Monday, April 21, 2008

Alfie, Marriage, and Hope

I watched "Alfie" not that long ago. It's an interesting, off-beat dark comedy that is sort of about the pitfalls of womanizing, but also sort of about how womanizing, while leading to pain, leads to about the same amount of pain that life already dishes out, so what's the big deal? Or, as the movie concludes, "So, what's the answer? That's what I keep asking myself. What's it all about? You know what I mean?"


So, far more than a morality play, this is a film that takes a look at morality and concludes: I don't get it, but I think there's something there.

If is any indication, about 48% have the same query. And I, unfortunately, sort of side with the minority. I do kinda know what he means.

It was the line "whenever you meet a beautiful woman ...just remember, somewhere there's a bloke who's sick of shagging her" that really got me. It's reminiscent of the paragraph from (I think) "Every Young Man's Battle" that goes something like: Satan will do everything he can to get you to sleep with your girlfriend before marriage, and then everything he can to stop you from sleeping with your wife after you're married.

Am I sick of "shagging" my wife? No. But it's certainly not as fun or as common to "mess around" as it was back in college. I've already written about this in the book, so this isn't anything new or surprising. But I'm feeling the implications of this idea play out more forcefully of late.

Jason, my co-author, has moved out from Oregon. It's really cool that he's here. We sit and chat, watch movies and TV shows on DVD, and generally hang out. I hope that we can really get moving on the book once he's settled. But his outside perspective allows him to see the... lack... that is in my interactions with Brittany. It's the same lack (or whatever word makes more sense there) that I can see in the relationships of the kids I mentor.

It's easy to look at a situation and say, "You really handled that poorly," or, "You really need to talk with her about that." But I find myself holding back, wary. Why? Because I know what it's like to not feel like talking, to just want to be left alone, to feel that someone is being clingy, stand-offish, whiny, bossy, nosy, annoying, or whatnot. I know how past experience influences current conduct.

But I also know how easy it is to look at another girl (one to whom you are not bound forever by "the Ring", or otherwise) and think, 'Man, he really doesn't see what he's got. If he'd just notice how much she loves him, how cute she is, and how much she just wants to be close to him, he'd want to hold her as much as I do.'

"So, what's the answer? ...What's it all about? You know what I mean?"

This is something that, even though a few people write about it, no one has yet to come to any conclusion or even good solid advice. This is a very clear example of what Jason so aptly points out: We've got this idea that if we could just get them to the altar virgins everything will be okay. But there's so much more....

He's right. He's right and he's not even married.

I know this whole "marriage thing" works, is great, and all that. I know there's hope. It would just be nice to have someone, somewhere, actually point to it in a viable, livable, sensible, reasonable way. Hopefully our book will include such insights by the end of the next draft, but until then, I feel like I'm fighting this ideological battle alone.

It's hard to be hopeful there.

~Luke Holzmann