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Addams Family Values

Vincent and I were having lunch last week and he asked me one of those questions that was probably lurking for years waiting to spring on me and remind me that I talk too much. He asked me what I meant when I said that Carolyn and I base our marriage on the movie "Addams Family Values", an observation I make on a pretty regular basis.

I have to admit, I didn't have a particularly good answer off the top of my head. It's one of those things we say to newly married friends or people who wonder at our 23 years together. We'll also say things like: "The booze helps!" when asked about our longevity as a couple and I'd never given that much thought either. So why do we say such things?

I almost hate to think about it too much. We don't spend much time thinking about the mechanics of our marriage or why we do and say certain things. Just as your peripheral vision is sharper than your direct stare, sometimes it's best to keep looking ahead and let the details keep to themselves. Still, it's a fair question.

If you haven't seen "Addams Family Values" go rent it. It's a funny movie. I think it's starting to show its age a bit and it's certainly not high art. I think its sole purpose for existence is to serve as a great vehicle for some really talented actors to fire off left field answers to cliché questions.

Debbie: "Would you make the ultimate sacrifice for me?"

Fester: "A goat?"

You get the idea.

We watch it a few times every year. Of course Carolyn and I watch most of the movies we have a few times a year. We watch movies for the same reason others put on an old sweater. They're familiar things and they comfort us. We're not looking to be challenged. We're returning to friendly places we share, with a couple of private retreats. Carolyn watches "Pirates of the Caribbean" when she's home alone. I watch "Lost in Translation". But "Addams Family Values" is our movie. And it's not a "Rocky Horror Picture Show" kind of thing. We don't throw toast at the TV or dance along with the "Happy, happy Turkey Day" number. It means something to us, even after dozens of viewings. By the end of the movie we're reminded of the value of a partner and family and the importance of belonging somewhere. It's also a celebration of growing old together.

Morticia: "You still desire me, after all these years? The old ball and chain?"

Gomez: "With all my heart!"

Morticia: "I'll get them."

Carolyn and I are growing old together. If we just lived in the moment, she'd be facing the reality that she's married to a doughy, probably alcoholic, impotent, computer guy with bladder control issues - which, on reflection, is enough to send any sane person screaming from the room. But we have our past. We have this shared context. And somehow, we both know the future just wouldn't be as much fun without each other.

At its heart, "Addams Family Values" is about a family in love, living in the moment while honoring the past and celebrating the future. And that, I suppose, is what I meant.


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