My friend Morgan, a freelance writer, got married for the first time close to a year ago. She’s in her early 50s. Morgan yearned to be partnered up and hated that she had hit 50 without ever having done it. She’s now married to a really nice engineer named Jack. Morgan doesn’t sugar coat the transition into marriage. She’s told me more than once it’s a trade-off, and she realizes now that she had it pretty damn good as a single woman.
For example, Jack suffers from allergies. This time of year, spring-time in Austin, there’s lots of sneezing and wheezing going on. Jack keeps Morgan up at night, and has for weeks on end now. When I asked her if it was bad form for one of them to simply sleep in the guest room, she said it hurts his feelings when she does. She says he’s a typical man who’s a big whiny baby when he’s not feeling well, and wants to be coddled, regardless of any looming writing deadlines. Jack also gets up at 5:00 a.m. and Morgan now has a difficult time “sleeping in” until 7:00. There’s also the issue of his offspring; the daughter despises Morgan, and the son is around a lot. A lot. Watching sports with Jack. But, Jack’s a really great cook, she says, and has her back, come what may.
I can cook, so that selling point isn’t all that compelling. And I have yet to meet a man who has my back, come what may. Mack, for example, has a hierarchy of backs for which he is responsible, and mine is not on the top of the heap. So where does that leave things? Cooking, back-having; not big selling points. Sex? Yes, there’s always the sex. (Well, maybe not always. I hear that peters out after a bit, which is why Mack sought me out.) I get terrific sex from Mack. Twice a week. Also, a smattering of e-mails throughout the day. Sometimes, a phone call. Dates on the weekend? No. Although, there is that early-afternoon delight on Saturdays while Mack’s semi-ex girlfriend of 15 years visits her mother. But sex at 2:00 on Saturday pretty much fucks up the day so far as running errands goes. And for a career girl, who has very little free time for-errand running and chores, wiping out Saturdays is a serious matter. How much can you get done when you run in the morning, then shower, and have to be home and ready for a fuck by 2:00? And then when Mack leaves at 6:00, after all that fucking, I’m hardly interested in being productive. So is it really worth it, this 2:00 p.m. Saturday fuck? As my to-do list and laundry piles grow, I’m beginning to think not.
What else do I get from Mack? Is he a companion? No. A hiking buddy? No. Does he support me emotionally? If the smattering of e-mails and the occasional phone call counts, then yes. Is there a financial benefit? No. (Look. Money isn’t at the top of my list of concerns, but it usually is included on checklists, male and female alike, so I include it here.) Does he get my car washed for me? No. Feed the cats when I’m traveling on business? No. When I had surgery on my face last week (yes, it was minor, but still), did he check on me? Was he at all concerned how I was feeling? No.
At this point, Janet Jackson is ringing in my head: What have you done for me lately?
I’m pretty sure Mack is just a fuck. And as I write this, it seems ridiculous to expend so much energy on someone, when the only benefit is the fucking. Where Morgan sees a trade-off, I’m seeing something else. A raw deal, perhaps.