Hitched: On The Fairy Tale Ending That Katie Holmes Will Not Have

What are you doing right now? Is it after noon? Actually, I don’t care if it is or not: go pour yourself a glass of something cold and boozy and join me in a toast to Katie Holmes, free woman.

I don’t much keep up with celebrity goings-on, certainly not beyond the two-month-old Us Weekly rags at the nail salon. I couldn’t pick Selena Gomez out of a line-up of young brunette actresses; I am unsure how many Kardashian family members there are. But Joey? From “Dawson’s Creek”? We have a connection that cannot be broken; a connection forged when she sang that song from Les Mis on the show and I was all, Tell Dawson you love him, girl! Or was it Pacey? I didn’t watch very closely.

So perhaps my connection to Katie Holmes is tenuous. Fine. Still, I found myself actually excited when I heard she was divorcing Tom Cruise. And then I was even more excited when I read about how she went about it like a classy divorce-bomb-dropping spy bailing off the S.S. Fucking Weirdo — using a burner cellphone, having secret lawyers in three states on call, having her negotiation terms ready to roll.

I am just really tickled that Holmes managed to pull one over on Tom Cruise, who has always seemed like the slimiest dude around, largely due to his connection to Scientology, an expensive and made-up science fiction party for assholes. Tom Cruise seems like the type of guy who can’t remember the last time someone told him “No.” That Katie Holmes did? Sometimes, I feel like there is justice in the world.

The Tom-Kat divorce is a timely example of what I wrote about in my “Tales of the Happily Divorced” column last month. Sometimes, marriage, or a particular marriage, isn’t the answer — not for women, not for men. Sometimes we have to get married first to know that. And this is where I’m going to drop the “Celebrities, they’re just like us!” knowledge.

Because sure, the media narrative is that Tom Cruise is a creeper and Katie Holmes was a wide-eyed young woman duped into a life of luxury, but there are some parts of their story that don’t sound much different than parts of non-movie-stars’ stories.

Take the so-called “marriage contract. Whether or not it’s strictly true that Tom Cruise “auditioned” young female Hollywood stars to play the role of Mrs. Cruise, plenty of people who are afraid of being alone — or who are cajoled and pressured into believing that being alone is a fate worse than death — do this kind of thing on a much smaller scale.

Some people are so desperate to get married they’ll take the best reasonable candidate that comes along once they decide that marriage will solve all their problems. Why? A ton of reasons: People get caught up in the social zeitgeist of friend-pressure, their biological clocks are ticking, or they’re tired of doing all the vacuuming all the time.

From Katie Holmes’ point of view, she admits to have fairytale dreams of Cruise, on whom she had a childhood crush. What little girl, who’s been told by countless movies (Disney, ahemm) and television shows and toy advertisements that being the pretty princess bride will be the best thing that ever happened to her, wouldn’t jump at the chance to marry a guy who looks, by all accounts, to be a modern Prince Charming?

If skepticism toward marriage and the idea that long-term heterosexual partnership is the one and only way for human beings to be happy were more acceptable, I think we’d get a lot fewer Tom-Kat marriages wherein the fairy tale can never live up to the day-to-day. Because it sure sounds like Katie Holmes’ life was anything but a fairytale. Or, perhaps, it was more like an original Brothers Grimm than a contemporary Disney.

It’s obvious from the details that have been released about the way Holmes initiated her divorce that she felt she had to go to extreme measures to extricate herself from the relationship. Sure, divorce is hard. But when you’ve got to get a burner cell phone and lawyers in three states involved, things are really, really bad.

Which is another important celebs-are-just-like-us moment: we need to believe people when they say they are in bad situations. We need to stop victim-blaming and listen; abusive relationships don’t always leave bruises where we can see them. I’m not saying Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes’ relationship was abusive — I sure as hell don’t know — but I do think there’s a tendency to tell married people, especially women, to try and “work it out” for the sake of whatever — the institution of marriage? The kids? I know a lot of kids of divorced parents and I don’t know many of them who would say that they wish their parents had stayed together in an acrimonious relationship for just a little longer.

So I’m glad Katie Holmes’ family took her seriously when she came to them with her need to leave. It doesn’t hurt that Holmes was already fabulously wealthy before she married Cruise and had the means to leave.

Because we’ve all been there: watching a friend get deeper and deeper into a relationship that’s bad for them, and feeling powerless to do anything about it. All you can do is watch from the sidelines while the mistakes get made and hope that your friend comes around someday. I’m glad Katie Holmes came around. Maybe she wants to help me sing Les Mis into a hairbrush microphone in the bathroom mirror again.

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