Being Single

I must confess to having a soft spot in my heart for this song. It’s not good, exactly, but when I was in high school, I saw a choir at a friend’s school perform it, and their delivery, coupled with the unabashedly sentimental nature of the song, got to me. I was writing about it for my own choir (our director required us to see another performance and write about it once every semester), and I paid special attention to “One More Night”. This American Life fans might remember a wonderful episode in which a writer who had recently been dumped by her boyfriend enlisted Phil Collins to help her write a good breakup song. His advice–which is useful for writing about most things but especially pertinent to anything dealing with love–was not to try to capture the totality of a breakup in this song, but to focus on one small part of it. She played him the song she had written, and he told her he liked it, being sure to add that he was not just saying that to spare her feelings. If anyone is curious, you can download that episode here. It’s quite good.

I got over my bitterness at being single a long time ago. Basically, I just want two things: good conversation and good sex. My views on romance tend to be fairly low-key. I never had a Romeo & Juliet-type infatuation in my youth during which I was convinced that the other person was the most perfect human being ever created and I could never be happy without them. Shakespeare was, I’m fairly certain, poking fun at that sort of relationship as much as he was celebrating it. How else to explain that the two young lovers both kill themselves over what turns out to have been just about the silliest and most contrived misunderstanding imaginable?

I like to think that when I finally do find someone, not much will change. I’ll be having regular sex with someone I care about, but aside from that admittedly significant change, I’ll just go on as before, right? Most people know this already, but it bears repeating: A partner does not define you. Anyone who wants a girlfriend/boyfriend/whatever just to have one is missing the forest for the trees. I say this because–and maybe I’m jinxing myself by saying this, but whatever–I think my time is coming. It could be a while yet, but if I don’t get a boyfriend relatively soon (I won’t set a deadline because I will certainly not meet it), I’ll have no choice but to swear myself to a lifetime of celibacy. Honestly, I’ll never be this handsome again, and if the 20-plus years I’ve been alive isn’t long enough to wait for my first serious relationship, maybe boyfriends just aren’t worth the effort. It’s not like I don’t spend every waking moment complaining about it to everyone who will listen.

Roald Dahl was one of my favorite authors when I was a child. There are a only a handful of talented artists I can name whose work accurately portrays childhood. Hayao Miyazaki, Bill Watterson, Dr. Seuss, probably a few others. The point is that there are many things about the adult world that, to a child, appear baffling. Having a job is one. When I was little, “work” was something that every grown-up went to every day. I knew nothing about it except that it involved dressing up and sitting in a drab office all day. To this day, I still know only a little about what my parents do. I’m not sure if children will think the same way about me once I have a steady job. My father insists that I take after my mother. My mother, though she has not said so explicitly, probably thinks I take after him. I like to think that I will become less and less like both of them the older I get. There is a lot that I can learn from them, but I really don’t want to have the life that they do. It’s ironic that I’m a fag, since my ideas about family are quite conservative. I like the idea of committing to one person and having monogamous sex with them for years or decades on end. Maybe part of the reason that I’ve never even been on a date is because finding someone who meets my criteria is fairly difficult in this day and age. But I’m willing to settle. I never get my first choice for anything, and since my first choice for a husband (or boyfriend, since I’m still so young) would be Brad Pitt or Jon Hamm, it’s a safe bet that I won’t get to be with my ideal man.

I used to think that being in a relationship would solve all my problems. This is, of course, silly, but it took a while to accept that it isn’t my only reason for being alive. Good things don’t happen to me all that often, but when they do, they stay with me. A friend of mine used to bring up my sexuality way more often than was necessary. We’d be discussing music, and suddenly he’d say, “Wow, you’re so non-stereotypical!” Right, because only straight people are allowed to like Arcade Fire. He got over that slowly, and now at least tries not to treat me like another species. Most people know there’s nothing wrong with homosexuality, but they still don’t know what it is. I’d like to say that I’ll know what it is when I find someone, but it looks like I’ll have to figure it out first.


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