The longer you're with the same person, the more
annoying they'll become. So if you want everything to be perfect all
the time, don't bother having a relationship.
-Love & Sex
I just read last week that "never
marrieds" are - for the first time in history - the fastest-growing
demographic in the nation. And that the reason we're waiting so long to
get married is that we've replaced that social construct with "urban
Finally, I get to be in on a trend while it's actually happening (I also feathered my hair in the 70s, but the less said about that, the better).
The thing about my tribe is that I secretly suspect many
of them are really just hanging around until they get a chance to
better-deal us - the better deal being, in this case, the standard,
traditional, conventional goal of getting married, or at least hooking
I don't even mind.
I concede - after a modestly busy fall and post-holiday season
- that dating has one significant thing in its favor over tribal
behavior (ok, two... but I'm only going to write about the first) - and
that's how relatively simple it is for two people to agree how to
spend an evening. Any more than two, and a consensus has to be reached.
And that's where herdin' cats comes in. Unfortunately, there are only
so many things to do, so a certain element of repetition is involved,
either way (which is how I came to see one movie, three times last
weekend, with, all told, 11 guys. Only because no other girls wanted
to go, and I had the truck with the best-equipped snow clearance - or
as my pal Rockford mocked me, "ahhh, clearance. The vehicular equivalent
of the gated community.")
So I understand why that illusion of simplicity that theoretically comes with coupledom can seem so seductive from the outside.
Two of my friends, for example, are doctors who are secretly wife-shopping every time they leave the house.
Not only can they not get married, it's the rare weekend they
can even get a date. (They're exceptionally attractive too. Tall. Smart.
Funny. No visible tattoos. Or goiters. One of them does have a toddler -
but he's cute, well-behaved, and, as kids go, not especially sticky. I
went out with him- the dad, that is - a while back, and can further
report that he's not hiding any inadequacies that might surface around
say, a sixth date... Fourth if my mom's not reading.)
The rest of us are perplexed.
As one of the wingmen (my future roommate) asked last night, mystified, WHAT could they be doing wrong?
He said if he had their assets, he'd be walking into bars every
night in bloody scrubs (both are surgeons) with a stethoscope around
If that didn't bring on the harem, he insists he'd ask his
buddies to fake choking to death or heart attacks so he could pretend to
save their lives.
He was lamenting the fact that his career in the financial
industry gives him no such edge. Like if somebody's ATM card doesn't
work - he explained - it's not like girls would be turned on by him
authoritatively announcing, "stand back," while he attempted to fix it.
Though he swears he actually did repair an ATM once using a hammer and a
coat hanger, while his bosses looked on: anxious, fearful, and
unimpressed. He reports that he also once used "a large spoon" at that
job, but declines to elaborate.
On the other hand, I've pointed out to him that his prior career in childcare (as a preschool teacher) gives him an edge that he frequently neglects to exploit.
Since he wrestles in the late 20s/early 30s age-class, the tick
of the collective biological clock is nearly deafening. Why not use it
to his advantage?
Not to be sexist (again), but I told him, "that whole 'good with kids thing???' Chicks dig that."
Though he confessed that the job's chief merits were the fact that he got "breakfast, lunch, and a snack every day -and a nap," and he always says that last part a little wistfully.
Plus, in the afternoons, he got to play.
I couldn't really see how this qualified as much different from
his life in the fraternity house (up to and including the part about
being regularly thrown up on).
I'm coming around to the idea that the best thing that could
happen to our respective social lives might be to move in together.
Because I know when I had guy roommates in college and grad
school, our popularity all soared - to the point where we had to devise
fridge-mounted charts, graphs, and schedules - along with a complex
array of front-porch signaling devices (mostly related to the
positioning and apparel of a pink flamingo) that would let the rest of
the crew know they'd better find alternate accommodations for the
At least this particular wingman owns more than one cleaning
product. (Unlike another guy, semi-exiled from the tribe at least
partially for the fact that he has only ONE cleaning substance of any
kind in his house - a gallon jug of Dawn - which he stores in the shower
and apparently uses for everything from shampoo to laundry).
Of course, it has been at least ten years since I've lived with another human being. A few men have suggested
moving in, in the intervening years, but I am (contrary to rumor and
stereotype), exceptionally private. Hell, I don't even introduce guys to
my dogs unless a relationship has passed the six-month mark.
(Because they, unlike me, are capable of developing emotional
attachments and there's nothing worse than tripping over 300 pounds of
disappointed dogs lying around the house.)
The last time I had roommates, I was always finding notes taped
to the fridge that said things like, "we need to Talk." Which had the
inconvenient effect of me moving out at least once or twice a month
(with only the clothes on my back), as I'd avoid the place night and day
until they forgot what it was they wanted to Talk to me about.
published January 24, 2002