The most romantic couple in all of fiction and non-fiction, fantasy and fo’ reals? No, not Napoleon and Josephine, or Bonnie and Clyde, or Brad and Angelina. Not even Antony and Cleopatra.
My vote for the pair that makes Romeo and Juliet look like childs-play (which it actually, disturbingly, was)? Clark and Ellen Griswold, the king and queen of National Lampoon’s Vacation. Why? Well, thank you for asking. Here are my five reasons Sparky and his gal are my favorite couple EVER.
All couples need to know how to solve domestic problems with what they have at arm’s length. MacGyvering your marriage is the key to saving money and avoiding conflict. For some, this means throwing the remote control in the garbage or brandishing a rolling pin. For the Griswolds it meant tying Ellen’s dead aunt on the roof of the car.
2. The Driver and the Navigator
All successful couples have set roles when it comes to traveling. I don’t care if the woman is shifting the gears and the man is reading the map or if it’s the other way around, but whoever drives, drives, and whoever navigates, navigates. You NEVER change this. Not even if you’re always falling asleep at the wheel, getting stuck in a London roundabout, driving backwards off an on-ramp, getting your hubcaps ripped off, or endangering your entire family with reckless speeding. Bottom line? Sparky sucked at driving and Ellen let him so she could sleep. Who cares if we all die?
3. It’s Not About The Kids
If you have children (or needy pets), they will do their best to undermine your relationship with petty issues such as hangnails, bad dreams, and just another drink of goddamned water. Do not let these small thieves in. Take a page from the Clark and Ellen’s parenting book:
Audrey Griswold: Where can I go to the bathroom?
Ellen Griswold: FIND A BUSH, AUDREY!!
Clark Griswold: Russ, it’s really great that I can spend time with you and…uh…uh…uh…
Rusty Griswold: Audrey, Dad.
Clark Griswold: There it is, kids, my motherland.
Rusty Griswold: Dad, Grandma’s from Chicago.
Clark Griswold: Shut up, Russ.
Ellen Griswold (after the bartender shoots at Clark): Clark, I don’t think that was funny. A loud noise like that could damage the kids’ hearing.
Clark Griswold: C’mon, Ellen. It looked real. Hell. I thought it was a real gun. Didn’t you think it was real, Honey?
Audrey Griswold: What?
Clark Griswold: I said didn’t you think it was real?
Audrey Griswold: What?
Ellen Griswold: Oh. Are you happy now, Clark? She’s deaf.
Clark Griswold: Oh, what the hell. It was fun anyway.
4. Real-Life Romance
Clark and Ellen are madly in love, but theirs is not a coupling based on anything suave or graceful. In fact, most of their attempts at anything carnal are usually foiled by physics or forgetfulness. If Ellen’s head isn’t getting stuck under the steering wheel, or Clark isn’t inadvertently bedding down with a hirsute European, then it’s that pesky sex tape of Ellen dancing with the hamper lid making its way through the greater Mediterranean region. But does that stop them? No. They’re probably stuck inside a one-person sleeping bag right now.
Put on those rose-colored glasses and get down to the business of loving life and each other. Happy couples are happy because they refuse to acknowledge reality. For example, Clark wasn’t buying a Christmas tree, he was “kicking off [his] fun old-fashioned family Christmas by heading out into the country in the old front-wheel drive sleigh to embrace the frosty majesty of the winter landscape and select that most important of Christmas symbols.”
And Ellen wasn’t married to a bumbling, over-eager man in a tan windbreaker. No, Clark was “a saint with children and a genius with food additives.”
So, do like the Griswolds and embrace delusion and each other.