“If you were to die, which of your friends would you want your partner to end up with?”

In ALL, DATING & MATING, MARRIAGE by Stephanie Klein24 Comments

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I have a big mouth. All those times I’ve completed the Myers-Briggs test, something hasn’t added up right. It always pegs me as an introvert. I certainly don’t see myself as an introvert, just moody. Sometimes I’m that person at the party who just wants to observe, who’s happy not speaking to people. I want to hear the stories of others, to listen as a couple tells their "how we met" meet cute. To see if they have it down to a dance, then guess how long they’ve been together based on the way they tell it. And yet…

There I am at the bookstore, standing on line–I know the correct way to say it is "standing in line," but as a New Yorker this just feels so very wrong–debating whether or not to buy a certain cookbook, when I spot a red hardcover book in the hands of the woman in front of me.

"I hope it comes with a good divorce lawyer," I tell her, pointing to the book (the book I’ve written about on this blog before).
"Oh, gosh, really? I mean, I’m gettin’ it ’cause I heard it was real good."
"You’re already married, though, right?" I ask, checking once more to make sure it was a wedding band, not just a flash of engagement ring.
"Goodness, yes. I would not be getting this other fertility book if I were living in sin… You know, our closest friends are getting ‘The Big D,’" she says adding air apostrophes. I realize in that moment that I should never, ever, again make air apostrophes, no matter how appropriate. People who make them think they’re being clever. And I know I do this. I must stop.

"Boy howdy, we’re just torn up about it." She made soft tsk tsk tsk sounds as she shook her head, then continued…

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"The husband sent me here to do what I could to make things right… ‘Just get something, fast,’ he said. Not that we’re havin’ problems, mind you, but, he’s all shaken up. We were all married at the same time, and now… well, it’s just terrible. And that poor woman. Now she’ll be branded as a divorcee." Nah-ah. "I also heard this here fertility book is fabulous, not that we want to make babies, if you know what I mean." What? It’s clear by the look on my face that I’m thoroughly lost. "You know," she says, leaning in, "the method."

"So you’re buying a fertility book to try to not make a baby, then?"
"You didn’t hear it from me," she says with a coy smile. "Those egg white tests you read about on the internets just aren’t reliable." No, but birth control is. I’d like to say at this point in the conversation, I regretted initiating a conversation with the woman. But I can’t say that. This was truly the highlight of my day. I want to treat her as if she’s a child on the show, "Kids Say The Darn’est Things." I want to keep feeding her ice cream and alcohol until she confesses her darkest secrets.

"So, I know I don’t know you from Eve," she says, "But do you really think this All About Us book is that bad?"

"Let me put it this way," I say, "I’m sure people buy the book with good intentions. You want to learn new things about each other. But there are certain things you really shouldn’t know about anyone." Like the fact that a grown woman refers to her husband as "The Husband." "As far as I’m concerned," I tell her, "questions like ‘If you were to die, which of your friends would you want your partner to end up with?’ can’t lead to anything good. Quite frankly, them’s fightin’ words where I come from."

"All the same," she says after a long silence. And I think she’s going to follow it up with some explanation, her opinion, something. Instead, she bats her eyes and says, "You must not be from the South."

I replayed the conversation in my own head on the drive home, trying to understand what she could’ve meant. That it would take far worse information to get her to fight with the husband? That it would be much easier for her because she’d simply forbid the husband from ever ending up with anyone in the event that she die one day? That questions can’t do you in, but not asking can? Or maybe it was just her polite way of saying, "I’m through talking about this." What I do know is that it’s going to be my new go-to move ever time I think Phil’s instigating a fight.

"Oh, darlin’ all the same… you must not be from the South."

Comments

  1. Regarding introverts vs. extroverts, someone once told be this and I find it so insightful and true…It's not that introverts are loners and extroverts are people persons. Or shy vs. outgoing. It all comes down to whether you are a person who recharges with alone time or a person who draws her energy from the presence of other people?

  2. The husband and I bought the book (we were only engaged at the time too) and nothing horrible resulted from it. Some insight, some laughs, and a fun car ride home where we did the book together.

    I think it is only bad if the relationship itself isn't working out, or the right one. Don't blame books, blame yourself and the other person because you two aren't a right fit.

    Please don't warn people against a book just because it wasn't right for you.

    And honey, I'm not from the South.

  3. I bought that book thinking it was something entirely different. It seemed like it should have been titled "These Questions Will Make the Divorce Seem So Much More Natural."

  4. "You must not be from the South" means "You stupid Yankee." It's on part with "Bless your heart!" ("You poor little idiot!)

    Spoken by a poor little idiot.

  5. I'm from the South, and have no earthly idea what she was talking about. It does sound like a good line to keep handy for when you need to get out of a conversation, though.

  6. Your fake southern accent is absurd. Thanks for perpetuating a stereotype.

  7. Myers Briggs indicates your inherent preference – so while you don't picture yourself as an introvert many of your tendencies are of an introverted nature. Some people are truly introverted but by the nature of their work they come out of their shell and appear to others as an extrovert.

    As to the south comment – the woman has Scarlett O'hara syndrome – oh fiddle dee dee, tomorrow is another day.

  8. I think she meant that she was going to buy the book because her husband told her to go buy a book. meaning southern girls are compliant with their husbands requests.

  9. Snort!
    I'm sorry but she sounded retarded from the get-go. Crackah, yankee…who cares? Retarded.

  10. I call bullshit on this story. Nice way to perpetuate the stereotype of dumb southerners though.

  11. Thanks for making all Southerners sound like complete dolts. Go back to NY.

  12. Wow, Stephanie…I'm from Texas, and have never met a person that sounds like your depiction. I know it makes for a good story, and will garner all of the "get out of Texas fast comments"…but it has no bearing on reality that we are all back woods, husband-minding simpletons.

  13. I'm a southerner living in the north east (gee, we must have traded places!) anyway the saying "you must not be a southerner" if her way of saying you don't get me (or anyone els.) It's a put down, but don't worry. The big "d" is more prominent in the south than any other part of the nation. My people get married way to soon to avoid things that are normal in NYC — like living in sin. So the short answer is she's no different than you, just wants to put on the appearance of something different, unique and wholly above you.

    Just sad……

  14. I'm a southerner living in the north east (gee, we must have traded places!) anyway the saying "you must not be a southerner" if her way of saying you don't get me (or anyone else.) It's a put down, but don't worry. The big "d" is more prominent in the south than any other part of the nation. My people get married way too soon to avoid things that are normal in NYC — like living in sin. So the short answer is she's no different than you, just wants to put on the appearance of something different, unique and wholly above you.

    Just sad……

    (sorry for the errors in the first one!)

  15. My boyfriend and I did this book when we had been dating for like a month, as suggested by a friend… best thing we ever did. LOVED IT. I think it's so funny you have such the opposite opinion.

  16. Oh man, I totally do the air apostrophe thing and so need to stop doing it too. Mom2boyz is dead right btw, it's exactly as she describes it (I'm an introvert, not an antisocial loner)

  17. I am a southern girl, born and breed. (I do striving for proper grammar, though.) I know exactly what she meant, and it was said in true Blanche Devereaux fashion. A stereotypical Southern woman must know every detail; she placates with compliments while asking the most intimate questions; and she plans every detail of her hypothetical death (who he sleeps with, who raises her children, who redecorates her home, etc.) I am amazed you kept a straight face:)

  18. "meaning southern girls are compliant with their husbands requests"
    Bullshit. You must not be from the south.

    As a Southern woman I totally agree with JLM. This book is perfect for Southern women who must plan everything to the last detail. Haven't you heard of the book, Being Dead Is No Excuse: The Official Southern Ladies Guide To Hosting the Perfect Funeral?

    There's nothing in the All About Us she doesn't already know or can't guess. Plus we like knowing everything especially all the gorey details we can possibly throw a fit over.

  19. I'm also from Texas, and I have to say – SO sick of the Texan stereotype. Ever notice in movies or TV shows, the evil person more often than not has a southern accent?

    Look for it. You'll be amazed how often it happens.

    I think she was responding to your "where I come from" statement.

    JLM is dead on, as well. Here's an example: my grandmother, a true Southern lady, had to go in for surgery a few years ago. When I went to visit her in the hospital, there was a basket full of snacks and drinks by her bed. It wasn't a get-well gift. It was something she put together before being admitted, for the comfort of her visiting friends and family. I mean, talk about planning and manners!

    Since moving to Washington several years ago, I've noticed a constant 'battle of the sexes' thing going on. I don't know if it's just this state, or a northern thing, but there's this line in the sand, and a lot of rhetoric about what women/wives and men/husbands do wrong. Many couples lead completely separate lives. They do this weird blame dance – keeping constant score of wrongdoings and perceived insults. It's like they get off on the tactical emotional warfare.

    I can only speak for my family and friends, but the women I know in Texas are much more relaxed in general. They're happier with their husbands (check out the blogroll on my page for some real-life examples). I think a lot of southerners just don't understand what they see as constant high drama in northern relationships.

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