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Three things musicals taught me about marriage

by Eddie Gamarra

The Wizard of Oz – Travel…

It’s impossible not to hear the echoes of Dorothy Gale’s famous line, “there’s no place like home.” The film’s coda about familial nostalgia is timeless, but more importantly, the film demonstrates how adventure forces us to see our loved ones anew.

My wife and I found that it is essential for our marriage’s health to escape the smoggy sepia toned skyline and wide flat gray grid of L.A. as often as possible. The daily grind of work and commuting fosters our desire to go where skies are blue and troubles melt like lemon drops. Oz teaches me that escape is not enough. One must discover munchkinlands, escape flying monkeys and fall asleep in poppy fields.

I love vacations that challenge us individually and as a couple. I want to be intrigued, delighted, thrilled and yes, sometimes scared. Our Hawaiian honeymoon offered a brand new adventure each day. Surveying the Milky Way atop the tallest mountain in the world. Hovering over roiling lava pits in a cramped helicopter. Snorkeling at night with giant manta rays. Throughout our trip, we witnessed monstrous creatures, trekked through surreal landscapes, and stood in awe of astounding beauty.

We have a nerdy vow to visit a different National Park each anniversary. Be it wading Zion’s Narrows or getting lost in a snowstorm amidst Sequioa’s wood giants, we learn just how far we can push ourselves and each other, and better yet, how we can rely on each other. My wife always surprises, impresses, and inspires me. When we return home from such trips, I can look at Katrina with new eyes. Yes, I still see the old her when we’re back in our own room, our own home. But when I look at her it’s not just with recognition of what she was, but a rekindled wonderment at who she is and who she can be when adventure calls.

The King and I – Fight…

Yul Brenner’s King of Siam is a pigheaded blowhard who thinks he thinks he knows more than he does. I am, at times, the King of Siam. Sometimes (many times) I need my own schoolteacher turned high-end tutor to knock me down a peg. While I never would never dream of demanding that Katrina call me Majesty, I admit that there have been (rare) occasions when I act as if she should. I am ever grateful that she doesn’t cow to my ego, and instead holds a mirror up to me so that I may witness my own folly.

But it’s hard to challenge the one you love, even harder to challenge lovingly. It’s scary to speak up and fight for what you believe to be right and true, especially when you know that your partner might feel hurt. It’s extremely intimidating to express how you feel when your partner isn’t in the mood to listen. As with Anna and The King, I’ve found that humor helps us address many of those little things that be irksome and function as triggers that can set us off. Katrina once wrote me a formal letter of complaint after I had failed to do the dishes as I had promised I would. I once made her a picture puzzle where should could match expiration dates with various food containers lingering in the fridge. It’s ok to argue. It’s ok to lose your temper. It’s ok to “call bull shit.” While I’m not sure whistling a happy tune is that effective, the film teaches us to speak up, demand respect, and fight the good fight.

Guess the expiration date: 
A) 1/17/13; 
B) 1/30/13
; C) 1/28/13
; D) 2/11/13
; E) 2/13/13; 
F) 9/13/12

Singin’ in the Rain – Laugh…

After Gene Kelly’s Don kisses Debbie Reynolds’ Kathy, he fulfills the title’s promise of singin’ and dancin’ in the rain. The routine start with him swooning but the true expression of his loving feelings is his exuberant playfulness. He skips, prances, twirls round and round, splashing in puddles. Smiling the biggest smile ever, he reminds us to “laugh at the clouds.”

The joyful ‘Good Morning’ Sequence is chock full of after hour giddiness. As great improv comedians, three friends play object transformation and pretend to be everything from hula dancers to toreadors. They’re just dancing fools whose unbounded sense of play makes me wish my wife and I stayed up late more often.

My favorite routine though is Donald O’Connor’s “Make ‘em Laugh.” Many will recall his hilarious pratfalls and skillful acrobatics with great fondness. But when watching the movie, one is reminded what launched that routine. Donald’s character Cosmo Brown simply wants to cheer up his best friend. I know that for me, when my lady is feeling blue or grumpy, my initial impulse is to try to fix the problem. This film reminds me that while I typically can’t actually remedy the issue, I can at least try to bring a smile to my lady’s face. But Cosmo’s not content to elicit a giggle, he wants to banish the problems that beset his best friend. He exhausts himself trying to help. As a couple, each person must ask him or herself, have I exhausted myself trying to make my partner happy? If not, try harder, even if it means throwing yourself through a fake wall. Or, in this case, re-enacting your wedding proposal and response.

Eddie Gamarra

About Eddie Gamarra

Eddie Gamarra could have been a shrink, but ended up in literary representation. He is married to Katrina Knudson, the “non-pro” to his “pro.”

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