Well, I'm still married. Somebody won a bet that I'd actually make it to the altar. The bookies took a bath on me. Hard to believe, but it's been almost two years already, and I would like to tackle this whole single thing from the other side of the fence. I'm not exactly above it all, but I am at a certain remove. Getting married makes you more objective. I'm finally in a position to give advice, as if it ever stopped me from trying to in the past. I'm Dr. Laura without a portfolio.
I've had a few encounters with the maritally challenged lately, and each one seems to represent a certain "type."
I asked one young lady about her social life and she said she wasn't seeing anyone special. That sounded bad. It sounded so -- very not special. I think I used to date Mr. Not Special's sister. My wife immediately leapt into the "who do we know for you?" game. She reached into her hat and pulled out a guy who was perfect except that he's not Jewish, he's into Asian girls and we think he's gay. Otherwise, he's perfect. Newsflash, honey: All the good ones are taken. Next patient.
My cousin, the playboy, complained that he was dating three or four women, including a model. When you're married, this sounds like a good problem to have. His complaint was that he was looking for something more. I said that five women would be more -- mostly more headaches. Hard to believe, but he thinks I'm an inspirational success story, "overcoming" the "handicap" of singledom. I never thought of it this way, but being single is something about which we can say, "This too shall pass."
I told him what he needed to hear: "You're not ready for anything more. Not yet. For now you should really, really enjoy this time. Then, when you are ready to stop monkeying around with the mannequins, find a nice Jewish girl and settle down."
Meanwhile, across town, we have another friend who's celebrating (if you can call it that) his 50th birthday. He's never been married and we all agree that his résumé would be much more socially acceptable if he were simply divorced than still, horribly single. He is dating a lovely, compatible woman who also happens to be very, very non-Jewish. It should come as no surprise that a 50-year-old single guy has a teensy problem with commitment, but he's thinking of asking her to convert to Judaism. He can't commit to a set of matching towels. I told him the obvious: "Jewish isn't everything."
Then there's the guy whose girlfriend lies to him, she cheats on him, hell, she lives with another guy. Yet he holds out hope. This particular breed of love is blind, deaf and dumb. Real dumb. I used to date Miss Very Wrong's sister, too. Everyone tiptoed around him, but I told him the obvious: "You should dump her like a hot potato and find out what's the matter with you. Barring the possibility of a trick pelvis, I should wonder why you'd want her at all. If, somehow, this girl, whose name might actually be 'Trouble,' should leave the other guy for you, I hope you'll remember how she got there."
Interestingly, this guy's problem wasn't her infidelity; it was a fight they'd gotten into about some other nonsense. My wife and I might fight about nonsense from time to time, but we're not going to break up over it. One way or another, we're going to deal with it, even if we choose to deal with it by ignoring it and just moving on. Of course, if I found out she was living with another guy, that might be different.
Lastly, there was the recently dumped. My wife works with a lovely young lady who was distraught over her breakup with a yearlong boyfriend. I did feel her pain but, really, such histrionics over someone who she'll barely recognize in a couple of years? Mr. Not Quite is a first cousin to Mr. Not Special. I told her two things: "One, this ain't necessarily over yet; two, you can do better."
Fighting back the tears she asked how I knew this.
"Human nature," I said.
Now, I'm happy to report she's happily engaged to someone better. Why doesn't anyone ever listen to me?
One nice thing about being married is that none of this stuff bothers me anymore. Hearing about my friends' single life is like watching an old home movie. We went out to dinner the other night and sat next to a couple that was billing and cooing. They looked pretty happy just getting to know each other. When we went outside they were kissing in the parking lot. The grass under their feet looked pretty green for a minute.
"Oh, look honey! Remember that?"
J.D. Smith's new book "The Best Cellar" will be published by Bonus Books in March. You can find him online at www.thebestcellar.com.