I Want What They Have: Alan and Arlene Alda

Love is a many-splendored thing, especially when you’re gawking at it from the outside. In this new column, we’ll be examining the celebrity couples that give us hope for our own romantic futures, and trying to learn what we can from their well-documented bonds.

In life, there are the obvious, trend-setting “I Want What They Have” couples—your Channings Tatum and Zoës Kravitz, for example (and yes, I do want what they have with every fiber of my pathetic little being)—and then there are the pairs like Alan Alda and his wife, Arlene, who have been together roughly five times as long as any given celebrity hookup du jour and have thus accumulated decades’ worth of adorableness to share with the world.

The Aldas’ relationship origin story recently made the rounds on Twitter, where user @sonyashea3 posted a screenshot from Alan’s Wikipedia page that detailed how he first encountered Arlene; the two were at a mutual friend’s dinner party when a rum cake fell onto the floor, and they were the only two guests to dig in. Can you even? It’s giving me “that episode of Friends where Rachel and Chandler—two members of the gang who hardly ever hung out—bonded over eating stolen cheesecake off the floor.”

Not to be outdone by his own meet-cute, Alda commented on the story recently, both verifying the rum-cake anecdote and explaining that it wasn’t actually the first time he noticed Arlene. “I was captivated by her even earlier in the meal when I heard her at the end of the table laughing at my jokes,” Alda tweeted on Thursday.

Not only does this confirm my mother’s long-held theory that the only thing a potential romantic partner really wants is for you to find them funny, but it also makes me want to straight-up cry. Just the idea of a young Alan Alda (who, to be perfectly honest, was a smokeshow) attending a dinner party early on in his acting career, probably still at the point when his friends razzed him about his quest for fame, and meeting an enchanting young Hunter College student who liked his sense of humor has me all verklempt. (And really, on that note of Yiddish, am I the only one who always thought of Alda as a quintessential Jewish-uncle type, only to find out that he’s actually of Italian and Irish ancestry?)

I know that Alan Alda has had a long and storied career of roles on M.A.S.H.The West Wing30 Rock, and more, but henceforth, I shall know him only as the Guy With the Perfect-Seeming Marriage. I mean, honestly…“She had me at ‘ha’ ”? Am I supposed to receive that with anything other than unmitigated love and obsession for this couple? In honor of Alan and Arlene Alda—whose partnership has lasted decades and produced three beautiful children—may we all continue the occasionally exhausting search for that special person with whom we want to eat a rum cake off the floor.

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