15 February 2005

Wael's Reply to the Valentine's Post

And here's a very thoughtful response about yesterday's post from my ex-boyfriend. Okay, I know I wrote that as if I only have one ex-boyfriend, but writing "one of my ex-boyfriends" sounds like I have a collection, and my mom reads this. That said, she'll be wondering why I let this one get away. . .


You are right. I'm NOT convinced. Sure, there might be the rare woman who is happy on her own, the rare Katherine Hepburn (who commented, "If you want to sacrifice the admiration of many men for the criticism of one, go ahead, get married.")

But in general we human beings crave the deep union with another mind that only a good marriage can approximate. We are so fundamentally isolated in this world - we exist only in our own heads, with our own thoughts - and I think this is both the essential condition and defining trauma of our lives. We're so limited. We're social creatures but locked into our own skulls. We are intensely curious but hemmed in by five pathetically weak senses (and others that we have no clue how to use). We want to leave an imprint on the world, a lasting legacy, but for all our advances we are still cut short by the Biblical threescore and ten years. Our spirits are much bigger than our messy little bodies.

I think these maladies of existence can be partially addressed through prayer, meditation, whirling dervishism or music… but only partly. We need to understand and be understood, and the closest we can come is to find one other person willing to make this awesome commitment to stand next to us for life, and so to see what we see, know what we know, tend to us when we've got the flu, cheer when we hoist a trophy, be hungry with us when we're poor, and help us laugh at our own stupidities. And let's not forget that genetic drive to procreate. Marriage is "the dawn of romance and the commencement of history," and I mean that in a serious way.

There are six billion human beings out there whose lives you'll never know, but through marriage you get an insight into one other mind, and that's the closest you'll come to not being alone.

Besides, no man wants to believe that when he finds the right woman, and he's ready to settle down and leave his biological legacy, that she might say, "No thanks, I'm good." Every guy thinks that the right woman will naturally see her future in him, and if she's not sure then she'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

As Gloria Steinem said, "Someone once asked me why women don't gamble as much as men do and I gave the commonsensical reply that we don't have as much money. That was a true but incomplete answer. In fact, women's total instinct for gambling is satisfied by marriage."

We guys all want to think you'll gamble on us.


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