Friday, March 16, 2012

You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up

You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up,
by Annabelle Gurwitch and Jeff Kahn

I checked this book out of the library not so much for the great title (which my eight-year-old found hilarious) or the main story (about two comedic writers/actors who are married to each other and fight about nearly everything) but primarily because Gurwitch and Kahn have a child with VACTERLS Syndrome, like our little friend Zacary. Their son Ezra was born without an anus, in addition to several other birth defects (he has only one kidney, which is undersized). The first year of Ezra's life, this couple argued constantly in the midst of all their stress and seemed to blame each other for what was going on.

The basis for a lot of humor is complaining, really, so it's ironic that I chose to read a book full of complaining during my own "complaint-free Lent." The book is written alternately in Gurwitch's and Kahn's point of view (He says/She Says), and it is amusing at times to see how differently they remember certain situations. That happens to us sometimes too. But that's where the comparisons stop. We are not bickerers or nitpickers. I think we've found a way to ignore the little things and focus on the best in each other, for the most part. (I do not mean to say we never argue or get annoyed by things the other person does, but we are veritable saints compared to these two.)

Maybe it's being Jewish, or being comedians, or living in southern California. These people complain about everything. Now granted they also wouldn't be that easy to live with either! Kahn comes across as a sex-crazed frat boy at times, whereas Gurwitch appears to be uptight and overly opinionated. I'm sure that much of what they write about is completely over the top, because it's more funny that way.

In the end of the book, they admit that in spite of it all, they really love each other flaws and all. As they quote, some studies have found that as many as 70 percent of marriages dissolve when they have a medically fragile child. I've found that to be true in our personal circle of acquaintances from our NICU family support group. It tests a relationship like nothing else can. These two have survived that (their son is now 11 and doing well), so I think they'll be fine...even though they're not always very nice to each other. We know other couples like that, long as each person gives as good as he or she gets, they seem to thrive on that banter.

I'll stick with my calmer, more respectful marriage though, thank you very much!

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