Archive | April, 2011

Dear “Bachelors”: A Follow-Up

29 Apr

Dear “Bachelors”: A Follow-Up,

Now I’m starting to get huffy. Following this letter, a debate raged (trickled) on FB regarding the appropriate definition of the word “bachelor.” I am going to respond for a few reasons. #1 reason is that I know the definition of the damn word. #2 reason is that I was trying to be nice but it’s an old-timey word to represent an outdated concept and now that I’ve thought about it I have more to say about it. And if you want to willfully misunderstand my point about this word, then don’t continue to read, because I’m going to try to make it hard for you to do so.

Don’t give me that thing about everyone who isn’t married is a bachelor/bachelorette and that’s why we have those parties! We have those parties for a lot of reasons, but the existence of those terms is not primary among them. In reality– we have those parties, and we use those words within the context of those parties, which means those terms really only apply for the very short span of two weeks before a wedding. We also drink out of penis straws during those parties. SO THERE’S THAT PIECE OF EVIDENCE REGARDING THAT SOCIAL MOMENT.

I don’t know any women who self-identify with the word bachelorette outside of that context, and that means that there’s no gender equivalent for women, which in and of itself should tell you that “bachelor” is a gendered, sexist, and outdated term.

Yes, the technical definition is any unmarried man. However, let’s be real: we don’t consider men in serious long-term relationships to be bachelors, and we don’t consider 18 year-olds to be bachelors. And if we operate by that technical definition, then any gay man will be a bachelor for the REST OF HIS LIFE no matter how committed he is to his partner. And that’s absurd. I refuse to accept that, on both a linguistic and a cultural/legal level. (P.S. Let’s change the laws so everyone can get married if they want to!)

Language does not operate in a technical sense, it exists within context— sociocultural, political, economic, daily, living, real lives contexts. So yes, while the dictionary defines “bachelor” as any unmarried man, we do not think of all unmarried men as bachelors. The word carries with it the idea of a certain age or development in life in which a man could or should be married but is not. This is seen in the fact that the term is defined against being a married man: it’s parameters are defined by what it isn’t.

Thus, my argument about the 18-year-old…while 18 is certainly a legal age to get married, we do not expect 18-year-olds to be married, therefore they are not defined by their unmarried state and slapped with the label “bachelor”. And in this day and age, the average age for marriage is being pushed farther and farther back— and expectations for marriage in general have changed—- thus my question, at what age does one become a bachelor? (My (male) cousin claims bachelors are “creepers who are 50+ and probably airline pilots.” My guess is men over 50 and airline pilots will object to this.)

And so my larger, central claim is that there is no age at which one becomes a bachelor. There is one’s relationship status at all times, yes, sure. But I don’t self-identify by my unmarried status or claim it as some sort of glamour/sexual badge, and why should men?

And yes, these are still the connotations that bachelor carries: a swinging man, out on the prowl, free to have sex and drink and generally have a better time than those of his friends “trapped” by marriage or relationships. He has a certain economic status, a certain swagger to his step, a certain eligibility for marriage– he’s a “good catch” and yet unfettered. And he might be a sexual predator with black satin sheets. (Oh yeah, baby.) He also has an empty fridge. This is because only women grocery shop and he will only be well fed at home once he finally decides to settle down.

HOW MANY STEREOTYPES CAN WE FIT IN THAT ONE PACKAGE.

A friend in the comments of the previous post mentioned “Classically Bachelor has meant a single, well educated, decently groomed, man. A man who is unattached by choice, not by circumstance.” Ok then. Unless you’re George Clooney, my argument stands that you’re really not a bachelor, you’re just a guy with or without a relationship or a love interest or a crush or a partner.

He continues…”That’s the ‘Bachelor’ lifestyle, getting ready for the day at 7PM hung over, eating top ramen because you are to lazy to go to the store to get anything other than video games, and having a pile of clean and dirty laundry no where near where you do laundry or keep your clothes normally. Bachelorhood has somehow devolved from a post under-grad singlehood, to a slovenly debauched state filled with costco bricks of cheese and inebriated Call of Duty sessions well into the night.”

Sooooo— guys— that sounds fun…Look. I get it that calling yourself a bachelor maybe makes you feel better when you’ve just been dumped. Which maybe explains men’s reluctance to relinquish this term fully. But that alone should tell you something– when it’s a term you only whip out when you’re feeling bad about yourself, doesn’t that indicate that it’s about appearances and social myths rather than any sort of personal reality? Plus there seems to be some sort of separate attachment to “bachelor pad.” Men who won’t describe themselves as “bachelors” are totally willing to call their houses or apartments “bachelor pads” which also seems to be about appearances– the desire to feel that they’re living in a sweet space with a certain social cache rather than a farthouse of doom and mold.

I’d like to point out that when I started taking a poll of men that I know, asking if they self-identify with the word, three of them responded with a joke about having a “bachelor of arts” degree. WHICH I’VE GOT TWO OF. One said that he preferred the term “girlfriend impaired.” Another said “hecks no.” Two married friends responded with “nope.” Which is a valid poll result, in that I was taking a poll, and it was a result. Sort of the same way in which you qualify as being a bachelor by being over 18 and unmarried— and so do I. BACHELOR LADY, BABY.

MM

…Lady bachelor? I don’t know. I just don’t think I can do it. I feel a proximity STD coming on just saying the word.

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Dear “Bachelors”

28 Apr

Dear “Bachelors,”

At what age is it appropriate to begin to refer to yourself as a “bachelor”?

Or does this have nothing to do with age? Is it solely mindset? Why do you think this is a good thing to call yourself and how do you say it with a straight face?

I ask because a friend just posted on Facebook:

You may or may not be a bachelor when you get home from a jog, hungry, and after looking in your fridge to make dinner, your best option is a peanut butter sandwich.

And while yes, indeed, this may or may not make you a bachelor (although I’m pretty sure he’s implying that it does, in fact, make you a bachelor), the greater question for me is whether a 26 year-old should be referring to himself as a bachelor.

HEAVENS YOU AREN’T MARRIED YET? DEAR GOD MAN MIGHT AS WELL BUY A CREEPY LEOPARD PRINT LAMP.

Or something like that.

When I was twenty and in college, I was talking to a dear and preposterous friend online (also 20 years of age) who had just been dumped. He oh-so-philosophically said (yes, you guessed it):

Oh, well. I guess it’s back to the bachelor life for me.

And I very kindly refrained from saying, YOU MEAN EATING PIZZA BY YOURSELF AND NOT GETTING ANY? IS THAT WHAT WE’RE CALLING IT NOW?

Whatever happened to using the word “single”? Also, whatever happened to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches being awesome? And how many of you in relationships also sometimes struggle with what to eat for dinner and an empty fridge?

Are we mixing up significant others for magic-fridge-stocking-elves?

(Does that exist and I’ll take two please, in case the one breaks.)

Love,

MM

P.S. What is my “swinging female” phrase? Spinster? Cougar? Puma? (That’s a young cougar, for those of you who don’t know the lingo, but I think I’m even younger than that, so…)

If I call myself a “bachelorette” everyone will just think I’m on that TV show. And I’m not. (NOT YET.)

Dear Drum Circle

26 Apr

Dear Drum Circle,

The drum circle came back last night.

They like to park on the street of my apartment complex, just outside of the charming “Village Hat Store.” They open up the hatchback of their 1998 Subaru— I kid you not— and sit on the lip of the trunk and on the curb and on the pavement.

And they play drums.

At about 10:00 at night. The first time it happened, I actually walked outside to see what was happening and stared at them. Jeans, long hair, bare feet, bongos. I thought about yelling at them to shut up but in the end I was too shocked to do anything but go back inside.

I mean, the beach is ten minutes away down the highway. I might be wrong, but isn’t that a nicer place for a drum circle? Isn’t that where you go after you’ve been on a cross-country road trip to reach California? Or, you know, when you’re in your mid-20s and living out of your car and doing a lot of drugs?

You go to the beach, right, where you can hear the waves, man, and feel the sand in your toes, and just feel how vast the universe is, crazy vast, right? And not to a metered parking spot outside the fabulous gay neighborhood’s village hat shop where you can hear the nearby drag bar pumping out Katy Perry and Ke$ha at all hours of the day?

Maybe the hippies are trying to recruit the gays. I don’t know. I just think they’re going to have a lot of arguments over the proper amount of personal hygiene.

And drum circle: please, for the love of god, shut up and go away.

love,

MM

Dear People Who Don’t Check Email OR Facebook

21 Apr

Dear People Who Don’t Check Email OR Facebook,

THEN DON’T BITCH WHEN YOU MISS OUT ON SHIT.

I am not going to start personally calling or sending you carrier pigeons when there are events!

…I will yell at you when I see you in person.

Carry on,

MM

Dear Girl Who Had a Long and Detailed Conversation About Techniques for Fake Tanning in the Library

21 Apr

Dear Girl Who Had a Long and Detailed Conversation About Techniques for Fake Tanning in the Library,

UGH.

no love,

MM

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