Home > Journalism, Life > Keeping it Classy, II

Keeping it Classy, II

December 21, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

I have written several times of my affection for the NYT Sunday Vows column, each week featuring another love story, sometimes of the rich and famous, sometimes of just regular Joes and Jills (or Joes and Joes, or whatever). Well, this past Sunday’s ventured into new territory. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Do people really want the story told in the national newspaper, in its most prominent social news site, of their meeting (while married to others) at their children’s pre-school, falling in love, and deciding to leave their spouses for each other? Well, in case I wasn’t sure, I know now that the answer is yes. You might think you would rather not know more, but in case you do, check out the full story here.

I’ll share here the story’s climactic moment.

In May 2008, Mr. Partilla invited her for a drink at O’Connell’s, a neighborhood bar. She said she knew something was up, because they had never met on their own before.

“I’ve fallen in love with you,” he recalled saying to her. She jumped up, knocking a glass of beer into his lap, and rushed out of the bar. Five minutes later, he said, she returned and told him, “I feel exactly the same way.” Then she left again.

One more detail:

As Mr. Partilla saw it, their options were either to act on their feelings and break up their marriages or to deny their feelings and live dishonestly. “Pain or more pain,” was how he summarized it.

“The part that’s hard for people to believe is we didn’t have an affair,” Ms. Riddell said. “I didn’t want to sneak around and sleep with him on the side. I wanted to get up in the morning and read the paper with him.”

I had to head to my office Sunday morning to grade or I might have written about the Vows story then. In the meantime, the publication of the story has turned into a story in its own right. At Forbes, Jeff Bercovici wrote yesterday:

In addition to strong condemnation from numerous bloggers and many of the paper’s own commenters, the article, as a first of sorts for the Times, invited a number of questions. Why were the ex-spouses of the newlyweds not mentioned by name in the story? Did the reporter call them for comment, as basic journalistic practice would dictate? Why did the Times open up the comment board when most Vows stories are off-limits? And above all, what were the couple thinking in telling their story in a space normally reserved for feel-good, soft-focus meet-cute tales?

“We did this because we just wanted one honest account of how this happened for our sakes and for our kids’ sakes,” Riddell told me. “We are really proud of our family and proud of the way we’ve handled this situation over the past year. There was nothing in the story we were ashamed of.”

You really should check out the full Vows piece. I dare not even think of what awaits us next.

Categories: Journalism, Life
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