I think I’m deliberately setting myself up to be a disappointment to my mother.
I recently updated my Blackberry pm with the message: ‘I do not believe in the institution of marriage.’ And the aftermath of that declaration was a series of pings and phone calls from friends and acquaintances who wanted to know if I was suffering a fever or feeling inebriated, for me to have the temerity to say such a thing. Some of the inquiries were caustic, some others concerned. Every one of them just didn’t seem to get it. In a fit of exasperation, a close female friend of mine burst out: “You’re being selfish. How can a nice, sweet, talented young man like you not want to share your life with someone, or transfer your genes to another generation?”
In a moment, I will answer that.
A blogger friend of mine, Jerry Chi, recently wrote something about George Clooney and bachelorhood and his aversion for marriage. It was a Facebook update. I read it and liked it so much I made it a blogpost. But, you see, my view on marriage and singlehood differs from Jerry’s. He sees himself averse to matrimony because he doesn’t get why society has made it a status quo, you know, graduate, get a job, get married. (Okay, that part we both agree on) He also isn’t a fan of marriage because, well, he has been around the world enough to have an inherent distaste for how society has no respect for the institution it upholds. Divorces, infidelities, a murky courting pool – yea, I appreciate his indignation.
But my own case is not so grandiose.
Firstly, I am compulsive.
I don’t mean that I have that compulsion to be neat and orderly. I am not a neatness freak. My compulsion lies in having things remain the way I leave them, undisturbed by anyone else, whether they were left in a mess or organized. In fact, my mess usually has a meticulousness to it. I stayed with my cousins, two females, last year, and several months before that, upon my relocation to Lagos, I stayed with an uncle and his family. And the inhabitancy was a thorn in my flesh, because I’d go out for the day and return home to find everything pristine, room swept, bed made, clothes ordered and desk arranged. This was especially galling during the time I was writing my book, when I had copious notes jotted down on itty-bitty pieces of paper carefully scattered on my desk, textual matter which helped with my creativity, not just for what was written, but for the way I let them be at the end of the day. And then, I’d leave and return home to find them stacked together. I just couldn’t deal with that.
Secondly, I am a loner.
I love my personal space. I love my company. I constantly fought the feeling of crawling up the wall when I roomed with a friend during my university days. My last relationship ended because she accused me of being selfish with my time. I don’t get the whole concept of cuddling after sex, and oftentimes, when sex is over, I just want to be back on my own. Wham, bam, thanks ma’am.
Some friends of mine have never really understood why TGIF for me mostly means me burrowing into bed covers, flipping open my laptop and settling into a nice Hollywood movie, surfing the internet, or tapping away at the keyboard in the production of one story or the other.
Growing up, I shared a room with my brothers. And oftentimes, when they got about their usual boisterousness (and sometimes when they didn’t), I’d leave the bedroom for the living room, locate a sofa that was backed up against the wall, and slip behind the sofa, into the blessed gloomy coolness of the corner, where I’d lie down and just be by myself. At first my family collectively raised their eyebrows at the weirdness, but later on, they had to accept it as who I was.
I am that neighbour who, very recently, was strolling down the street from work, and conversing with a fellow pedestrian during the trek. And when we both veered off the road into the same compound, she gave a start of surprise before exclaiming, “You live here too?”
A while ago, I had a houseguest who was to spend a protracted length of time in my place because of some engagements he had in Lagos. After the first few days of companionable cohabitation, for no discernible reason, I turned into an ogre, frequently snapping at him, oftentimes without provocation. He left my house in a huff, and later on, when my apologies mollified him, he accused me of being misanthropic. I researched that. And when I understood what it was, I dismissed my friend’s claim. I am not a misanthrope. I don’t hate people. I love people. I have friends, and I love them. I love to laugh, and I get that joy from having companions.
I just can’t handle people for a long period of time. Why then would I want to subject myself to ‘Till Death Do Us Part’? The mere thought makes me shudder. Actually, I might last till death do us part; that’s what a bullet to the head can achieve, right?
The first time I spoke of my aversion to marriage to another female friend of mine, the darling woman – dear, sweet and very married – quickly took it as a personal affront, as though I was indirectly insinuating that there was something wrong with the womenfolk. No, how can you say that, she stormed. You must marry o! Unless you are trying to tell me that you are gay! (lol) Even gay men and women want to commit to someone, to spend their lives with someone. Isn’t that the reason why there’s such a furor worldwide over the debate of the practicality of gay marriage? When I scored a point with that, she looked me solemnly in the eye and told me I must have a psychological disorder.
But, why is that really? Why is it that the man or woman, who gets to marriageable age, finds someone and settles down, does not need to explain that instinct, but the person who wants nothing to do with the white picket fence and 2.5 kids has to be broken? Why do perennial bachelors need to explain why they don’t want to put the ring on it? Why is it that the woman who would much rather be an aunt than a mother needs to seek a session with a shrink?
I don’t get it.
Does all of humanity have to want the same kinds of things? Must my happiness and fulfillment come from wanting to spend my life with someone, just like everybody else does? Couldn’t I simply live my life as the fun uncle, putting out good stories, paying my taxes and occasionally traveling around the world, unfettered by familial obligations or spousal guilt? To the friend who called me selfish, would the greater selfishness not be knowing what I know about my characteristic makeup, and then getting into holy matrimony with a woman who I would undoubtedly make miserable? As a friend, I’m sometimes told that I’m uncaring, too wrapped up in my world. An unfair assessment, if you ask me. Because I do care. I really do. If I cared about no one, me, myself and I would not be such great friends now, would we?
I think I’m done venting, dear diary. I’ve given this a lot of thought, and I realize day after day, that I will be a disappointment to my mother. I just don’t believe in sharing my life with someone in matrimonial bliss. But hey, I now have two female friends who have sworn that their lives’ mission would be to frog-march me down the aisle with a suitable mate. That makes for an intriguing something for the future, doesn’t it? I siddon dey wait. 🙂
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