One Christmas, when I was a little one, I asked Santa for a kitchen. On Christmas morning, and to no one’s great surprise, I did not awake to the sight of a life-size Aga sticking out of my stocking, or a seven foot American fridge peeking out from under the tree. No, Santa in his wisdom knew that I didn’t actually want a “real” kitchen; I wanted a “pretend” kitchen.
And so, on that magical day, he gave me a scaled down red and yellow plastic number complete with tiny saucepans, a miniature fridge and a pretend cooker, so that I would not do myself any damage.
I thought about Santa’s great wisdom this week when I read about Peaches Geldof and her new husband Max’s “marital difficulties”. Like every other marriage, it’s having its ups and downs, but rows are becoming more frequent, so Peaches and Max have gone to an American hideaway to get it all back on track again. After three whole months.
What a pity, I thought, that Santa wasn’t around on that fateful day way back in August, when Peaches and Max pitched up in front of the Reverend Steve Fabretti, waved their permit under his nose and asked him to marry them.
Rev. Steve would later remark how young Peaches looked, and how even though she was wearing some class of a dress, Max was in his street clothes and as no-one else was with them, the photographer had to act as witness.
Now had Santa been there, he would have realised, just as he had with me and my kitchen fourteen years ago, that Peaches and Max didn’t actually want a real marriage, they wanted a pretend one, a sort of whimsical childish affair, where one minute you’re running around with this “rock star” that you’ve just met, and the next minute you’re eloping to Vegas for a quickie.
What Santa would have done (all Las Vegas churches please take note), was whip out a pretend marriage certificate from the big pile he’s kept handy since Britney’s fifty-five hour marriage, write Peaches and Max’s names on it in invisible ink, print out a few snaps on biodegradable paper, stick big plastic rings on both their fingers and whoosh them back out to play. No harm done.
Trouble was that Santa wasn’t there that day, and the Rev. Steve did legally marry them. The sad and predictable fallout is now panning out. For the first few weeks, of course, the imaginative play part of the marriage triumphed. She wore a real ring, they told all their friends, and generally pranced and preened their way around their tabloid universe as Mr and Mrs Drummey.
But after a while in celeb-land, real life began to nudge through. They didn’t seem to be together in the way actual married people are together, she mused out loud and in public on the impermanence of marriage, “friends” talked of rows, and lately there’s been lots of chatter about heroic efforts to patch it all up.
Maybe it’s true, maybe it isn’t. Maybe they’ll stick together for fifty years, but the chances are that they won’t. My guess is that it’ll all be over, done and dusted by the time Santa makes his annual appearance next month.
When they split, it’ll just be another saddo failed marriage – although given the circumstances as reported, could you even dignify it with the term “marriage”, failed or otherwise?
If that is a marriage, then what do you call a relationship between two people, that lasts maybe for half a century, that battles through lots of difficulties, that displays love, respect and commitment? True marriage seems way beyond the comprehension of the host of narcissistic “celebs” who get hitched one day on a whim, perhaps because their publicity machine’s been a little sluggish and they’re craving a tabloid hit.
There’s nothing wrong with Peaches and Max being together, living together, having rows, splitting up, getting back together, whatever. They’re young, talented in their own ways, and maybe they were madly in love and it just hasn’t worked out. That happens every day, all over the world, on this campus and in every other campus.
But why get married so soon? What does marriage mean to them? Is it anything beyond a fun little ceremony and a paparazzi rush? Because if it doesn’t really mean a lot more than that, if they enter it only too calculatedly aware that they can exit from it any time they like, then they should just get on with living together instead. Marriage should be left to those who actually want to spend their lives together, those who think about it for more than five minutes before they commit, and those who think it might be actually be nice to tell their parents what they’re doing.
Currently there’s a lot of chatter in political and Catholic Church circles about civil partnerships, protecting marriage and supporting different family units. Lots of people are getting very excited about the whole thing.
The Church is apparently concerned about the number of couples who choose to live together without getting married first. Well if I was the Pope, I think I’d tell his Irish officials to relax. The problem, as demonstrated by the Drummey-Geldofs, is not that some people don’t marry, it’s actually that certain people do.