I deleted a very nasty comment earlier today — luckily it was caught in the spam trap and not out there for all the world to see. The comment wasn’t about me. Rather, it was about one of the happy couples whose story and picture I put up on the blog days, months, or years ago. It made me feel cynical and sad, and when I feel cynical and sad I usually spend a little time looking for something that will made me feel good in equal measure. Balance, and all that.
What I found was an old essay by Herbert Stein, published in 1997 in Slate. Entitled ‘Watching the couples go by,’ it really touched my heart, so I thought I’d share some of it here.
I am concentrating on the married couples. How do I know that those men and women walking two-by-two up to the Kennedy Center are married to each other? Well, 75 percent of all men between the ages of 30 and 75 are married, so if you see a man in that age group walking with a woman to the Kennedy Center—which is not exactly Club Med—it’s a good bet that the two are married, and almost certainly to each other.
I look particularly at the women in those couples. They are not glamorous. There are no Marlene Dietrichs, Marilyn Monroes, or Vivien Leighs among them. (It is a sign of my age that I can’t think of the name of a single living glamorous movie actress.) Some of them are pretty, but many would be considered plain. Since they are on their way to the Kennedy Center, presumably to attend a play, an opera, or a concert, one may assume that they are somewhat above average in cultural literacy. But in other respects one must assume that they are, like most people, average.