One night, up late, deep in assignments and worthy social research, I came across this interesting tidbit of information. James Hetfield’s wife, an Italian woman with an Italian name, something like Francesca Pavarotti or something, is embarrassed by her world-famous, much-adored but also occasionally reviled -but not as much as Axl Rose- superstar husband. I don’t know how the knowledgable esteemed wikipedia author knew this- maybe it was Francesca herself? Or a younger cousin or sister-in-law writing that? But anyway, there it was.
This one-liner opened up a whole vista of marital discomfort and drama for the Mr. Hetfield and his limelight-shunning, embarrassed wife, a vista worthy of at least one best-selling novel from the pen of Nick Hornby or a not-best-selling one by his lesser known acolytes such as Toby Litt, excited by exploring fictional landscape of intertwining musical celebrity and mundane lives, fandom and normalcy.
But back to Mr. Hetfield and Francesca. How ironic, I thought. Poor James. Here he goes, screaming and headbanging with his sadly shorn and gelled hair and neatly trimmed beard on the stage, while billions of fans swoon in adoration and pure love, unable to win the approval of the one who matter most, and there goes Francesca, silent and disapproving, twitching with embarrassment and the suppressed desire to tell him to shut it. She can’t of course, there is no way she can legitimately tell him to stop being a metal music star, and she knows that too. Does he spend his matrimonial life trying to convince Francesca of the worthiness and the artistic value of his music? Has she finally grown out of screaming at him that he must listen to Italian opera instead of producing these crazy ravings, incredibly financial successful as they are? Has he hysterically grabbed all her Pavarotti recordings and stomped on them, while she, shrieking in agony, has torn to pieces his favourite leather jacket and cap?
I have known shattered couples like that, Gentle Reader, in real life, and indeed half of such a couple is now busy typing out these words. Couples where a veritable ocean, a galaxy of difference in taste and personality exist, who now look at each other with amazement and silent despair at what brought them together in their twenties, who now marvel at their naive assurance that they could change each other, they could mould the other’s preferences to their own desires.