Last Sunday while waiting for my friend Daniel to finish work and take me out for a rather belated birthday dinner at Houston’s (standard fare, consistent food, fair prices), I popped into a bookstore even though I tried to fight it.
I’d done several laps around the Ferry Building, eyeing the bookstore at each passing. “No more. You have too many unread bookstore at home. You are not to go in.” One step, two step, inside store, glance up and down aisles, just looking, touching books, opening books, reading books. Purchase book.
I’m reading it when Daniel makes his way over to my car. I wave, toss the book in the back seat, and move toward him for a hug as he enters my car. I hadn’t seen him since the day I picked him and Chavonta up from the airport back from their honeymoon. Hug and release. He looks in the back seat, picks the book up, and quizzes, “Against Love? What’s this?”
In the twenty minutes since I’d purchased the book, I had become engrossed. I felt like I was back in school, fascinated by an academic critic and her research. The book was engaging, thought-provoking, witty. I was hooked. I’m only a quarter into it (by the way, did I mention I am super stressed out at work?), but the author Laura Kipnis, a Professor at Northwestern, is making me think and question and analyze.
Last night, I went out for drinks with my friend Joy and some of her guy friends. I mentioned the book and actually happened to have it in my purse (I always have to have reading material in my purse just in case). Shocked, Joy exclaimed, “What? I leave you for a few days, and you pick up stuff like this? What are you thinking? This is not good. Throw it away! Look at the author, she doesn’t look like a happy woman.”
Her guy friends agreed. But I pressed on…
What I’ve gathered so far from reading is that people agonize over relationships–monogamous, committed relationships. That we agonize over how we’re supposed to behave and commit to one another. What is the real definition of a good marriage, of a good relationship? That there’s no cheating? No lusting? And if we do cheat and lust, is that a breach of commitment? The basic premise is…if we are happy in our relationships, then we shouldn’t have to work at them. We would just be happy and at peace. We wouldn’t even consider what our other options are, flirting with the waitress, contemplating an affair. If you’re happy in a relationship, you don’t have to work at it. Just like if you’re happy with what you do for a living, it’s not work.
A passage from the book: “Here we come to the weak link in the security-state model of long-term coupledom: desire. It’s ineradicable. It’s roving and inchoate, we’re inherently desiring creatures, and sometimes desire just won’t take no for an answer, particularly when some beguiling and potentially available love-object hoves into your sight lines, making you feel what you’d forgotten how to feel, which is alive, even though you’re supposed to be channeling all such affective capacities into the “appropriate” venues, and everything (Social Stability! The National Fabric! Being a Good Person!) hingest on making sure that you do.”
Well, my happy hour friends were up-in-arms over such nonsense. But I think it’s fascinating to have an opinion that is so contrary to the rules of relationships. No cheating, no adultery. Shut up or ship out. They told me to move to Utah, but in the end, we agreed that it’s a great topic for debate and discussion. It makes you think…not just with your heart, but your head, too. Out of the box. Try it.