You have all probably heard about it by now. Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin of Coldplay are “consciously uncoupling.” And the world just can not handle itself. Mind you, no one is wasting any good snark on the fact that the two are going their separate ways…because, duh, Hollywood. Rather, social media outlets are excited over the fact that the term “divorce” was apparently not authentic enough to describe the dissolution of Paltrow’s and Martin’s marriage.
Yet seeing as how I am a wordsmith of sorts, I will admit to being a bit intrigued by the phrase “consciously uncouple”…not enough to declare Paltrow one of the great thinkers of a generation (though I have always loved her work in Shallow Hal), but intrigued no less. Words can sometimes be overused to the point of losing impact. I mean, how often have you heard the words separate, divorce, breakup or annul and thought, “I know I should have more feelings about Mom and Dad ending their marriage, but I can’t help it. The word divorce is just so trite. The whole thing feels a little flat. Maybe if they jazzed up the lexicon, I could work up a few tears.”
See what Paltrow did there? She has reinvented the same old tired Hollywood breakup. She has re-sensitized us. By having her way with the English language, we can now ponder in a whole new light the parting of ways of two rich, pretentious people whose personal lives are of absolutely no concern of ours. Not only that, but she may have revolutionized the way we think about a lot of other couples.
1. Twin Pops: You’re not just going halvsies with your friend anymore. “Consciously uncouple” your twin pops and offer half to one of your brethren, symbolizing the collective Over-Soul that needs to be nourished within all of us.
2. Legos: You know those two bricks that just won’t come apart? And no matter how consciously you try to uncouple them, they are cemented together. Fear not. There is a tool for that. But you no longer have to call it by its pedestrian name: Brick Separator. Now it shall be dubbed “The Conscious Uncouple-ator.”
3. Those Two Chatterbox Students in Class: Teachers, instead of merely separating these distracting children for your own sanity, “consciously uncouple” them, which will consequently lead them on their own individual paths of growth and self-actualization. And I bet ten bucks no parents will threaten legal action for damaging their child’s tender psyche if you use the clearly superior Paltrow method (because celebrities are the utmost authorities on things they have never earned degrees in…right Jenny McCarthy?)
4. Hope and the Political Process: Ugh. Even “conscious uncoupling” can’t put a positive spin on this one. We’re just up natural-bodily-waste creek without a paddle.
5. White Loads and Dark Loads: Laundry will no longer feel discriminatory. When you “consciously uncouple” your whites and your darks, you are simply providing each with their own environment in which they can celebrate their seamstress-given qualities. As a result, they can all come together in your closet to create a beautiful united front of harmonious fashion.
This whole “conscious uncoupling” really takes things up a notch. I mean, it is WAY more sophisticated than “unconscious coupling,” which is much more common and less philosophical. For instance, look at all the things I “unconsciously couple” right off the top of my head: peanut butter and jelly, the letters q and u, Oprah and her favorite things, shopping for swimming suits and vomiting, Moby Dick and being bored out of my skull, Fred and Ginger, Romeo and Juliet, Zack Morris and Kelly Kapowski, me and Bobby McGee…I could go on like this forever. It takes no soul-searching, no meaningful intention to “unconsciously couple.” But “consciously uncouple”? Now that’s deep.
So let’s all back off of Gwyneth. Through her pain she has given us a gift. Every party-goer who has ever felt the need to sound smarter among a group of intellectual snobs should raise her glass. Every student who has ever had to BS his way through an essay question on a test should raise his glass. Every lost soul who just needs a self-help book to call the same old crap in her life by a different name should raise her glass. Because now we have a whole new way of looking at separation, all the while giving the appearance of being ever more enlightened. Cheers to Gwyneth Paltrow!
Or rather, “Deliberate Celebratory Extremity Extension” to Gwyneth Paltrow. Whatever.