This is going to start with a confession. A VH1 reality show made me cry. I'd never seen Tough Love before but I was feeling tired and brain dead enough to sink into the couch and give it a half hour after first dismissing the host, Steve Ward, by saying he looks like a douche.
I should put it out there, though, that I use that term way too much. I really need to get a new word, a more original put down, like an obscure southern colloquialism that no one north of the Mason-Dixon line has heard.
Now that we have cable, I talk back to the TV a lot. A Hollywood starlet comes on to giggle through her shiny extensions and sell me shampoo. She announces who she is and I complete the sentence for her, 'And I am a douche...' Sunny and I contemplate Matthew and I relocating to Los Angeles and we make a point by point list of how to resist becoming a douche if and when we move. I'm drawn to the option of calling people 'd-bags' in lieu of douche but even more than that, I'm trying to just let go.
Back to the couch. I'm prepared to hate people for being tacky and wanting cheap fame via reality television and equally prepared to hate myself for encouraging them by watching. I'm overlooking the irony that my paycheck comes from a tour based on a major reality tv show. I am there to absolve myself of any responsibility and to be uncharitable.
Tough Love is a house of women who want to change their patterns in relationships. When speaking to the camera, the screen bears a descriptor under their name related to their past: Miss Lone Ranger, Miss Gold Digger, Miss Fatal Attraction etc. Matthew had seen the show before and said that I remind him a little of Jody, Miss Lone Ranger. He hoped I wasn't offended and I wasn't. I got it. She's tall, not girly, self-sufficient, and kept looking uncomfortable and rolling her eyes.
Jody has a way of talking to the camera that is very what-the-fuck-ever down to earth. Such is not the case with Miss Gold Digger, Taylor. Taylor, wow. The first few times she spoke, my ears threw up. It was weird.
'Someone get that girl a speech pathologist,' I thought. The tone of her voice is F'ED. Or maybe it was how she said, while standing drunk in the hot tub, that she wouldn't get to know the man at her side because he didn't have money. If I'm watching this show just to hate then things are going very well for me.
Taylor, after ranting, got drunk and rolled on her ass around the bedroom in an extremely unladylike manner. We are talking SPLAYED. With cameras on. And wide-eyed gawking roommates. Jody, though she'd mentioned that Taylor's not her kind of person and she's not Taylor's, was the only one who picked her up and tucked her in and nicely but firmly told her to shut it and go to sleep.
We then find out that Taylor is afraid of getting in a relationship without good finances because she was left with a baby by someone and was forced to give up her 16-month child for adoption. Ouch x infinity. I feel a microscopic grain of sympathy get stuck between two heartstrings. While I cannot see myself standing in a jacuzzi in lingerie telling someone to get lost because they're not loaded, I CAN imagine making a rule about never letting myself get in the same bad situation ever again. Perhaps Taylor just needs help with the way she expresses her deep emotional fears.
Jody then goes on a date with someone she liked, someone with whom host/matchmaker/therapist Steve paired her. And things are good until dude lays into her with questions about why she's still single at 39.
The questions sound like an interrogation, aggressive and repetitive, and he either doesn't know or care. Why? Why? Why? sounds like What's wrong with you? What's wrong with you? What's wrong with you? Miss Lone Ranger keeps as cool as possible but once back in the house she LOSES HER SHIT, screaming for a cigarette, shaking, trying to flee the cameras. And little miss crotch shot Taylor is the one who is able to get close to her and light her cigarette and calm her ass down.
THEN, and here is where I tore off my glasses and got an inch from Matthew's face to prove to him that a big fat tear was welling up in the corner of my right eye, Taylor reads a letter to Jody in a group meeting about how much she's learning from her and inspired by her and how she's able to see past surface differences and all kinds of similar kick ass friendship sentiments. Maybe I'm a jerk, but it hit me. Heartfelt.
I thought about how three of my good friends, all in their 30s, were recently broken up with. They are all beautiful, strong, and independent. They are all fucking hilarious. And they are all dealing with varying elements of personal, familial, and societal expectations. Why are you single? Do you want to get married? Are you putting yourself out there? 'Don't worry, you'll find someone,' becomes silence after awhile or 'It's okay to be single.'
And it is, if you want to be single. It's awesome. If you don't, though, those questions cut. Another friend, going through a divorce, gets the Do you want kids?
How about Do you want to stop for a minute to consider how painful that question might be? Or Do you have any idea what I've been through and if the answer is no would you please shut the fuck up?
Because even if those questions are well-meaning, they are usually thoughtless. The answers are personal and rarely neutral. They are loaded. They may have complicated, difficult histories attached to the basic yes and no. And if you get to know someone, you'll find out how and why they do or they don't whatever you're curious about. So just settle down; People talk when they're comfortable and not just because you verbally assaulted them one day.
Furthermore, for those who want kids and marriage and don't have it, it's generally because they haven't found the right person yet and all the Why? Why? Why are you single? questions are is a smack in the face reminder of that. Why do you THINK?
ps I think I like Tough Love.
pps I take back calling Steve Ward a douche.