Playing House: MUCH More Than It Seems


“A friend of mine joins the cast of Up In The Air for a visit to a psychic . . .”

Sounds like a good joke opening, doesn’t it?

Up In The Air I find to be a very thought-provoking movie. I don’t find it a great movie (neither did the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. No Oscar wins), but there are aspects of it that stuck in my mind, churning away under my conscious thoughts, until the light began to glow. Then I saw what I needed to see.

To establish my premise, I need to briefly present Ryan Bingham (George Clooney), a man who makes his living depriving thousands of theirs. He complains at one point in the movie that he’s on the road (his desired environment) ONLY 322 days a year, forcing him to stay home and not collect frequent flier miles (his personal means of achievement) for the other 43 days. His success as an employment terminator has led him to suppress his humanity, so much so that he makes side money giving seminars to others on how to achieve the same separation from one’s own humanity.

While between stops, Bingham meets Alex Goran (Vera Farmiga), who is able to play Ryan’s status games on a level equal to him. She warns him up front, as they commence a fairly intense flight-based affair, that she is very much like he is, detached from humanity and safely behind a defensive barrier to block emotional attachment.

“Just think of me as yourself… only with a vagina,” she advises.

I won’t reveal that much more about the two of them in case you want to check out the movie, but she did warn him.

Now that (I hope!) I’ve established Clooney’s character, I bring him to the scene where the pertinent action of my post happens. His younger sister is getting married, and the groom, Jim Miller (Danny McBride), comes down with a case of cold feet. His older sister pushes Ryan to “Do something”, as if a guy who has detached himself from human emotion to enhance his career prospects is the right man for this job. After all, as he tries in a different scene to explain to a new hire he’s been entrusted to show the ropes:

“We are here to make limbo tolerable, to ferry wounded souls across the river of dread until the point where hope is dimly visible. Then stop the boat, shove ’em in the water and make ’em swim.”

That doesn’t sound to me like the right qualifications for a pre-marital crisis counsellor! But this IS Hollywood at work, not real life. So Hollywood gets Jim Miller talking:

“I was thinking about the wedding and the ceremony and all. Us buying a house and moving in together. Having a kid… Having another kid… Thanksgiving, Christmas, spring break, football games, all of a sudden they’re out of school, getting jobs, getting married, And then, you know… I’m a grandparent. I’m retired. Before you know it – I’m dead… and I just kept thinking… “What’s the point?”

As I interpret this scene, Jim Miller is for the first time looking at the price marriage will extract from him. It’s WAY too late at this point. This should be the very first thing a man considers when he decides he’s ready to wed, even before he begins to audition potential wives. Those who didn’t bother examining what matrimony changes in a man’s life prior to committing are the prime reason the divorce rate is so high, and why even women are giving up on marriage. (The topic of a future post)

By definition, marriage means a man gives up interacting with all other women for the attentions of just one. For lots of men, that alone is a difficult step. As a wise man once told me, every married man lives with 28 different women every month. One must, as the ancient Crusader advised Indiana Jones, choose wisely. Too few men do, and the statistics support this.

Buying a house, whether married or not, is another major correction for a man, as all that party money dries up paying the PITI (loan principle, interest, taxes, and insurance) of his castle. Women aren’t willing to settle for feathering a rental nest. They always want one of their own. White picket fence optional. He WILL provide her with one, even if eventually through his death benefits.

So here is Jim Miller looking at giving up his social and economic freedoms in trade for a wife. It’s traumatic. It will be more traumatic. We still have the rest of the list to go through.

As any parent knows, kids are a HUGE investment, both in time and money. They are the top priority no matter what else is happening. Everything a parent does takes any kids into account before any plans can be made. Jim Miller sees this in his listing of holidays and school breaks, time periods he might once have used to hang with old buddies doing guy things. Now, they are mere pauses in the employment processes exclusively used for “quality family time”. These are the only moments when the kids aren’t in school and the parentals [a term my own kids coined, so far as I know] are off work.

Then (he assumes), his offspring become their own adult persons, with lives of their own. He doesn’t see this as an achievement, despite the significant numbers of descendants who end up dead or in jail. All he sees is that his life was spent on making this graduation happen, and he feels like he got nothing in return by the time the Grim Reaper arrives to collect him. To him, it was all cost and no benefit. For the man who doesn’t make these choices as an informed participant, that is exactly what it is.

This is why young men need to be made aware of what society expects of them. Unlike our fathers, my generation doesn’t see much value in continuing the traditional arrangements through our silence. We are actively sharing our revelations so that -just maybe- those who follow us can have a better experience. IF they then choose to marry, they will know why they are doing so, and will be better prepared to negotiate more optimal conditions.

If I can see signs that this is happening, I won’t feel like it was all take and no give when my wounded soul is ferried across cross the river Styx. And -just maybe- I won’t get thrown overboard by Charon once hope is in sight and have to swim the rest of the way.

But what of my friend and the psychic?  Out of curiosity, she accompanied a friend who believes in that stuff. From what she later related, it was the usual blarney about dead relatives checking in to see if those left behind are doing OK. Somehow, the conversation turned to current relationships. My friend has had a long-term casual relationship and has no plans to make it more formal. “Why not?” exclaims the outraged seer. “Are you not worth HAVING IT ALL?” (Caps my emphasis) The answer? She went through one divorce and is not interested in experiencing another.

What this poignant vignette illustrates is that women go through a great deal of social conditioning and overt pressure to conform to the matrimonial norm that men do not. There is no good excuse for a woman not to know what is expected of her. Men don’t get this external interaction, or at least haven’t up until recently. All we knew when faced with this choice was that everyone else did it. That isn’t enough anymore.

Men now want something else, something better. They need someone to go “Why? Are you not worth KEEPING IT ALL?” when they announce matrimonial plans. And if making this more of a common occurrence is all I can ever expect to accomplish with my life, I will aid that effort so that my sons won’t endure the slings and arrows of my outrageous fortune.

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Posted in Blurkel
27 comments on “Playing House: MUCH More Than It Seems
  1. Tarnished says:

    What this poignant vignette illustrates is that women go through a great deal of social conditioning and overt pressure to conform to the matrimonial norm that men do not.

    Yup. A never married 30+ year old woman is looked down on much like a 30+ year old virgin man.
    We’re “failures”, and obviously defective given that we couldn’t figure out how to use our feminine wiles long enough to secure a husband. Pshaw!

    Men don’t get this external interaction, or at least haven’t up until recently. All we knew when faced with this choice was that everyone else did it. That isn’t enough anymore.
    Men now want something else, something better. They need someone to go “Why? Are you not worth KEEPING IT ALL?” when they announce matrimonial plans.

    This is really for the best. Men need to be made aware of what they could potentially be getting themselves into, and ask if it’s worth it. For some it will be. For many, it will not.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. fuzziewuzziebear says:

    Blurkel,
    For all the downsides that you have listed for men in marriage, they seem to live up to them. While we have a fifty percent divorce rate, men are only initiating less than a third of them. Commitment must be a boy thing.
    Last summer was remarkable. The rate of adults married had dropped to less than fifty one percent. No word yet for this year.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. fuzziewuzziebear says:

    It’s off topic. Liz brought up yesterday that she heard from a GYN that 9/10 people being treated fro STDs are on Tinder. It seems that Tinder could do their users and the world a service by encouraging them to get checked.Couple this with women being infected at twice the rate of men and you have a good roadmap for allocating your efforts.

    I am beginning to think that men should stay away rom Tinder. Any thoughts?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Yoda says:

    Those who didn’t bother examining what matrimony changes in a man’s life prior to committing are the prime reason the divorce rate is so high

    Prime reason it is?

    Like

  5. Yoda says:

    What this poignant vignette illustrates is that women go through a great deal of social conditioning and overt pressure to conform to the matrimonial norm that men do not.

    “Marry, then divorce” the norm now is?

    Like

  6. Tarnished says:

    I think *everyone* but the most vapid of people should stay away from Tinder. Apparently it is a hotbed of rampant STD laden males and females. Yuck! I mean, yes, you can get certain STDs even while wearing protection…but it would seem these idiots aren’t actively trying to prevent them!

    Some people don’t deserve the genitals they have.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Mrs. Yoda says:

    There is no good excuse for a woman not to know what is expected of her.

    Modern society expects little it does.
    Sammiches off the table they are.
    From this no good will come.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Tarnished says:

    “Marry, then divorce” the norm now is?

    It’s more of a “marry, and make sure you marry wealth/status” in my family. The divorce part isn’t covered blatantly, but as my mom has been divorced twice (currently single) and my dad 3 times (currently with 4th wife), maybe it doesn’t have to be.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Yoda says:

    It’s more of a “marry, and make sure you marry wealth/status” in my family. The divorce part isn’t covered blatantly, but as my mom has been divorced twice (currently single) and my dad 3 times (currently with 4th wife)

    Move up each time they did?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Tarnished says:

    Lol. Not even remotely for my father. He stayed securely lower class each time. Mom did financially better for herself, but went from a physical abuser to a mental abuser.

    Hooray, everyone loses!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. BuenaVista says:

    The inflection point in this movie is the end of Act II, when Ryan (in a startling fit of emotional need) flies to Chicago and interrupts Alex at her home on the north side. (Don’t read further if you don’t want a couple of spoilers.)

    For Ryan, who Alex correctly notes has “self-banished” himself to a hamster-wheel of endless trips and repetitive meetings, devoid of human complexity, now wants to be *close* to Alex. This is a postmodern way of saying, he’s in love and he wants Alex to be his “co-pilot”, in the same manner that Jim rationalizes his marriage to Ryan’s sister, Julie. So unannounced he’s arrived at Alex’s door on a snowy night. The scale of the fine townhouse, the wintry evening, his vulnerability: now Ryan is physically diminished in a way that the employees he fires for a living are diminished.

    Of course, Alex is married, has happy children playing in the background of her luxe home, and a husband who calls out cheerily, “Who’s at the door?” She dismisses him remorselessly, incredulous that he would presume a connection with her.

    The weight of Ryan’s self-banishment is made clear as he realizes he is no more than what Alex calls a “parentheses” in her life. Unlike Ryan, she has constructed a real life, as his sister hopes to do with Jim. He flies home and, over the Dubuque VOR, crosses the 10,000,000 mile threshold. This achievement is met with his befuddlement. His life, and his objectives for it, are rendered pointless. He is simply “Up in the Air.”

    Ryan is an undercover MGTOW: his profession allows him to pursue an ostensibly UMC life, but he’s no different than a depressive who quits his job and disappears and drives trucks for a living. Women, conventionally, are the anchors of proper domestic tranquillity, and though clearly devious and self-serving (Natalie, Alex, Julie), each of the women represents a superior (from the view of the director) existence. Each is Huck Finn’s Aunt Sally, a civilizing influence for wayward adolescent boys such as Ryan and Jim. Each is, in the narrative, revealed as a winner vs. Ryan’s Peter Pan existence.

    I’m not sure if Blurkel is celebrating Ryan’s independence, in the OP. Certainly the movie does not. Ryan’s epiphanies, at Alex’s, when he walks off the stage of one of his seminars celebrating emotional alienation, are bleak. The ending voice over makes this plain:

    “‘Tonight, most people will be welcomed home by jumping dogs and squealing kids. Their spouses will ask about their day, and tonight they’ll sleep. The stars will wheel forth from their daytime hiding places and one of those lights, slightly brighter than rest, will be my wingtip passing over.” The credits roll over a view of early evening blue clouds as seen below from an airplane, with a faint sunset in the far distance.”

    It’s unclear why Ryan, unlike one of the people he’s fired, has not seen his life for what it is and simply jumped off a bridge. He’s missed his chance for a legacy of home and hearth and children. Were he to do it in the future, no one would notice or be surprised.

    ***

    Notes on above: a VOR is a VHR Omnidirectional Radio. This is a technology from the 1930’s. Aircraft fly prescribed standard routes between them and intersections between them, though we always request “direct” in order to speed matters up. Flying to Omaha from O’Hare, Ryan’s flight likely would have passed over the Iowa City VOR, not Dubuque.

    Back when I was married and living in DC and raising two children and arriving home late on snowy Friday evenings, usually, to a full house of domestic charm, I once had a trip to Denver. It was deep winter in the midwest, a night when the barometer is pegged to the right so the air was so clear it seemed brittle as glass and the ground temperatures were in the minus-20 range. CAVU, Ceilings and Visibility Unlimited (or, Clear as a Fucking Bell). Like Ryan I had gotten my upgrade and was no doubt relaxing with a glass of wine. We were flying west and so would have been at 340 or 360 (westbound: even altitudes assigned). I awaited the gentle bank to the right that would indicate the Iowa City VOR, which is a few miles south of town. Iowa City is where I was born and raised.

    On this night, from this altitude, I carefully traced the streets of the small university town north, beside the Iowa River, past the law school and the school of art, up the hill, to the neighborhood where I was raised. I could sense the frigid air on the ground, hear the squeak of the dry snow on the snow-packed, plowed streets, and recalled how at this silent night hour, as a boy, I would escape my home with my dog on a long leash. And we would run. And run. And run, joyfully.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. JDG says:

    Marriage is not marriage anymore. What is normally practiced in western countries is not marriage as our great grand parents understood it, but rather it is an impostor having the outer appearance yet lacking any substance. You can tell by the low numbers of sammiches married women are making.

    If that doesn’t convince you (how could it not?) think about how the fact that “married” women in western countries now have virtually all the legal power in a marriage.

    I read somewhere that across the pond they passed a law making it illegal for a man to raise his voice at his wife as well as to NOT hand over the credit cards when she gets the itch for another pair of shoes.

    How far is it from “yes credit cards” to “no sammiches?”

    Like

  13. Tarnished says:

    Even if the credit card is only in *his* name…? That’s certainly not right!

    Like

  14. JDG says:

    Nothing about feminism is right. Especially the lack of sammich making.

    Like

  15. fuzziewuzziebear says:

    JDG,
    Not handing over the credit card could put a man in prison for fourteen years.

    Like

  16. molly says:

    I make peanut butter sandwich for you

    Like

  17. molly says:

    Look how fast I cut the bread! 😀

    Like

  18. Yoda says:

    A vegemite sammich that is?

    Like

  19. molly says:

    Marmite or peanut butter 😉

    Like

  20. fuzziewuzziebear says:

    Molly,
    Thank you for making a sandwich. We should flood the feminist blogs with that image showing how easy it is to be kind.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. molly says:

    Fuzzie give me the url of a fembot blog and I will! XD
    Y’all can watch!

    Like

  22. fuzziewuzziebear says:

    Molly,
    The last time I saw anybody try that was Frank at SSM’s blog. He would go over to a feminist site, get them all worked up, and then, SSM would have to deal with all their hate when they tried to carry on on her blog.
    The last time I visited that site, they had little happy face emoticons that would turn green and throw up. And that was the nice part. Yeeech!

    Like

  23. molly says:

    I don’t know SSM what SSM is ❓

    Like

  24. fuzziewuzziebear says:

    Molly,
    SSM is Sunshine Mary who ran an antifeminist Christian Coed blog that was very popular and had brilliant commenters. Many with well recognized blogs of their own.
    She and her family were doxxed, not by feminists, but by philosophical allies.

    Like

  25. molly says:

    I have to leave you for today. It’s hibernation time for you. Sweet hibernation F. Dubya Bear 🙂

    Like

  26. fuzziewuzziebear says:

    zzzzzBeesBringingMeHoneyzzzzForwardingItToMollyzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Like

  27. blurkel says:

    @BuenaVista

    I’m not sure if Blurkel is celebrating Ryan’s independence…

    Ah, no. Presenting Ryan was necessary to establish the background for the scene with Jim Miller. My employer (who must remain unidentified lest it affect my future income) once hired a firm like Ryan Bingham’s to “weed out the deadwood”. Hundreds were terminated. I face a similar fate, as soon as they can get all of the union locals to accept their demand for the elimination of seniority. Then I’m gone, as I’m closing in on retirement.

    I thus have no respect for the Binghams of the world, and feel that an empty life abandoning the job and flying about until the miles run out is the least they deserve.

    Like

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