Jim Carrey, that Canadian-born actor with an extensive library of grins and grimaces, put it well when he said ‘If you ain’t desperate at some point, you ain’t interesting’. And I’ve reached that point of desperation which has elevated my being interesting to stratospheric levels.
Now let’s be clear from the outset. I am not, I repeat, not desperate to find a man simply because I’m tired of paying single supplements in hotels, cooking for one, or talking to myself all day. Neither am I desperate to find a man because I am fed up being a fifth wheel in this contracting world of couples, have run out of socks to darn, or have an egotistical desire to procreate. And I’m certainly not desperate to find a man in order to ‘complete’ myself! It’s far more serious than that.
A little too comfortable
I’ve had a couple of OMG moments in the last week which have made me realise that I’m getting way too comfortable being on my own. And before you get your knickers in a knot, I know there’s nothing wrong with being single…just let me explain.
I was in Ireland doing the family thing. At mass on Sunday, the priest said something that left me gasping. For the non-Catholics amongst you, there’s a prayer in the mass that includes the line ‘protect us from all anxiety’. It’s been that way for as long as I can remember (at least since Vatican II). With the congregation muttering in unison, it was easy to hear the priest as he boomed his modified version into the microphone: ‘protect us from undue anxiety’. Now, anxiety refers to a state of uneasiness and apprehension about future uncertainties. And, truth be told, we could all do without it, ergo the prayer to protect us from it. But somewhere along the line, it seems to have become an accepted fact that anxiety is part and parcel of our lot in life and that what we need protection from is ‘undue anxiety’. This new take on it sent me into a tailspin of introspection, which, as history will testify, is very likely to result in drastic action on my part which is completely out of character.
A little too safe
In a conversation about salary cuts, reduced pensions, currency fluctuations, and the scarcity of jobs, I happened to mention what I earned last year, before tax. The figure drew gasps of incredulity – and yes, I had converted it to euro to make it easy for the zerophobes. It was so small it wouldn’t have enticed most of those present out of bed, let alone to iron a shirt and shine their interview shoes. Yes I work and I work damn hard but about half of what I do, I do for free. I do it because it interests me, because it’s for a good cause, or because I’m learning something in the process. And because I’m single, with no dependants, incur minimal costs, and, as one ex-boyfriend put it, can cook potatoes in more ways than are known to man, I won’t starve. I enjoy a better quality of life than many of my materially wealthier friends who are dotted around the world.
I love my life. I get to do pretty much what I want, when I want, time and weather permitting. I travel. I read. I cook. I write. I talk. I have no one to answer to but myself; no one to consult before I accept or issue an invitation. In short, I have been blessed with an anxiety-free life.
A little too incredible
But is it sustainable? Is life a little too good? Should I be this content? We’re in a recession for God’s sake. Times are tough. Things are bad. The future is dim. If everyone else is so miserable, at their wits end trying to survive yet another spate of redundancies, keep their creditors at bay, and cope with climate change, what’s wrong with me? What has me so happy?
Why is my life so free from anxiety? Could it be because I live in one of the greatest cities in the world and enjoy my work so much that I’ve forgotten that it’s actually work? Or that I don’t have to commute? Could it be because I really value my quirky friends and supportive family who keep me sane? Or that I consider myself truly blessed? Surely not! It must be because I’m single…mustn’t it? Perhaps I need to test that particular hypothesis.
Man wanted: must be low maintenance, socially adept, honest, independent, solvent, able to punctuate, and in possession of all his faculties. Ideally will be able to laugh at himself, hold down an interesting conversation, and be capable of making decisions. spontaneity a plus. All replies considered.
First published in the Budapest Times, Tuesday 25th May 2010
When you feel that thoughts on paper could be (or could have been) yours, but it is from other’s pens. That I call talent!
Appreciate the feedback István
I love the piece, as I do with your all your writing.
Do you think that your use of punctuation has become such an obsession, that it has prevented you from finding a mate? Elsewhere I notice you expressed the view, that in lists, we should add a coma before an “and”. This is of course standing rather against the tide of modern English; just as you flipped at my use of less for a countable noun the other day. I noticed in “Grammar for Teachers” by John Seeley, that he suggests that using “less” in this way is quiet common and acceptable. I have now written out 100 times “Emile Heskey has scored fewer international goals than the Paraguayan goalkeeper.” Such a depressing thought for an English football fan.
To the contrary. My obsession with punctuation is a nice, obvious reason for why I don’t have a mate. I get tired of well-meaning enquiries as to why I’m still single (as if it’s a bad thing) and blaming punctuation seems to stop them mid-stride. I’m all for moving with the times, Tim, but unfortunately, the fluidity of English grammar rules has resulted in few if any rules being agreed on at all. As a result, the standard of written English amongst native-English speakers is sad. When it comes to teaching EFL, then I’m in favour of giving as many rules as possible and then letting them make up their own mind if they want to be lazy about the language. Acceptability, to me, is quite scary. Using less is so quiet that it’s insidious.
Michael O’Leary doesn’t know his fewers from his lessers Tim… is that good company???