Thursday, 28 November 2013

Clever as the Serpent, Mild as the Dove

Girls! It has come to my ears that some of you are still running amok, freaking out because you are not married, kissing the wrong men every Saturday night and generally being unseraphic. What is this nonsense? Do you not realize that I have worn the letters off the keys of my laptop in my concern for you? (B.A. cannot use it anymore, and I don't remember what letter is beside the G. Thank heavens for touch-typing muscle memory.)

Why, I ask, why are you so worried about your God-given Single state? And when will you come to the conclusion that running amok does not telegraph "winsomely marriageable" to the already marriage-shy bachelors of your land?

I am particularly annoyed by the making out with the wrong men every Saturday night thing. In churchy circles, where any kind of extramarital sexual behaviour is noted and discussed, this is fatal. Besides, it puts you at an extreme disadvantage, for although making out can make you feel attached to a guy, thanks to your female chemistry, it does not necessarily make a guy feel attached to you. Occasionally I get updates from a kissing bandit, and although he does not condemn his partners in snogging, he doesn't exactly praise them to the skies. Apparently there are girls he snogs and girls he worships as goddesses, and they are never the same girls. I am unsure as to whether he ever snogs the same snoggess more than once, but I suspect not.

When I think over the many women I know who have married, who I see are women getting on with life and behaving with calm and dignity, whatever they may have felt like inside. Well, maybe not my future mother and her pal waddling down Sussex Avenue in a jokey imitation of the heavily pregnant while my future father looked out the window and wondered what on earth they were doing. But definitely the women not related to me.

Intentional! You must be intentional! This means paying strict attention to what you are like in public and reining in your irrational impulses to weep because you have just discovered that your elementary school sweetheart, whom you have not seen in a decade, has been married for two years.

Making out with a man on the first date, or within two hours of meeting him, is akin to making out with a man from your job interview panel. He might be delighted, but you're so not getting the job. And it is as irrational to weep over the marriage of your long forgotten childhood sweetheart as it is to weep over the news that some other woman got the job you wanted so badly ten years ago.

For most of us, marriage is more optional than work, in that we need to work, not to get married, to live. And therefore we tend to listen to lectures about professionalism and get advice on our resumes and how to behave during a job interview. We are less likely nowadays to listen to what older women say about presenting ourselves as marriageable. It took jet lag for me to understand how devastatingly attractive men find it to be able to talk without constant female interruption.

I remember a rather fussy male teacher warning a thirteen year old classmate of mine named Kathleen that if she kept dressing like a punker, she was going to attract only punk rock kind of guys. And Kathleen, instead of moping, cheerily said that was great because she loved punk guys.

Mr Fussy was struck dumb, but I am grateful to him for his insight. If you dress and act according to a certain set of cultural values, you are going to attract the men most in tune with those cultural values. If you dress head to toe in vintage 1940s wear, you are going to attract men who are similarly slavish about vintage. If you act like a respectable woman from 1890, you are going attract those men who behave as though it were 1890 (which is great unless you enjoy voting). If you dress and act like the Duchess of Cambridge (that is, H.R.H. Kate), you are going to attract ambitious men who fancy themselves princes (future kings of industry, perhaps) in search of a princess. If you join the army, you'll probably marry a soldier. And if you behave inconsistently, making out on Saturday night and going to Mass on Sunday, you are going to attract similarly inconsistent men.

Pick who you want to be--the you who seems the most natural fit, the you God is calling you to be--and stick to the path. Stick to it calmly, deliberately and rationally. Pay attention to the impression you are making on others, and choose kindness over attention-seeking. Acknowledge your feelings, but govern them. Few men intentionally set out to marry a drama queen.

End of sermon.

Meanwhile, it's American Thanksgiving, so spare a thought for the American Singles in the bosoms of their families. Hopefully your fellow readers are looking forward avidly to their relations' personal remarks, each reference to their Single state worth a delicious point. I am dying to see how the bingo cards work out, too.


Sunnysaffer said...

I have been thinking today about how the way I live my life may be impacting my attractiveness to the sort of man I would like to marry. I possibly have an opportunity to work in Tunisia for two years (on a 6 weeks away 2 weeks home rotation) and my first reaction was to jump at the chance. I love the challenge of working and living in a different country especially one with a very different culture and there are of course financial rewards. But then I thought about the NCB with whom I have a (first) date next weekend. What would he think about a woman who is prepared to up sticks and live abroad for two years? The point I am trying to make is I sometimes find it difficult to balance living Seraphically as a single and assuming I will always be single and acting in a way that would be attractive to NCBs who want to settle down and have a family.

Seraphic said...

He might find her very adventurous and fun. When you say 2 weeks home, you mean home in your mutual town, yes?

Seraphic said...

Do you really want to marry a NCB who wants to "settle down" and have a family or do you want to marry a NCB who would love to travel about and have a family?

Stellamaris said...

Hmm, well, to counteract the disappointment of whatever just came to your ears, I have been unusually seraphic the last few weeks. I don't know why. One evening (it was a Wednesday) I was doing my dishes and thinking about school and work and possibly changing apartments when I had a sudden thought: "Hmm,maybe it's no big deal if I never marry." Obviously, I've been telling myself that for ages to calm my single qualms, but it is totally new to have that thought spontaneously, without any bitterness or resentment attached, but rather with a bit of curiosity and, yes, even anticipation. I've been feeling eager to see how my life will turn out instead of anxious. Big change! You are not wearing out your keyboard in vain! (Incidentally, it's FGH if you want to relabel them.)
Who is this kissing bandit and why have you not whacked him up the side of the head yet???

Seraphic said...

Was it the feast of St. Jude? Because the same thing happened to me when I was washing dishes on the Feast of St. Jude. Congratulations! It was such a marvellous, freeing feeling.

The kissing bandit is far from my reach, and it wouldn't do any earthly good anyway. If he sat in some park, some girl would just come up to him and start snogging. At least, that's how he makes it sound like.

Sunnysaffer said...


Well we aren't quite in the same town, but yes two weeks close enough to see each other frequently.

You also asked "Do you really want to marry a NCB who wants to "settle down" and have a family or do you want to marry a NCB who would love to travel about and have a family?"

Hmmm....I guess the problem is would he just be coming along wherever my work takes me and then trying to find a job there for himself? That I think is asking a lot of a man! Honestly I would be very happy to settle down in one place if I were married with a family. It is only as I am single that I enjoy taking up these opportunities to travel with work.

Caelaeno said...

I actually find the idea that your kissing bandit worships some girls as goddesses kind of off putting. How very uncomfortable for them. Have you discussed his Madonna-whore complex with him?

Shiraz said...

This made me laugh out loud: "If you act like a respectable woman from 1890, you are going attract those men who behave as though it were 1890 (which is great unless you enjoy voting)."


Yours gleefully, etc.

Seraphic said...

I don't think he would ever call any girl a whore, actually. He's a thoroughly nice chap. He just doesn't seem to be that romantically interested in the snoggesses. And I can see why if they just start snogging him before the first date or whatever. Truly bad psychology. Perhaps I was unfair when I called him a kissing bandit because, indeed, it does sound like he is usually just sitting there, minding his own business.

There's no point getting steamed because men are not that thrilled by girls who are so free with their kisses. Anyone's great-grandmother could have told you that.

Incidentally, B.A. and I were just in a KFC in downtown Edinburgh and we had to flee, not only because the teenage harridans were sexually harassing B.A. and other men there but because they were throwing food around. They were in dirty tracksuits and dirty canvas shoes, and I thought perhaps they were homeless, but B.A. says not. I have never seen such behaviour in teenage girls in all my life. I couldn't understand what they were saying, but B.A. told me afterwards and I had to laugh because it was soooo bad. I mean, I have literally never heard women use language like that in my whole life.

Julia said...

"I have literally never heard women use language like that in my whole life. "

I bet I have.

HappyToBeHere said...

I'm with Shiraz - one of your best lines yet.

And this is the sermon to end all sermons.

Caelaeno said...

The point wasn't that he may or may not use the word "whore"--that's just part of the term--it's that I interpreted what you said to mean he only respected women that he hadn't kissed. That would be, well, kind of a problem in my book. Not a huge fan of women being defined by these two, mutually exclusive, sexual identities.

Of course, I don't know him and you do, and you say he's a decent person, which presumably means that he thinks of women as people rather than goddesses and COOTIE MONSTERS. =) I'm sorry for misinterpreting.

Seraphic said...

Without examining the man's very soul, I think he divides women into nice girls, WONDERFUL girls, crazy girls (including the mad snoggesses), kindly older women, living saints and harridans.

My point is that men don't necessarily feel attached to you after kissing, whereas the women may certainly feel more attached to them. I remember... Er, never mind. Let's just say I am sure I remember stuff someone you might think would remember the same stuff has long since forgotten.

MaryJane said...

I am puzzled by this man. If he is a nice man, why does he not say no to the snogesses who throw themselves upon him? Particularly if he doesn't really like them very much? I do realize that men have a bit of a difficult time saying no to a free snog (though women may, also!) but if he's such a decent guy, why doesn't he put a stop to it? Is he just still very young?

(I don't know if the tone is coming off just right - I mean it as a question question, not a judgy question.)

Sheila said...

Funny thing -- I was watching The Dog Whisperer the other night (a reality show) and the dog trainer was explaining how a lot of female dog owners have it backwards. They shower the dog with love and affection first, and then wonder why he doesn't behave. Instead, he said you have to get the dog to do something for you (sit, or do a trick or whatever) and THEN give the dog affection.

Then he adds, "Boyfriends are the same. You can't get them to behave by being affectionate. The affection is a reward when they are good."

At first that made me kind of mad, because I feel that men should just behave well because they are good people and not need to be manipulated. But it is true that men behave better when they're trying to impress a woman rather than when they think they've got her. Women, on the other hand, are more attached after than before.

I wouldn't slavishly abide by this, but I think it may be a good insight all the same.

Seraphic said...

Well, you know, I think some men are just very alarmed by women. Others think it is perhaps rude not to give into their charms, as long as it does not go too far. Not everyone is as strict as me and whichever pope it was who ruled that premarital making out was a serious sin. If it is utterly harmless to make out with one's girlfriend, the reasoning (not mine) would go then surely it is utterly harmless to make out with this crazy if flattering girl who, being female, has her attractions. La dee dah.

PolishTraveler said...

Sunnysaffer - I actually have a similar dilemma to yours, except that mine involves perhaps moving to a different country for a few years in about 6 months down the road. It's hard to live your life and make decisions you think are best for you professionally, personally, and emotionally, when there are so many unknowns!

I think your situation might work though - seeing as you could see the NCB every six weeks or so, and if you really hit it off and liked each other, perhaps you could transition to something where you would spend more time where the NCB is rather than in Tunisia? I suppose it would depend on how flexible your company was, but hopefully they would be understanding if say in a year's time you indicated the constant travel was too much for you. And I can imagine passing up such an opportunity to do something you love - travel - would put a lot of pressure onto having things work out with the NCB, which you have no guarantee of.

Sorry if I'm rambling - I've been a sort of rolling stone all my life so I often have these internal debates with myself. If it is in your nature to be a wanderer though, would it be fair to assume that you could just cut that out with no pain and settle down somewhere? I feel like the NCB should at least know that it's been/is a huge part of your life and something you enjoy.

Sunnysaffer said...

PolishTraveler, thanks for your thoughts on my situation. I do agree with what you say. If it goes well, we will make it work somehow.

I have spoken of my previous experiences working abroad so my NCB is well aware of this. I don't however think of myself as a wanderer by nature. I have just tried to make the most of the time I have had as a single person. Seemed like the 'Seraphic' thing to do!

As far as your situation goes, I found it very difficult when I moved to a new country as the initial period when you know so few people can be very lonely. I think one needs to be in a good place emotionally to handle this.

FertilityAwarenessFan said...

I meant to comment a couple of weeks ago in response to the post on the reader who has her first boyfriend, and maybe this applies to your concern about your readers. I'd second the idea of learning about your fertility, and I wonder if you'd be interested in exploring the idea of getting to know your natural cycle to avoid near occasions of sin. I used to wonder why I was so inconsistent when it came to resisting making out, feeling virtuous some of the time and like a total failure other times, until I realized that it was often (though not always) toughest during a certain week a month. Obviously this is not to say that our hormones control us, but I think self-awareness is power and we can help ourselves, for instance, by planning dates in public when we know we're most vulnerable to temptation.

And on an unrelated note, I stumbled across this and thought you might appreciate seeing a picture of your book:

Jackie said...

Seraphic, I found your second-to-last paragraph fantastic! Simply fantastic! Thank you!

Could you clarify something for a non-Brit? You say that if you act like the Duchess of Cambridge you will attract those who are princes of men. Yet according to what I've read, the then-Kate Middleton caught Prince William's eye by wearing a see-through dress at a fashion show and proceeded to start living with him from college onward for the next decade or so. Is this correct?

I absolutely admire the Duchess's poise, especially under the scrutiny of the British press. Not to mention her fashion sense! I just can't support the idea of living together while you wait and wait for a proposal, though.

Jam said...

Oh yes Seraphic do tell us where you stand on see-through dresses :P

Julia said...

Jackie, that occurred to me too lol

Seraphic said...

What do you all mean?!?1?! I personally wore a see-through dress on my way to meet B.A. Of course, it was a bit uncomfortable to get all those stares on the plane, and then on the bus to London's Victoria Station, and then on the hideously long bus ride to Edinburgh, with Polish people making what I assumed were rude comments in Polish, but at last I arrived in my now somewhat creased see-through dress, and it was all worth it.

Seriously, though, I mean the Duchess of Cambridge NOW. And when I say princes, I don't literally mean princes, I mean men on their way up looking for classy broads to come with them.

Incidentally, Prince William may have sat up and taken notice because a girl at a charity fashion show wore a strikingly noticeable dress, but if she were the kind of girl who dressed like that all the time, there is no way they'd be married now.

As for that whole living-together thing, naturally I don't approve but that's what their generation of not-particularly-religious Brits tend to do before they marry. It's not like they were Catholic--unlike the apostate Autumn Kelly who gave up her ancient faith, not to marry the son of Princess Anne, but so her husband would still be in his distant position in line for the throne, and I wonder what she thinks when she hears about the Catholic martyrs of the Reformation who died in agony rather than give up the faith.


Anyway, stop fussing because poor old Kate stayed in relationship limbo for years (at one point she quit, incidentally) and just look at how she dresses now as the Duchess of Cambridge.

PolishTraveler said...

Sunnysaffer, fingers crossed! I hope your situation goes well, both with work and with the NCB :)

I agree moving to a new country is very daunting - I've done it a couple of times, because I love to travel and get to know new cultures/people/languages and I've always thought, like you, that it is making the most of my singleness and freedom. This new job would be somewhere where I've already lived/worked previously, but they'd have to create a new position for me and I'm not sure I'd want them to do that if things go well with a certain NCB I've just started seeing... which leaves me with pretty much the same dilemma as you.

Seraphic, do you have any advice on how to handle such a situation? I know we should be rooted in reality and not making plans based on nebulous first dates - but at the same time, maybe that should factor into professional decisions somehow? How do you think someone with a tendency to be a rolling stone can work out a budding relationship with an NCB?

Seraphic said...

To tell you the truth, I think rolling-stonism is the number one reason why there are now so many Singles in Poland (and Single Poles in Britain). I am not convinced it is a tragedy that there are so many Singles now in Poland, as long as they are living useful lives in communion with the church and not preventing some second person from getting married.

The way to get around rolling stonism, if you adore travel, is to have a place where you always remain, e.g. a popular blog.