Let’s talk about marriage and haircuts.
Marriage terrifies me. It’s a hungry, big-eyed beast of permanence lurking in the forest. One that threatens to pounce and capture me with each approaching year until I’m 35 and ugly.
Haircuts on the other hand, I love. I don’t even need a qualifying metaphor—that’s how wonderful they are. I just got one last week, and let me tell you: wooooooweeeee.
Marriage is a societal construct that exists more to support the state apparatus than to build stable relationships between consenting adults.
Haircuts sometimes have a free shampooing. It’s really a great deal.
Marriage ends in death or divorce; haircuts end with that really great clipping that tickles the back of your neck.
I could go on. But why? It’s depressing. Marriage, that is. Not haircuts. Those are—
Alright, fine. I’ll stop. But here’s my point.
My 21-year-old cousin got married over the weekend. And it totally depressed me. Not in the normal, “I’m sorry sir, we’re out of spicy Doritos” way. It hit me in the “We’re out of all forms of Doritos” way.
Here she is, not even old enough to run for Congress, and she’s already devoting the rest of her life to Kenny Varga of the greater Salt Lake City area.
To celebrate her marriage, I spent a few hours poking around Divorce Magazine’s Web site, a publication that lost “Best Name” to the You’ve Contracted Herpes Gazette.
While Divorce Magazine answered some of my long-standing questions on how to get a divorce (“Do I have to fill out some kind of form?”), it was the marriage statistics that surprised me, showing me how incredibly rare early marriages like my cousin’s have become.
In 1970, by the age of 25, nearly 65 percent of the US male population and 45 of the US female population had been married. Today, that number has dropped to 15 percent among men and 25 percent among women. Even though two of my ex-girlfriends and four of my childhood friends are married to varying degrees of happiness, they have become the exceptions and not the rules.
So what’s happening? Maybe humans are just less likeable these days. But then again, plenty of bride-themed reality shows on FOX have proven you don’t have to be loveable for someone to marry you.
And while the trend in the female population can be explained by more women going to college and getting careers before marriage, occupational concerns do not explain the entire phenomenon. At the very least, they fail to explain why marriage appears in more of my nightmares than does that sexually insistent octopus woman.
To answer the question, let’s return to haircuts. The one I got last week has been an enormous success. Despite my roommate’s insistence that the haircut combined with spring break has made me a bronzed Tin Tin, I’ve gotten nothing but compliments elsewhere.
But that’s the great thing about haircuts. It doesn’t matter how bad they are, because even the worst mop-chops grow out. Go ahead—elope with a Mohawk. You’ll only be stuck with him a few months. Then it’s back to the drawing board.
These days, the convenience of haircuts—that is, the ability to press undo—has never been greater. Don’t like your job? Switching careers has never been easier. Don’t like the e-mail you just sent? Press the “undo” button on the app. These days, I can even push control+z on a night of unprotected sex, thanks to Plan B.
But marriage—though technically undoable if you can find the right forms—retains a version of permanence that is rare today. It’s no longer a question of buying the cow or getting the milk for free. It’s “should I invest in non-refundable milk futures or just have a glass of milk?”
So maybe this new recognition of marriage’s gravitas isn’t a bad thing, because whatever conveniences the future holds, human emotions—human commitments to other humans—will always be complicated, fragile and devoid of convenience. And while 21 might be the right age for some to make such an enormous decision, for now, I’ll stick with a little off the top.