Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I don't feel like a "freak"

A recent cover of TIME makes this bold statement: “Who needs Marriage?” Apparently men do more than women, in keeping with the magazine’s frequent efforts to tilt the gender “wars” in women’s favor. I’m sure many men feel the opposite—that women can get in and out of marriage any time they want, and take with them whatever they want; if a man enters into this engagement, that is probably the best reason why he needs to stay married. Anyways, all this would come as a surprise to Tiger Woods and me. Woods sounds happier and more content since his divorce, and is thankful for loyal buddies who helped him get through his post-marriage travails. Of course, I don’t see how Woods is going to achieve “balance” in his spiritual life hanging out with Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan, but if it causes his golf game to improve, I’m not going to argue.

I read this Yahoo question-and-answer post submitted by “a girl” recently: “Are most men over 40 who are single and have never married either gay or weird? I know this sounds like a generalization, but I'm just wondering is it really possible to have never married, be heterosexual and a decent person over 40?” Now, some people are regarded as "freaks" because of their appearance or skin color, but we are really entering into presumptive territory when people think you are some sort of freak if you are a man and feel completely at ease not marrying. Is it "freakish" that you just don’t have the time or inclination to play the games that women require you to play? That you just don’t have resources to satisfy a high-maintenance partner? TIME’s editors are apparently unaware of the sentiments expressed in this Bob Dylan song:

I’m not the one you want, babe
I will only let you down
You say you’re lookin’ for someone
Who will promise never to part
Someone to close his eyes for you
Someone to close his heart
Someone who will die for you an’ more
But it ain’t me, babe
No, no, no, it ain’t me, babe
It ain’t me you’re lookin’ for, babe

I have never married and don’t see it in my future, and it doesn’t disturb me at all. There are just so many things I need to do before I die, and I only have need for people who will help me get through life toward the accomplishment my dream. As a lifelong bachelor, I feel in good company: Michelangelo, Newton, Beethoven, Thoreau, Voltaire. That’s not to say that there were no women in their lives; Beethoven was haunted by his “immortal beloved” who no researcher into his life to this day has discovered the identity of. There was a scene in the film classic “Citizen Kane” where the reporter asks the unmarried Bernstein how it is possible that Kane could have on his dying lips someone he assumes is a person—“Rosebud”—who know one has any idea who it could be; Bernstein tells him about how over 40 years ago he saw a girl in a white dress at a ferry. He only saw her for a second, but since then not a month had passed that he had not thought of that girl. I must confess that I have had a similar experience. For many years I could not, no matter how hard I tried, to remove the face and name of a woman I had at best a casual acquaintance with; even that might be stretching reality. It was as if she was planted permanently in my daily life, even though it was just a mirage, and couldn’t be anything else. Sometimes I found it greatly disturbing, other times I felt merely wistful. Time has faded memory of her face, and the fact that I have found something to do to keep my mind occupied with other things has helped me keep anything any more awkward than I have already revealed from being expressed out loud, if I ever become old enough to become senile and not in control of my memory.

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