Today’s blog post is not a retraction. It is a clarification. To us journalists, that’s a huge distinction.
I had the chutzpah last month to describe Jeff and myself as the Perfect Couple in the context, ironically, of describing an argument in which I resorted to violent and impotent pen-jabbing (as a visual aid, not an act of domestic violence.) I knew my words would come back and bite me in the ass, because Perfect Couples don’t argue or go to bed angry or face problems with anything less than loving kindness and serenity. Presumably, they don’t use pens except to write love letters, and to pay the mortgage and credit card bills, which they NEVER fight about.
Apparently, too, there are sour grape harvesters whose joy in life is to find the weak spots in near-perfect relationships and then stand by with expressions of feigned concern waiting for their chance to let loose their finest Nelson Muntz (“Ha-ha!”) impression should the “perfect couple” part ways.
But I digress. Of course there’s no such thing as a Perfect Couple, if “perfect” means never disagreeing. And by what’s generally understood by “perfection,” I admit my relationship with Jeff falls far short, mostly because I’m too flawed to make up half of anything flawless.
Not long after I wrote last month’s blog post proclaiming Jeff and I are a Perfect Couple, my friend Michelle Scott shared this on Facebook, written by author Neil Gaiman in response to a fan who said Neil and his wife, musician Amanda Palmer, seem “perfect” together:
“We’re not a perfect couple. We’re just a couple. We love each other and we get on each other’s nerves. She grits her teeth when she hears me tell the same story for the dozenth time. I grit my teeth when she tells me it’s time to go jogging… (but mostly I go with her anyway). She loves crowds and people, I like solitude and the countryside. She’ll go through hell to avoid the cold. I quite like it.
“But she makes me laugh and I’m ridiculously happy when I’m with her. Unless we’re having an argument. We have great and wonderful arguments.
“I don’t think you get perfect couples. At best you get two people building something, and working at it, and loving each other, and doing their best to communicate.”
I agree with Gaiman. But I also feel the relationship he’s describing is its own kind of perfection. We think of perfection as being free of defects, but in some senses it has more to do with permanence and purpose, which is why we have Perfect Messes — they make sense to the people who preside over them, seeing to it that the piles somehow earn their keep and foster productivity. Perfection also happens when things come together just so, as in a Perfect Storm.
Jeff and I are neither a mess nor a storm, at least not on our better days. But we come together just so — building something, working together, loving each other and doing our best to communicate.