According to family legend, my grandparents met while ice-skating on a Canadian pond that could have come straight off the set of It’s a Wonderful Life. Grandma wore a muffler and a Donna Reed haircut. Grandpa had on starched trousers and Brylcreem. She was coy and giggled at all his jokes, he bought her a hot cocoa to let her know she was the cat’s meow. After months of courting her with hand-written love letters, fresh bouquets sent each week and two-stepping with her to Andrews Sisters records, he asked her hand in marriage.
Grandma never spat into Grandpa’s face after her third blow job shot. She didn’t bounce her backside into his groin to the beat of the Pussycat Dolls’ latest strip-club anthem. Grandpa wasn’t wishy-washy about commitment, Grandma’s biological clock wasn’t ticking and neither of them were hauling around enough emotional cargo from past relationships to fill Fenway Park.
Back then, romance was beautifully orchestrated. The rules were in place and only required gents to take the lead. All women had to do was bat their eyelashes and wait.
Two generations later, I live in a messy, messy world. Half the people I come across are in stable, committed relationships. Who knows if they’re happy, but Lord knows they’re safe. But the other half…
God have mercy on the other half, the confused, hyper-stimulated guys and gals trying so desperately to figure out how to connect. Somewhere between the second and third circle of hell is a whole other level called “singledom,” a world of awkward coffee dates, sporadic email exchanges and calls never returned. Here, you’ll find speed daters desperate to get from the date to the maternity ward, players keeping their booty calls on weekly rotating schedules and wallflowers with ugly profile pictures alone on a Saturday night. There’s lots of heartbreak, heaps of cruelty and tons of scrumptious but ultimately meaningless sex. Undoubtedly, there are even more tears.
Everyone wants rules, but there aren’t any. Everyone wants answers, but can’t come up with the right questions. Everyone wants to know how to play the game but no one seems to realize this isn’t a sport.
The world has changed and we’re a new race of people. Women have careers, emotional needs, sex drives. Men have disposable income, feelings, Viagra. We are no longer Dashing Knights and Maidens in Distress, and love is no longer a game. It’s a test to see if we can enjoy the world of opportunities at our fingertips yet still make wise choices. To see if we can selfishly suck up all the novelty and change we need to evolve solo, but still find room for compassion in relationship. To recognize the value of love and commitment when, really, there seem to be plenty of reasons to steer clear of the muck.
Without the rules and conventions our grandparents lived by, we’re left to confront each other as individuals. Nothing to hide behind, no roles to play, no expectations to fulfill.
So why don’t we see how lucky we are? And why don’t single folk see themselves as the luckiest of all, because they have the chance to start fresh, to build relationships based on true compatibility and the revelation of souls? Finally, we can be with each other yet still be ourselves.
Here we are, bare-ass naked. Just you and him, you and her, you and me. Aren’t we gorgeous?
So, I ask. What are we afraid of?