And not just because of her terrifyingly spray toned abs.
I’m jealous, because I genuinely believe Courtney Stodden is happy. I believe she is happy in a way that I will never have the ability to be happy, and maybe never did. Because Courtney Stodden has the potential to live in a state of perpetually suspended adolescence.
The downside to that, of course, is that she has barely any personality at all. But I have no doubt that she’s probably happier in her weird, weird relationship with Doug Hutchison at 16 than I have the opportunity to be in any of mine at 25. Because when you’re in your early teens, you have the capacity to be happy in a relationship with, hell, just about anyone who seems nice.
Maybe it was just me, but I remember being 15 (so, when Courtney and Doug met) and wanting a boyfriend. Here was my criteria for said boyfriend:
1) Should like me
2) Should be kind of popular or at least reasonable well liked
3) BONUS POINTS IF HE HAD A CAR.
So, yeah, that was about it. If he had a car, I was cool with him believing – what’s something ridiculous? – that the HPV vaccine “causes mental retardation.” If a 51 year old with a successful career and a house with some… columns in front of it? It’s a nice house, I guess?… told me I was the love of his life and he wanted to wife me and let me spend the rest of my days playing with puppies and and frolicking on the beach and having sex and never having to go to pre-calc again – I would have taken him up on it almost immediately.
Of course, my parents wouldn’t have let me. Because unlike young me, they were grown-ups, and they would realize that if I wifed myself off at 15, I would never develop the skills that allow you to stand on your own two stripper-heeled feet.
Sometimes the marriage between Courtney and Doug reminds me of nothing so much as a passage in Michael Faber’s 19th century novel The Crimson Petal and The White where, after a 14 year old is whisked away from boarding school to marry a much older man, another character replies “she left her scrapbook with all those adorable pictures of kittens behind. If he truly loves her, he best send for it!” It’s a great moment that kind of encapsulates “whoa, this is a society that keeps women children forever.” I’m absolutely certain that Courtney had a scrapbook filled with happy kitten pictures, but I’m also certain the Doug sent for it, and this is the best that could be hoped for under the circumstances. It is not the same as being an adult who does not collect pictures of kittens, but it made her happy insofar as she can be happy.
But can you ever be happier? You can certainly be smarter, but I don’t think you’re assured to be happier.
When you get older, the criteria regarding your romantic partnerships grows. Jesus, how it grows. Just sending back that scrapbook of kitten pictures really isn’t enough. By the time you are 25, someone seeming pleasant and being affable suddenly gives way to 100 other concerns. You go out of on dates with people who are basically okay – people who you would have been amazed by if you were 15 (he has a job!? And a car!? And is in his twenties!?)– and you find yourself saying bizarrely judgemental things to your friends afterwards, like ‘he didn’t know who Marshall McLuhan was. Has he ever even seen Annie Hall? Did that joke just not even make sense to him?” (No, you’re not that crazy). (Yes, you are, just with a different example.)
But that’s okay. It’s okay that you’re a judgmental harpy because you’re a grown-up. You’ve developed a personality and interests, and you know and care about things, and want to have a partnership with someone who when you say “diaper backward spells repaid. Think about it!” replies “the medium is the message.” Or, you know, whatever your own individual interests are.
Because you have interests, now. You have things you care about that. Of course, you could say that Courtney Stodden has things she cares about, too, but they seem to involve “sex” and “the Bible” at least from everything we have ever heard her say or tweet. There are a pretty wide range of potential male spouses who could also be interested in those things and I suspect that, just by virtue of being young and not having enough time to have developed bizarrely specific interests, Courtney could be equally happy with any one of them.
And I do not doubt that she is happy, at least right now. She has very little reason to be unhappy, other than Internet haters, and, well, she tweets about being aroused for 24 hours, so maybe she should have seen that one coming.
Remember, this is a woman who said her husband was going to be “her college.” That sounds a lot easier than actual college where you have to wake up at uncomfortable hours to learn how things work, and take tests, and write about things you do not want to write about. It certainly sounds easier than the process after college where you have to work difficult jobs you dislike on the way to finding a job you actually like. I am jealous she will never have to go through those phases, especially as there is absolutely nothing to suggest that being more intelligent and knowledgeable about the world will lead to a happier life – if there was then we’d be talking about sunshine kiddies like Nietzsche and Kant all the time.
But would I trade places with Courtney Stodden? Not for a second.
Partly because I think that running around in a bikini talking about how aroused you are is appealing for 10 years, tops. And I see nothing in her life that would encourage her to turn into a grown-up who say, wanted to tweet about her feelings on international politics. A 40 year old woman tweeting about how she has been aroused for 24 hours is significantly less interesting than a 16 year old one doing the same. People might think a 16 year old girl is kind of “out there” or “crazy” but the terms applied to a 40 year old would be more along the lines of “sad” or “pathetic.” It was easier in Michael Faber’s Victorian times. They died earlier. So, modern societal pressure, I guess that’s one reason I wouldn’t want to be her. In this one instance I will say “go, societal pressures! Thanks for forcing me to build character.”
Oh, and the fact that becoming someone who has a personality that’s been honed over years of being by yourself makes it that much more special when you do find someone who is like you.
Still. I think she’s probably having fun while it lasts. It just can’t last that long.