January 16, 2003
Off the Market
Hello again. I've been away for a while. For those of you who actually follow this space (Hi Mom!), thanks for your kind words -- I've missed you, too.
Nothing personal, but I've been busy, OK? For one thing, I started a new business and it takes a lot of my time. (Let me tell you, going straight ain't all it's cracked up to be. This "work" stuff is way overrated.)
Secondly, I've been busy seeing my girlfriend, Alison, for one year. The other day, as part of my new job, I had to fill out a form at the bank, and, as I have done all my life, for "marital status," I checked "single"; the other choices were "married," "divorced" and "widowed." I think they ought to have another box marked "other," or "off the market," for people like me.
Alison and I are not married, but, in some ways, we might as well be.
My friend, Lambert, says living with his girlfriend is like having the worst of both worlds: He doesn't get any tax benefits of sharing his domicile with a woman, and he can't bring anyone else home from a date. I'm pretty sure his live-in gal pal would notice. Susan is very astute that way. There's no chance that having three in the bed would go uncommented upon.
The biggest advantage of being "off the market" is that you have a reasonably good chance of landing a New Year's Eve date.
The other day, my mother asked me if I was seeing anyone else. In the tradition of the Jewish people, I answered her question with a question: "Who has time?" Alison and I see each other five nights a week, and I like to putter around the other two, or do stuff she doesn't enjoy, like making a mess, eating Chinese food and binge drinking.
No, Mom, I'm not seeing anyone else. For better or worse, my cheating days are over. Honest. I've had it. I don't have the energy for it. Besides which -- and this doesn't make me a good person -- I know I'd just get caught.
But it's hard to change a lifetime of behavior patterns. I don't necessarily look at other women, but I can't help seeing them. Now when Cindy Crawford sits down at the next table, my response is, "What elephant?"
Occasionally, when we are out somewhere, Alison will test me with a seemingly innocent question: "Oh, don't you think she's attractive?" I don't take the bait. I don't think anyone else is attractive -- except Michele Pfeiffer. This is a strategy my father taught me -- you pick one woman whose great beauty is beyond question, and you hold her out as the only woman in the world who you think is attractive. In order, it's Michele Pfeiffer, then Alison, then everyone else. Everyone else is just OK. Everyone else is hinky-dinky.
It's not that I don't have any more pithy observations about single life left to share with you good people. I do. I have heaping gobs of pithy observations stored up. I could do 800 words easy on "How to Use Your Girlfriend as an Alibi," or "The 'What Should I Wear?' Syndrome." The problem, such as it is, is that Alison and I have moved into a whole new thing. We're not fit for the singles column anymore. We ought to call this the "doubles" column. As it stands, almost anything I would opine ad hysterium about could come back to bite me on the ass.
I have hit the wall of diminishing returns. Everything I say can be used against me. I thought about a column titled "Meet the Parents." That would be a hoot, except that no one comes out unscathed in these stories, and the parents in question could be my future-in-laws. You can see how a snide comment like, "Now I've got two families I'm trying to avoid during the holidays" is not going to help me. These people have long memories.
I'm not so completely secure in this relationship that I'm going to hold their feet to the fire -- in a very pithy way of course -- in print. Philip Roth could, but I don't have the stomach for it. If we've learned anything from Watergate, it is not to leave a paper trail.
My fan club is now down to a gang of one, who just happened to have been my New Year's Eve date. Despite everything I've said and written, and everything we know about me, she still likes me, and I want to keep it that way. So, for the time being, it looks like I'm out of a job. Â
J.D. Smith is off the market at www.lifesentence.net