I'll admit it: For as long as I can remember, when the Sunday New York Times has arrived at my house, the "Weddings" section is the first thing I read. If I'm short on time, that's all I read. For those of you who aren't familiar with this phenomenon, the New York Times will have a few pages devoted to people getting married. There's a picture of the couple, and a blurb about them, usually containing their educations, jobs, who their parents are, and where they're getting married. And every week, there's a larger story about a couple, including the intricate details of how they met. This week, the couple in this profile experienced the ultimate 21st century meet cute: The woman posted a loveseat on Craigslist, and it was love at first sight for the man who showed up to buy it. He took a picture of the loveseat in its new home (could I make this up?), sent it to her, and asked her out. At their wedding, their cake had a miniature loveseat on it.
When I read this loveseat story, for some reason, it finally became clear to me why the "Weddings" section appeals to me so much. You really wouldn't think I'd be a fan-- it's corny, traditional, and full of i-bankers. Although I have to say, I have some rough ideas of what I'd want my potential wedding to look like, I'm not attached to the idea of it ever happening. But even I can see that the "Weddings" section is the only place in the newspaper where everyone will always be happy, no matter what. Half of these beaming new couples will probably end up getting divorced, but there's not even a shadow of that knowledge: It's your wedding and it's going to be the happiest day of your life, godammit. And I don't know any of the people, so they aren't going to make me buy them an expensive gift they don't need, or any of the other annoyances that can occur when someone you know actually gets married.
But it's more than just that. I realized that the wedding stories give us something that we all crave-- and it's not marriage. It's a narrative. I guess it's been obvious from the dawn of time that humans want everything to fit neatly into a story. However, I had never connected this to my readings about weddings. These days, unless you're extremely religious, the search for narrative can often be elusive. In the weekly wedding anecdote, I find a plotline that eludes my own life, as much as I try to impose it. When I see the mad dash towards marriage in this light, it isn't quite so inconceivable. If you're in the "Weddings" section, then our culture is telling a story about you. Being asexual, I feel like I have little choice other than to make up this story myself.
(And because you're totally wondering, here's one of my wedding ideas-- pizza and beer! Of course, there will be appropriate pizza for every conceivable dietary restriction, as well as root beer for all the teetotaling asexuals.)