Thursday, May 19, 2011

In the Time Before Marriage

There are many reasons why I'm happy to be married.

There's the fact that my husband is simultaneously handsome AND very, very nice. There's the greatness of having someone who is contractually obligated to pick me up at the airport when I've been traveling. But, perhaps most wonderful of all, is the simple fact that I no longer need to exit my house on a regular basis in order to attempt to find someone to get married to.

Because dating and I...were never exactly a match made in heaven.

Let me provide an example.

Back in the year 2000 I was living in Brooklyn, NY. I was nearing thirty and working at an internet startup that featured a host of 40-something dudes who wore backwards baseball caps and carried business cards with titles such as "Keeper of the Magic" and "Lead Thought Provoker". 

It was not great.

I lived in a crumbly third-floor walk-up which I could barely afford on my salary, and most disturbingly of all, I had recently received a wedding invitation addressed to myself and my younger sister.

Apparently the bride had become so accustomed to seeing the two of us accompanying each other to social events that she'd come to think of us a couple. 

It was not exactly the "life vibe" I had imagined for myself when I first headed starry-eyed into the big city (or at least its largest outer borough).

My sister, Anne, though five years my junior, was similarly disturbed by this beautifully calligraphied indictment of our life choices. We knew that it was time for a change.

We needed to start seeing other people.

Luckily, Anne had received an invitation to an event hosted by the New York Young Democrats which was being held at some posh nightclub on the Westside. The event seemed to offer a collective opportunity for salvation. 

We would attend! We would apply makeup to our visages and stuff our unsightly bulges into multiple pairs of Spanx! We would drink cocktails mesmerizingly in the eye-line of Hunky Liberal-Minded Menfolk (hereafter "the HLMM"). We would beguile the HLMM and make them our lifemates and we would leave our depressing and mundane existences behind!!

Off we went.

We arrived in the city and were ushered past the velvet ropes of an exclusive West Side nightclub. The place was packed with HLMM, each of whom looked as if he might have rowed crew at his respective Ivy League Universtity.

Snippets of conversation wafted over us:

"What you need to understand about the commodoties market..."

"At the Charter school I started..."

"You really must come to our place in the Hamptons..."

...and we knew that we were in the right place. That here, in this room filled with wealthy and handsome do-gooders, our single days might really come to an end.

We headed for the bar to arm ourselves with some booze before settling on a game plan to break into conversation with one of the multitudinous dreamboats.

Anne and I grabbed generous goblets of red wine and headed for the stairs, visions of an easy life in the suburbs with men named things like "Chip" dancing through our heads. We had confirmed from the bar area that it seemed to be quieter up stairs, where there appeared to be several small groupings of HLMM ripe for infiltration.

We were about halfway up when Anne caught her heel on the hem of her dress and fell forward.

In an awkward attempt to right herself my sister managed instead to throw her entire glass of Cabernet directly into her own face.

Time stopped.

Just feet away I could still see the
HLMM laughing and mingling. I knew I could still be one of them! And yet, their delightful cocktail conversation was being rapidly drowned out by Anne's increasingly desperate cries of,

"I'm blind! I'm blind!"

The hunt for her, clearly, was over.

But I had a choice to make. There was nothing stopping me from continuing forth in pursuit of the
HLMM alone (beginning with a requisite, "Get a load of this freak!" gesture towards my sister, who was by now clawing at her eyes in desperation).

But something deep inside me would simply not allow me to deny my own flesh and blood. Well, that and the realization that enough people had already seen us together that to do so might only further damage my now extremely shaky prospects.

And so, I gently guided my sister towards the nearest restroom where I managed to hose her off in the sink. She was able to regain her eyesight, but unfortunately both of our carefully put together looks had taken some fatal blows.

We squished back out into the club, bedraggled and forlorn. 

The line at the bar was now too long to consider and from the looks were we getting from the HLMM, there weren't going to be too many takers on the two of us in our soggy state. We called it a loss and headed out into the cool Manhattan evening in utter defeat. 

We spent the remainder of the evening at our favorite 2nd Avenue bar, drowning our sorrows in multiple slices of pizza and ill-advised quantities of beer.

It would be two more years before Anne met her lovely husband, Matt, and we broke up at long last. I'd go it alone for three more years before meeting David and getting married myself.

Still, every once in a while we look back on our night with the HLMM and raise a toast to that glass of red wine. Because looking back, we understand that it was one part of the road that led us to where we are now. 

And we're grateful that it saved us from a life in the suburbs with some HLMM named Chip.