Camel Walk

I imagine there are people out there who got a dog when what they wanted was a baby, but I wonder if there aren't other people who had a baby when all they really needed was a dog.

-Ann Patchett, "This Dog's Life" in Dog is My Co-Pilot

If you believe Newsweek and, here's what's going on out there in Marriageopolis: 1. Married couples never have sex (at least not with each other). Newsweek's summer headline blared something like, "No sex please, we're married." (The magazine calls these couples DINS: Double Income No Sex); and 2. Women over 35 are so desperate to get married that a Harvard MBA (who got married at 28) has written a book advising us how to get in on the action. It's called Find a Husband After 35.

Yeah, thanks a lot ladybut I think I'll spend that spare 25 bucks on a bikini wax instead of a book. Here's a tip: you wasted your money on Harvard.

Now, here's a tip for everybody else: don't waste your money on a book that tells you how to get married, at any age. Statistically speaking, marriage (much like cancer, I would argue) happens to almost everyone. If you live long enough, it'll happen to you too. (So does divorce.) I'm always introducing my girlfriends to eligible men with the disclaimer, "meet your future ex-wife."

Sorry for the unfortunate comparisons, but this has never sounded like a club I want anything to do with.

I can stay single and NOT have plenty of sex (I'm already a camel of the coital desert- storing each encounter in the outsized hump on my back); I don't need a ring and a lifetime of connubial conflict to seal that deal.

I've seen Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf and the very LAST way I want to spend my midlife crisis is shackled to somebody who's even more emotionally crippled than I am as we trade barbed criticisms in front of the guests; make everyone we know uncomfortable; and marinate ourselves in cheap vodka. (I'd at least insist on Belvedere.)

The review I read of this book includes pointers like, "Ask ex-es what they thought of you." Great. Now we're doin' exit interviews? It's hard enough to leave somebody, now I have to get him a temp on the way out the door? I already know what my ex-es think (they just weren't that into me). They know what I think of them (and so do a few readers).

She also advises, "Ignore Sex & the City. They're dating whoever crosses their path." Yeah, and?

Who else are we supposed to date? I'm busy. Proximity equals access and success. Those who are lazy, distant, or neglectful are just gonna end up listenin' to really lame explanations as to how I came by beard burns on my inner thighs.

The author, Rachel Greenwald, 39, has taught "thousands of mature women how to meet Mr. Right" according to one review. Speaking as someone who 'll turn 38 before this issue leaves the stands, I resent being called "mature." I think everyone will back me up that I am just as immature at 38 as I was at 30.

I didn't need Newsweek to reinforce my resistance to books like this, though frankly, I think their article is a joke that just plays on stereotypes.

Nearly everyone I know is married.

Do you want to know what all my married male buddies complain about? Not enough sex.

Now, do you want to know what all my married girlfriends complain about? Not enough sex. One of two things is going on here: either they're all married to the wrong people, or (more likely), somebody's lying.

I don't (necessarily) have anything against marriage-I just think I'd be a better husband than I would be a wife (the same way I think I'd be a decent father, but a terrible mother). Hate to be sexist, but the gigs are very different.

Generally speaking, among the married folks I know, the wife's life gets harder post-nuptials, the husband's life gets easier.

If that's the deal, sign me up for a wife. If there are still mail-order brides, you can use my AmEx to pick one up for me on eBay.

If she's like most of the wives I know, she'll earn a decent income; run the house; pay the bills; get the dogs to the vet; commemorate all birthdays and holidays with appropriate tokens of our esteem; hire and supervise any outside help that might be required (lawn care, gutter repair, plumbers, etc.); pick up the dry cleaning; and probably even do my laundry (though I'll settle for her just dropping it off and picking it back up). As the husband, I will try to hold up my end of the deal, i.e., I'll cheerfully work seven days a week; I'll cook; I'll tinker with the cars when I feel like it; I'll edge the driveway about once a year; and I'll find someone younger and hotter (than either of us) to have sex with. If she'll stand in line at the DMV next week and registers our cars, there's a little extra bling-bling in it for her. A li'l sumpn sumpn. (Because I've always known where's the best place to shop to get outta the doghouse. I'm registered there.)

The only reason I've been considering the prospect of a boyfriend these days (or, thinning the herd) is because I've also been considering the prospect of a puppy. I figure they can keep each other company while I'm at the office.

Puppies and boyfriends take a lot of time, energy, and feeding, and it's about as easy to housebreak one as the other-I might as well do both at the same time.

I have no problem making a lifetime commitment to a dog, but as for men, I plan to stick with a lease with an option to buy, just as soon as I finish test drivin' what's out there. This is an option I'd only exercise if I ever met a guy who lived up to some deceptively simple criteria (good to me/good for me? does he make my life easier/harder?) Frankly, I don't think THAT guy's comin'.

So when I'm done, I plan to do what I do with my cars-which is to trade him in for something newer, hotter, faster, and more responsive.

Could be worse. Had my last dog put to sleep.