I’m about half-through with the novel I’m working on, so I figure it’s time I started thinking about a plot for the next. This time, I’m going to write a serious work. A very serious work. You get no love from the critics, I find, if you’re not deadly, deadly serious.
It’s going to be about a marriage.
I’m a bit of an authority on marriage, having personally been married for many years myself; but the marriage in my book isn’t going to be like mine, because the woman in my book isn’t going to be like me. She’s going to be pretty, for one thing. And she’s going to be one of those people-pleasing types. The kind who greases the axles of society and make the wheels of the world go ‘round—sometimes for everybody but themselves.
The person she wants to please most, of course, is her husband, because she loves him. (I’m unsure as to whether I should include a few of the men she loved and wanted to please before she got married, or whether I should just start with the husband. I’ll think about that.) He’s not easy to please, either—though of course, like everybody, he thinks he is. He’s picky about his food and his clothes and how often, and under what circumstances, he visits his mother; but these are all things with which my protagonist (I’ll call her Eve) can deal.
The matter of Eve’s personal appearance—in which Hubby demonstrates a consuming interest—is more problematic.
Hubby expects her to shave her legs and armpits, of course. Hair grows there naturally, we assume for some good reason, on Hubby as well as Eve; but Eve must shave hers in order to be desirable. Shaving results in stubble, however; and Hubby doesn’t like stubble, unless it’s his own—which, every day after about 5pm, it usually is. Eventually she has her legs and arms waxed, instead—a process which causes her considerable pain. It is also expensive. Eve’s pubic hair, too, must be carefully groomed. Hubby likes this.
He also likes Eve to be thin. Quite thin. Diet-all-the-time thin. The kind of thin that makes lush breasts unlikely. Hubby likes lush breasts. Clever Eve has false ones implanted.
She also speaks in well-modulated tones, so as not to threaten Hubby’s sense of manly dominance, and strives to walk gracefully in shoes that hurt her feet, but make her legs look good. She is careful to sit properly in dresses that, were she careless, would show off body parts that are for Hubby’s private viewing.
All the waxing and the implants and the hurty shoes (also the hair and the make-up and the juice cleanses and so on and so forth forever and ever amen) are expensive; and Eve wishes she were paid more at her job. Unfortunately, no one takes a woman who has shaved and dieted and dressed herself to look like a child with large breasts seriously, and she is passed over for several promotions.
Then comes the story’s big finish.
I’m of two minds about the finish. One part of me wants a sad, message-y ending: One day Eve gets old, and all the primping and shaving in the world can’t make her look like a girl again. Hubby’s eye—and other parts—wander, and the marriage ends in divorce.
The other part of me wants a happy, message-y ending: One day Eve says, “You know what? That’s enough.” She goes feral—or anyway as feral as Hubby, whom everyone regards as a perfectly normal member of civilized society despite having hair and a certain amount of body-fat—and to her surprise, Hubby says, “But you’ll still sleep with me, right? You will? Okay; cool!”
And they live happily ever after.