I just finished reading Mindy Kaling’s 2012 book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? And Other Concerns, a part-memoir, and part-general-musings-kind of a book that dances right on the edge of the funny and the moving.
Mindy stars in The Mindy Project on FOX, but for many seasons prior she has also played the inimitable Kelly Kapoor on NBC’s blockbuster hit, The Office. She has, in also written, directed and co-produced many episodes of both shows. No flies on this girl!
One short section of the book shows what I mean about her ability to both amuse us and touch us. It’s about marriage, and her parents’ marriage in particular. She says her parents get along because they are pals. They like to talk about the same things.
“In my parents’ case, they can spend and entire day together talking nonstop about rhododendrons and Men of A Certain Age, watch Piers Morgan, drink a vanilla milkshake and go to bed.”
I should point out that the name of this section is “C’mon Married People” and in it she talking directly to us wedded folk.
She begins by saying she doesn’t want to hear about the endless struggles to keep the ‘spark’ in marriage or about the work it takes to plan date night.
“I want to hear that you guys watch every episode of The Bachelorette together in secret shame, or that one got the other hooked on Breaking Bad and if either watches without the other, they’re dead meat….
I want to see you guys high-five each other like teammates on a recreational softball team you both do for fun. I want to hear about it because I know it’s possible, and because I want it for myself.”
That right there. That’s the what I mean about the disarming double tone: “I want to hear about it because I know it’s possible, and because I want it for myself.”
She says, she guesses that “happiness can come in a bunch of forms, and maybe a marriage with tons of work makes people feel happy. But part of me still thinks… is it really so hard to make it work? What happened to being pals?
“I’m not complaining about Romance Being Dead – I’ve just described a happy marriage based on talking about plants and a canceled Ray Romano show and drinking milkshakes; not exactly rose petals and gazing into each other’s eyes at the top of the Empire State Building. I’m pretty sure my parents have gazed into each other’s eyes maybe once, and that was so my mom could put eye-drops in my dad’s eyes.”
“I’m not saying that marriage should be easy, but we get so gloomily worked up about it these days.”
And that part’s surely true, is it not?
“Maybe marriage IS work,” she says, “but you may as well pick work that you like.So “Married people it’s up to you. It’s entirely on your shoulders to keep this sinking institution afloat. It’s a stately old ship, and a lot of people, like me, want to get on board. Please by psyched, and convey the psychedness to us.
And always remember, she ends by saying, “so many, many people are envious of what you have. You’re the star at the end of the Shakespearean play, wearing the wreath of flowers in your hair. The rest of us are just the little side characters.
And there it is: a sweet, funny and sage perspective on marriage from a single girl. Next in this space: Companion thoughts on marriage from someone more than 40 (?!) years in.