Going the Distance


So here it is, June, already.  Not much happens in June.  There are no federal holidays.  Lots of weddings though.  You always hear people talking about June brides.  Is that supposed to be some kind of good luck charm or something?  Like, if you get married in August you’re 50% more likely to get divorced?

I’ve been around long enough to watch the majority of my L.A. friends get married and divorced … and remarried … and redivorced.   A June wedding didn’t seem to help.

I’ve never been married, so I can’t really say what that tipping point is that makes a couple go, “You know what, this blows.  I’m outta here.”  But I hear a couple of recurring complaints.  The first one is, “We don’t have anything in common.”

Does that really matter?  Because I know this Missoula, Montana couple who have been married for 50 years and they have NOTHING in common.  Seriously.  Nothing.  I know this because they’re my parents.

My mother likes rock and new age – my dad likes country.  My mother likes to travel and went to Ireland with me – back in ’75 my dad accidentally drove across the North Dakota border but turned around and came back once he realized his mistake.  My mother has an air of elegance about her – my dad wears suspenders and the crotch of his jeans sags down to his knees.

So the “nothing in common” argument doesn’t really fly with me.  Another complaint I hear is, “There’s no romance.”  To that I’d like to share the following transcript of an actual phone conversation I had with my parents a few years ago.

Me:  Do you remember proposing to Mom?

Dad:  Yeah.  It was in Bozeman

Mom:  You wrote me a letter.  No, you called me.

Dad:  No, it was in person.  Not in Bozeman.  In Billings.  I was on my way to Bozeman.  I don’t know, I’m watching the game.

So, how did this odd couple with no romance and nothing in common manage to survive for 50 years?  One word.


We have two garages.  One attached to the house and one in the back next to the alley.  Guess which garage belongs to my dad?

Summer, winter, fall and spring he could be found out back in his garage.  He built furniture in it, hung dead animals in it, sang off key to Hank Williams in it and stored all of his prized garage sale bargains in it.  Sometimes, he even parked his car there.  That garage was his sanctuary and the glue that held their marriage together.

Don’t get me wrong, my parents still fought … I think.  They never actually did it in front of us.  I suspect that happened out back as well.  But I could tell when something was up, because I’d see my mother standing in the kitchen, her posture so rigid that she would have shattered into a million pieces if you tipped her over.  But, because they each had a corner to retreat to, they had time to cool down and get some perspective.  You can get a lot of perspective in 50 years.

My dad’s retired now.  You’d think my mother would get tired of always having him under foot, but she doesn’t.  See, we also have a one-bedroom apartment in our basement.  They used to rent it out, but they don’t anymore, so now my dad has a garage AND an apartment.  My parents have never been closer.

Case in point – my folks came out to L.A. to visit me once.  Once.  One time.  I came into my living room to find them on my couch, and my father was sitting there with his arm around my mother!  I was like, “Who are you, old man, and what have you done with my dad?”

So, you see, marriage isn’t so much about romance or mutual interests as it is about space.  Space gives you the opportunity to build a chair, or watch reruns of Murder She Wrote in peace and then hook up with your spouse for a nice dinner together.

Now, remember, I know nothing about marriage, however I have lived with the same roommate, who is a total creep by the way, for the past 12 years, so at least I know a little about coexisting with a man you’d kill tonight if you thought you could get away with it.  And that’s why I advise all of you starry-eyed June brides who may one day find yourself struggling with your choice of mate — forget the couple’s retreats and the marriage councilors.  Take that money instead and invest it in a garage and some Hank Williams CD’s.  You’ll be happy you did.

Missing Missoula,

CC the Trained Monkey

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BIO:  Carol Chrest is a bitter old spinster living in Los Angeles. When she’s not working ridiculous hours at her cruddy day job, she writes screenplays.  She drinks.