An Open Letter to Mindy Kaling (and other singles who want to believemarriage doesn't suck)



Dear Mindy,

Nice to meet you!  Big fan.  Your writing for The Office coupled with a pint of Ben and Jerry's has cured my achin' soul many a wild Tuesday night, so I recently bought your first book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns).  Fine, I didn't buy it, I got it from the public library.  If it makes it any better, I had to wait a whole week and then I finished it in 24 hours and yeah maybe I didn't personally buy it but I did recommend it on this blog that like 12 people read.  You're welcome.

I found the book hilarious and much better than your 2nd one (sorry, but true).  In fact I enjoyed it so much I read a lot of it out loud to my husband.  Not as much as I read to him from Jim Gaffigan's book but know your crowd, am I right?  I also didn't take pictures of Jim's text and send them to my sister so one might say you tied.

Anyway, one thing I like about you is your love of family.  Seems like you had a killer family life growing up and long to find the same for yourself.  As someone who shares an appreciation for the devotion and devastation that is family life, I perked up when I read your challenge to married couples.  It seems you're sick of hearing about how hard marriage is and how much therapy it takes, and want to hear more about how fun it can be.  You want to see more couples like Amy Poehler and that guy she calls by his last name.  You want to see husbands and wives who are pals, you say.

Well challenge accepted Ms. Kaling.  Because we just celebrated our 10th anniversary and, in between therapy sessions, if there's one thing my husband and I are it's pals.  Allow me to offer you a closer look.

First let's talk about Netflix.  (Incidentally I just found out what "Netflix and chill" means and I am 96% sure that I've used that phrase inaccurately up until now.  And now that I've written it, I don't exactly know what I meant there except that maybe the 4% are now 2.5 years and 2.5 months old.)

My husband (let's call him Eric so that I don't have to keep saying "my husband" and also because that's his name) and I have never been big T.V. watchers. We're more the smug weirdos who prefer books and conversation about the precepts of socialism.  We've sort of prided ourselves on not watching much television, but then we started having kids and as great as they are it's suddenly been like, "diversion! must! have! diversion!"  So we hack into his sister's Netflix account and binge watch shows with our respective pints of ice cream until we start resembling Stephen Colbert in that bit he did with the Oreos on Donald Trump.

It seems like as good a time as any to admit that despite our ongoing plight to appear pseudo-intellectual, we know very little about politics.  But we watch a lot of Colbert and Madam Secretary so we figure that counts for something.

Speaking of Madam Sec, you should have seen the level of excitement reserved only for tired parents desperate for engaging storyline that went down in our living room when season 2 appeared on Netflix a few weeks ago.  Party time.  "So long, Kimmy Schmidt!", I sang out.  Eric looked like I'd just suggested choosing 1 of our 3 children to keep.  "Wait, wait, wait", as he staved off an anxiety attack, "we can watch them both".

The man can't quit Titus Andromedon.  Not after the episode where, dressed as the geisha he was in a past life, he enchants the crowd of Asian protestors.  There is no turning back now.

(I just read this out loud to him and he's cracking up thinking about it all over again.)

Consistent with the kind of underwhelm that has been on full display here, our couple-hobbies denote a level of shared boring that few other marriages attain.  We are proud of this.  We enjoy long walks through our neighborhood, tandem reading in coffee shops, and sitting idle beside any available body of water.  The ocean's nice but random ponds dug in the middle of bustling shopping centers work in a pinch.  We're slow people.  We like to relax, talk, and analyze everything to freaking death.  We keep life simple and wide-open.  It's not for everyone I guess, but it's for us.

Yet we're not without our unpredictability.  Eric is the kind of person who reads Nietzsche for fun (and I just googled out how spell it. I don't even fake-read that ish.)  He's a composer, or at least that's what his master's degree says, yet he has come to wield the white flag of parental defeat: allowing kids music in the car.

(I personally like my birth control natural.  I have found that the optimal formula for this is the combination of parenting a 2 year old + allowing kids music in the car.)

It keeps the shorties from screaming so it's generally a win, yet from time to time a grown ass person's brain is going to start misfiring from a 12,000th round of "booty booty booty booty ran tan tan".  So we turn to kid-friendly real music.  And we try to expose them to a nice variety and we made them a mix CD for crying out loud but inevitably the little gremlins fixate on just one single song and demand it over and over and over until suddenly "Pumped Up Kicks" is absolutely no better than "Three Little Monkeys".  We respect scientific laws in our family and one that I can solidly identify is that every action has an equal and opposite reaction.  In this case, it's Eric shoving in a POD cd from 1998 and yelling frantically at us all that he'll listen to whatever the hell he wants.  (He doesn't actually say hell in front of the kids but his eyes get kinda red which is probably a little bit scarier.)

If you were to press, Eric might identify my tragic flaw to be a severe mismanagement of bills.  Or really most anything involving numbers and/or a requiring a phone call with someone who is going to ask me about numbers or use words like deductible.  Or router.

I just can NOT with that junk.  I'm not an idiot.  I'm actually well educated, but it doesn't seem to matter when the gas bill comes on the 15th, electric on the 30th, trash on the 26 1/2th, mortgage on the 1st, and insurance on the 4th, 12th, and 19th (I swear).  Every month I screw something up and every month Eric suggests I simply pay each one the moment I open them.  Which makes awesomesauce sense in theory but falls apart mercilessly at the feet of three human beings who are eating peanut butter with their fingers, pulling my pants down by the belt loops, and sucking liquid out of my person while I am opening said mail.

"I'll help you figure out how to do it online", he says with the kind of trepidatious optimism that affirms my suspicion that we both already know how this will end.  I can't ever remember the 916 passwords I need for each different account and maintain that I could do it if each institution would simply accept the same password.  Eric says something about identity theft but I'm just like whatever man we'll just pay the late fees.  He seems to think there is something lacking in this strategy.  You may be shocked to hear that we fight over bills at least once a month.  It will probably never change.  I keep waiting for the day when he admits he thinks it's cute, but so far he's maintaining his front.

I could tell you more, Mindy.  I could tell you how we have the same sense of humor and crack each other up daily.  I could tell you how despite the stress of raising a young family, we both feel that our boys are the bad assiest little creatures on the planet.  I could tell you how we talk about them after they go to bed in a way that would make your gag reflex quiver, or how every day we have to turn our heads in unison so they don't see us laugh at their irrational shenanigans.  I could definitely tell you how great pregnancy hormones are for sex, but that might be crossing a line.

Here's the deal: my husband and I are actual best friends.  I know you said this can't be because a best friend is your girl who loves to sit and gab with you about All The Girl Things, and yeah that one time I tried to talk to Eric about an interview I read with Julianne Moore saying she's not slender enough in Hollywood (WTH?!?) it fell pretty flat.  But that's what I have my best GIRL friend for, my sister, Elise.  My best friend is the one I share my life with.  He's the one I move to Indonesia and have no hot water for two years with.  He's the one who cleans up my vomit when I'm sick without complaining.  He's the one who is constantly encouraging me to pursue my goals and stays up late with me figuring out what exactly they are.  Sure, he's my pal, absolutely.  But that falls so short of encompassing the depth of our friendship.  Really there are no good words for it, but I'll keep trying to write them for the rest of my life anyway.  Because you'll probably never read this letter, but he will.  Happy 10th anniversary, babe.  I love laughing through life with you.

Someday, the light will shine like a sun through my skin & they will say, 'what have you done with your life?' & though there are many moments I think I'll remember, in the end, I will be proud to say, I was one of us.

(Brian Andreas, Storypeople)