Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Mina, Marriage and Me

I miss her. The Wife. Takes me by surprise. Would have thought after 43 years of marriage, it might go the other way 'round. Perhaps it's time for me to introduce her. She doesn't take to being termed The Wife. Found it offensive. Believes it stems from old territorial notions of women as property.

Has a point there. Time to redress. (And no, I did not mean that as you might like to think I did.) In her absence perhaps I can reform. Curious, noting underneath is my fear that if I don't do so, she may not return. Though she always does. Perhaps it is just now that I recognize the truth of Chesterton's famous assertion, "The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost." More about him later. Quite the fellow.

We'll begin with her name. Mina. My Mina, my never-mean Mina. My 'aminable' Mina. Wilhelmina Blenk-Thret, MD, DVM. Born five and a half years before myself. Has kept her so-called maiden name all these years, leading others to believe we are living in sin, an illicit couple. She took some pleasure in that, not having for a moment subscribed to conventional notions of sanctity and sin.

Her parents were mavericks as well. Not related to Bourbon Thret, pictured below, of the French limited-edition work by Geoff Darrow, the conceptual designer for all three 'Matrix' films (among other things). See Mr. Thret below.

Nor is she related to the proponents of Threshold Regression with Endogenous Threshold (THRET) Variables, whose method "allows for the endogeneity of slope variables." See the THRET model below:

yi = x0i β1 + u1i , qi ≤ γ (2.1) 
yi = x0i β2 + u2i , qi > γ (2.2) 
qi = z 0 π + vi (2.3) 

I include it as a reminder to myself that I am not as smart as I pretend. Keeps a man humble.

But our marriage. We did marry. For all the usual legalistic reasons. And we are a heterosexual couple. But without any investment whatsoever in the institution, which is, relatively speaking, a recent development, originating in Roman times, and lacking, as it happens, any cross-cultural intra-societal usefulness at all, as stated in 2004 by the American Anthropological Association:

The results of more than a century of anthropological research on households, kinship relationships, and families, across cultures and through time, provide no support whatsoever for the view that either civilization or viable social orders depend upon marriage as an exclusively heterosexual institution. Rather, anthropological research supports the conclusion that a vast array of family types, including families built upon same-sex partnerships, can contribute to stable and humane societies.

The woodcut pictured at the top is from a medieval German wedding ceremony involving the literary icons Reymont and Melusina. We particularly like it since it seems to suggest one of the partners is a Bunny. We'll say no more about that. It is also notable that presumed members of the community have brought an evidently empty bucket to the occasion, held by a vaguely clerical-appearing figure. Our best interpretation is that one or the other of the bedmates is in danger of throwing up.

As it happens, Reymont (also known as Raymond) is a mythical French fellow who married a beautiful water-fay, Melusina. In return she required that he leave her in complete seclusion on Saturdays. The tale goes:

Years passed, and the love of Raymond for his beautiful wife never diminished. Every Saturday she left she left him and spent the twenty-four hours in the strictest seclusion, without her husband thinking of intruding on her privacy.

However, owing to insecurities encouraged by his father and brothers, finally one night he did dare to peek upon Melusina in her Saturday retreat.

He looked through the keyhole and to his dismay beheld her in the water, her lower extremities changed into the tail of a monstrous fish or serpent.

Even that was not enough to deter her, however, and it was only when, in a moment of vitriol, Raymond shouted, " "Away, odious serpent, contaminator of my honourable race!" Melusina fainted, and eventually vanished. It was believed that she would only reappear when a king of France was about to shuck his mortal coils. And Raymont/Raymond grieved for all eternity, this love for "a water-sprite and of her longing for normal life."

Here they are, on the occasion of their great debacle:

Would like to think of them in happier times, but lack, at the moment, any depictions thereof. But here Mina and I are, in our heedless youth.

And here, by way of the inimitable artist Michael Sowa, is, perhaps, the Bunny in the woodcut above, berating us for our iniquities, Mina's and mine.

Though we always 'Mina' well, we do. Especially her.

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