Robin Rinaldi sows open-marriage “Wild Oats,” then is shocked when husband reaps divorce
My latest blog post for the Independent Women’s Forum:
According to a review of the book by the Washington Post’s Carlos Lozado and an interview Rinaldi gave to Kirkus Reviews, her dull-but-steady husband, “Scott” (yes, that’s his real name), now made famous by Rinaldi for his once-a-week unexciting sex sessions with her, was the one to blame. Never wanting to be a father , he balked when she suddenly decided she wanted a baby after 17 years of marriage, and then got a vasectomy without consulting her. Since she was already in her early 40s, Scott probably didn’t have anything to worry about anyway, but his decision triggered the couple’s agreement to have a one-year “open marriage,” in which Rinaldi would move out of the couple’s flat into her own apartment for five-day-a-week fun and then back into the flat with Scott for weekends so they can work on their marriage. The idea was that if Rinaldi couldn’t have kids, she could at least have a lot of lovers–because kids and lovers are kind of interchangeable, you know. Fortunately, the couple lived in San Francisco, where this kind of thing happens all the time.
“She still rushes to Scott whenever things gets scary (a car accident, an angry text message), yet deliberately strains their union beyond recovery.
“Robin and Scott agree to three rules — ‘no serious involvements, no unsafe sex, no sleeping with mutual friends’ — that both go on to break. He finds a steady girlfriend, while Robin violates two rules right away. “In truth, I was sick of protecting things,” she writes about going condom-free with a colleague at a conference. “I wanted the joy of being overcome.’
“The men and women she hooks up with — some whose names Rinaldi has changed, others too fleeting to merit aliases — all blur into a new-age, Bay Area cliche. Everyone is a healer, or a mystic, or a doctoral student in feminist or Eastern spirituality. They’re all verging on enlightenment, sensing mutual energy, getting copious action to the sounds of tribal drums. The project peaks when she moves into OneTaste, an urban commune where “expert researchers” methodically stroke rows of bare women for 15 minutes at a time in orgasmic meditation sessions (‘OM’ to those in the know). ‘Everyone here was passionate,’ Rinaldi writes. ‘Everyone had abandoned convention.'”
Meanwhile, back at the flat:
“When the year runs out, Rinaldi returns to Scott, even though she soon starts an affair with a project flame. She’s no longer so upset about the vasectomy, regarding it as a sign that Scott can stand up for himself (though it may also mean she now cares less about him, period). No shock that post-project, their chemistry is off, and when Rinaldi makes a casual reference to their time apart, Scott finally explodes. ‘Do you know how many nights I cried myself to sleep when you moved out!?’ he asks. ‘Do you care about anyone’s feelings but your own!?’ She was ‘too stunned to reply.'”
You can guess what happens after that. Scott’s now history, and Rinaldi is now self-reportedly living with one of the Dirty Dozen, “Alden” (that’s a made-up name), who reappeared in her life and to whom she’s as faithful as Patient Griselda (maybe he’s the one who made her feel “overcome”–or maybe, now that she’s 50, she doesn’t haven’t a lot of other options). Scott, amazingly–or maybe not so amazingly, given his supine personality–agreed to let Rinaldi lay bare, so to speak, the couple’s intimate bedroom life as well as the rest of their intimate life.
Posted by Charlotte Allen