Single–Never Married: Part 2

Here’s something they don’t tell you when you get to be almost forty and are still single-never-married:

If the opportunity arises to change your status, you may suddenly find you don’t want to take it. Or at least that you’re very unsure about it.

No, I’m not engaged, nor have I been quite asked the question which would lead to my giving an answer which would lead to my getting engaged. But the fact is, it turns out marriage may not be entirely out of the realm of possibility for me after all. Because of this, I’m finding out that feelings about “tying the knot” may vary depending on how likely the prospect is. Also that men are not the only ones with commitment issues.

As a young teenager, I wanted to get married, but I’m not really sure what I thought that was all about, because I was pretty much afraid of boys for a long time. I liked them, I just didn’t know what to do about them. It didn’t get much better in college, although I had many more male friends. As I’ve previously mentioned, I didn’t manage to have a significant relationship until I was 36, and while I deeply loved the Milk Guy and our relationship lasted two years and I desperately wanted to marry him, I suspect some of the desperation was because deep down, I knew what he knew, which was that there were too many differences and obstacles between us to have a successful rest-of-our-lives relationship. So (although it was really exhausting and I would have done better to have chilled out about it) there was something almost “safe” about the anxiety and desperation, because chances were pretty good we never were going to marry, though, and so we’d never actually have to try to make it work.

Before that I had gone through other incarnations of desperate longing, but I didn’t even get to the point of dating any of those guys, so again . . . no need to actually process what marriage to any of them (or marriage of any of them to me) might have meant. And since then I’ve dated around, and while I can’t say I’m good at it or that it’s really a preference of mine, I do kind of enjoy meeting new people and at least for a while there, there was this feeling like, What if I pick the wrong guy?

But this time? It’s . . . different. And let’s just say I’m processing. I keep thinking about how I used to want to be a missionary overseas for the rest of my life, and now that I’m dating a guy who doesn’t feel any sort of calling like that (yet!), I think to myself, What if I’m called to go back overseas or something? But the fact is, I’m not overseas right now, and I haven’t been in some years, and I’m pretty sure such ideas at this point are just escape routes because I’m finding I’m afraid of commitment.

It’s one thing to like the idea of companionship and lifelong friendship and, heck, sex . . . but it’s something else to face the other side of that coin which is that one’s formerly self-absorbed lifestyle is going to have to undergo some serious adjustment. I think I knew I was selfish, but you don’t really know how selfish you are, do you, until another person enters the mix? Now I’m having to revisit my calling, and reconsider my education (if I got a full-ride scholarship to Princeton, say–unlikely, but just rhetorical–and the Boyfriend decided to propose or something . . . well, should I stay and get married, or leave and get extra educated?), and come to terms with the fact that I’d have to get rid of an awful lot of stuff. I always prided myself on not putting too much stock in stuff, but honestly, I also have prided myself on how I only own things with stories behind them, which means that getting rid of any of it is . . . not easy. It turns out, I’m finding, despite all my years of moaning about it, that there are some things about singleness that I really like. Staying up and writing this blogpost, for example, without worrying about keeping anybody up except Oscar, who sleeps all day anyway.

I was talking to Starbecca about this about a week ago, and she (being a single-never-married thirty-something Christian woman as well) said, “Um . . . you might want to rethink that.” We agreed that if I took a poll regarding whether I should marry someone I loved if I had the opportunity, or chase a career, most people we know in the secular world would counsel me not to let a man define me or let one hold me back from my “full potential,” whatever that may be. But I think that most Christians I know (many of them not being sold on the ordination of women in the first place) would counsel marriage just because the Church by and large is so uncomfortable with the presence of singles.

Then there’s ninja-bathroom-Patrick who said, when I mentioned my decision about transferring to Princeton might be somewhat dependent on how things went with my Boyfriend, “LDR! Long-distance relationship! Or break up with him. My mom says you could work on Wall Street or live in a cardboard box and you can always find someone to date you.” I didn’t bother telling him, 23-year-old that he is, that this is not always true and that even when it is, you can’t count on “someone to date you” being someone of character with whom you just might want to spend the rest of your life and who it would be a mistake to pass up.

None of this feedback answers the question of what God would want me to do, given certain choice options. Nor do they address the fact that I really enjoyed traipsing around Princeton by myself. Or the fact that I think I would have enjoyed it even more, had the Boyfriend been there.

Single–Never Married

“Divorced people,” said the Boyfriend, who is one, “have baggage. But single, never married? You need a porter!”

“Why do you think I’m dating you?” I retorted.

We were teasing each other and laughing, but the thing is, he might be right. I remember when I first noticed, as a much younger adult, that my favourite married couples were all middle aged and that they didn’t seem to have any of the quirks and rough edges that my single friends and I had. They had quirks, but they were quirks that they understood about each other, and they each seemed to sort of mitigate each other’s quirks or translate them or something, to make them more palatable to the general public.

In contrast, once a couple of years ago I reunited with four of my guy friends from Nannyville–we got together for coffee and then watched a movie at the house of one of them. It was genuinely a lot of fun, but there was a little part of my brain which spent the entire evening thinking, “No wonder none of us has ever gotten married–we’re all so weird!” (Sorry guys–but we are.)

The thing is I don’t think, when we all met the first time in our twenties, we were quite so weird. The whole “single for a season, or single for a reason?” conundrum is, I think, patently unfair because I think every person on the planet has unmarriageable qualities and I don’t believe there are very many cases where the person as a whole is totally unmarriageable. But I do think people’s quirks solidify as they age, and if there isn’t a “constant” in their lives encouraging or cajoling or even (unfortunately) browbeating them into a better version of themselves, the quirks become more obvious and less desirable.

Sometimes I feel like married or formerly married people look on single-never-married people as being incomplete adults, and I don’t think that’s fair, but I do think we’re rather a different breed of adults. In some ways we have to be more mature and independent and strong, because we’re on our own and we have to do things for ourselves. In other ways–well, if we’re single-never-married-no-kids, we can still go to bars and coffee shops with our (also single and childless) friends more often than not, and even if we think we’d like to be in an exclusive, monogamous relationship, because we never have, we’re missing a practical aspect of commitment that married people have been working at for as long as they’ve been married. I’ve only had three boyfriends in my life, really, and they’ve all been within the last five years, and I have to say the one who was a doozy (and lasted the least amount of time) was the one who had never been married. The two divorcees, while having their own issues, were and are (respectively) quite lovely.

As for “baggage”–well, I suspect every single-never-married person’s baggage is a little different, and mine might be yet a little different than most. There’s a special kind of baggage that happens when the first significant romantic relationship of your life doesn’t start until you’re 36. No matter how sure you are that you don’t need a significant other to define you, it’s pretty impossible not to ask yourself with regularity, What is wrong with me? when it takes that long for someone to be willing to take a chance on you. I daresay some of the reticence on the part of men in my earlier life came from my inherent awkwardness and uncertainty of how to flirt and how all this dating stuff was supposed to work, but most people get to experiment and get that stuff out of their system in . . . I dunno . . . high school? If you don’t, the natural awkwardness turns into mile-high walls and hoops for the next person to jump through just because you can’t quite believe that they’re really interested and are going to stay interested and if they really are, why are they interested?

I don’t think I knew I had these still. Somehow I thought dating a couple of guys had grown my confidence and smoothed out my awkwardness, and I think in many ways it has. But these kinds of reflexes die hard, and they’re usually noticeable by onlookers more than the person exhibiting them. I guess I don’t really think that life-long singles have more baggage than divorcees, but it’s definitely unique, and I think the longer we stay single, the harder it becomes for us to get married. People don’t know what to do with our ingrained habits, and we don’t know how to fit other people into them. It’s not a hopeless case, but it is a challenge.


On Thursday morning, I had an interview with the head of admissions at Princeton. I had forgotten that this was going to happen. I thought about being nervous, but even though I don’t and never have interviewed very well, the prospect doesn’t make me that uptight anymore. As it was, it seemed to go pretty well, except for the part where she asked me what books I had been reading lately and what had impacted me about them. For some reason I drew a total blank, even though I have been reading, despite taking a semester off classes. Probably too much Dr Who in there. How embarrassing.

After that I went to sit in on a youth ministry class taught by Kenda Creasy Dean, some of whose articles and talks I have encountered before. I like what she has to say, so I was kind of excited to get to visit a class of hers, but it turned out the Admissions Office had not been apprised of some room changes in this, the first week of classes at Princeton. By the time I figured this out, the class had begun and was a 15 minute walk away, so I went and sat in on a “precept” for a Christian Ethics class. (I did get to meet Professor Dean at lunch time, so that was pretty cool.)

I’m not sure I totally understand the Princeton “precept” concept (or why they call it a precept), but it seems to be some sort of smaller-group seminar that meets to discuss the lectures that have previously been given by the professor of a class. It meets during classtime and it sounds like as the semester progresses, the students take it in turn to lead the discussions; I don’t know if they have lectures one day a week and precepts a couple, or what exactly (not one of the questions I thought to ask Whitney until right now). But anyway, I kind of liked sitting in on this, because, since it’s still the beginning of the term, everybody was still getting to know each other, so I got to sit in on the introductions and hear something about specific members of the student body. Also, since I just took a Christian Ethics class, it was kind of interesting to hear the beginnings of a different way of teaching such a topic. I suspected there would be more views in this class with which I disagreed, but that there was also more freedom for disagreement and dialogue about it.

After chapel and the tour and lunch and the ninja bathroom, I went to a class which one of the students waiting for it to start called “Indiana Jones 101.” The actual title of the class is “Archaeology, Iconography, Symbology and Theology,” and I could see some good reasons for invoking Indiana Jones, except that this professor (Dr. James H. Charlesworth) evidently loves snakes. (Also, he lacks a cool hat.) It has something to do with his being confronted by a king cobra in the Everglades at age 14–maybe sorta like Batman and the bats, only if Professor Charlesworth is afraid of snakes, I don’t think even he knows it. He’s written a big book about snake symbolism, which creeps me out a little bit and which is way too long, but which I kind of want to read now; I wonder if I can get it through interlibrary loan . . . and read it before I have to start taking classes again . . . if I ever figure out where I’m going to take them . . .

I had been warned by various evangelical family and friends that I would find Princeton unfriendly to my own evangelical leanings, but, just like I didn’t notice anybody being particularly snobby, I was pleasantly surprised to find a decent amount of openness. One friend had told me of some Korean students who had applied to PTS and been told, in the application process, that if they believed the Bible to be the inspired, infallible word of God, they were going to be wasting both their own time and that of Princeton by attending there. I have no doubt there are influences at Princeton hostile to that view, just as I observed the existence of campus student groups that foster views that are pretty much anathema to me. However, there are other campus student groups which promote ideas and practices with which I am fully in favour, and in this one symbology class, I learned there were two Wheaton alumni, a Gordon College alumnus, a Calvin College alumnus and a Messiah College alumnus. (Charlesworth had never heard of Messiah College, but never mind.) I suppose not all of them have the same view of the inspiration of Scripture as each other or as I have, maybe, but I think it indicates the presence of at least some evangelical pockets within Princeton. At any rate, I was sold on Charlesworth (if not all of his ideas) when he said–a number of times in the class–that the most certain event in history was the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He said, with some fervour, that ideas don’t resurrect, people do, and that the resurrection wasn’t something that happened to the disciples, but something that happened to Jesus. There were some nods and grunts of assent, if not outright amens, so I felt pretty well at home, and actually like I had just heard quite a good sermon.

Also, Charlesworth’s other required text for this class (next to his tome about snakes) is the Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, edited by one of my beloved Literature professors from undergrad days, Dr. Leland Ryken. I was his TA when this book was in the beginning stages, and I researched some of the symbols. I don’t know that I was very helpful; I didn’t put in as much time on it as he had wanted me to, and I’m not entirely sure I took the angle he wanted. Having looked it over in the bookstore this morning, I note that my name is not among the listed “Wheaton College student assistants” (nor are the names of any of my contemporaries), but I still feel a connexion to it. Charlesworth’s syllabus says, about this book, “Encyclopedic and may be too conservative for liberals; needs to be supplemented but valuable, if dated.” Whatever. He’s still using it. It works for me.

The Ins and Outs

I’m actually trying pretty hard not to like this place, and I was doing an okay job last night–money-laced town, curious but self-consciously fancy-schmancy buildings, no kettle in the guest room . . . but today is a new day (or it was a number of hours ago) and I keep finding myself unexpectedly stimulated or delighted. The Matchmaker’s warnings of the peak of Ivy League snobbery have not been fulfilled; I’m sure that’s there, but everybody I’ve met has been very personable and helpful and down to earth even.

This might be evidenced by the fact that a large part of my conversation today has revolved around the topic of campus toilets. And these people don’t even have a last name to live up to.

The conversation actually began silently this morning when I got up and could hear, on the other side of the wall, my mystery bathroom mate also getting up, and I wondered if this was, in fact, the man I had heard talking in the hallway the evening before. I wondered how awkward it was that I was sharing a bathroom with someone I didn’t know, and whether it was more awkward if that person were a man. And how I could tell, since both of us were being quite diligent about not leaving any paraphernalia in the bathroom after we used it, and if I needed to know or not.

We had already worked out a sort of silent, invisible bathroom etiquette–dare I even say it: choreography. Although the walls were thin enough to hear if someone was in there anyway, if one of us was, we would walk over to the door that opened into the other person’s guestroom and push in the lock button. The trick was to remember to unlock it before leaving. Fortunately, we both did. This morning, I was curious to know which one of us was going to get in there to smell up the bathroom first. It was me. I did it. But I reckoned that this mystery person was probably hoping to shower around the same time I was hoping to shower, so I exited pretty quickly, and . . . I was right. I thought about this strange little invisible interaction as a blogpost for as long as it took me to walk from the guest house to the coffee shop I had noticed the night before, for breakfast.

Right before chapel and lunch, I was introduced to my student host, Whitney. She is in her fourth year of the double degree that Princeton offers that is the reason I’m interested in this school in the first place. We went to chapel and then she gave me a campus tour, and then we went to lunch after the cafeteria had cleared out a little. We sat with two first-year MDiv students, and ate and chatted and laughed, and then I needed . . . the facilities.

That was when Patrick, one of the first years, told me about the ninja bathroom. It was not, he explained helpfully, a bathroom only for ninjas. But it was built right into the wall, therefore stealthy and ninja-like. I saw what he meant when I went to use it: the door was part of the wall, painted the same colour with moulding across it. It wasn’t really all that subtly done, but the attempt was there. It reminded me of the long ago Stuff Christians Like post about secret church bathrooms. I thought about telling my host and her cronies about this, but it seemed like too much to try to explain.

We did, however, when I got back from my foray, discuss other campus bathrooms for quite some time. Whitney, it turns out, has a hierarchy of them, and she says that she will leave a building where she has a class, and go to an entirely different part of campus just to use one of them. Apparently the one in the mail room is great because no one knows about it. (But now you do. If you ever visit Princeton Theological Seminary.) It should be noted that the PTS campus isn’t that big, but still. That’s some serious bathroom commitment.

“This,” I exclaimed, before we adjourned and Whitney introduced me to the foremost youth ministry professor in the place, “is awesome! I can’t believe I’m discussing bathroom specifics at Princeton!” The tenor of the guffaws indicated that maybe my new acquaintances were equally chuffed by this fact.

I spent the afternoon in a class about which I will write more later, but as it has nothing to do with bathrooms, it is irrelevant to this post. After that class, I returned to the Erdman Center and started to get into the elevator up to my room when the concierge stopped me.

“Oh!” she exclaimed. “I’m so glad I caught you! I wanted to apologise for putting you in a room with a shared bathroom that you’re sharing with a male.” She said this almost as if she were swearing and was ashamed of herself for doing so. This surprised me as I didn’t expect such prudishness/modesty at a big-name school like this, but she was quite insistent that this was not regular practice, and they were very sorry, and would I like to change my room. Well, mystery-bathroom-mate and I had really pretty well perfected our bathroom dance already, but she seemed a little insistent, so I agreed.

Good move. As an apology, they put me in a room with my own bathroom–without even the potential of a bathroom mate, clear in the other wing of the building. This wing has caricature-type drawings of Vanity Fair characters in the hallway instead of boring and serious but stylised drawings of birds with Latin-name captions, and my bathroom has an actual bathtub in it, which would be great if I had brought some bubble bath with me. The view is better, too. Still no kettle, but I discovered the tea and coffee-making paraphernalia in the lower level of the lobby.

So . . . all’s well that ends well. Get it? Ends well?

Oh never mind . . .

First Impressions

The Matchmaker, who works at another ivied school, once told me that I should not consider going to Princeton because its people make the people of his educational institution look humble. I laughed.

Now I have other reasons for considering not going there (primarily the Boyfriend), but I’m still curious about the place, if for no other reason than that I wrote a paper for my second church history class about the modernist/fundamentalist rift in the early part of the last century, and Princeton rather featured in there, so it’s interesting to me. And they have a double “major” MDiv plus MA in Youth Ministry which intrigues me. Plus I’m on vacation and Princeton’s supposed to be a pretty town, and as a prospective student, I can stay in their guest quarters for two nights for $55. Not too shabby.

I am apparently sharing this floor with a man with a British accent and a 30/40-something voice. Although I got over the accent fascination when I actually lived in London, I no longer actually live in London, and I’ve been hearing all kinds of lovely (and less lovely) accents in Dr Who, so that, in an earlier, more single incarnation, I might have found some excuse to meander out into the hallway while my floormate was out there talking to the concierge about something, in hopes of an introduction. We might, in fact, be sharing a bathroom. I have not yet determined if this is the case, but I rather hope it isn’t.

Anyway, apart from that, my first impressions of Princeton are as follows:

It is, indeed, a pretty town. It feels a little more Oxonian that BC, maybe because it’s actually in the Ivy League? Maybe there’s some code that says Ivy League institutions must conform to a certain “Oxbridge” type of atmosphere? (Can you conform to an atmosphere?) But it’s funny, because the stones are all wrong, even though most of the architecture is right, and the grand and impressive Gothic-y buildings are interspersed with also fairly grand houses which are either reminiscent of New England colonials or federalists, or are made of red brick and look like they should be in Virginia. Furthermore, there is a bank that looks like it belongs in the Netherlands. Except that it is red brick, too. I find the whole melange very fascinating.

If I were independently wealthy, I would love it down here–it is, I suspect, a shopper’s and eater’s paradise. As it is, I just had to get every part of my brakes except the front calipers replaced, so even at $55 for 2 nights, I probably can’t really afford this. The hamburger I ate this evening, however, was leagues better than the Reuben of yesterday.

The only thing I feel I’m lacking here right now is an electric kettle to make some tea–even though it was nearly ten years ago that I left the place, my experience with even the most basic guest houses in England was that every room always contained tea-making implements. I think this is very civilised indeed and find myself expecting this on the left side of the Pond, even though experience has told I shouldn’t. Perhaps the British floormate and I can fill in a suggestion card. Meanwhile, I haven’t even had a tour or learned anything first hand about the school and the classes. I guess that’s another story–for tomorrow.

Newfound Fandom

At some point in my adolescence, the parents of the kids who were then my brother’s and my best friends (respectively) suggested that our family, chronic watchers of PBS television shows, might enjoy Dr Who. I’m pretty sure they were reruns, because I’m pretty sure “our” doctor who was the fourth one (Tom Baker) who evidently initially regenerated in 1981, and I know we watched it later than 1981.

At any rate, we did enjoy the show, and watched it until that doctor regenerated, and there was something in that episode that either freaked me out, or concerned my mother, or both. Either way, that was the end of watching Dr Who for a good long time.

When I moved to London, there was a Dr Who shop right in the High Street in my borough. This fact delighted me. I never went in there, though–I was afraid to. Or maybe ashamed to. I felt like my previous encounters with the Doctor were somehow suspect because I had dropped him like you might drop a mouldy vegetable that you didn’t know was mouldy until you stuck your thumb in the squidgy part you couldn’t see.


Anyway, that was that, except for a few random check-ins from an obsessive Whovian I’m still friends with from London. None of his explanations and story recountings ever made any sense to me, however. Until the Boyfriend.

It turns out, as I discovered on Hurricane Day before the electricity went out at his house for the second time and we resorted to telling each other stories of our childhood, in the gloaming, that the Boyfriend is a closet sci fi geek, and that Dr Who is now at the top of his list. It is now also at the top of my list. He gets programming from BBC America, so every time I go over there we have to watch an episode or two. We’re a little behind; we’ve watched a few Matt Smith ones, but mostly we’re still on the David Tennant doctor, whom I believe I like better.

My facebook friends who also like Dr Who are rejoicing over my newfound Whovian status, but I’m still a novice and scarcely know what I’m talking about yet when I talk about the Doctor. A friend of mine wrote “Fezzes are cool” on my facebook wall, and I know enough to know that that’s a Dr Who quote, but I have yet to see the episode in which it is made. I only sort of remember Daleks, and I miss K-9. Still, this is a fun new diversion, and who knows? Maybe next time I’m in London, I’ll just walk right into that shop. Maybe I’ll even get something.

“Weah Goin’ ta Bahstin . . . “

Weah goin’ ta Bahstin, weah goin’ ta Lynn, Ya bettah watch out oah ya might fall in!

I can’t do accents, so don’t ask me to recite this to you if I ever seen you in person, but it’s a nice little knee-bouncing ditty TheBro does with his kids sometimes. They were all just out here a few weeks ago, and we did go to Boston together and it was a glorious day weather-wise and just a lot of fun, too.

Today the weather wasn’t so good, by which I mean it’s raining, and TWCN and Smiley Guy are tucked away in their home state far away now, but I walked around Brighton and Newton with my London umbrella and felt rather pleased all the same. Turns out I love academia. I kind of don’t want to love it, because it has such an aura of pretention and impracticality, but . . . I really love it.

Here’s what’s happening: Sometime in the summer, someone suggested that, in spite of the fact that I’m already enrolled in a Seminary, I check out some other schools of theology which might give me a slightly different slant on things than my traditionally evangelical background, and which might have more money than my Seminary does, thus enabling them to offer me some financial aid that I can’t seem to nail down where I am. Then someone else suggested it. Then some crazy stuff happened at Now Church and I started wondering about job security (not wondering about that so much right this second, but it’s probably best not to assume), and at the same time I started dating the Boyfriend, and meanwhile, orientation for classes-on-campus was about to begin, something like the week after Conference, and . . . I was feeling a little overwhelmed, I guess?

So I called my Seminary’s admissions office and begged off for the semester. I’m still enrolled there. I’m just taking time out from classes so I can figure out what I should really be doing. I know–back in March I finally felt some confirmation that I should go for this MDiv thing, and that it should be at the Seminary where I’m already enrolled. I felt like that . . . and I’m still not sure I wasn’t right about that in the first place, but I also feel like I need to investigate some options.

So today I went to the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. I liked it a lot. There’s always a big gap between undergrad and grad students, but I still like walking around on a campus with nice old buildings (these are being refurbished, but they’re being really intentional about keeping the original feel and externals) and students rushing back and forth to classes with their books. And there was this library–the one, the admissions rep emphasised to me, that people actually go to to study, as opposed to the larger, louder one more centrally located. Anyway. The actual study library made me want to . . . actually study. I just wanted to grab an armload of books and park myself in a carrel and, I dunno–research, or something. Which is weird, because I kind of hate research. I usually test pretty well though. (Except in that ethics class . . . )

I’m of two minds about the Jesuit angle of things. I myself have benefited in the past from some of the Jesuit spiritual practices, and I think I might really enjoy learning from them first-hand for a while. Also, they have this Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry which doesn’t have quite the scope of an MDiv, but it also doesn’t take as long and I don’t actually want to be a senior pastor anywhere anyway. I just think I have pastoral gifts and would like to learn how better to use them.

If it were all up to the sandwich shop where I bought a disappointing Reuben for $7, with corned beef that was mostly fat, and almost no sauerkraut (what, I ask you, is the point of a Reuben with no sauerkraut?), well then, I’d give Boston College a miss. But it isn’t, so . . . it’s still in the running. Tomorrow I’m heading to Princeton . . . I can’t do New Jersey accents, either.

Language Peeves – Issue 253

I just made that number up.

I’ve thrown in some pseudo-linguistic asides in a few recent posts, but we haven’t had a good language rant here in a while, have we?

Today’s rant is about the verb to miss. This verb is so improperly used that the other day I myself found myself (yes, that many myselfs) thinking–in one of my imaginary conversations I often have–“I miss not seeing you . . . ”

That would be really awesome as a subtle insult if I were trying to tell my imaginary conversational partner that I can’t stand the sight of his or her face and that when I see it, I feel a wistful longing not to. But everyone uses miss that way, and nobody means that when they say it. Or think it. I didn’t, even. Most people, in my experience, when they say they “miss not-doing” something, mean that they miss doing that thing. I don’t really understand why we talk like this. It’s like adding an extra syllable (orientate instead of simply orient) or prefixing something unnecessarily (why do people say unthaw when they mean thaw?).

When I was studying English Literature in college, I rather prided myself on being able to blab on long enough in an essay question that I could eventually actually make it sound like I knew what I was talking about. (I have no idea if the professors actually saw through this, but I did generally perform quite well on exams–particularly essay ones.) I feel like that’s what we do in English (both sides of the pond) when we talk, sometimes–it’s as if we feel like if we can utter more syllables and bigger words, we’ll sound more intelligent. So we make up nonsense words like unthaw and tell people we miss not talking to them, when what we mean is that we miss talking to them, perhaps very much indeed.

Also, as a mini-rant tagging along, there is a billboard up on the way to work these days which is advertising a wedding expo nearby. The sign boldly announces Wedding Expo in large letters, and in slightly smaller ones, it says, “Huge Gown Sale!”

I can’t really think of a more efficient way to say, “Huge sale on gowns!” but I still can’t stop thinking they’re announcing that they’re selling enormous gowns. Only enormous ones. Like wearable tents, maybe.


For those of us who believe in waiting to have sex until marriage, but aren’t exactly averse to kissing before that blessed event, there is this bumper sticker, which I saw on the back of a car this morning: Make Out, Not War.

Well . . . I thought it was funny . . .


I think I did mention that, even though I’m done on-line dating (at least for now, hopefully forever), I might still, from time to time, comment on the experience because . . . well, because there are just so many odd features to talk about.

Sometimes the oddness comes simply from logistics. When The Boyfriend and I decided that he was going to be my Boyfriend and I was going to be his Girlfriend, at some point the topic of how long we had been seeing each other already came up. That in itself is weird, as I keep alluding to or even pointing out–the fact that if you’re meeting people on-line to begin with, you have to meet multiple people at once and go out with them all a few times before deciding on one. (Or none.) It’s comparison shopping, and there’s something . . . well . . . really capitalistic and sort of dehumanising about that. All the same, after years of trying to rebel against that fact, I have to agree that if you’re going to go into internet dating, that really is ultimately the sanest (I didn’t say sane) way to do it.

But then after that you have these other weird things. I said, in a conversation with The Boyfriend, “Such and such a date is our two-month anniversary, you know.” (Incidentally, there is a little part of me that screams inwardly when anybody, including myself, talks about “month anniversaries.” The Latin word for year is in the word anniversary for goodness’ sake. How gauche! But monthiversary, which is what I usually end up saying, is just as bad really, and lunaversary doesn’t come to mind very readily.)

“No it isn’t,” he said.

“Yes it is,” I insisted. “We went on our first date on June 24th.”

“But our first email was June 12th,” he countered.

Ah. Right.

This can even happen when you meet someone in person, if the internet/email has played even a minor part in the relationship, because I actually had a very similar conversation with a previous boyfriend some years ago. Evidently the internet is just unavoidable for relationships these days.

Then there’s the question of whether you count the date of the first email, or the date of the first date, or the date of deciding to be an exclusive couple, given the above disclaimers. Is there an etiquette for this, or is it every couple for themselves? At any rate, The Boyfriend and I are sticking with the email date. Which makes this–hey–our third lunaversary! Happy lunaversary, The Boyfriend . . .