I just had to become facebook friends with my ex-boyfriend. Not just any ex-boyfriend, mind you, but The Ex-Boyfriend. The one I talked about marriage and kids and houses with. The one who, even though I broke up with him at the end of it all, let me down more than any other ex-boyfriend has. The one whose very name causes shouting and cursing and and a general banging of fists on the table. You know, THAT ONE. And now he’s all, oh, la la la, you look just the same, but when did you get a dog? ARGH.
Like I said in that old, old post about love that I linked to yesterday in lieu of actually posting anything, I have dated a whole collection of wrong dudes, and this guy was the fucking Mayor of Wrongtown. Obviously, it was something in my own personality that caused me to wind up with so many screw-ups — the thing that makes me like the whole disaffected artist/musician/writer type also makes me like the whole lying/trouble-making/lost-boy/fuckwit type. Some of them may have been bona fide losers, but really, the problem here was all me. So when I run into my former Mr. Wrongs these days, I try not to be bitter about the way things ended, you know? It wasn’t their fault. I can’t really be mad at a guy for being exactly who he is (and not being the slightly more right version of himself who only existed for a moment in my hopeful imagination).
Back in the days when I was really missing The Ex-Boyfriend, do you know what I was missing most? I was missing the way we always used to plan dinner and then shop for groceries together and then cook together. You pick the wine; I’ll go find the meat. You hold the colander; I’ll hold the pot. Et cetera. When we weren’t together anymore, wandering through the grocery store by myself had become just a sad reminder that I was alone. I mean, sure, I missed a lot of the romantic stuff, and I sadly slept all confined to the right side of the bed for almost a year, but when it comes down to it, it was the mundane domestic side of life that made me feel most acutely that empty space the break-up had left behind.
It’s not just that one guy, either — whenever I start working on a new crush, my daydreams are far more likely to involve cooking, home repair, or even laundry than they are to involve, you know, nudity or whatever. There’s something wonderful and nice about cooking together that I always miss when I’m not in a relationship. Cooking is a fundamental part of life — not just because you need food to live and all, but because feeding others is a culturally inscribed way of showing affection. Hosts feed their guests, parents feed their children, and on and on. When a guy gets all up in my kitchen and starts slicing and dicing and sautéeing, it’s not only romantic but also deeply comforting. I was with this one dude for a while in Zembla — a real rugged, Midwestern type who was always going fishing and whatnot — who cooked the most elaborate (yet still wholesome and sustaining in an All-American sort of way) dinners. I remember watching him chopping and peeling and dredging things in bread crumbs and simultaneously working all four gas burners and still having time to keep my wine glass full and thinking to myself, ahhhh, this is the ticket.
Right now, though, I’m still cooking for one over here, as are many of my friends. While a lot of my circle has settled down, gotten married, and had kids, there’s still a bunch of us singletons. Even though we’re at the age where, socially, people expect us to have partnered off by now, we haven’t. We still have to struggle in from our cars with the eighty-seven grocery bags full of food that will go bad before we have the chance to eat it, because there is only one person to feed and we have bought too much (or is that just me?). When we get home and start making dinner only to realize we have forgotten one crucial ingredient, there is no one to send to the store on an emergency run but ourselves, so we go without most times.
When we are cleaning the house, there is no one on whom to dump the unpleasant duties, like carrying the trash out to the dumpster on the other side of the apartment complex or changing the hard-to-reach light bulbs or cleaning out the goddamned motherfrakking catbox. We can’t shirk our duties because otherwise they don’t get done. This is why when I finally dusted the blades on my ceiling fan after living here for over a year — a year in which I NEVER TURNED THE CEILING FAN OFF BECAUSE IF I HAD THEN THE DUST ON THE BLADES WOULD HAVE BEEN CLEARLY VISIBLE — the tuffets of dirt that rained down on me were large enough that I could have carefully molded them into a life-sized replica of that same fan.
No one else can remind us to pay the power bill or make a deposit at the bank before it closes while we are stuck at work. No one else can take the dog to the vet or the car to the mechanic. We’re alone in this, and most of the time that is fine, because we are strong people. We are rugged and self-sufficient and independent and we usually need our space. But damn, sometimes life would be so much easier if there were someone else to lean on, someone else to carry the heavy things or reach the things we can’t reach alone. I wouldn’t have had to buy a foot stool just to change my damned light bulbs or clean that neglected fan, for example, if I had a (tall) partner in all of this.
The problem with that whole “partner” issue is, of course, that if I want to have a partner in life I am going to have to stop looking at the aforementioned lying/trouble-making/lost-boy/fuckwit type as a viable dating option. No one who “just doesn’t know what they want” or “where they’re going in life” is going to be a candiate for dating/dinner making/lightbulb changing. The lost boys, as the saying goes, don’t do windows. And, with that in mind, I am forced to arrive at the conclusion that I must either start dating a more reliable type of guy — no artists/musicians/writers allowed, so maybe, um, accountants/bankers/programmers/scientists? — or I am going to have to hire myself a butler.
Maybe, since there are quite a few of us young, professional singletons out here, an enterprising young man should think about starting a company of cute butlers for hire. Applicants must have own transportation, sautée pan, and mop. No artists need apply.