eddies of a relationship without jumping ship into another’s churning rapids. Love is recognizing that it’s not your partner’s job to make you feel alive, fulfilled, or complete; that’s your job. And it’s only when you learn to become the source of your own aliveness and are living your life connected to the spark of genius that is everyone’s birthright can you fully love another.” By Sheryl Paul (“What is Love?”) Huffingtonpost.com
“No matter what way you dress it up, the best thing you can bring to a marriage is not the feeling of ‘being in love‘, but romance’s poor relation: tolerance. . . And while I am pontificating, one more tip for the ladies: Try to find a man who has that most underrated of qualities: character.” By Kate Kerrigan (“Blog post: Marriage Myths”) and author of Recipes for a Perfect Marriage.
*“Something in our nature cries out to be loved by another. Isolation is devastating to the human psyche. That is why solitary confinement is considered the cruelest of punishments.” ―
Gary Chapman, The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts
July 20, 2012 In Memoriam
Artist: Mark Rantal
Mark Rantal’s blue ribbon image interlaces elements of the Colorado state flag, a heart shape and an outline of Batman||Image from MarkRantal.Blogspot.com or “like” Mark at http://www.facebook.com/MarkRantal
MY HUSBAND AND I WISH TO EXTEND OUR HEARTFELT CONDOLENCES TO THE PEOPLE OF THE CITY OF AURORA, COLORADO AND ALL THE VICTIMS OF THE HORRIBLE TRAGEDY WHICH TOOK PLACE ON JULY 20, 2012. OUR THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS ARE WITH YOU. MAY GOD GRANT YOU GRACE, HEALING, AND LOVE. E & J Tomczyk
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