Tuesday, July 05, 2005


Today, Eugene Robinson takes us (for some reason) through the divorce proceedings of Terry McMillan. Perhaps I should spend more time reading the Post's gossip columns, or Us Weekly - I wasn't even aware that Ms. McMillan was getting divorced.

The gist of the column seems to be that somebody as savvy, intelligent, and well-educated as Ms. McMillan should have been able to see right through the deceptions of her much-younger husband, and recognized him as one of the "slick, predatory, no-good players" that appear in her novels. (Perhaps it is that depiction that inspires the column - the woman who was too good for the players got played, and this is her comeuppance.)
First of all, I'm thinking that an educated, accomplished, professional woman in her forties, even while joyfully regaining her groove with a Jamaican cabana boy less than half her age, would have to be thinking in the back of her mind that this probably wouldn't turn into forever.

Maybe McMillan made that calculation and decided to bring him home anyway. I hear that men have been known to bring home hot, young, empty-headed things, and she did have the foresight to make him sign that prenup. But if it were all calculated, she wouldn't be so angry. The betrayal isn't just that he's lost interest in her; it's that his new interest is in men.

Here's where I get myself in trouble (if I haven't already): In 10 years with this guy she didn't have a clue? In the bathroom cabinet, no stock of overly metrosexual hair products? No hint when the business he got her to finance turned out to be a dog-grooming salon? Terry McMillan, such a keen observer of love and war between the sexes, and nothing ever showed up on her "gaydar"?
I have a somewhat different reaction.

Terry McMillan spent her childhood in Port Huron, Michigan. I recall reading in Time Magazine, many years ago, about how she spent her years as an early teenager, spending her time volunteering in the public library. How when she got the opportunity to escape her childhood home, she took it - ultimately becoming an author, and becoming a success not because of her family and community, but in spite of it. Her success, or some shadow of it (if nothing else, escaping the family and environment, going to college, and becoming a success) is the type of vision most people reading this blog might have for themselves, had they been born into similar circumstances - the notion that, with their inherent intelligence and academic interests, they too could have escaped.

But some families are reminiscent of the trash monster from Star Wars IV - the moment they sense you might escape their misery, they wrap themselves around your ankles, pull you down as hard as they can, and try to drown you. I am not one to try to psychoanalyze Ms. McMillan, but if I were in her shoes I would be angry at her husband not, as Robinson suggests, because "he lost interest" - or even that his interest was in men. I would imagine finding somebody much younger than me, certainly, but probably also much different from anybody I ever knew before and, after ten years, being angry when he turned out to be yet another anchor - somebody whose attentions and affections now appear to be all about getting money.

In any event, I think Ms. McMillan's achievements are remarkable, and I would rather read an article that applauded her achievements rather than one which... well, I hope wasn't gloating over disappointment in what really should be her personal life.

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