The most optimistic thing we will do is get married. We do this despite mounting evidence against the institution.
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Half of them end in divorce. Those that survive are fraught with their own petty inconveniences despite what those perpetually peppy Facebook updates imply. The truth is, marriage is hard work, the constant battle of me vs. we.
We are a selfish species, and yet we enter into this partnership where a spirit of cooperation is needed. We try. We fail. But when marriages fail, unlike, say, a field-goal attempt, everybody gets dropped in the grease.
We optimistically walk down the aisle anyway. We fall in love and say I do and giddily embark on lifetimes by uttering things we’d never say in any other contractual agreement: "soul mate" and "forever."
We do so because we believe in love. We hope the cynics and pessimists are wrong about it. We have faith it will be OK. This is why I love the romantic comedies. I want to believe in happy endings, in staying together, in love.
I say all of this as sort of a preamble to explain why you will hear no gloating from me about the demise of Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant’s marriage, no snark on news of his divorce.
To do so seems to invite karmic trouble into the already fragile state that is married life. And honestly, it is none of our damn business.
This is not the Tiger Woods marital melee. There was no police report, no golf club impaling his car. There is no stream of bimbos coming forward to tell of dalliances with Kobe, at least not yet. (And if this very Tiger phenomenon repeats, I argue we berate any young "lady" publicly bragging about being an adulterer as savagely as we do her playing partner.) There has been no impact on his game.
If this had come after Kobe had been charged with sexual assault, obviously, it is a story. It is eight years later, though, and this is just another divorce. So why, when news of Kobe’s divorce leaked Friday, did my Twitter explode with snark and glee and two oft-repeated theories on what will be the impact of this very pubic breakup:
1. Bryant and thereby the Lakers have begun a free fall.
2. The real tragedy of this divorce is Kobe did not insist on a prenuptial agreement and now Vanessa is going to get half of "his money."
Kobe is going to be fine. Guys like him go all inward when life gets hard. They internalize. My money is on Kobe taking out any lawyer-joint-property-divorce angst on Chris Paul and Dirk Nowitzki and whomever else.
My editor made a good point about this. When Kobe was going through the rape trial, he showed an almost pathological ability to compartmentalize things. There were a handful of days where he was required to be in Colorado for legal proceedings, then had to jump on a plane and play a game that night. And in those games, he was almost unstoppable. It was not simply that he was unaffected. It seemed as if his worst moments fueled him. His game benefited from his personal angst.
If anything catches up to Kobe, it will be age or a lack of Phil and Lamar. There’s exactly no danger that he’s going to let the demise of his marriage derail him, which leaves this second theory that Kobe screwed up by not prenuptially protecting himself against Vanessa Bryant taking his money.
This drives me insane. She is not taking his money. She is taking her share of their money. And "taking" is the wrong verb. Without making a comment on their marriage, into which I have zero insight, I almost guarantee she earned it.
He played the basketball and endorsed the Gatorade and sold the jerseys. She gave him a family to come home to after losses and setbacks and, yes, a certain rape allegation. This has meaning, too. This has worth.
Maybe I am particularly sensitive because this was my mom’s job or because I have so many friends with law degrees and MBAs choosing to stay home and having to answer "What do you do all day?"
This is unfair. And wrong.
Do not believe me? Try it.
I recognize this probably is not Vanessa Bryant’s exact existence. There probably is a fleet of nannies and money to make even the most unpleasant parts palatable. But as my mom loved to say, if you marry for money, you certainly will earn it. This is not to say money was Vanessa Bryant’s motivation. I keep seeing all of these motivations ascribed to her, but we do not know. Maybe it was true love.
Maybe she believed in happy endings. Maybe he was an optimist.
In the end, it does not matter. It is divorce, and it sucks.
It certainly is not funny. And it is none of our damn business.