Monday, June 27, 2005

I am happy. I am single. Now shut up.

Bridget Jones, in both her eponymous novel and movie, does a lot of complaining. She also does a lot of drinking and a lot of whining, but that interests me less.

One of Ms. Jones' favorite complaints is against Smug Marrieds, or those who have indulged in wedded bliss and can't stop demonstrating it to everyone on the planet, regardless of these people's interest level; Smug Marrieds also find it impossible to stop (vocally, publicly) wondering why everyone ELSE is not a Smug Married, because obviously something must be wrong with those who have not found their soulmate

I am having a similar problem, though Smug Marrieds do not exactly fit the bill. I am having issues with Smug Coupleds. Smug Coupleds are the young twentysomething equivalent of Smug Marrieds; usually, Smug Coupleds and Smug Uncoupleds alike regard young twentysomething Marrieds as a frightening species, doomed either to catastrophic failure in their marriages or an absolute removal from everything Smugs consider normal society, to be so wrapped up in each other that they are incapable of relating to anyone else.

But I digress. I was remarking that Smug Coupleds are, currently, making my life difficult. This difficulty has intensified since my return to East A-Hellhole this summer, of course, since there is the proverbial "so much to talk about!" with everyone I don't talk to all school year long.

Here is how it usually goes: I meet or see a Smug Coupled in a public venue - coffeeshop, restaurant, side of the road, whatever. The Smug Coupled will sometimes (though, to their partial credit, not always) wax poetic on the fabulous qualities of their CoCoupled. The Smug Coupled will then INEVITABLY (and necessarily, because this is part of what makes them Smug), question as to the nature of my love life. And then, also inevitably, when I tell them I am single, they will cast this absolutely gorgeous pitying look in my direction and say something along the lines of "don't worry, you'll find someone soon".

There are a few reasons why I find it difficult not to punch Smug Coupleds in the nose. The first is their very public inquiry into my very private affairs. I would like to make it clear that any Smug Coupleds I find it necessary to complain about are close enough to me such that, were I to find myself in a relationship, they would inevitably know. I'm not huge on the keeping-of-the-secrets, and I don't really care about keeping a meaningful and monogamous relationship a secret anyway. Why bother? Too much work. So the vast majority of Smug Coupleds are asking superfluous questions in the presence of people I don't really want hearing about the intimate details of my private life.

The second infuriating Smug Coupledness is that look - that pitying, "oh how horrible" look. It makes me want to launch into the following monologue:

"Oh Smug Coupled, I demand that you stop looking at me in that infuriating manner. I demand it because your look requires that I defend myself to you, in the manner I will now detail: 'I am happy. I am not looking for a boyfriend. I do not particularly care should I happen to find one, but for the time being I do not give a crap, which is infinitely preferable to the self-loathing spiral of negative thoughts in which you apparently think I am. Please allow me the respect of assuming that I am not a person whose entire self-worth depends on whether anyone wants to hold my hand in the mall.' Second, your look, and the feeling of pity that inevitably accompanies it, require that I defend myself against your assumptions by saying something resembling the above, which in turn makes it look like I feel the need to defend myself, which makes it look like I am insecure when I am not. I am happy. I am single. Now shut up."

Much, much worse than the Smug Coupled is the Smug Non-Virgin. (Grandpa, you might want to stop reading here). Of my circle of high school friends, there is a not-insignificant percentage of females who are still card-carrying members of the V-Club. There is nothing, nothing, NOTHING THAT MAKES ME ANGRIER than a non-virgin lording their status over a virgin.

I have a particular example: two best friends, one a virgin and one not. The non-virgin is continually making references to her presence of sexual activity (she is also, as you might have guessed, a Smug Coupled). Then, after these references, she will throw a comment to the virgin along the lines of "Don't worry, Non-Virgin, you'll have sex soon. Any time now."

As you might have already guessed, I have absolutely no strong stance on the waiting-for-marriage/true love/whatever debate. Have sex if you want. Don't have sex if you don't want. I don't care, though if you use protection I'll really appreciate it. I do, however, have a problem with the notion of fetishizing the act of sex itself - by which I mean socially fetishizing, creating clubs of virgins/non-virgins whose respective populations could not possibly understand the other's point of view. So, when a Non-Virgin chooses to walk up to a Virgin and characterize their virginity as a character flaw, some sort of obstacle, a goal they have so far failed to attain, that bothers me. It doesn't even matter if the Virgin herself has fetishized the act and is berating herself for not having performed it - that is no reason for dragging the entire issue out for public scrutiny and discussion. Your own sexual activity is or is not private, depending on your social proclivities; your friends' sexual activity is ABSOLUTELY private, until brought up by the friend themself with the intention of self-deprecation or -elevation.

Having sex for the first time at 14 is not, in and of itself, unhealthy. Having sex for the first time at 30 is not, in and of itself, unhealthy. The creation of obsession, of an entire self-image, around the time and manner of one's first (or many, really) sexual encounters is ABSOLUTELY unhealthy. Virginity or non-virginity, singledom or coupledom, is nothing more than one characteristic in the vast resume of a person's life, and I am really tired of them being conflated with notions of personal or social worth.

Bridget Jones is not the best-written novel I have ever read, but I must say that she hits Smug Marrieds smack on the (metaphorical) nose. If only she would widen the lens a bit, I'd have an entire world philosophy packed into 300 pages and approximately 10 pronouns.

(ha, ha, ha, Bridget, pronouns are not optional.)


Blogger Dante said...

while i shouldn't need another person in my life to make me happy, the lack of such does leave me lonely as all fuck.

and frankly, i'm fucking tired of being alone.

6/28/2005 12:11 PM  
Anonymous DrunkenLagomorph said...

I'm 37 and have just recently (in the past few years) become absolutely comfortable with being single. I've never minded single times in my life or being alone, but I always felt like I should apologize for it, like I'm not good enough. Finally, I feel like there's nothing to apologize for. Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when a cousin at a family reunion asks if I'll ever get married again. I said probably not, but who knows, and my dad chimes in, "She'll never get married again because no one will ever ask her."


7/02/2005 10:52 AM  
Blogger :D said...

oh my lord. A. MEN. SISTA to the whole freakin' post. I was (if there's a name for this group) a Dissatisfied Single for while but I am currently more than pleased w/my single status and more than wary of dates, much less Smug Coupledom... anyway, thank you Allie for putting all this crap into words.

7/04/2005 7:54 PM  
Blogger :D said...

I didn't mean "much less" Smug Coupledom. whatever. you know what I mean.

7/04/2005 7:55 PM  
Blogger Rana said...

Amen! *stands up and claps*

Even though I'm coupled, I hope I'm not Smug about it; I get enough poking from the marrieds.

Why can't people just let their friends be?

7/14/2005 5:05 PM  

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