I don't need a television to watch 'Marriage Boot Camp'
APPARENTLY, WE tv has decided to take relationship shows to a new level. They've gathered the most outrageously dysfunctional people from reality TV, and they're forcing us to watch them again.
They call it "Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars," and the premise is pretty simple: They put cameras on over-the-top people and subject them to contrived hardships. They're exposed to electric shocks, they're connected to lie detectors and, according to the trailer, there's also fire involved.
Women hit their husbands and dare them to retaliate. Men throw things and storm off the set. People tell cameramen to leave them alone when they've signed up to be on camera. Apparently everybody cries a lot. Me? I cry, too, because although I don't generally watch them, I've been able to tolerate the existence of reality shows . . . until now.
I could deal with the brides seeking Rodeo Drive dresses with Kensington Avenue money. I was OK with the couples who tramped through the woods and called themselves "Naked and Afraid." I was even willing to deal with Maury Povich's DNA test-to-Family Court showdown.
But "Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars"? This is beyond the pale.
Marriage boot camp has nothing to do with lie-detector tests and rings of fire. It's not about storming off the set while some crazy chick screams in the background. And, although the people at WE tv might try to convince us otherwise, "Marriage Boot Camp" doesn't need a show of its own. It's on every day at my house.
Marriage boot camp is the thing that happens after a salesperson has persuaded some unsuspecting woman to "Say Yes to the Dress." It's what happens after you've starred in your own version of "My Fair Wedding." It's what happens after you realize that the cost of your island nuptials was equivalent to the price of four weddings.
Marriage boot camp, in short, starts as soon as you come back from the honeymoon. It's that awkward moment when you look at each other and ask the question that has plagued married couples from the beginning of time: "What do we do now?"
Unfortunately, there's no one around to answer that question, because unlike an actual boot camp, marriage has no drill instructor. There's no one to discourage negative behavior by making you exercise until you puke. There's no one to teach you teamwork by making you march in combat boots. There's no one to teach punctuality by clanging trash cans at dawn. There is only your spouse, and at any point, you might have to drop and give them 20.
I know there are those who don't believe this, but marriage doesn't need electric shocks to turn it into a boot camp. Marriage has enough shocks of its own.
Marriage boot camp is that thing that happens when you've got more month than you've got money, and bill collectors get to know you on a first-name basis.
Marriage boot camp is that awkward moment when you realize that having the lights off is romantic when you can turn them back on. When the electric company shuts them down, however, you really don't feel like cuddling.
What's marriage boot camp? It's the night you catch your spouse hiding the Haagen-Dazs behind the frozen trout because they're just too stingy to share. It's the moment you realize that your spouse wants to talk whenever the game is on. It's the day it dawns on you that your spouse is a morning person, and you're tired when they're feeling frisky.
On each of these occasions, marriage boot camp is in full swing. Someone's going to start yelling, trash cans are going to start rattling and one of you is going to have to drop and give your spouse 20.
You'll have to give them 20 seconds to hand over the ice cream. You'll have to give them 20 sentences of dialogue during the NFC Championship game. You'll have to give them 20 minutes of affection when you're exhausted.
That's marriage boot camp, my friends. It's on every day at my house, and it's probably on at your house, too. We live it without cameramen. We endure it without counselors and we make it through to the other side to earn our marriage stripes.
We don't need no stinkin' reality show to remind us how real marriage can get, because whether TV producers choose to film us or not, we're living "Marriage Boot Camp" every day.
Solomon Jones' column appears Tuesdays. More at Solomonjones.com.