Today I am a (Wo)Man

Everyone chuckles at the bar mitzvah boy’s announcement. Not just because he’s so short that he has to stand on tip-toes to see out of his hat. But because we all know that, bar mitzvah or not, there’s no big black line that you step across to become a mature adult. It happens gradually, and not always at a regular pace.

That was what I was thinking about while reading some of the comments to last Monday’s post (“Are People Pitying Me?“). Far be it from me to say that people who get married at 19 are miserable and stuck in foreclosed identities (though I know there are some). The post was about me, and how I believe the extra time has made me more than ever ready for marriage. However, I know there are many women who didn’t need that extra time, and I don’t begrudge them their marriages.

Some of us are just late bloomers.

I’ve always known I was slow.

In 5th grade we learned about Helen Keller and our teacher asked us to write a composition about what we’d do if we had three days left to see. I didn’t have to think too hard about that one. I was in 5th grade, and had hardly seen a world that I’d read about extensively. I picked some of the sights I thought I shouldn’t die without seeing and wrote a little itinerary for my three days (allowing that my parents would have to  escort me).

The teacher asked who wanted to read theirs aloud, and of course the class goody-two-shoes (G2S) raised her hand. Then she recited an essay all about how she would spend the three days memorizing the facial features of her family. As she read, a smattering of students around the classroom surreptitiously picked their pens back up and oh-so-nonchalantly added another paragraph to their paper.

I was among them.

It would be fair to say that I resented her and her dumb composition (and who needs three days to remember what their parents look like anyway?). She had the right answer – always had the right answer. A right answer that showed me up – not for having the wrong answer, but for lacking… lacking something, some instinct that led her to the right answer. What exactly, I couldn’t say. But it wasn’t something you could learn from a book, or look up in an encyclopedia, or even understand by being told about it. Either you got it or you didn’t. And I didn’t. And that bothered me.

My best friend (BF), on the other hand, didn’t understand why I was so bothered. She’d written about going skiing and hadn’t felt the slightest compulsion to amend her story.

G2S was about a decade ahead of me in emotional development. I should mention that she was in the first wave of engagements and marriages. BF also got married, but a few years later. I wonder when she finally understood G2S’s composition, and if it had been sudden or gradual, early or late, if she’d even noticed at all. I wonder about all the other surreptitious paragraph-adders in the class.

But most of all, I wonder about what else there is that I might be missing. And when I’ll finally learn what they are.

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Reasons to Marry Me

Several years ago a college graduate, Jamie Varon, wanted very much to work for Twitter. Unable to get a job, she started a website Twitter Should Hire Me, listing the reasons that the site should add her to the payroll.

I was reminded of this when Cheeky sent me a link to an article about a guy with a blog about why to marry him. The blog is actually kinda cute, in a super-self-deprecating sort of way. Also sad, because he obviously has such a low sense of self-worth, and you wonder why, and if anything can be done about it.

But his site got me thinking. Why should anyone marry me? Naturally I believe I’m a wonderful person with lots to offer. But getting down to it, could I list 38 reasons? (Okay, he can’t either. Most of those sound like reasons to stay away. But the basic idea…) What about, oh, eighteen reasons? And would my friends agree with that list, or would they cough, glance sideways at each other, and say something polite but noncommittal?

And then of course there’s the supply and demand thing: what you’ve got has to be what people are interested in marrying, and those people have to also be people you’re interested in marrying… has anyone ever tried doing an economic theory on committed relationships?

It could become a big deal. We could have dating actuaries to tell us how much we can demand for our package of traits and how to raise our market value by developing new talents, hobbies, or characteristics. There would be quadratic and differential equations for dating! [eyes go shiny and excited] C’mon, how cool would that be?

Okay, maybe not. But still.

Then we could have business cycles for daters, with the “Shidduch Crisis” relabeled as the “Great Dating Depression” of the 21st century. We’d be historic figures, and all our attempts at finding The One using speed dating, online dating, Shidduch Vision, singles events, End the Madness, and goodness knows what else, will go into history books in bold letters like the PWA and the New Deal and all the related programs. Instead of being jaded singles, we’d become historic characters. How cool would that be?

Okay, I’d rather just get married. But still.

Fine. Time to stop theorizing and come up with my 38 reasons. I think I’m going to have to call in the reserves on this one.

Ding-aling-aling… “Hello? Grandma? I have a question…”