Thursday, May 06, 2010

Marry Him by Lori Gottlieb

I don't recall the article that spurred me to put Marry Him on reserve at the library, and thus was a bit puzzled when it arrived. Took it home anyway, trusting my former self's selection of reading material.

I'm glad I did because Marry Him is a joyous waltz with Schadenfreude (for a guy, at least).

The primary topic is how a certain amount of women end up alone and/or dateless because they're just too freakin' picky and/or have too many criteria that allow for easy disqualification of a potential mate (much like any given Seinfeld conversation on relationships or dating; "man hands" comes to mind). A corollary is how many of these women have such an elevated view of themselves - how hot they are, how wonderful, such a catch, etc. - that no one is really worthy of them.

The author offers herself as the poster child of these issues and delusions, bless her heart. It's a very brave book in that sense. I don't know if I could hoist myself on my own javelin like that, then grasp the shaft and keep pulling earthward.

Ms. Gottlieb made matters even worse for herself; when she approached 40 still single, she decided to go ahead and have a baby to get past the biological clock thing, fully expecting she would be "away for a year" and then could resume the hunt for Mr. Right right afterward. Again, she does a good job of scoffing at her own stupidity, but how can someone get to a place where it doesn't immediately occur to them how stupid something like that is? Is it too much fiction? Is it too many things going right in their lives, giving a false sense of imperviousness? Believing too much in "you can have it all"?

Ok, so once we get past the author's real-life voyage through the needle machine that scralls your sins on your flesh ala Kafka's "In the Penal Colony", and embrace sniggling Schadenfreude, the book is fun. A lot of fun.

Reading about all these fussy lonely-hearts who've ended up hugging their couch pillows rather than Prince Charming is akin to watching stuff blow up real good in an action movie. Especially that trope where we are shown the same explosion three times in a row for emphasis. And a bit of vindication, if you will.

Most guys I know have been dismissed or dumped for reasons we suspect were pretty trivial or overly harsh. Sometimes we merely suspect that, sometimes we get pretty good evidence that that was the case. (I was dumped once because I had chapped lips when I kissed her goodnight after a long, mid-winder outdoor group date (how many guys do you know that carry chapstick?); she told me this herself about a year later.)

When various mentors, gurus, and yentas figuratively slap Ms. Gottlieb upside the head and tell her she's not getting the point, you shake your head in wonder as you see someone live out that definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. (It's also a testament to her honesty, and her ability to convey a story. As stated, I don't recall reading anything non-fiction where the author was so able to viciously critique themselves and yet still evoke empathy and sympathy.)

Btw, guys do this too. Heck, I did it apparently. One of the things my grandma told my brother and myself on her deathbed was that we should be less picky about the women we dated. We both were a bit picky at the time because we both hadn't been picky enough and had wasted too much time on someone we shouldn't have. Still, we both took her advice, and, in spite of it, I landed someone awesome - though not without dating a few frogs along the way.

Let me state that in a fair world there would be a book like this directed at men but that women enjoy for all the same ugly reasons. Alas, the women tend to get things like He's Just Not That Into You. The few that exist are more "get over yourself and take a shower and get a haircut" rather than "get over yourself, princess, you ain't all that", which aren't nearly as fun a read for women as Marry Him is for men.

So, gentlemen, pick this baby up. You're in for a blast.

Ladies, I'd avoid it unless you discover this book is about you. However, if it is, a dose of the tonic my grandma gave me might be your love potion number 9.

For your enjoyment, here's the original "Atlantic" article: Marry Him!: and some related articles: un, dos, tres.


Anonymous said...

A friend of mine (38 yo, single, attractive) read this recently and said she was impressed. But then a few weeks later she broke up with her boyfriend.


yahmdallah said...

The author mentioned how she kept doing this, too. She understood the concepts, but when it came to the rubber meeting the road, one of her mentors literally had to yell at her and sit with her as she went through potential dates on a dating site before she acted differently.