A little more than eight years ago, while celebrating my mom's birthday at my favorite Greek restaurant, my niece, who was then quite young and somewhat fresh off a turn as an angelic flower girl in her uncle's wedding, turned to me and asked, "When are you gonna get married? 'Cause it's taking a long time."
I couldn't help but laugh. Which upset her, prompting her to say, "You don't have to laugh at me!"
"Oh, honey," I replied. "I'm not laughing at you. I would never laugh at you. But someday you'll understand why that was funny."
And here I am, eight years later, still unwed. Taking a long time, indeed.
The other night, I was watching a few minutes of "Sex and the City," the movie not the show, the scene in which Carrie crawls into bed next to Big and says, "Lean," and he picks up his arm to allow her to nestle in alongside him.
And I said to myself, out loud, "I'll never have that."
If I'd had a mirror in front of my face at that moment, I would have looked at myself as if to say, "What? Where did that come from?!"
Of course, I could be wrong. I've been wrong many times before. At least two or three. (Badump-bump!
But seriously, folks. Marriage may yet be in the cards for me. One never knows.
Stories of older people who get married warm my heart. It's truly never too late to find love.
But I've given up on dating. I recognize that you've gotta kiss a lot of frogs, yada, yada, yada, but apparently my interest in finding that special someone isn't strong enough to overcome the wearying notion of wading into the shallow pool that is the world of dating.
The last two men with whom I've had any involvement, I met online, though not on dating sites. I've long, long ago given up on dating sites. BLECH. But Facebook and Twitter and such lead to conversations that sometimes lead to something else.
My friend Eddie once told me, pointedly, "You're too picky."
"No, I'm not!"
"Yes, you are!"
Well, OK, yes, I am, sort of. I'll cop to "picky." But not "too picky." As I explained to him that day, I don't expect a man to bring any more to the table than I do, but, if you'll allow me a brief moment of ego, I bring a lot to the table.
So, you can imagine my hackles when I saw this feature in the current issue of O: "Should You Settle?"
Um, in a word? No!
The title of the book in the feature in O is Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough
I've long told friends and family that I'll stay single before I'll settle. (See? I'm doing it right now, here, on my loveseat, with my coffee and Patricia Barber's jazz to keep me company.) My point being, I've waited this long. I'm not about to settle for Mr. Good Enough. I could have married two Mr. Good Enoughs.
Except that they weren't Mr. Good Enoughs. They were Mr. Weren't The Right Ones for Me.
Lori Gottlieb, the author of Marry Him
, says in the O piece: "We want the ten, because we think we're a ten. But we're missing the fact that we're not. Nobody is. Men have flaws, but we have flaws, too."
Ms. Gottlieb? I'm not missing the fact that I'm not a ten. I'm well aware of the fact that I'm not a ten. I'm well aware that I have flaws. I am not waiting for a ten.
I understand, perfectly, that everyone has flaws, that there is no such thing as perfection. (Mind you, that doesn't stop me from trying to achieve it, which is stupid, I know.)
She says, "There are so many really wonderful men out there, men who want commitment, who want to be married, who are attractive and smart and interesting. They may not be movie-star attractive, they may be awkward at first, they may not fit our cultural image of who Mr. Right or who Prince Charming is. But we shouldn't pass them up."
Indeed we should not. But it's been my experience that men really don't want commitment because they come up with endless reasons to avoid it.
The last man I dated told me, six weeks into things, "I don't want a day-to-day relationship." Which came as a bit of surprise, given that we'd started spending a fair amount of time together.
But OK. Not everyone wants a day-to-day relationship. If that's the case, though, it'd be good to mention that up front: "Hey, I'm just looking for someone to hang out with, to go to movies with, to have dinner with."
A few years ago, I met a guy on Match.com who ended things because they were becoming serious and he wasn't looking for a relationship.
Really? Then Match.com is probably not the best place for you, bub. There are sites that cater to those who are looking for, shall we say, more short-term gratification.
Mind you, I'm well aware that both of those men very well may have left off the words "... with you" from their reasons.
Which is fine, as feelings need to be mutual for a relationship to progress.
But, no, I shan't be settling, because I cling to no delusions about Prince Charming arriving on his valiant steed and view everyone who falls short of that standard to be unworthy. Not at all.
Though, a girl's gotta have some standards.
Mr. Beth's Husband, should I ever meet him, will not, for instance, shovel food onto his fork with his fingers. Especially on a first date. At a nice restaurant. The last age at which that behavior is acceptable is somewhere around 4, not 40. (Mind you, I dated such a person, well past the first date, figuring that that behavior could be modified over time. We didn't last long enough for that to happen.)
He will be able to construct coherent sentences that display a knowledge of spelling and grammar because he will understand that I can be wooed with words. I don't need epic love poems, but I do need more than, "You're stunning. I'm interested. Tony," an actual message that I received on Match.com years ago in response to my profile, which stated right at the top, "I'm attracted to men who can express themselves well."
In a larger sense, he will have a curiosity about the world and a desire to experience it. He will be able to teach me things and will want to, likewise, learn from me.
None of which seems like too much to ask: use utensils properly, write coherent sentences, want to see and do new things, continue to learn.
And, of course, the key to it all: want to do those things with me.
Perhaps one day we'll meet, me and Mr. Reasonable Qualities. (I'll have to ask Eddie if he still considers me to be too picky. I think I've culled the list to a manageable, realistic number of traits.)
Until then, though, I'm perfectly happy to have the whole pot of coffee to myself.