It’s a shame about Valentine (or how sex addiction can be good for your marriage)

I love a good coincidence, and I’ve had three crackers in the last week or so.

Coincidence one was last Saturday afternoon. I was driving back from work to my in-laws house in Newport – where we are staying at the moment while our house is on the market. I was listening to Triple R (a fabulous Melbourne radio station, for the uninitiated) and when I was about 5 minutes from home ‘O Superman’ by Laurie Anderson came on. At the time though, I couldn’t remember the name of the artist. I knew that she was a well-known American performance artist (I even remember the track being referenced in lectures when I was at uni), but I couldn’t for the life of me remember her name.

Now the track is over 8 minutes long, and so I had a lot of time to wrack the old brain, but it was giving me nothing. Then, when I was just a minute from home, I happened to glance at a random street sign, and it just happened to be for (cue spooky music) Laurie Street. What were the chances, huh?

For those unfamiliar with the track, here is it in full – with Spanish subtitles (and why not?).

Coincidence two, was not really a spine tingler like coincidence one. In fact, it was kind of the opposite. It was one of those situations when you feel like you have invented something really clever, and then almost immediately come across exactly the same idea in someone else’s writing (and then you google the idea and find that there are 334,995 other people who also had the same clever and original idea.)

In this particular instance, the clever and original idea was to end a fake email address with ‘.con’. For those who have been paying attention, I used this hilarious device in my previous blog post (and, in fact, only really published that post so that I could refer to it in this one). Anyway, the very next day there was an article in ‘The Age’ (a less and less fabulous Melbourne Newspaper and soon to be Gina Rinehart’s personal blog) actually entitled ‘Dot Con’ about the contemporary artist, Damien Hirst, and his controversial (for some) use of assistants to make art works, a la Andy Warhol. I was devastated, as you can imagine.

Which brings me to coincidence three (and the real subject of this post). Last week, Susie and I went to see the new film by Steve McQueen (the very much alive black one, not the very much dead white one) called ‘Shame’, about a week in the life of a sex addict in New York. It was a somewhat harrowing portrait of a man who has lost the ability to connect sex with intimacy. In fact, sex dominates his life to the point where is precludes intimacy of any kind. Aside from what may have been the smallest glimmer of hope at the end of the film, it is an almost unrelentingly bleak ride.

Yet as I walked out of the film, rather than feeling bleak, I felt an unexpected lightness, and a powerful sense of how lucky I was to be in the relationship that I was. By coincidence (that’s number 4), it was the night before Valentine’s Day and as Susie and I walked back to our car we passed gift shops and florists full of all kinds of nauseating heart-shaped shit, and it occurred to me that watching ‘Shame’ had done much more to rekindle my passion for my relationship, than a balloon on a stick ever could; that relationships might be enhanced more by exposure to the resolutely unromantic than by any of the ‘Romance-aids’ that are sold to us.

Anyway, the next day I happened across a somewhat fluffy Valentine’s Day TED talk by the somewhat fluffy self-help writer Jenna McCarthy, entitled ‘What you don’t know about marriage’, in which Jenna gives some ‘surprising’ tips on how to make your marriage work.

Half way through I was still waiting to be genuinely surprised, when suddenly, along came coincidence number three. Research indicates, she said, that watching Romantic Comedies can be very detrimental to your relationship; and thus, by inference, watching anything bleak or depressing could have a positive effect. Why? Because an airbrushed Hollywood relationship is always going to make real people feel inadequate, whereas a bit of darkness will make you feel better about even the greyest of relationships. Kind of obvious, really – no wonder it was yet another of my unoriginal ideas.

If you’re interested, here is the Jenna McCarthy talk (and quirky slide show) in full.

The only other thing I got out of this talk was that getting the Oscar for Best Actress is the kiss of death for a marriage. Yet another reason for me to continue subtly undermining Susie’s career.

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