Unhitched: Love, Marriage, and Family Values from West Hollywood to Western China

Unhitched: Love, Marriage, and Family Values from West Hollywood to Western China

Unhitched: Love, Marriage, and Family Values from West Hollywood to Western China

Unhitched: Love, Marriage, and Family Values from West Hollywood to Western China

Excerpt

Love and marriage, love and marriage
Go together like a horse and carriage
This I tell you, brother
You can’t have one without the other

—“Love and Marriage,” lyrics by Sammy Cahn,
recorded by Frank Sinatra, 1955

WHEN “FRANKIE,” A New Jersey hero, recorded the song “Love and Marriage” in 1955, he was crooning for me and my gals, and we sure did soak it up. Coming of age in a white ethnic, lower-middle-class New Jersey town, we were part of the first generation of kids to encounter the magic box of television, which fed us a steady diet of fifties family fables—Father Knows Best, Leave It to Beaver, Ozzie and Harriet, and my personal favorite, I Remember Mama. In the mid-fifties, my gal pack and I jumped rope chanting the popular jingle, “First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes [Judy] with a baby carriage.” The post-war era was a time when such platitudes were uncontroversial and almost as empirically accurate as they were morally prescriptive, a time when in the eyes of many voters, divorce rendered presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson unfit for office, and marital infidelity turned Hollywood heartthrob Ingrid Bergman, the Swedish star of Casablanca, into a pariah denounced on the floor of the U.S. Senate as “Hollywood’s apostle of degradation.” Those were the days, of course, when any sort of love other than heterosexual monogamy dared not yet whisper its name, and nobody would have thought to specify the sexual orientation of the imaginary blissful couple that the song and the jump-rope jingle celebrated.

Baby, carriage, and all sure have come a long way down and around since then. Paths between love, marriage, and babies have multiplied, divided . . .

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