Roundabout Theatre Company's Significant Other opens with a bachelorette party. Kiki, the vulgar and loud bride-to-be, drunkenly informs her longtime friends, Jordan, Vanessa, and Laura, that she will be "such a fucked up wife," of which they are all in agreement. Kiki is the first of the group to get married, and the last person anyone would have expected. Their freshman year of college, Kiki had been voted the class whore, a title she gladly accepted. She was known for her tactlessness and willingness to snort cocaine off of the floor, and now she was celebrating her remaining moments as a bachelorette. How... traditional.
But although Kiki's upcoming nuptials are a bit of of a shock to the senses for the friends, they see no real reason to stress. Things are definitely changing, but they still have all the time in the world before they have to worry about their future life partners.
Then Vanessa shockingly meets a man at Kiki's wedding. Not too long after their initial contact, the two are engaged. This is when Jordan, whose love life is nearly non-existent, begins to freak out. The closest thing Jordan has to a significant other is a co-worker named Will that he obsesses over, scrutinizing text messages and emails as if they hold the meaning of life.
Jordan is in his late 20s, still feeling like a kid, but at the same time overly conscious of how everyone he knows is pairing off and getting married. When his grandmother tells him that she married his grandfather at 21, Jordan, stunned, blurts out that he "could't even tie [his] own shoes at 21." Even at 20, I can relate to this. I have a few friends my age who are engaged and many more who are planning to get married right after graduation. I personally don't think there is a right or wrong age for consenting adults to get married-I think it depends on the couple. But I can't pretend it isn't strange for people I've known since high school to be permanently settling down.
Jordan is a giant ball of anxiety, and it's hard not to feel bad for him as he agonizes over whether or not his future will be a happy one. He isn't comforted by his friends' promises that he will eventually meet that special someone. He argues that there are certain people, who despite how smart, talented, or interesting they are, go their entire lives without finding romantic love. And who is he to assume that he isn't one of these people? At 29, he has never heard the words "I love you" from somebody other than a family member.
I tend to be an optimistic person. And so when friends of mine vent to me about how they are single while everyone they know is in a relationship, I always assure them that they are incredibly young and will meet somebody worthy of them when it's meant to happen. But obviously there is no way of my knowing that. And Jordan has a point: there ARE people who never find love. That's just a fact; But I refuse to accept it applies to me or people I care about. Is that unrealistic? Possibly.
When Laura, Jordan's rock throughout all of his uncertainty, plans her wedding, it is simply too much for him to bear. At her bachelorette party, he goes off on her, screaming that her wedding will be his funeral, because finally all of his friends will have husbands and entire lives to plan out while he remains single and desperate.
Jordan goes to Laura's wedding, dateless. And when the bride and groom have their first dance as a married couple, Jordan looks on at Laura and her new husband with a mixture of wistfulness and acceptance. At all of Jordan's other friends' weddings, Jordan and Laura were each other's dates and would always dance together during the bride and groom's first dance. But from now on, she will have a husband to accompany her and be her dance partner.
It's great to have close friends, but I think many people crave a connection with one person that's deeper than any other, that goes beyond friendly or familial love. As Jordan stands alone watching Laura, he knows that she has found this connection and that he'll have to let go of Laura as his crutch. That means not seeing and speaking to her on a daily basis and allowing her to have her happiness, even if he is more lonely for it.
It was heartbreaking to see Jordan experience Laura's first dance as a married woman, because I knew that he was headed into a new chapter in his life, one where he can no longer have the company of his friends as a buffer. I wanted to wrap my arms around him and tell him everything would be okay. It was almost like I was staring at my future son, scared and confused and about to leap into the frightening unknown, all the while knowing that he is going to be hurt, more than once, and that as much as I'd like to shield him from it, there's nothing I can do.