"The Stoic's Marriage" takes the form of a delightfully fatuous diary of newly wedded bliss by a classics scholar named Gordon. While Gordon fancies himself a stoic, he's clearly more of an overgrown baby, still living off his parents' money in his late 40s when he falls in love with the Filipino attendant caring for his dying mother. Serving up rich food, rapturous sex, and unchallenging companionship, his new wife seems only to complete this babyhood. Then, slowly, it dawns on Gordon that he's being taken for an amazing ride.
Lopate absolutely nails this mama's boy—his snobbery, his physical insecurities, the absurd seriousness with which he regards his own feelings. Nonetheless, Lopate is much too fine a writer to allow his readers simply to laugh Gordon off. His tardy passage to adulthood is moving despite its comedy, and his delusions feel uncomfortably universal. Doesn't everybody have to fool themselves a little to be happy in marriage?