November 13, 2003
The Guy Clock
Ryan and I did the L.A. supercasual thing for six or seven months. When I tried to rev up our relationship from supercasual to just plain casual, he freaked. I'm talking full-on, take-it-to-Dr. Phil meltdown:
"I haven't dated enough women."
"I haven't seen enough of the world."
"I haven't seen enough of the world's women."
"I'm too busy with work."
"I don't have time for anything serious."
"I'm not ready for a commitment."
Ry got engaged to the next girl he dated. Just the word commitment scared the tzitzit off this boy, and now he's registering for sage bath towels. When he called to spring the good news, I asked him why I got the brush-off and she got the rock.
"What was wrong with me?"
"Carin, you weren't wrong. You were early."
I should have overslept.
"Seriously, Car, it had nothing to do with you. It's timing. I was so not ready then. Now, I'm ready. And this chick Lisa's pretty cool, so I just figured...."
So he "just figured?" Funny thing is I never would have headed to the chuppah with Ryan. He wasn't the fireworks in my head, stars in my eyes, stop, drop and roll one for me. But for Ryan, it wasn't about chemistry, it was about timing. In addition to getting engaged, Ry recently got promoted, bought a house and turned 30. And while girls wait to settle down until they meet Mr. Right, guys wait to settle down until it's the right time.
So when is the right time? When does a Jewish boy become a man? Technically -- his bar mitzvah. Realistically? It takes more than a Torah portion, a Men's Wearhouse suit and an $18 check from Aunt Pearl to make a guy feel like a man. It takes success, stability and accomplishment. So take a guy's bar mitzvah date, add 20 years, then subtract six months for every year he's been out of grad school, owned a house or felt good about his job; add three months for every year he spent in debt, worked in a cubicle or slept on a futon; subtract two months for completing a marathon; add one year for every major career change; add three years if he still does laundry at his mom's; and add 20 minutes for Jewish Standard Time. So, he'll be ready about a year and half after you've given up on him.
Your biological clock ticks faster than his sociological clock. And there's no speeding up his second hand. You can't convince him to commit. You can't persuade him to propose. If Peter Pan feels he sacrificed his career, his fun or his freedom for you, it will haunt your relationship for anniversaries to come.
"Well, Carin, I was going to take out the garbage last night like you asked me to, but I didn't date enough women before we met."
"What? That doesn't make any sense."
"Exactly, settling down with you too soon didn't make any sense either."
And so we women wait. And wait. And like Cubs fans, we're still waiting.
But for how long? At what point does a guy stop getting his life in order and start making his life happen? Carpe diem, guys. Seize the day! Seize the moment! Or just seize the chick! To be in a successful relationship, you don't have to have all of your ducks in a row. You just have to know that you're striving for a row or that you're looking for some ducks or that you've found a good egg. It's OK if you haven't reached all of your goals; you just need to have goals. And be passionate about them. And, of course, be passionate about the girl.
C'mon boys, it's time to make the donuts. Don't put off dating that girl until you've earned a corner office, trekked through Nepal and won a triathlon. Celebrate the promotion with your girlfriend, climb the Himalayas with your fiancée or get sweaty with your wife. Forget about the right time, it's go time!
We all have times in our lives when we want to focus on ourselves, our careers and our ambitions. I know because I'm a type-A overachiever who has her eyes on the prize. I'm also a one-of-a-kind babe who doesn't understand why the right woman can't inspire a man to settle down, even if it's the wrong time. Or why a man would marry the good-enough girl he happens to be dating at the right time. Maybe "pretty cool" Lisa is good enough for Ryan, but when it comes to marriage, "I just figured" isn't good enough for me. I'm not settling when I settle down.
I believe there's a Mr. Right. I believe I'll find him. And when I do, he'll have me at "shalom." Now, life isn't perfect and love doesn't check my schedule. So I might not meet my man in the right place or at the right time, but if he's the right guy, I'll figure it out. Which most likely means -- hold on -- 13 plus 20, minus 12 months, plus nine months, plus two years, plus three years, plus 20 minutes -- it means he'll keep me waiting for years. And men think women take a long time getting ready....
Carin Davis, a freelance writer, can be reached at email@example.com.