The Demographic Shift - 45
I only know about this new exciting research from Wellbeing, you know the multi-vitamins people, because Susan called me and told me so. She's full of good news like that.
Apparently, if it wasn't for the small inconvenience of meeting the right person also know as "the one", which is apparently not a reference to "the prophecy of the one who will bring balance to the Force", according to Wellbeing, we would all have tied the knot some time ago (ideal time for men it emerges is 30) and put our parents/relatives out of their misery -- and I mean that in a nice way.
In her usual telephonic style Susan is already talking before I have had the chance to say anything as much as hello. She has launched into a conversation and, like a lot of conversations I have with Susan, my participation is in no way strictly necessary.
"I know why you do it. I know what your problem is."
"My problem? I have a problem already?"
"Yes, you know you have a problem."
See what I mean? It's like she started without me and I'm already lost.
"Of course you are, but I'm sure that will pass."
"No seriously, I'm lost."
"I was talking about your general lack of commitment and such."
"And such? Really that is a little vague, I mean what does and such mean?"
"Oh that refers to ancillary issues relating to lack of commitment. Like I said ancillary. Anyway, I know why you do it."
"OK, hit me with it, so what's your theory?"
"It's because of the 'one'. There's new research and it's so you."
"The one? I have no idea what you're talking about."
I cross my arms, fidget, and scoff loudly at this, baulking at even the slightest suggestion that I could be carrying a torch for some girl or other who dumped me along time ago. OK, so I have a vague idea of what Susan is talking about.
"You have no idea what I'm talking about? I bet you're sitting there with your arms folded."
"That's rubbish. Besides..."
"Rubbish? That's not exactly the convincing denouncement I was expecting. And anyway, since you found the one and then carelessly lost the one..."
"Careless? I'm not careless I'm the exact opposite of careless. I'm... uncareless."
"Uncareless? That's weak, I think diction fails you. Anyway, as I said, carelessly lost the one now you need to find the other one."
"The other one?"
"The other one is the one that you keep," Susan says, pleased with herself.
"Any idea what she looks like? You know just so I know."
"No idea sorry, but I'm sure you'll work it out eventually."
"Really? That's not very helpful. I thought you might have a hint."
"You want a hint?"
"Yes, that would be cool."
"OK, here's a hint -- work it out for yourself."
With that Susan hangs up on me. Sometimes I swear I have no idea, I mean seriously what's that about. And the hanging up? Don't get me started.
Once Susan is off the phone, I find myself preoccupied with the subject of "the one". I know that I really shouldn't, aware that in so many ways spending time thinking about something as inane as whether there is or is not a one, or whether the concept (concept?) of the one actually exists, elevates the whole subject to heights that are wholly inappropriate.
As let's be honest here, the question (is there or is there or not, and why do we, according to Wellbeing, get stressed about it) equates to nothing more than the simple (self-help manual inspired) question as to whether there a girl out there who is "like, you know, totally right for you?". Those I hasten to add are my own italics for my own specially imported valley-speak brain.
I'm wishing I filled out one of those envelopes now and exchanged with my closest friends. You know the ones that you open 10 years after graduating and reveal that you had in fact hoped to be X or Y in your future life perfect. I'm pretty sure I would have put some crap like how I wanted to be Earnest Hemmingway. Well to grow a beard, live on a Caribbean island and drink rum at least. Somehow, though, I don't see Hemmingway wasting his time worrying about the one. Maybe Martha Gellhorn would have known.
If I could ask him this question he would rightly point out that I sounded like "some kind of girl", and not just any girl, but a rather stupid one at that and I think it's an important distinction, at which point he would have slugged me one, knocking me out cold, and returned to the bar to drink rum and talk about important things like men and war. Me I don't seem to have any thoughts about men and war. Other than my rah rah support for the justified regime-changing war in Iraq.
It's sad, but the only thing that makes me feel a little better about wasting my so-so-valuable time on this subject is that I know it isn't just me. I know I am far from alone. It's other people and at least most of the people I know, you know give or take those who are very happily together or in fact married.
Adam for instance, who just like me, will talk about this one girl on a regular basis and about how this one girl got away. She's his one. You know like a POW. Like Steve McQueen on a motorbike… except with the escaping part. Unlike the cooler king, this girl made a clean break.
I digress. There is this girl. She's like every girl and she got away. Maybe Suze is right. Maybe all this talk about the one stops you finding the other one. On an impulse I decide to test the theory on Adam and I dial his work number.
"Hey, I'm just on my way out to a meeting."
"It's OK, I'm just calling to field test a new theory, you know snap research, it won't take long."
"Oh yeah, what's the story?"
"Er, women, what do you think?"
"Sorry stupid question. I worry sometimes that we don't have any other topics of conversation."
This makes me laugh, I swear it is so true. Obviously there is TV, cultural goings-on and football -- but really, I know nothing about football and… wait a second….
"You're sadly right, I plan to get some new hobbies, you know some day, to give me something else to talk about. I'm going to wean myself off women in the same way I did cigarettes."
Adam laughs at this.
"Yeah, but you'll back on the women in no time flat. How many times is it you have now given up smoking? You're like a guest star social smoker at every other event."
It's true, I've become lazy and smoke a couple a week. I should mention this now and get it out of the way. I am the maker of grand drunken gestures, evening promises and other things that I generally don't stick to.
"That's true, but about women I'm serious."
"Funny, I'm not sure the women in your life have ever seen it that way."
"I'll let you have that one. I'm feeling pretty magnanimous this morning."
"Uh huh, really."
"OK, so what's your research?"
"The one. You know as in 'she's the one'. You've been down the road. I thought I'd start with you."
"Oh you mean Karen Young? The girl I filed under 'too stupid to realise was the perfect girl and have since lived to regret'. You mean that one?"
"That's exactly what I was saying to myself, you've been there and done the whole one thing."
"What brought this on, anyway?"
"Susan apparently there's some new research out. I should say in advance that I don't personally believe in the theory of the one."
Adam laughs at this, as well.
"It doesn't matter whether you believe or not. The theory of the one is like God. Believing or not believing doesn't change the fact that God is still out there, which is kind of like the one."
I sigh deeply. That makes absolutely no sense and I tell Adam this.
"That makes no sense."
"It makes perfect sense, which why the theory holds water. We're screwed, face it."
"Damn I hate all that screw-iness.
"Anyway got to go, I have lesser stuff to deal with -- namely work. You should try it."