Monday, 17 October 2011

Sunshine for a Monday morning

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.


Anonymous said...

I want to praise my priest, he is a very good man. He never talks but shouts, and is very strict and rails against imperfection, except in confession. He has saved my sanity so many times and I am so grateful to have him in my life. And for what it's worth he married late and the first two years were horrendous, but now they are very happy :)

Anonymous said...

I want to praise most of the men I know. It would be nice to be married, but if I am honest with myself, I would be already if it was what I really wanted. When I was young and wild and away from the Church, I had a lot of fun with bad boys. Now, I like good men so much better.

My friend who retrieved me from the roadside after I had wrecked yet another car, after he'd gone to bed and it was below zero is a good man. Some of my professors whom I still see - for conversation, nothing more - are good men. Some acquaintances I flirt with - we all know it is only for practice - are good men.

My lawyer, who has helped me without charge on small things, because he thinks I am funny to talk to is a good man. My friends who taught me self defense because they were worried about my going out in the woods alone to sketch, bird-watch and pan for gold are good men. My former priest is a good man and I think the new one will be also.

Sometimes I cook for them too, despite your advice not to because they are friends, not potential husbands. The last guy I dated who wanted to stay in and have me cook vs going out completely missed the concept: until I've decided to keep you, YOU feed ME, not vice versa. But we're talking about good men, so pfffft.

And you can meet the nicest men in the strangest places. You said in one of your earlier posts that you can still turn heads - I don't know why that should surprise you, if it wasn't a sin I would envy your hair :) But I grew up being told I had a face like a good natured horse, yet when I went to New Orleans with some friends, I danced in every bar on Bourbon St (pre-Katrina) while my much prettier friends just stood around and looked gorgeous.

Maybe once you decide you don't really care - if you marry you marry and if you don't, then hope God has something better in store, you give off an aura of sorts. Who knows.

But you are right; there are more good men in the world than I would have originally thought. I just looked at the time, and this long little inventory will give me pleasant dreams. It's lucky I have tomorrow off or I would be in trouble.

Isabella of the north

Anonymous said...

I met and dated plenty of good and decent men over the past few years. The only problem was they were boring, each and every one. I can tolerate slightly boring male friends, but not as potential husband material. I didn't think I would ever meet a man who intrigued me. But I did, Auntie, and he is wonderful.

We met through mutual friends earlier this year and a few months later he infiltrated my life. K is kind and generous, thoughtful and respectful, talented and creative, humble and handsome. Best of all, he is interesting. We have lively conversations that go on for hours. K and I are both very passionate about faith, life, and our various artistic endeavors so we usually run out of time before we run out of topics.

My little social circle is overrun with good men – my grandpa, dad, brother (a seminarian), cousins (one of whom is a Benedictine monk), uncles, friends (including several seminarians, thanks to the brother), priests and co-workers. I couldn’t settle – not when I was surrounded by such great men. And I am so happy I didn’t. K isn’t potential husband material; he IS husband material.

Thanks for all your encouragement and support, Auntie. Don’t worry – I won’t stop reading you just because I found the man of my dreams. :)

healthily sanguine said...

One girl's boring guy is another girl's fascinating guy, so don't try to marry a guy you find boring--you're standing in some other girl's path to matrimonial happiness!

Regina said...

Perhaps this can be summed up to say that the Perfect Guy for Us is one that we love spending time with, admire, and is kind to us and everyone. Or is that asking for too much? :)

Seraphic Spouse said...

That is not asking for too much!

Jam said...

Off the top of my head, I can think of two brothers, good Catholic men in their late 20s, both of whom are working at pretty much their dream jobs. They're always so welcoming and friendly, and really if it weren't for them that particular social circle would not even exist. And then my married friends are all married to good men, who have a sense of humor and tend the babies on girls' night. Once the lightbulb in my bedroom burned out, and my friend's husband brought a ladder and replaced it, and even drove me to the store so I could get the replacement. Sure, it's a little thing; I and my roommate probably would have gotten it done eventually; but it was much nicer to sit and chat with my friend while her husband did it :)

"until I've decided to keep you, YOU feed ME, not vice versa." - LOL!!

And I second what "healthily sanguine" said, think how happy some boring girl will be some day that you let that boring guy go ;)

Recently engaged said...

As a matter of fact, I am engaged to a wonderful man with whom I have an amazing connection and we don't know which hall to book! The one I really like is booked solid for the next two years. Oh well. We do know that we'll marry at the church where we met :)

Catholic Pen said...

I have been dating a wonderful NCB for almost 8 months. Many times I have thought to myself that is a a gift to me-I hope we do get married, but regardless I thank God that I met him. PS I am in my 30s and he seemed to come out of nowhere- I knew lots of NCBs but none were for me. I think like Seraphic said, we weren't ready when we were younger and God has been shaping us to a point where we would be...

Med School Girl said...

I praise the wonderful male physicians I work with everyday. Their dedication to patient care, honesty, ethical practice, and balance between work and family commitments is admirable!

Tess said...

There are many good men to be praised, including my dad, numerous priests and my guy friends from college. To list a few specific examples:

Tonight one of my guy friends took the metro home with me after a party so I wouldn't have to come home late at night by myself, even though this entailed a later night and the cost of two metro rides for him.

One of my guy friends in college used to hook up with girls, but once I explained the effects of oxytocin to him and made it clear that hooking up with girls was hurting them (something he hadn't thought about before), he completely reformed his ways and went out of his way to avoid tempting situations in the future. It's now been over two years and he hasn't hooked up once since we had that conversation, plus he's developed a life of prayer that he didn't have before. I'm very proud of him.

Auntie Seraphic, there is one thing I'm wondering about. You mentioned how you and B.A. are both "very flirty people." Can you do a post on flirting? Because I really struggle with it. I have 5 sisters and went to all-girls' school so I always found boys rather scary, and honestly I still do, even though I'm a working adult now. Over time, by watching my popular friends and reading many books and articles on the subject, I've taught myself to flirt (which in my mind means being sassy and clever instead of sweet and quiet and shy and deadly terrified). But although I've learned how to do it (somewhat), I find it hard to do, requiring so much more thought and effort than just being sweet and serious. This all might sound silly if flirting comes naturally to you, but for me it is a real struggle and takes courage to do. Would you mind writing about it a little bit and giving some tips for how to actually enjoy flirting?

Seraphic said...

Okay, Tess. I will think about it. And I will have to think a lot because I couldn't flirt when I was younger. No clue. No clue at all. It definitely takes some confidence and practise, and I'm 40, so I've had a lot of time.

It used to be that flirts were almost universally looked down on, as in "oh, she's such a flirt", and still some flirty types come across as insincere, and of course they are (it's in the nature of flirtation). I don't think there's anything wrong with being sweet and serious. However, flirting comes across as friendly, especially when the person you are flirting with knows the conversation is (probably) just a kind of friendly game.

Thanks for all the great men stories! I had a good laugh about the 2-year booked hall.

berenike said...

About the hall: get a dispensation for the reception, and marry on a Friday.

Are Sundays not on for weddings?