Wednesday, April 14, 2004

The Demographic Shift - 19

Like I said, I wasn't going to write about weddings for oh so many reasons, but then a number of things happened, which were all wedding related - in part two of 'When Weddings Go Shock!'.

Anyway, I digress. Susan had news, which she at first would only allude to before slowly coming around to unloading what was really bothering her. First of all she tells me that it is something I will easily be able to relate to and will be able to understand the depths her soul was plumbing right now.

"You're being very mellow dramatic about this, which is unlike you," I told her.

"Well, I finally have something to be melodramatic about. It could have been something small to get me started, but no, it isn't. It's big."

"Are you going to tell me what the problem is?"

"Take a deep breath," she instructed me.

And I did, and chiefly for Susan's benefit I expelled air down the phone line, making a kind of telephonic storm. "OK I'm ready. Hit me with it."

Then Susan tells me and I'm not at all shocked. It's really too bizarre to be shocking. Susan's 29-year-old, younger, slightly effete photographer brother Justin (who is so gay, but is actually not) is marrying ("he's engaged!") a 19-year-old topless glamour model who he's been dating for just three months ("three months! My mother went spastic -- at first anyway").

"That's weird, but at the same time not."

"I know, that was my reaction, but you know it's still generally quite distressing."

"Come on, but how bad is that really?" I asked her.

"Really like on a scale of one to hundred? I'd say at least 99.99999 recurring forever. I thought for a moment that it wouldn't be that bad, because Justin said he was going to have a long engagement."

"Hey, well that's cool. Aren't people who have long engagements usually just those who really don't want to get married in the first place, and not really to 19-year-old glamour models, but feel they have to make some kind of announcement? It's more showbiz than marriage-iz."

There is a long pause.

"That doesn't work, that play on words, in fact it's terrible. Anyway, the point is, by long engagement he means three months, for Christ's sake. It's madness. She's 14 years younger than me!"

"Three months? What happened to 18 months? I thought that was your standard textbook long engagement period."

"Gord, in Jane Austen novels it might be, but today in the speeded-up world, a really long engagement is six months. Anyway, that's not all of it. It gets worse. After he announced it and my mother got over it, she had some people round to celebrate (which is odd considering my mother's attitude to the idea of darling Justin marrying a topless model), but then I got it. My mother is just pleased to have one of her offspring married and has resigned herself to the fact that some marriage is better than no marriage. At this little gathering was one of my mother's friends, who said to my mother 'Well Judy, that's two married off, you just have the question mark remaining.' How cruel is that? I'm the question mark! A streamlined black blob, that's me!"

There's a pause and I wonder what to say to assuage Susan.

"Susan, you are not a question mark."

"Of course I am. I'm a question mark and I'm going to be on the shelf, which is like purgatory, which is bizarre as I'm not even all that religious."

"Susan, you just made the bit about purgatory up. There is no shelf and even if there was you're not on it."

"By default all single people are on the shelf. It's like a digital thing you're either a one or a zero, on it or not on it, on or off. That's it. There's no opting out. It's like being drafted -- it is in no way a voluntary thing. I need a holiday, actually I'm thinking of New York for a few months."

"Months?"

"Possibly. I've been thinking about it for ages."

"Yeah, thinking about it. That's your thing. You're not supposed to actually do it."

"Gee thanks, boost my self confidence in my time of need, why don't you now?"

"Besides you don't need to go to New York."

"It might be nice though."

"You'd end up dating some Colgate-ivory-toothed Wall Street Yale Wasp, who twanged his braces and slapped you on the bum after a shag."

Susan laughs. "What? You think they keep them on in bed?"

"It's always been my impression. But, on the upside, your mother would love it. Getting some US blue blood into the family."

"My mother would think 'how lovely, my grandchildren will have trust funds'. Anyway, I think I might quite like it as well. It has to be better than another Jeremy or Robin."

"Have you thought about reading that book? -- 'How to Find a Husband When You're Over 35'."

"Oh you're so funny. Like you, I have a little way to go."

"Just a little."

"But longer than you, which here is the important thing. Besides, with advice like 'date a man twice a week for two months before having sex'? You've got to be kidding, it's never worth the wait."

Susan is so harsh.