Monday, December 01, 2008

Worst Modern Love EVER?

I had given up on the critiquing-Modern-Love blog feature because it was becoming too much like shooting fish in a barrel. But who can resist shooting a whale in a barrel? I do believe that yesterday Lauren Slater took the column to its nadir. Could it really get any worse than this? (Or, as S says: they're just going to have to give up the whole thing after that one.) Then again, we're talking about Lauren Slater...

Let's go numerical on this one.

1) Her poor husband. I mean, it's one thing to dis on your ex, but to write at length, in the NY Times, about your dislike for sex and the misery of your loving marriage? Can you say cringe? Can you say toasters thrown across the kitchen table? Well, you probably can't say toasters thrown across the kitchen table, because he is married to her, so presumably he knew, both about her feelings, and about her imminent public disclosure of those feelings, but let's just say that I wouldn't want to be his cubicle mate this morning (that's a JOKE, because surely Lauren Slater is married to someone so cool and brilliant that he has never entered a cubicle, but instead works at his marble-topped workplace, alone with a view of the sea, which is why she is able to write such things about him, knowing he will not get a single awkward glance at the water cooler).

2) Anyone else read the sentence "This is so stupid, it pains me to write about it." and respond, "Then DON'T!"

3) How about the generalizing from one's own pathetic experience? I don't like sex, ergo nobody likes sex!!


5) Did I mention her husband?

6) And then there's the gratuitous shift, in the last quarter, to the house she is apparently building single-handedly, which has approximately zero narrative connection to her dislike of sex, but, I would predict, everything to do with a how-I-built-a-house-singled-handedly book that will slip onto bookshelves everywhere sometime around next Christmas. Anyone wanna bet?



Jenny Davidson said...

Yes, they really are not going to be able to line up anything worse than this!

Libby said...

I began reading it with a sort of "fascination of the abomination" feeling but had to give up partway through out of sympathy for her husband and disgust at my own voyeurism. Ick! (So I missed the gratuitous shift at the end...)

Anonymous said...

Blech. My armchair diagnosis: high functioning psychopath.
While Lauren Slater is able to put together a long meandering essay that is apparently intended to be exculpatory evidence that she is in the right -- at the same time she offers for publication these words which incinerate any particle of trust and respect that may have remained in the marriage.

Sinda said...

You know I was hoping you'd share your opinion on it when I finally read it last night. I was embarrassed on her husband's behalf, and also couldn't fathom the jump to the house-building stuff. It was horrifically bad.

Anonymous said...

Lauren Slater was unfaithful to her fiance and humiliates him by revealing her affair to the rest of the world. She seems like a thoroughly unattractive person and yet she has a regular column in one of the most important newspapers in the world. The question that occurs to me is "Who is more unethical, Lauren Slater or the management of the NY Times?"

postacademic said...

I am so fascinated by Lauren Slater. She has written an entire book about being a pathological liar, countless columns on depression and eating disorders and taking medication while pregnant. Every time I see her by-line I weirdly anticipate yet another trainwreck of an over-share. Yet, I continue to read her. Perhaps it is because I don't believe a thing she writes. For me, she's kind of like the G.G. Allin of Elle magazine columnists.

Anonymous said...

I too am fascinated by Lauren Slater. Admittedly, there was a TMI element to the story but frankly, I liked it because I think there are a lot of women out there who probably feel the same way and are comforted to know that they are not alone!

Patricia said...

Thank you for writing about this! Yes, worst ever! Her admission that she used to avoid sex by lying about being raped (and then letting us know that she really doesn't judge herself for that) was offensive. But I thought it was so odd when she said she can't understand how people have sex and then enjoy Cheerios together in the morning (in the morning? how about 10 minutes later?) Does she just sort of fetishize any sex act, make it some mythologically important thing rather than a basic human (and awesomely fun) act?

Lucy said...

That was a very weird article. The whole "let me play with the marble" for her renovations thing seemed vaguely sexualized. She tells us that she has mental health problems - no shit! Her anti-depressants affect her libido. I don't believe that she doesn't like sex - she's just trying to be original somehow. Sex sounds? If she's so bored, why does she care?

But also: Her husband! Ach! Why not have mercy and just castrate him?

Waiting for you to analyze "If I Were a Boy."

Lauren said...

So, she's not ashamed about lying about being raped, but then having a wonderful orgasm was too shameful. Wow, issues.
I agree with Patricia and the cheerios comment and I'd like to take it another step with refering Slater's comment of being surrounded by a chattering group of children. How about if they're just on the other side of the closed (and locked) door. What is she talking about with sex having to be sacred? It's love. She should show some to her husband.

Also, I love Beyonce's video "If I were a boy." I spent some time watching all her videos on her website and that one I watched twice.

Anonymous said...

You don't have to feel sorry for Lauren's husband anymore. Lauren divorced him in 2016. Lauren Slater now lives in Fitchburg, Massachusetts with her 'partner' Anna Sylvan-Jaffe.

I am building a house on 80 acres of land with my partner, Anna Jaffe. The land is located in Fitchburg, MA, a troubled old mill city where opiates rule the roost and boarded up buildings list and slump in the northern winds. Our land is located up, up, high on a hill overlooking Fitchburg.
And until our marriage came apart, torn to shreds by matters of money and parenting disagreements, resentments as heavy as mortar and that hard to move, until that happened he was my home, utterly familiar but never boring, sweet and savory both, easy to touch, a man engaged in perpetual play.

This is the man I am leaving. I cannot say why. Having children changed us, in irrevocable and irreconcilable ways. As our babies learned to walk we lost our footing, stumbling and finally falling into the tense terse silence of a couple coming apart. I don’t want to say anymore. What matters right here, right now, is that I am losing one home and gaining another. I have fallen in love with a woman and together we are making this house, ploughing through the chaos of contractors and tile, of trim and floorboards, of fire rated doors and spiral staircases, the house growing so slowly that on some days it seems to be seeping out of the soil as might a plant, imperceptivity growing, stamen, bud, stem, no color yet, but soon we will wet the walls.

I love people who are bright, people who are like the colors I use to paint: brilliant orange, opera pink, deep violet, thalo blue, people who surprise you with their corners and their curves and who, even as they glow, show some shadow where the mystery resides. I am describing Anna, how she appears to me on our very best days when I admire her gargantuan intelligence, so much keener than my own, and feel her flesh is familiar, a safe spot with scintillation. I am a lucky woman.

Perhaps because I am losing the home I made with my husband, or ex husband, this time around my significant other, my “person” does not feel sufficient, cannot anchor me deep in the dirt. I love Anna but I need, in addition to her person, a place which, like a person, has a heart pump and veining wire that gives way to glow from burnished lamps. For awhile Anna and I were living on the land in a tiny trailer while the house was being built and I could not claim it, could not hack it, the place all wrong, on tires and rocking when the wind blew and as summer turned to fall turned to winter the thin walls letting the frozen in. We decorated the trailer, went so far as to tear up its pathetic blue carpet and put down bamboo floors, unscrewing the lint laden couch from the flimsy wall and tossing it into the trash, hanging muslin curtains on its small square windows, painting the “bedroom” a compelling shade of red, and still, after all that effort, I could not call our trailer home. Why is that? We shat into a dry toilet, our scat stored in a large plastic vault below the trailer’s bed. We had no running water. The refrigerator ran on propane which ran out so our lettuce leaves spoiled and stench filled the hall. We had no lights unless we hooked the whole thing up to an expensive generator that we filled with gas, our hands smelling of oil and neatsfoot, of car repair. Nights in Fitchburg, on our 80 acres, are dense with darkness, and in it you can hear the mating calls of owls, the giggle of foxes as they traverse their terrain, the haunted sound of cruel coyotes which will eat your dog alive.

I have my person, Anna, but I also need my place. A person without a place is not enough for me.