mixed bag

Friday night we went to the beau’s office holiday party. This is the fifth year I’ve attended his holiday party, but the first of those years that we’ve been married. Some things happened this year that definitely did not happen in years before:

  • I got a lot of how’s married life? thrown my way. “It’s fine, it’s great,” I said. I didn’t really know how to respond to that. Maybe because I’m not really sure what married life is. It mainly feels a lot like life before September 18th, except there’s a lot less wedding planning. I don’t know if the sameness is a bad thing or a good thing. They say no news is good news, so maybe I’ll go with that.
  • “Has he changed now that you’re married? Does he just lay on the couch and expect you to bring him a sandwich?” someone asked me. “Yes,” I said. Yes. It seemed easier than saying no.

  • “I’ve rededicated myself to opening the car door for my wife,” the CFO said. “Oh,” I replied. I’ve always just handled my own car door.
  • “I think he’s ready to propose,” a woman confided in me about her boyfriend. She’s around 30 years old. She’s applying for a Ph.D. program in biochemistry. She wants to work with stem cells, and her mother wants her to have babies. “I don’t know about that,” she told me. “I’m not even sure I’m ready to be married.” Additionally, there’s the fact that her parents are Korean and über-traditional, and his parents are British and not. “Well, there are various ways to get around that,” I said. Like maybe just eloping.
  • I bumped into the wife of an accountant as she was busy exchanging texts with her kids’ sitter. “Everything is quiet here,” she read aloud from her phone, then she looked up. The light from the screen had painted her face blue. “You should definitely have babies,” she told me. “They’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me. The best.”
  • “Do you work?” another woman asked. “Yes,” I answered. She didn’t seem interested in talking to me after that.
  • I fell into a long conversation with an older paralegal whose opening line was about how she’d never had children and didn’t regret it. She’d been married once before, a long time ago she said, and she’d made a lot of mistakes back then. “You should read Women Who Run with the Wolves,” she said. “It changed my life.”

I could say something here about the tableau of gender, but I guess I already did.

15 Responses to “mixed bag”

  1. Oh dear lord, this sounds very familiar. Except that all those comments you got from women are coming from my fellow grad students… And no, life hasn’t really changed – I tell them that straight out. All that changed is no more planning and I have another ring on my hand. It’s sparkly, so life is better. Oh, and we’re not living in sin any longer. Saying that has a tendency to shut people up too.

    • It’s weird, right? Because before, I wanted it to change. I WANTED it to be different. But then it wasn’t, and I came to be okay with that.

      ALSO, that last bit is hilarious. It reminds me of an anecdote my mom shared with me just a few weeks ago. Apparently after the ceremony the beau’s father leaned over to my parents and said, “Well, at least they’re not living in sin anymore, huh?” And then walked away. She thought he was such a card.

  2. My favorite response to “How’s married life?” is “So good, so far.” Or if I’m feeling less generous, “well, (four, five months in) we’re not divorced yet. So pretty good.” People love to ask that question! Why?

  3. When I read this it came off sounding kind of like a very dark, bad play. Like where each of these people you talk to are standing silently, unmoving in the dark until you get to them and then there’s a spotlight that shines on both of you while you have your snippet, and then you move onto the next person and they are plunged back into darkness (and there’s a lone bass rift playing in the background) and you’re left wandering, looking fuitlessly for the one non-existant person who can have a normal conversation.

    I think someone put something in my coffee this morning.

  4. @ Kerry! lol, yes! it totally sounds like a dark (but maybe not so bad) play!

    I’m totally dreading any holiday party that hubby’s work might have…because all these typical conversations happen and I’m terrible at stupid small talk! I should prepare better answer for the most definitely going to be ask “Hows married life?” Marriedish?

    It also always makes me wonder about the people asking the question. Do they have marriages like the one they are asking about? Does their hubby only lay on the couch? Do they want everyone else to have babies to increase their play date opportunities or to reinforce their decision? Are they even thinking about the words leaving their mouths?

  5. I read it the same way as Kerry! Beautifully written, and majorly depressing of the world. C and I had a conversation today about telling people the date we’ve chosen and how that’s probably too confusing because he didn’t technically propose. C’mon, world.

  6. Seriously, what is the appropriate response to “how’s married life?” And can someone please tell me what that means. I’m not even married yet and I’m already dreading that question!

  7. Hmm, my husband’s work party invite specifically says that it is only for the employees. Is that super weird? I am sad not be able to go, since I know a number of the other employees, but….you know, whatever. :)

  8. thank you for this post! it drives me crazy. I also get a lot of ‘you still married?’ which I laugh and say ‘yep’ but seriously, what would they do if I was like ‘no’. they would feel like jerks, I imagine.

  9. This post is brilliant! Oh, people…

  10. i loooooove this post! thanks.

    also, how come no one asks me these questions? i’m jealous.

  11. i know you’re a fiesty girl. sometimes not putting up a fight though and leaving them to run home to their pathetically empty conversations with people to talk about their newest interaction with the independent, married woman who WORKS (gasp!) and holds her own doors (double gasp!). should give you some satisfaction. maybe?

    • I definitely didn’t intend to dismiss their individual choices in favor of my own so much as marvel at the breadth of the experiences I had. I mean, the last lady could have been something right out of an APW post, right down to the recommendation on Women Who Run with the Wolves. Which was in stark contrast to some of the other points of view, that’s for sure. It was kind of crazy how in a small room of people I could encounter people with vastly different belief systems — although I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised.

      Now that Kerry mentioned it, I can’t get the image of the weird play out of my head. It definitely had a melodramatic quality to it, that’s for sure.

      The things getting married does to the way people interact with you…

  12. This morning, my assistant was updating some of my reference books and noticed that my former married name was still on them. The point of this is to say that I am still nervous about introducing Tony at work events because too many people there still act like I am (a) still married to someone else entirely or (b) newly divorced to the point of it being inappropriate for me to be dating, let alone engaged, even though years have passed since I separated and divorced.

    Honestly, I hate work-social-events with a passion, but I did love your David Mamet-styled Holiday Play.

  13. This is not helping me with my meet-all-Jason’s-new-coworkers anxiety at next week’s holiday party. I find it hard already, because the wives and girlfriends are almost an accessory and status marker. The questions/your answers help define where you fall in the status marker realm and reflect then on the male partner. I find this isn’t as much the case when women bring their male partners to office functions.

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