Oh boy. In the wake of the past two posts, I have had two serious emails. The first was from a 40-something Single who was basically traumatized by the horrible sex-war dystopia the two posts revealed, a world she described as being populated by evil vampires on one side and female idiots on the other. The second was from a 20-second who is dating a very attentive man she doesn't love but thinks maybe she should marry since compared to whiny sex-demanding boy-men of the two posts, he is a rare catch.
This made me think that it is time for a happy, hopeful post.
The problem with writing about the Single Life is that no matter how much people try to convince Singles that the Single Life is good and noble and can be lived in a happy, contented way, the great majority of young Singles will still want to get married. And as marriage has been greatly attacked and eroded by everything successive popes said would attack and erode it, marriage seems less and less of a sure thing. And, thus, as if this were 1890, women dread being 30 and Single, 35 and Single, 40 and Single, even though there has been no better time in history for women to be Single.
I still get emails asking me if I think the writers should settle. But here is what one reader wrote about settling: "At the same time, I seems you and your husband, BA, had a good connection early on and still enjoy talking to each other. So do my parents. I am worried if I marry this guy, I will dread coming home to someone I find boring."
And it occurs to me that I should talk to you again about B.A and me. Fortunately, one of the defining characteristics is that he is as laid-back as I am a walking bundle of nerves, so he won't mind.
But first I will tell you about good men in general. First of all, there are a lot of them. Almost obody writes Auntie Seraphic to tell her about the wonderful man with whom the reader has an amazing connection, and how their biggest problem is which hall to have the wedding in, since all the halls are booked two years in advance. Thus, if your only discussion about men comes from this blog, you are going to have rather a gloomy view of them.
However, I know a lot of good men. My dad and brothers (one of whom is Single) are very good men indeed. I had some good-man classmates at both my Canadian and American theology schools, and pre-B.A. I met the good-man brother of a Jesuit pal to see if sparks would fly. (They did not.) Today I know two or three fine young Polish university students and some excellent married men, Catholic and non, and some charming grey-haired men who have been unmarried so long, it would be too much of a shock for them to get married now.
There are also good men who were lousy whiny boy-men when they were in their teens and early 20s, as they ruefully confess to me in their 30s and 40s.
And there is B.A. Sometimes I wail that B.A. and I did not meet when we were in our early 20s, but then we agree we were probably not ready for marriage to each other when we were in our early 20s. B.A. was even interested in becoming an Anglican clergyman, which is fine for Anglican girls, but not so fine for Catholic girls like me.
Meanwhile, I was still in the grip of adolescence, totally unrooted in reality, and my brain synapses zigged when they should zag and vice versa. Honestly. And one of my biggest problems was that for too long I thought men were gods to be worshiped, monsters to be feared or status symbols to be attracted. And this was just bonkers because I had brothers and therefore should have known better.
Happily, I grew up and got a clue. And I also got B.A., which was a great surprise since it looked like I might start an enterprising career of ministering to Single people and being a Professional Single. But no. First B.A. started leaving witty remarks on my blog, and then such readers who were his friends started sending me his photo. Next I sent him chapters of a novel about a Scottish girl so he could correct the "Americanisms", and then we met in a bus station. He was wearing a tweed jacket that almost knocked my eyes out, so bright was it. And then he began to talk and didn't stop, except to chew and presumably to sleep.
I immediately caught a miserable cold, and in the mornings I would want to kill B.A. because he wouldn't stop talking, but by the late afternoons I would be in love with him because he was amazing, and eventually I felt the same in the mornings as I did in the afternoons, and fortunately for me, he proposed marriage shortly after that.
I make haste to point out that we were in our late thirties and that from the moment I stepped into the wooden church in which the Edinburgh Trids have Mass, the Edinburgh Trids all seemed to decide I should marry B.A. Everyone looked very cunning and soppy by turns. The peer pressure was immense, and I had just met these people. Even before we knew we should be a couple, a whole lot of even-older people did.
And then I went off to see Der Gute and Volker in Germany, and talked their ears off about the wonderfulness of B.A., which greatly annoyed Volker, who begged me to use his phone and talk to a girlfriend instead.
Skip ahead past the engagement (long-distance) and the wedding (small) and the honeymoon (cheap) and the first two years, and you have Mr and Mrs B.A. getting along quite merrily, especially when I do the merest modicum of housework. B.A. does his very interesting job, and I sit in his (well, his job's) very interesting house and write interesting things and occasionally do a load of laundry. For me the weirdest thing is eating dinner with just one person, instead of six, as I was raised to do, but we go to or have dinner parties, so that makes life seem more normal.
Sunday is the most important day of the week, not only because we go to Mass but because we spend most of the day with a gang of people who are mad-keen on the Extraordinary Form and other things pertaining the the True, the Good and the Beautiful.
If life is boring sometimes, that is my own fault for not getting a "proper job", and never B.A's fault because he is never boring. He is always making a joke or having an idea or fighting with someone who "is wrong on the internet". He is very popular with amusing, laid-back, intelligent, creative people because he is amusing, laid-back, intelligent and creative himself. He is also very loyal, not just to me, but to all his friends, and he is very kind indeed about my tendency to mope around in my pyjamas complaining about the forces of heterodoxy that destroyed my academic career, etc.
I am often very surprised by how very nice and kind B.A. is, and I wonder what that says about me. I suppose some women might find that boring, but I certainly do not. I hate a row more than anything, at least when it is about something that is clearly my fault ;-). And I am always thankful that I can make up all kinds of outrageous jokes ("That's it! I'm going back to Canada!") without him ever taking them seriously and getting hurt or mad.
I suppose we are both very flirty people, and now that I think about it, we flirt with each other constantly in private, although not in public, where apparently the done thing is for us to mildly insult each other instead. (An occasion for one of our earliest culture-clash rows.) If you can stand the gory detail, we were happily flirting away at 7:45 AM this morning in the kitchen, as I told him I had been arguing in the combox for his right not to be made out with. About 75% of what we say to each other is complete piffle, but it all seems to add up to happiness.
Okay, that's enough because I don't want to give you sunstroke. But I did want to give you an example of what one happy marriage looks like, two-and-a-half years after the wedding, so that you don't think you ought to settle for decent-but-boring just because so many 20-something men seem to be out-and-out so-and-sos. I could never be happy with decent-but-boring myself because I would treat such a man like crap. I am not proud of this fact, but it is a fact. As a married lady, I could only be happy and good with a human sparkler like B.A., and lo.
Today in the combox feel free to praise a good man, so that we all remember there are lots of them.