"And Just Like That..." Steve, Carrie and the thing about the ring
For a show I had decided not to watch, the "SATC" reboot has some serious parallels for your girl
Pictured: A thing that is not easy to do. At least it wasn’t for me.
I swear that this newsletter has not become exclusively an “And Just Like That…” critique/written pit of grievances. I’ve been traveling this week - just got back from a wonderful day at Florida Atlantic University’s Wilkes Honors College, where I met some great writing students for a Master Class and was the opening act for Joyce Carol Oates (I’m essentially the band that’s playing at 2 P.M. when you’re parking your car at the festival. Proud to be.)
Still, I had to talk to you guys about this, the penultimate episode of HBO Max’s “Sex and the City” reboot, because it’s about rings. Specifically, it’s about when you take your wedding ring off. For Carrie Bradshaw, a recent widow, doing that acknowledges, finger-wise, that she is no longer married, a decision neither she or her husband chose. She starts thinking about this because she’s about to go on a kind-of date with a hot widower with great hair played by Jon Tenney, and she’s wondering what the stunning diamond set on her hand still means. And Lord, is it complicated.
No matter what happens, even if she continues to feel married to Mr. Big (it’s still so startling when she refers to him as John), Carrie will never again be in an active, live marriage with him. She is no longer legally married. She is checking that “widow” box on every form she ever signs from here on out, unless she gets married again to someone else. And for her, the decision about whether to wear her ring, or, for a while, his, is a part of the circuitous route to that thing called healing, to that new life she never asked for.
And it’s so awful. Necessary. But so awful. Nobody wants this mess. I know - last fall, 6.5 years after the death of my husband, Scott, the wedding band he’d placed on my left hand but that I’d moved to my right, made its final pilgrimage to a fancy box on the dresser of a bedroom Scott will never sleep in. It wasn’t a planned thing, or an anniversary or significant date. I haven’t met someone else. I just woke up one morning and knew it was the day I was going to do it. I will always be the widow of Scott Zervitz and we were married until death us did part (AND DEATH I’M STILL SO PISSED AT YOU.) But I am no longer married to him. That hurts to type, every time I do. But it’s not any less true.
DEATH, AGAIN, YOU SUCK.
Carrie’s not the only one of our old friends thinking about wedding rings. Steve, the still hot, soon-to-be-ex husband of Miranda Hobbes, has helped Carrie fish Mr. Big’s band out of a bathroom sink drain, and it’s reminded him of his own. Until recently, that ring symbolized his eleventy-three year marriage to Miranda (the timeline on this show is really fuzzy, so it’s hard to tell how much time has passed), but now that she’s left him for Carrie’s boss, revolutionary but not that funny comedian Che, that marriage seems to be ending. (I wrote about the stunning leaps the writers have had to make to portray Steve as a doddering idiot who’s bad at sex, so that you aren’t too mad at Miranda, when it would have been braver for her to have been happy with Steve but still fall in love with Che.)
Steve’s marriage is, like Carrie’s, about to be over, against his will. The difference is that his former partner is still breathing, and she’s decided that it’s over. But he hasn’t. He’s not an idiot, or in denial. He knows and accepts that he and Miranda are not together. He’s not stopping her from being with Che, because that’s not who he is. He wants her to be happy. But in his heart, he still loves her. He still believes the vows that he made, that they were forever. Maybe she didn’t. That’s on her. And for him, at this moment, he looks Carrie in the eye and tells her resolutely that his ring is never coming off. And friends, it’s the sexiest he’s been in this whole series, because the writers seemed to temporarily remember that he used to be a frisky hot bartender, and that he loved and craved that woman in every way, and he never stopped.
And I get it. Of course, if Steve were a real person, I would support him and secretly hope that perhaps, one day, he’d meet someone else worth taking that ring off for. (And no, that person should not be Carrie. She’s like a sister or something, and frankly, he’s too good for her.) But I would, like Carrie, just nod and support my friend, because he means it. Hearts are complicated. Beginnings and endings are messy. Love is weird. Rings mean things.
And I mean that from the bottom of my heart, and from the still-visible mark on my hand where mine used to be.
I guarantee that the next issue of Who Knows Where That Might Lead?! will not be about “And Just Like That…” The one after that? All bets are off. Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.