Reality Truck

I Don’t

It’s just not how I ever imagined being proposed to. I always thought I’d be holding a bouquet of wildflowers…not my own ankles.
-Will and Grace

I probably make as many mistakes as anybody does in dating (ok, more), but I do make a very specific effort not to marry all of them. I’m never gonna give Britney Spears, or even Drew Barrymore, a run for their money.

In discussing the exhaustive nature of relationships with my wingman, Satish, the other night—after another recent spate of weddings—we had a long talk about marriage.

At his age, I was engaged. Briefly. That was a close call. One I don’t plan to repeat.

At one New Year’s gathering the evening’s primary option was a young Baldwin-esque kinda guy (the skinny Baldwins). And yet, I willingly chose to go home alone.

The only thing I asked him was “do you have jumper cables?” which is admittedly not much of an opening line. He actually (quite reasonably) assumed I was asking cause I had a dead battery at the time, but I was really just compiling data. The last time my battery died, I was involved in a long-distance relationship and having to wake the neighbors on a Sunday morning to borrow their cables was the last straw which confirmed that whenever I really needed this guy — good or bad—he was RIGHT where he ALWAYS was: someplace else. Now I have Triple A.

I simply saw no point in continuing a conversation with a guy who wasn’t going to be equipped to gimme a jump (yaknowwhat I’msayin) if the need arose.

When one of my buddies observed later, “damn you are picky,” I think his choice of words, “picky,” implies an assumption that I have some intrinsic, deep-down goal of hooking up. When, in fact, I don’t. Not everyone does.

I can afford to be as selective as I want, because I’m not that invested in the outcome. Goals are something one ASPIRES to. Ambition has a purpose. Adopt an orphan. Make a million bucks. I can understand those. But anybody with enough spare change for a license can get married. Big deal.

As I told Satish, “I’m gonna date a lot of men. I probably won’t marry very many of them.”And since that’s fine by me, I enjoy the luxury of ridiculously outrageous standards—some of which are admittedly shallow.

As all regular readers know, for example, I won’t compromise on Tall. (At least this helps keep the Tom Cruises away—a problem we all deal with on a daily basis.)

I figure if it’s all going to boil down to the usual inevitable firestorm of recrimination, hurt, hate, and regret (and odds are: it is)…I might as well enjoy the view along the way.

I also won’t compromise on smart and funny, which I think you’ll agree, make me at least seem less shallow.

And as bigoted as this is, frankly, I prefer to date Catholics. Not necessarily because I possess any deep reserves of spirituality (though for all you know, I could), but because I have fond memories of de-railing many an altar boy in high school, and hey, I like what I know.

And any guy who already knows the value of how and when to kneel, well, that’s only gonna come in handy over the course of a relationship.

It’s entirely possible that my views on marriage are skewed by spending more of my social time with men than I do with women.

Don’t get me wrong, I have girlfriends too—I’m not one of those women. It’s just that most of my girlfriends are married, and/or have kids. Mostly, I interact with their families now.

A guy friend asked me if real life is Sex and the City. I said the sex part’s reasonably accurate—but generally, women in their 30s and 40s have a hard time putting together a foursome more than once or twice a year. (Not that kinda foursome.)

In real life, your girlfriends marry guys you don’t like, and/or have kids that you don’t like, and guess what? You’re not friends anymore.

So your former friends go on to date other couples. And you are left with wingmen. And the X-boxers have endless time to go to movies; sit around; watch tv; eat out; and have extremely meaningful conversations about why Windex doesn’t come in a handy pop-up wipes container (like Clorox does), because, really, why should we have to use both paper towels AND Windex every time we want to clean a mirror or window (which is, admittedly, seldom)?

It was the wingmen, for example, who decided that the Swiffer Sweeper really is multi-surface cleaner, as I discovered when I found them using it on the dining room table prior to a recent party.

Granted, I do not live their life. I don’t order pizza. I don’t drink beer. I don’t live in filth, andI only visit when provided with the latest in Haz-Mat wear by Dolce & Gabbana.

But I am like these guys in that I just don’t have time, energy, or motivation for confrontation. Probably another reason my relationships tend to expire right at the four-month mark.

Because as my wingman’s wingman, the Lon, said to me the other night, by way of validation, “hey, if there’s somethin’ to fight about, there’s somethin’ to leave about.”

He and I were (somewhat smugly) discoursing about people’s obsessive need to be married, which neither of us profess to understand. As he wisely put it, “Step outside your door and look at all the freaks who married each other. It is NOT that hard to get married. Marrying the right person? That’s hard.”

Or, as my single girlfriends who are matrimony-minded constantly reassure each other, “oh honey, you can have a husband any time you want. OK….sure, he may not be your husband, but if a husband is what you want…”

But we all know they’re going to hell.

Reprinted Ace 2002 n