J. gave me the news last Friday night, while we were out to dinner with a group of friends. He was sitting at the far right end of the table—the husband side—while I was down at the far left end—the girls side—holding my friend’s baby, feeding him mashed up pieces of a sweet potato fry while my friend ate her meal in peace. The baby was gumming a minuscule bit of orange mush off my finger when J. delivered the news, raising his voice so I could hear him across the table:
“Katy Perry and Russell Brand are getting divorced.”
I felt as though I’d been sucker punched. I’d heard the rumors, of course, and seen the photos of the two of them parading around sans wedding rings. But for it to be confirmed was still horrifying.
I think my mouth hung agape for a few moments, sort of like the mouth of the baby in my arms, waiting for a cold little piece of mushy french fry. Nooooo. Not them. They got married in India, for God’s sake. With camels and elephants!
J. pointed to a TV on the wall. “Just saw it.”
At least one of my friends expressed mild shock, but the rest were positively flummoxed by my response. Another celebrity marriage, another celebrity divorce. And to be honest, I’m not even particularly fond of Katy Perry. But the news that self-professed reformed womanizer Russell Brand had filed for divorce from her left me cold.
I’m not sure why it is exactly that I get so upset at the divorces of certain notable people. I’m still reeling from the Al and Tipper split (forty years!), and I don’t think I’ll ever recover from the Jessica Simpson/Nick Lachey break-up. Maybe it’s because these couples seem to have it easy. They’re free from the day-to-day issues that plague normal marriages. They don’t have to worry about money, or who’s going to pick the kids up from day care or get the dry cleaning. They’ve got nannies and private chefs and drivers to take care of that stuff. They can take exotic vacations when normal life gets too tough, and buy one another extravagant presents, and they can say beautiful things about one another on talk shows. They look so madly in love in the photos I see in my Us Weekly issues each week, holding hands while walking down the street, laughing and stealing kisses in sunny LA.
If they can’t make it work, how are we supposed to?
Maybe it’s the normality of it all that bores them. Maybe their jet-setting lifestyles just aren’t conducive to marriage. But the Perry-Brand union only lasted 14 months. Who gives up after a mere 14 months? (I suppose the same could be said for the Gores’ forty-year marriage—who throws in the towel after investing four decades?)
As I write this, the just-married editor who sits in the office right next to mine popped in giddily to show me one of the Christmas presents her new husband gave her: a plastic Tupperware-like container in the shape of a slice of bread, so she could more easily transport to work the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches he makes her for lunch each day. Written in permanent marker on the lid was her new last name, along with: PB&J & L. (The “& L” stands for “and love,” he explained to her.)
“Isn’t that the sweetest thing?” she said.
Refreshing normalcy. (For Russell Brand’s 35th birthday, Perry bought him a $200,000 trip. To outer space.)
I guess it’s things like plastic sandwich holders that make marriages work. Or J. letting me tuck my cold feet into the nooks behind his knees to warm them up as we lay in bed. That’s how we’re supposed to make it work. Peanut butter and jelly and love.
Do other people’s break-ups—celebrity or otherwise—ever make you question your own relationship? Does reflecting on it help you to realize something about what you’ve got?