That was the last year I attended the wedding of someone older than me, and I go to tons of weddings. I’m drowning in an ocean of weddings, actually. I photograph them and am invited to them and have been in multiple bridal parties.
But they’re all for people younger than me.
I watch these young punks exchange vows and kiss and have the most romantic pictures taken of them (sometimes by me) and then we dance and I’m legitimately happy for them and I’m not jealous, not at all.
I’ve reached the age where my seating placement is relegated to the table of the misfits and outcasts (read: other old single people), and I was invited to the wedding “because I was his youth pastor,” or “I mentored her through a tough time.”
Then I get into one of my two cars (because I’m rich and single, ladies) and drive home alone and eat ice cream and definitely don’t cry.
Being single at 29-and-a-half would be all fine and dandy if tonight, when I came home, I hadn’t stubbed my toe and nearly punched a hole through my roommate who left candy wrappers all over the house. A puncturable offense? Not really. But my romantic desperation often transmogrifies into rage these days.
I was coming home late from the gym. I was actually there when they closed at midnight and we got booted.
And when I say ‘the gym,’ I really mean a stretched-tight sea of yoga pants, both on the TV screens and in person, wrapped around calves, thighs and butts which Every Man’s Battle told me to just ‘bounce my eyes away from,’ as if it were as easy as shooing away a fly. Throw in a fair amount of sports bras and sumo squats and you have my night at the gym.
Or every night at the gym.
For the average married person, these tempting delights may be more easily swallowed knowing you have a warm bed and a partner to share it with waiting at home.
One married friend once told me, “Let’s be real, Ethan. Everyone probably tells you that marriage won’t cure all your problems and desires, but the reality is, you go home to a cold twin-size mattress and a dog, while I go home to a loving wife who shares my bed. It doesn’t mean my life, or our marriage is perfect, but I acknowledge that there is a substantial difference there.”
Suck it, everyone who tried to tell me that marriage won’t make me feel better.
And if tonight happened but I was younger, I would be more optimistic. Each ticking of the clock’s hand wouldn’t cut me quite so deeply as I march on toward a lonely cemetery plot. I wouldn’t feel like every cute girl I failed to approach was the one who got away, while my hair grays and my muscles atrophy into dust.
That happened tonight at the gym, actually. She was wearing Chucks like mine, so I figured I had a conversation opener, but then we kept missing each other. She headed for the cardio area as I went to the free weights, then we’d swap. There was never the prime opportunity to strike.
I held the door for Yoga-Pants-and-Sports-Bra as we exited, asking her if she had a good workout.
“Yes, what about you?” replied YPaSB without breaking her stride.
“Good.” I hung my head, realizing she wasn’t keen on chatting, and moped my way to my beautiful convertible Mustang which, evidently, I would NOT be sharing with Yoga-Pants-and-Sports-Bra tonight.
It’s not fun having your body shrivel up while your soul thirsts for intimacy.
It’s not fun having people tell me that I’ll find the right one, or, just stop trying so hard to find her and that’s when God will bring her into your—(I couldn’t finish the sentence without physically gagging).
I also get told (surprisingly? unsurprisingly?) to just go out and have sex already! I mean, sure, I’ve waited this long; may as well just throw it all away now.
It’s also not fun to be told, you’re not THAT old. Because after 29 years of swings and misses, it gets a little tiring. Realistically, maybe 11 years of really trying, but still. If you can’t succeed at a task after more than a decade, it may be time to reevaluate your methods.
Nevertheless, I remain optimistic.
Or at least, that’s what I tell myself in the mirror every day as I examine my shell of a torso which used to have a higher quantity of abs and a lower quantity of gray hairs.
“Get optimistic,” I grunt to my reflection through gritted teeth and fierce, saggy old eyes. “Get out there and kill it! You look good. You can do it. Don’t you cry on me now.”
Some days it works.