Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet

Why in the world anyone would want to post their personal stories on the Internet I don't know. But people do, and some times these stories seem so tragic and real that you just want to reach out a helping hand how could I resist?...

My own little soap opera(s) of this nature happened in the late 70s early 80s and often enough that I think of my own emotional makeup as being more scar tissue than anything else, but I allowed myself to be too self absorbed (don't we all?) and got what I probably deserved in the grand scheme of things. Suffice it to say that I've retired from romantic entanglements, more by choice than by necessity (even though two CAN live more cheaply than one, managing ones finances as a single person is MUCH easier).

So here, semi solicited, is my very jaded view of the subject:

What is there that is more important about a (with emphasis) *modern* *human* relationship than ego?

Now let that last thought sink in for a bit while I say that we (mostly) have been conditioned by Ozzie and Harriet/Bradie Bunch (substitute your own TV adolescent societal programming) to think that the only NORMAL mode of human existence is to get married and raise as many children as your income allows you to support. Not only does (did) this formula seem to work on TV, but it clearly worked in real life for long enough for us as countries world-wide to develop schemes such as Social Security that actually DEPEND upon it. Ponzi schemes collapse without an ever broadening base. But even before Social Security schemes, this system actually worked very well. One kid could support two parents into their old age, two could do so better, three better still. There was a "natural selection" advantage to larger families, but not so extreme that smaller families were wiped out. If you are a Darwinian, you probably imagine that some process sets an optimum number of kids for things to just work nicely, with variations on either side being preserved in the gene pool for, uh, lets say, GLOBAL WARMING! (Al Gore is proud when you work this into conversations on ANY other topic.)

Now back to: What is there that is more important about a (with emphasis) *modern* *human* relationship than ego? Well, if you are really paying attention, there's sex for one. Part of that involves ego too though in ways that are really hard to tease apart. Let's simplify though and factor sex out of it on the assumption that, in this modern pr0n driven Internet world you can always become a do-it-yourselfer.

Oh yes, and one more thing, (at the risk of devolving into a Monty Python sketch) a fanatical devotion to spreading our DNA all over the place.

Our world has changed much faster than any natural selection process can keep up with. If we could just keep things steady for a few thousand years, with no major new technologies, industries, disruptive housing breakthroughs and so on, I'm sure the hand of Darwin would make adjustments to our psyches, gonads and so forth (in addition to having enormous heads and longer fingers as all the sci-fi authors predict) to make everything come out just right again. Of course this is complicated by the fact that so many of us have opted out of the gene pool in one way or another. Many of us may have ideal traits, but we certainly aren't passing them on, forcing nature to constantly re-invent the wheel so to speak.

Where was I? Oh, anyway, (human) society has placed a whole new layer of pressures on us beyond the formerly natural kill-or-be-killed simplicity that various animal species have to deal with. Take birds: watching one of those nature films, when the male birds parade around, wing and tail feathers spread wide, trying to gain the "affections" of the female birds, one male bird gets selected to fertilize those eggs. What does the rejected male bird feel? I've often wondered. Is it just sexual frustrations? Are their "egos" crushed? Do they become suicidal? If birds had Civ IV to resort to would they? (I'm serious!)

I've read where many, maybe even most, animal species mate for life. Others only long enough to get one generation of offspring going followed by each partner seeking another mate for the next time around. Maybe natural selection hasn't been able to settle on a "best" formula in this area which is why there seem to still be so many people who do it successfully one way and so many other people who do it successfully another way. We've all seen, known or even been a part of a family unit with one husband and one wife, mated for life, raising children (or sometimes not) little or no infidelities, friends for life, teammates, if you will. God bless them, and by the way, in my experience these are mostly religious people, who have succeeded in this lifestyle IN SPITE of egos, IN SPITE of sexual urges and IN SPITE of Darwinian propulsions to spread the seed a little further. They got where they were by human rationality of the type that has to be intentionally exercised (whether you agree with the results or not, they got the results THEY wanted).

The other successful model that comes to mind is Hollywood. Here copulation is king. Slam, bam, thank-you mam. Why do they even bother getting married? Oh, yeah, so that they can get their pictures in Variety. Not a lot of forward thinking goes on here. Or thinking at all as far as I can tell. But it makes kids in large numbers, and these people are rich, so the kids are well provided for, at least financially. And do these "stars" get too upset during the breakups? Not so you can tell in most cases. If you lower your expectations enough you can live with almost any circumstances I suppose.

I don't know about you, but as free-thinking as I once was, I couldn't picture myself in multiple casual relationships over my lifetime. Oh I did get around for a while, but for me it was always a search for what I hoped would be an ultimate permanence. I too was more often mentor than mentee, more often financial provider, more often the emotional support rather than the one supported and certainly gave as good as I got in the sex department (or at least that's the way it seemed to me at the time).

But at some point (and it took far too long as I had been given the advice many times) I realized I had never gotten comfortable with the notion of being alone. From high school onward I was always "on the make" holding off any thoughts of marriage until after college by an extreme exercise of will (and the knowledge that parents would probably cut off funding). And then in the AM (after marriage) it was one relationship after another, all ending as soon as the sex wasn't so good any more (for one of us). Without wanting to, I was leading the Hollywood lifestyle, when what I really wanted (or thought I wanted) was the Ozzie and Harriet lifestyle.

So I went solo. It was rough. Particularly since I am not the macho type of guy who likes to do manly things like fishing, hunting, or home repair for that matter. I went to restaurants alone, even nice ones where I'd never been without a date. Quite an exercise of self confidence to go to a fancy French restaurant alone, and sit there and read a book. This will flush out any secret desire you have to be the center of attention. Yes, people will think "what's WRONG with him, why isn't he WITH someone?" and whats more you will know that is what they are thinking. But after about two years (I think that's what it took for me) you won't care. And after another two or three years you might actually start to dread the thought of another relationship. Or you may decide to dip your toe in the waters again, find a woman on an Internet dating service who "loves" you for who you are, only to find that she's married with kids.(and not all that unhappily married as it turns out). And lest you think I'm making that up, it happened to me. (TWICE!)

But enough about me, lets get to what YOU think about me? No, that's from another comedy bit. In the final years of my career, I was hit on by many women, a few of which I actually found attractive and after they asked around and found out I wasn't turning them down because I was gay or anything their efforts only increased. I've been the intended victim/subject of several matchmakers. I keep telling them they are wasting their time. They invite me and the woman over for dinner at the same time (not telling me in advance) hoping for nature to take its course. I'm polite, but I know better than to let nature take its course, because that course is for us all to breed like rabbits, and whether we call it sex, or ego, or self esteem, or even layer some societal ponzie scheme requirement, or the need to spread the faith by out producing the other faiths, you know, deep down inside you know, that human happiness of a lasting kind is not what it is all about. Lookout Jim it's a trap! (Star Trek) that is, unless you get religion or some other "ion" and make that relationship you seek secondary to some other goal (and I'm not saying there is anything wrong with this approach).

In closing, if you are not discouraged enough, consider that:

(1) All the good ones are taken. Really, there is no getting around this. Of the happy old couples that I've known that live together until they die, they either got together when they were young, or they got together when they were so old that neither of them had enough time to jump ship first. If you want someone who is not a chronic ship-jumper during middle age, your going to have to find someone who's mate has tragically taken from us in the prime of life. You will never be loved as much, if at all. Your reason for being chosen as the replacement might be a subject best never explored.

(2) No matter how objective you try and be, all is probably not as you've presented it. Maybe you snore really loudly (I do) or your farts really stink (as do mine) and those are two things she has never been able to stand, but she has never been able to confront you with them because, since those things are so important to her, she thinks they might be really devastating to you as well. One of my gals had a big nose. But I never told her I really LIKED big noses. Come to think of it, most of my gals had big noses. Darn I wish I had thought about that sooner.

Anyway. Glad I could help you out with this. I look forward to updates.

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