It turns out I have less than a year to get married. Otherwise I will be single and 35, apparently the age I get officially labeled a "male spinster." And by that I mean: you're probably married and I don't like you. But we'll get there in a bit.
When we're young, everybody knows they'll find "the one." Plenty of time for the inevitability of locating our soulmate. And in spite of ourselves, many do just that. But, some of us wake up to to another daily confirmation: yup, here I am, stumbling through my fourth decade, as single as they come.
That wasn't supposed to happen, was it? I'd always understood that anybody not married by now must have some fundamental problem. We're a social animal. Our preferred state is one of blissful coupling. Coupling, anyway.
Young and idealistic, we don't hope, we expect to meet our match. Happily ever after was once nothing more than a simple matter of time. A time beginning well before the middle-age of 35 years that I curiously approach.
So reality bites, and search criteria for the bitter demographic transitions to good enough. We lower the bar, and hope our counterparts will, too. We let go of the juvenile fantasy and fallacy that there must be a better half somewhere, waiting for us, and we start to fear the other possibility: What if we never find that person? Fine, there's somebody for everybody, but what if we were at home sick on the day of fate's appointment for our romantic destiny?
Remember the adorable gregarious girl you always pictured settling down with? Or that brilliant guy with the great job who would treat you like a princess forever? You know what happened to those two people, don't you? That's right, they met each other and have been happily married for some time now.
And then there are the sad hangers on. We're the people at the grocery store 12 hours before the hurricane hits, staring blankly at what remains on the shelves while the angry clocks tick down. Sorry, but with these slim pickings you might just want to settle for the single father who can't hold a job and probably drinks a little too often; but he's sorta cute in his own way, and he does treat you real nice. Or the ditzy girl who's addicted to Wheel of Fortune and Diet Coke and has never owned a passport or library card in her life, but it feels like she understands you, and she sure can cook. It's time to face facts, and this might be as good as it gets. We are not an up-and-coming 20-something. They're all down escalators now.
That Facebook meme you first posted three years ago, the one declaring your determination to wait for the storybook romance you deserve, and never settle for anything less than everything? Time to reevaluate, huh?
In my own three-plus decades I have been in precisely zero serious relationships. Oddsmakers have me a hefty favorite to cross that 35-year threshold alone. And the Vegas line on 40 years doesn't look much better.
But have you taken a hard look at us all, specifically some of the people who are married? Really? I don't blame them. I just don't like them. I will absolutely accept my status as a deeply-flawed individual, but... no more so than most of those roaming the streets wearing wedding rings.
I know my physical appearance isn't particularly helping the cause, but there are plenty of married people less attractive than me. I realize that my personality alone will forever preclude me from being a "chick magnet," but I swear it's not that hard to find a married person more defective than I am. Believe me, I get that I don't score well on anybody's "coolness" scale, but again, there must be lots of married people who are more socially awkward than myself, even if my sole sense of purpose or amusement in life comes from maintaining a daily necktie blog. I understand the unfortunate but absolute fact of life that money makes a man a lot more desirable, and most men I know earn more of it than I do. But compare my salary with the median income in this country, and statistics seem to suggest I take home more than many married men.
What I'm getting at, is I swear I should fall firmly into that "good enough"-category of American mediocrity. And yet I am clearly doing something very wrong. But I stubbornly refuse to give up on myself. I continue to broadcast the mating call of the loser; I maintain my online dating profile. I also spend more Saturday nights than I care to admit in my apartment subscribing to YouTube channels, shopping for argyle socks on eBay and drinking cans of Miller Lite.
And I cautiously ponder how, even if I did ever have a chance, that ship has probably sailed. And somewhere my chance is now married with a couple of some other guy's kids. Meanwhile I wake up each morning, just a little bit older and a little bit worse.
Redemption is a silly word. Besides, even the author of The Giving Tree said there are no happy endings.
Next May I will acknowledge my 35th birthday.
"In fact, women have a new term for these men: they are not playboys, they are 'male spinsters' -- a moniker that implies at best that these men have 'issues' and at worst that they are sociopaths."