When the fantasy fades

August 18, 2008

by Ivan Raconteur

The sun is high in the sky, and in offices everywhere, empty chairs await the return of occupants who are off enjoying their honeymoons. Community centers and Legion halls are filled to capacity each Saturday night with revelers swilling cheap champagne and hopping about to the irksome strains of the Chicken Dance. These things signify that we are in the midst of the summer wedding season.

Every bride is beautiful on her wedding day, her cheeks aglow with the flush of boundless happiness. Even the grooms are as handsome as they can be on their wedding day, their friends and family having helped to clean them up and deposit them at the site of the calamity in the best possible order.

Despite the cloying optimism that is oozing over everything like a chocolate bar left in a locked vehicle on an August afternoon, it must be said that the joy of the moment may not last.

There comes a time in every woman’s life when she looks into the eyes of the man she loves and realizes that he is a boorish oaf.

She begins to see the signs that have been there all along, and she wonders why she never noticed them before.

When her friends gently tried to tell her that he was as dumb as a box of rocks, and he had no interest in culture, she cast this aside, thinking they were all just jealous.

When her father met her husband-to-be, and muttered something about a village somewhere being short one idiot, she thought he was just being over-protective.

Now, she realizes with a pang of regret that when she and her man were dating, she must have been blinded by his rugged good looks and boyish charm. She becomes aware of a sensation that the spell has begun to wear off.

She remembers thinking that no one could possibly be as dim as he had sometimes acted, but she sees now that he wasn’t acting.

She now perceives that her man, like all other men, functions on a primitive level not far removed from the cave dwellers on his family tree.

Comprehending this will not keep her from trying to change him. She is made of much sterner stuff.

Every woman fully expects and even looks forward to molding the man she’s got into something that more closely resembles the man of her dreams. She sees this as her duty and her life’s work.

Now, as she stares into those vacant eyes above that silly smile, she realizes with a sigh that she will have to pull her socks up and try a bit harder. She may have to lower her expectations, but she won’t stop trying to whip him into something she can be proud of, or at least something fit to be seen with in public.

Guys have their own problems that begin about the time they utter the fateful words, “I do.”

Every man is destined to wake up one morning and wonder what happened to the sweet young girl he married.

Thinking back, he is sure that when they were dating, she was just as happy and carefree as he was.

It occurs to him that lately she seems to spend most of her time correcting his behavior and thinking of things for him to do.

That beautiful girl he married has turned into a bad-tempered drill sergeant in wife’s clothing.

He can’t understand why instead of sharing a libation with him like she used to, she nags him and orders him to get his feet off of the table and use a coaster, whatever that is.

He discerns that these days she would rather talk about her feelings than about the football game, or about how he knocked three strokes off of his golf handicap.

And so it goes.

Women bravely soldier on, each knowing full well that her man is never going to live up to her expectations, but being just as sure that she must keep trying.

Men, for their part, are doomed to wander through life yearning for the laid-back lifestyle they knew when they were younger, before the days of honey-do lists and wardens in their beds.

This should not be construed as a commentary against marriage. Quite the contrary, it is a toast to those who are just beginning their journey down the primrose path of matrimony.

One can’t help but marvel at the optimism of youth and admire their recklessness.

The problem is that men and women think about things in completely different ways. This does not make either one right or wrong, they are just very, very, different, and forcing these disparate organisms together in the proximity of marriage is bound to result in some friction.

It has been said that a wedding is a bit like buying a new car. When a young couple drives that bad boy off the showroom floor, everything is bright and shiny and working smoothly, and they expect it to stay that way forever.

In marriage, as in the auto trade, that is simply not the way things work.

In order to keep them running smoothly (marriages or cars), it is necessary to perform some periodic maintenance and make an occasional repair.

Even then, despite our best efforts, the marriage, and those who participate in it, are bound to fade a bit over time, and will end up scratched and dented and looking as though they have seen better days.

With effort and realistic expectations, it is possible to keep things running, but neither the car nor the marriage will never be quite the same as it was the day it was driven off the showroom floor.

Perhaps if wedding days were infused with a bit more reality and a bit less fantasy, it might save a lot of frustration and confusion later on.

On the other hand, if people knew what they were getting into, there might be fewer weddings.