The Nondating Life

Saturday, March 12, 2005


I've been toying with giving up "dating" as a New Year's Resolution, partly because it's a hell of a lot easier than giving up drinking, and partly because it would free me, finally, to write long, rambling diatribes about dating and gender issues. Why I've refused to tackle the subject so far is an essay in it's own right, but isn't dating stressful, horrifying and undignified enough without having to worry that the next day, you have, thanks to a blogger, a newly acquired snarky code name and your every move has been graded for all the wold to see? (You all know who you are, and all I’m going to say is: Karma, people. Karma.)

Those who know me personally have heard me expound at length on the matters of true love, and I'm always willing to give the advice and hard, cold factual evaluations of your sorry relationships that I would never ask for or listen to from you. (Because we never want to hear such things).

Still, I haven't made up my mind on the subject, but I do want to point to this Chuck Klosterman piece (linked by Rina). Chuck (the only reason to pick up Esquire lately) curses both Lloyd Dobler AND "When Harry Met Sally" while discussing the trouble we all have with fake love.

Those of you who've been on the receiving end of my diatribes may recognize my "you can't be just friends" bit in this passage:

Most of the time, the two involved parties are not really "best friends." Inevitably, one of the people has been in love with the other from the first day they met, while the other person is either (a) wracked with guilt and pressure, or (b) completely oblivious to the espoused attraction. Every relationship is fundamentally a power struggle, and the individual in power is whoever likes the other person less. But When Harry Met Sally gives the powerless, unrequited lover a reason to live. When this person gets drunk and tells his friends that he's in love with a woman who only sees him as a buddy, they will say, "You're wrong. You're perfect for each other. This is just like When Harry Met Sally! I'm sure she loves you—she just doesn't realize it yet."

And this put me in mind of a passage from Carson McCullers' Ballad of the Sad Cafe, which has always been one of my favorites--mostly because I recongized my sorry-ass self in it:

There are the lover and the beloved, but these two come from different countries. Often the beloved is only a stimulus for all the stored-up love which has lain quiet within the lover for a long time hitherto. And somehow every lover knows this. He feels in his soul that his love is a solitary thing. He comes to know a new, strange loneliness and it is this knowledge which makes him suffer. So there is only one thing for the lover to do. He must house his love within himself as best he can; he must create for himself a whole new inward world—a world intense and strange, complete in himself. Let it be added here that this lover about whom we speak need not necessarily be a young man saving for a wedding ring—this lover can be man, woman, child, or indeed any human creature on this earth.

"Now, the beloved can also be of any description. The most outlandish people can be the stimulus for love. A man may be a doddering great-grandfather and still love only a strange girl he saw in the streets of Cheehaw one afternoon two decades past. The preacher may love a fallen woman. The beloved may be treacherous, greasy-headed, and given to evil habits. Yes, and the lover may see this as clearly as anyone else—but that does not affect the evolution of his love one whit. A most mediocre person can be the object of a love which is wild, extravagant, and beautiful as the poison lilies of the swamp. A good man may be the stimulus for a love both violent and debased, or a jabbering madman may bring about in the soul of someone a tender and simple idyll. Therefore, the value and quality of any love is determined solely by the lover himself.

"It is for this reason that most of us would rather love than be loved. Almost everyone wants to be the lover. And the curt truth is that, in a deep secret way, the state of being beloved is intolerable to many. The beloved fears and hates the lover, and with the best of reasons. For the lover is forever trying to strip bare his beloved. The lover craves any possible relation with the beloved, even if this experience can cause him only pain."

Funnily enough, I've been asked a few times over the past couple of years to come up with readings for weddings. And I always find myself turning to McCullers for some strange reason. You'd think with titles like "The Heart is A Lonely Hunter," "The Member of the Wedding," and others, there'd be SOMETHING there. But all of her discussions of love are just dripping with the above sort of sentiment ... which ain't exactly the right tone people are searching for at their weddings, I guess.

Anyway, maybe I'll write about dating. Maybe I won't. I just figured I'd give yall something other than U.N. bashing for a change.

(Next post in series)


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