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THE JOURNAL: That Icky Thing About Commitments

Dear Diary

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. 🙂

I am @Walt_Shakes on Twitter

About shakespeareanwalter

Walt Shakes(@Walt_Shakes) is an award-winning Nigerian writer, poet and veteran blogger. He is a lover of the written word. the faint whiff of nature, the flashing vista of movies, the warmth of companionship and the happy sound of laughter.

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  1. Walter, so my position was “grandiose” huh? Well i’m glad you saw things from my point of view…..and yes, it beats me as to why perennial bachelors like me have to explain ourselves. I am a loner as well. I am “nicer” than you, but ulrimately I love my space, and our versions of TGIF are pretty much similar, you just didnt include the video games and little alcohol. Society should stop making a big deal out of this, there’s more to life than exchanging rings.

    And yes, I am first to comment. Thanks for the mention, by the way.

  2. And where are those female friends of yours? It would be interesting to see how they plan to go about the “frog-marching”

  3. It’s your life and I think you should do what makes you happy.

    • shakespeareanwalter

      That’s what it should come right down to at the end of the day.
      What it should…
      But what it almost never is.

  4. This looks like what I would write in my journal. I don’t believe in marriage, it’s not everybody’s journey in life. The dynamics are different for me, but I take people in small doses, and not full on.

    The most important thing is that it is your journey, you decide what you want and how you want to live it. March to the beat of your own drums and don’t apologize for it

  5. Walter like you I have my own reservations. I am also a loner who like spends my weekend like you and Jerry except I will have a bottle of something to run things. I have been trying to reconcile my lonesomeness and being married. My mum worries, not cos I ain’t married but cos she wants to meet ‘her’. The matter reach head last two weeks when my younger brother took his ‘her’ home. My cousins accuse me of ‘overselectiveness’, my friends say I get dodgy when they ask me about ‘her’ but in truth, I won’t be stampeded.
    I know I like my personal space, it helps me process thoughts very fast, it helps creativity. Like you bruv, there’s a method to it when my things are dis-arranged and I worry how I’ll cope when there’s some woman to share my space. But I know I’ll have to learn to cope cos I wanna have some little me(s), I would learn to cope for their sake cos I know the only thing that will earn me more misery is years from now, is life without my kids and based on my moral standpoint, I won’t have it outside wedlock.
    Guy to guy however, I feel you and would say do what works for you…it’s your world bruv, it’s for you to shappen…

  6. Your eccentricities are starting to show, you know that, right Walt? I hear this is a common affliction with writers, the need to swim against the societal tide. 🙂

  7. My believe about being single is as long it makes you happy and you will not wake up one day to regret your decision, it’s cool. I don’t know why some people do not understand that if you can be happily married you can also be ‘happily single’. The expectations of the society is what has pushed so many people into unhappy marriages. Walter why am I not surprised by today’s post?

  8. I have exactly the same dilemma with Wole. I do enjoy spending time with the female folk, but I also enjoy the non-pressure atmosphere at going easy and being able to be away and not accused of selfishness or emotional cheating.

    But I want somethings that if I continously get outside marriage for the rest of my life, they’ll make a mess. So, man just gats settle.

  9. The logo is…”Do What’s Best fo U, and U alone! It’s actually only in Nigeria that we believe one is not fulfilled until u r married. Well I believe in MARRIAGE and wld like some two beautiful kids, but I don’t c it as a must do thing. So dear walter, u knw what’s best for u, pls don’t allow any1 bludgeon u into what will make ur life miserable!

  10. Nice one Uncle Walter. You see, its not much of a problem for the male folks to remain single but for a female it is regarded as a taboo. Am not a loner, and my perceptive is very different from yours, i love campany and hanging out with friends but just like you said, i cherish my personal space. I can be chatting with friends, then the next minute, i will just keep mute and withdraw for the conversation. I believe in love, but love is just not in my dictionary and getting married is not even in my plan of work. My friends sees me as a pretender. But the truth is that am not planing to be a nun neither am i planing to get married. Have seen alot from the married folks and God knows not ready for all that. The first time i told my mum that i wasnt planing to get married, she was shocked and kept asking if i was alright . What will members of the family say she kept asking. Well i dont care what or what they wont say. Its my life, and marriage is just not in my dictionary. I think the society should learn to accept the fact that not everyone must be married.

    • shakespeareanwalter

      Wow. You’re actually the first female I’m hearing having this opinion, Chinyere. Most ‘marriage is overrated’ opinions come from males.

      • I used to think so too, Waltz, but I met two last week, on the same day. It’s a very interesting view of it all…very interesting indeed

        • shakespeareanwalter

          Ya don’t say. And I thought cold feet belonged to men. Whatever happened to biological clocks and all that shii? 🙂 No offense to ladies o.

  11. Why do I have the feeling that all the guys who’ve commented have the same opinion?!

    • You “don’t have the feeling” Captain Obvious.
      Maybe tis cause you’ve read comments that are all saying the same thing…

  12. Marriage is overrated. Beautiful with the right person, and with enough money to afford happiness, but overrated all the same. Some people just don’t have the spousal gene, and alone doesn’t always mean lonely.
    It’s important to know what works for you and walk with it. Happy eternal bachelorhood, Wally.
    Nothing is set in stone though. You might meet someone special someday and the change of heart would be instantenous, effortless, and natural.

  13. So am reading through your ‘submissions’ Walter and the accompanying comments and am reminded of this horror flick I watched a few years ago. A couple of kids mistakenly tossed their ball over the fence of their neighbour, a mean and very horrid old lady! They knew that ball was as good as history but in a last ditch effort in trying to get it back; they decided to approach the oaf anyways! Sure enough, she was standing on her porch wielding a double-barrel semi automatic rifle; with their ball securely tucked away under her pits! One of the kids spoke up and said ‘May we have our ball Ma’am. Please’? Responding with a smirk across her ugly wrinkly face she said ‘My rifle, My property; MY BALL’! She then backs slowly away into her shack, still grinning!

    The moral of that story Walter’s that its ultimately your choice! Your decision! Your life! Whatever floats your boat babycakes! Tx for sharing and God bless us all! Kudos! LOL

  14. Time changes people. I’m sure in the next 20 years, you would see things from a different perspective

  15. Fresh! Something i can relate with…..i hate pple in my space

  16. Great, great points you’ve got there. Gbam!

  17. Wally, sugar!!! I actually don’t want you to marry and have kids, knowing what I now know about you. It would not be fair to the girl at all but I do have one request. Please make sure that your next girlfriend is on the same page as you are. And also a commitmentophobe like you. That said, to each his own.
    I personally do not gerrit when folk make it their life ambition to pair people off and then when it doesn’t work, think there is something psychologically missing. Granted, the instinct is to pair off but there are always outliers and Jerry, Wally and some other folk I know are such outliers. You must not get married. And you ust not castigate marriage either. Don’t knock it if you don’t wanna try it. You get? *in Chigul’s voice.
    Nice piece, Wally!!! You are still my pal!!!

    • shakespeareanwalter

      Phew! Mighty relief to hear. For a second, I thought I’d get disowned by all my married female friends. 🙂

  18. I don’t think anyone should be forced into doing what they don’t feel ready for, that was why I didn’t push on BBM @Walter. And I think I also agree with the guy who said writers tend to swim against the societal tide. I know I want to get married; I’m down with the whole happily ever after business but I feel like I’m not going to be ready until 26 or so and by then you know the pressure would be stories high! Every mallam to his kettle though, you may want to be generous enough to donate to a sperm bank though, all this talent shouldn’t disappear with you.

  19. I can totally relate with the compulsive thingy, m a chronic at it, i really dnt like people touching my things for all the good intentions in the world.
    Well Walts it is you life the way I see it, about being a disappointment, rather u single than a failed marriage.

  20. Nawaa oo… d way you blow grammar sef… I wonder who would want to get married to you

  21. I usually just read some of your posts on my email and move on but I had to comment on this. my mother must not know of this comment tho.
    so, even as I believe in marriage, I like to get there in my own time and not when everybody wants me too but I can’t even get to say this because if I do, hehehe, all d prayer warriors in my church will come calling.

  22. Of all the world suitable analogies, I have no idea why my mind won’t shift away from that of ponmo (you guessed it, I blame the anti-ponmo policy too).

    See ehn, it is better to leave the nice looking ponmo in the plate for whoever is/will be interested, than to become a sudden brave heart and munch rigorously on the leather you know you’re allergic to, or your teeth will never defeat even till Dame Patience speaks—or sparks—in clear error-free british accent.

    My point: The exact stick-to-what’s-best-for-you advices in the previous comments. Refer to ponmo above for more clarification.

    A special ma’am COULD make you change your mind though. In that case I’ll ask for a thing: Biko write a sequel to the effect!

    • shakespeareanwalter

      Okay, I’m thoroughly confused. Em, Joseph, I’m aware your mind works on an entirely different hemisphere from the rest of us 🙂 but do you think you can have mercy and demystify your comment mbok. lol

  23. Everyone seem to relate with this. I don’t think there’s a male alive who isn’t scared of marriage. Oh well, its ya life amigo. Cheers!

  24. Hmm not everyone is meant for marriage. Its better to stay alone & enjoy urself than stick to a mate & hurt d one u claim to cherish & love.

  25. I can totally relate to this,most of my friends are suffering from ‘I don graduate must marry’ syndrome. If I have to sit through another marriage filled convo I will suarez some one. I would love to get married,later,in the futurerest future. Till then nobody shud monitor my ovaries mbok.

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