The idea for “I Married This” came to me while my son was in grade school in San Francisco. The school was filled with parents who, unlike me, were looking younger every year because of cosmetic enhancements. I started to notice how plastic surgery was being opted for more and more often, not just with people in the public eye, as in the old days, but regular everyday folks. So many of the moms, it seemed, we’re going that route. What did it all cost? And why?
And I started thinking about what it meant to be a woman who chooses, instead, to age naturally. It seemed that this was becoming more and more a radical idea.
I also began to think about the tenuous nature of female friendships. My friendships with the mothers of my kid’s friends at the school, though enjoyable, were centered around our children. Whenever I tried to talk to them about real things in my life, real issues, the conversations died.
I began writing a story about two couples having a dinner together in which one of the women friends has had both her face and breasts redone. I’m intrigued with how this now “normal” occurrence in affluent western culture effects not only the lives of those who are enhanced, but the lives of those around them. In the story, the husband of the enhanced woman is very proud of his wife’s new appearance. It’s as if he’d suddenly married a pedigreed show dog.
The biggest conflict in the story has to do with the absent and vulnerable teenage son, a messy kid, who has been shipped off to boarding school. The son represents the embodiment of the mother’s own perceived flaws, and like her aborted wrinkles and sags, needed to be hidden in order for the parent’s marriage to stay intact. This is also true with their poor cat, “Tuna,” who we see, in the end, is being offered to the neighborhood raccoons.
I’m thrilled that CRAFT chose to reprint this story. It was first published by The Center for Fiction in NYC. It’s one that I feel especially close to.
MEG POKRASS is the author of six flash fiction collections and an award-winning book of prose poetry. Her work has been recently anthologized in two Norton Anthology Readers, Best Small Fictions 2018 and 2019, the Wigleaf Top 50 List, and has appeared in 350 literary magazines online and in print, including Electric Literature, Tin House, Tupelo Quarterly, SmokeLong Quarterly, Wigleaf, and Five Points. She currently serves as Flash Challenge Editor at Mslexia Magazine, Festival Curator for Flash Fiction Festival, U.K. (Bristol), Co-Editor of Best Microfiction 2020, and Founding/Managing Editor of New Flash Fiction Review. Her latest collection of flash, The Dog Seated Next to Me (Pelekinesis Press), will be out in September of 2019.