Scenes From a Marriage, Patinkin-Style

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Mandy Patinkin and Kathryn Grody have been together since their first date nearly 43 years ago, a giddy daylong romp through Greenwich Village that began with brunch and ended with them making out on a street corner. “I’m going to marry you,” he declared. “You’re going to get hurt, because I’m not going to marry anyone,” she replied.

Their wedding was two years later, in 1980. But like many long-term couples, their partnership has thrived in part because they are away from each other so much. Grody, 74, is an Obie Award-winning actress and writer; Patinkin, 68, finished the final season of “Homeland” last year and spent the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020 on a 30-city concert tour.

In March, they left Manhattan for their cabin in upstate New York and embarked, like so many of us, on something radically different: months of uninterrupted time together. The result is a matter of public record, because scenes from their marriage — in all its talky, squabbly, emotional, affectionate glory — are all over social media, courtesy of their son Gideon, 34, who started recording them for fun and then realized that there was a vast demand for Patinkin-related content.

For months, people have scrolled through Twitter, Instagram and TikTok to watch Grody and Patinkin debate, declaim, snuggle, bicker, horse around, play with their dog, Becky, obsess about politics and display their (lack of) knowledge about such topics as text-speak and the New York pizza rat. More recently, the world has followed along as they got their first doses of the vaccine (“one of the few benefits of being old,” Patinkin wrote).

Now, as they near the first anniversary of all that togetherness, they say that except for desperately missing their older son, Isaac, who lives in Colorado and recently got married, they feel lucky to be together. “There’s no question,” Patinkin said. “Being with my family holed up for 11 months has been one of the true gifts of my life.”

As this phase of the pandemic nears its end, do they plan to turn their unlikely social-media fame into a family sitcom or reality TV show? No, says Gideon, although they have gotten endless inquiries. For one thing, his parents can barely operate the video functions on their phones, and eventually he will again have to leave them to their own devices. “Once the world is vaccinated and living life is back in vogue, I might have to teach them how to do selfie videos,” he said. “That should be something.”

After the first few videos last spring, Grody exhorted Gideon not to portray them simply as an “adorable older couple,” she said. “You have to get some of our annoyance in there,” she told him.

What annoyance? In dueling interviews, the couple outlined the many ways they irritate each other. Patinkin hates the way his wife amasses old newspapers, like a hoarder. Grody hates how, when she fails to answer her husband’s calls, he redials incessantly — three, four, five times — until she picks up. She likes podcasts; he likes rewiring the house. She is a “social maniac,” Patinkin said; he “likes humanity in general, but very few specific people,” Grody said.

By that he meant the pandemic, and how lucky it is to be with someone who makes you feel secure in a time of insecurity.

“There have been times during this whole period — sometimes I don’t even know what triggered them — there are times when I wake up and I find myself weeping, and she holds me and no words are spoken,” Patinkin said of his wife.

“I married a woman who knew a guy was nuts, and she has loved me and stood by me and educated me and politicized me,” he continued.

Or, as Grody said: “I used to say that I was supposed to marry a rock so I could be the lunatic, but instead I married a lunatic and I’ve had to be the rock.”

They have separated twice in the course of their marriage, once for six months, the other for eight months.

“We spoke to each other every day; we saw each other every day,” Patinkin said. “We couldn’t be apart.”

“It was ridiculous, to tell you the truth,” Grody said. “I would say, ‘Don’t you know we’re supposed to be separated?’ As difficult as our problems were, it was far more difficult to be without each other.”

Patinkin brought up “The Princess Bride,” in which he played Inigo Montoya, a swordsman trying to avenge his father’s death — and which at heart is about the search for true love.

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