Friday, August 26, 2016

The Illusion of Man

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single woman of four and twenty in Logan, Utah must justify singlehood. All. The. Time. (Also, not being a True Aggie. People are shocked to hear that I've gone six years without making out with a stranger on a ritual cement platform at my college campus. "You're missing out!" they say. "The horror!" I reply.)

Singlehood can be awkward here. I am no longer a tiny freshman who is clearly too young to marry regardless of absurd cultural standards. I'm about to enter my third Senior year of college, just shy of done. I live in a Young Single Adult ward which is fabulous and filled with good friendships, but the boys also scatter reliably and consistently when they discover my age. While 24 is clearly not spinsterhood, I live in the midst of many, many, young men whose average age is years younger than mine. 

I guess their thing with the age is pretty comparable to my thing with height. There's my comeuppance for being shallow!

The past couple years have been filled with uncomfortable, sometimes painful, albeit hilarious dating experiences. I focus on the hilarious because what else are you supposed to do? We all know about awkwards hands by now, right? I am trying to own the awkward and revel in the "double hands way in the air" storytelling moments. 

Like the time a friend of many years and I decided that we should maybe, actually, try out that dating thing that everyone has been teasing us about since we were sixteen. And then he dated someone else and didn't bother to tell me, instead opting for the "radio silence for months" option. We finally figured out that mess, and it was fine. He is married now. I was in the wedding party. This wedding day was a truly happy occasion wherein I felt not a shred of jealousy for his gorgeous wife, who I actually really like. But the principle of the thing stung a bit, if I'm honest. 

Or the time my boss tried to set me up on a date with her husband's coworker, twenty miles, an entire canyon, and a different county away. What are the odds he would live in my apartment building and attend my ward? They were slim, but they won out. I had private intel from the husband that the coworker was pretty excited and intended to call. And then he figured out he knew me and proceeded to never call. Instead, we've spent the last year in a silent mutual agreement that we will never speak on the bi-weekly occasions we are in the same place, doing the same thing. Awkwardly avoiding eye contact. 

There was the pride-shattering and unexpected deep discomfort when Facebook informed me that my ex-boyfriend was dating somebody new. Three years later, you'd think that wouldn't matter. I thought it didn't matter. But, sheesh. Nothing like an innocent photo to knock the wind out of you for a bit. 

Or the other time my boss tried to set me up with this guy we both know, and then asked me about it every day while I tried to list all the evidence that nothing is going on with this guy. When dating came up in a group conversation yesterday, I said something about being single and she looked at me wide-eyed; "Are you single?" I'm confused about what part of  "never been on an acutal date with this man" makes her surprised that we haven't made it official. 

There's the whole family demanding details about the man I met on the internet before I go to meet him in a very public place. After a few minutes of the Spanish Inquisition, I finally said "This is sort of humiliating anyway. I'm done answering questions right now." Mom did not understand why internet dating would be humiliating. My sister understood, and said "Yeah, I can see how you wouldn't want to talk about that." I appreciated her backup, but I'm still not sure which of their points of view is less flattering. 

Anyway, we're done with the internet's input. 

The thing that is sticky about this point in life, see, is that the first thing people ask when we see each other after a long while is "Are you dating anyone?" Then they get upset when I laugh involuntarily. My mom is offended on my behalf."Why is it funny that you would be dating?" But everyone also gets happy, wide-eyed surprised, and actually literally "proud!" when I tell them I am going on a date. That expression is always the same, and while I appreciate my mother's argument on my behalf that it is not ludicrous to suppose I might be in a relationship, there are some mixed messages going on here. In the past year or so, when people ask me if I'm dating and I say no, there is also an added "Well, that's okay." 

Which really means, "It's a little weird at this point, so I have to reassure you that it's not weird." Nobody reassured me at twenty one, but here we are. 

I live in a place where I am encouraged to date and to marry. Our Bishop is famous. The year before I moved into my apartment complex, more than half the ward got married and moved out, and the Bishopric is proud of their success. Tithing settlement is called "dating settlement" here in the 27th ward. We spend all of 12 seconds on tithing and the next questions are, consecutively, 
"Are you dating anyone?" 
"Do you want to be dating anyone?"
"Who in the ward do you want to date? I'll tell them." 
(Cause there's not enough awkward avoidance of eye contact in Sunday School.)

Every year it seems, we are begged from many and multiple pulpits not to "date through our twenties," but instead, to be serious, and look for marriage. Don't waste time. 

I gotta be honest. I am being begged not to stay someplace I can't even get, because that miles ahead point on the road that is called "dating" isn't good enough, they say. If only I could just get to "not good enough" instead of "failing so miserably." 

Don't wend your way leisurely along the highway, cruising in the center. Get in the left lane. Commit. That's great. I love the left lane. I don't want to wend leisurely in the center. But I don't have a lot of options, cause I'm in the right lane impeding traffic, trying to get up to speed. 

Remember that " focus on the hilarious" thing I'm going for? I realize I just fell of the wagon. But the point of this whole thing, before my accidental venting session, was to tell a story that is focused on the hilarious. 

A few days ago, my roommate Krysta and I were in the Walmart, shopping for light bulbs and various apartment cleaning sundries. We stopped at the aisle filled with scented wax refills and smelled them all. Cause who doesn't, right? We always do. 

There was a lot of  "ohhh, smell this... wow, that is nice!"and "HOLY Cow, that is disgusting!" 
Then Krysta held up a package to me to smell. It smelled really good. 
"Wow!" I said. 
"It smells like man!" Krysta said. "What's it called?"
I turned it over to look. 

I have never laughed so hard in a Walmart. "That's about right." said Krysta. 
"Yep. Accurate." 

There. I made it back to humor. We bought the wax.

No comments:

Post a Comment

thank you for validating my existence, you lovely person!