October 11, 2001
Do It for Your Country
It's over. Being single is officially over. When The New York Times Sunday Style section, the definitive arbiter of all that is cool and urbane, runs a cover story saying it's over (above the fold!), you know it's over. When the venerable Gray Lady concedes that the "glamour of living alone in a city of ambition feels dulled," you can start singing "Kaddish" for the swinging-singles set. "Sex and the City"? O-v-e-r. The people have spoken, and they said, "You had a good run, but we don't want to hear about it anymore."
Suddenly everything seems more important, more resonant, more serious. Being single has lost its edge and been exposed for what it is sometimes: alone, lonely and a little frightened. The stakes just got higher all over the world, including how we deal with each other in the romantic arena. This isn't just your mother nagging or your friends needling. This isn't just a wake-up call for some starry-eyed Marines tying the knot before getting shipped overseas. This is a mandate, a national directive with the force of law, like the Treaty of Versailles setting forth the terms of surrender. Singles henceforth shall become doubles.
If I'm reading this right, being single in the new world order is borderline un-American. You have a responsibility to "encouple" or you might as well go into hiding with the Taliban. If you ask what you can do for your country, the short answer might be: Stop fooling around already and settle down!
I went to the car wash the other day, in search of an inexpensive, yet resoundingly life-affirming experience. (Note: bin Laden hates the ice-cream man, which provides a lot of life-affirming bang for the buck; and the seventh-inning stretch, which comes free with your paid admission to the ballpark.) There I saw a book titled "Even God Is Single, So Stop Giving Me Such a Hard Time," by Karen Salmonsohn. It answers, once and for all time, the age-old question: "Why aren't you married?" by pointing out that even Hitler got married, so maybe it's not such a hot idea after all. The book jacket promises a philosophy of why it's better to hold out for a soul mate instead of settling for a cellmate.
In a word, Karen: Wrong. That was then, this is now. Again, I have to defer to The Times: "Changing values could lead the single New Yorkers to reprioritize the rigid criteria they apply to selecting a mate." "Crowning our good in brotherhood," one single woman said, "Maybe we'll learn to take each other, warts and all."
Matchmaking services are seeing a spike in business, and some people are reassessing their past relationships. You can almost hear the post-apocalyptic second-guessing: "Could we have made it work?" "You know, on second thought, balding men are kind of sexy!" "I never noticed, but she really does have a good personality!"
At least one guy in The Times story had another take on the response to the disaster. He said, "People are being a lot more generous with each other than we might have been." Is this the dawning of the new Age of Aquarius?
Much as I hate the thought of people trying to turn the tragedy into personal gain, it is the American way, after all. Even my dry cleaner is literally wrapping his product in the stars and stripes. I don't know if this act plays in Los Angeles, and perhaps one should ask if it's ethical to use a national crisis to get some nooky, but people are hooking up for the good of the country -- even if it's just in order to let off a little stress together.
If there's a theme to all this, it could be: Enjoy yourself -- it's later than you think.
J.D. Smith is raising the flag @ www.lifesentence.net.