This is kind of long because I feel it necessary to illustrate fully the character of the titular subject.
I mentioned one of my fellow bus riders, Carol, in the ghost post. Carol’s been married to her husband since the dawn of time. It’s not always rosy between them, in fact for awhile they seemed to be going through a bit of a rough patch judging by Carol’s demeanor at the bus stop in the morning. She vaguely alluded to the fact that I was single and sometimes she wished she was (she was pretty cranky that day). I really think she was angry enough at him during those days that, had she had the means, she would have left him.
It was a long time before I met her spouse – let’s see, what shall we call him? Let’s call him The Grump – and honestly, the woman is a saint for living with him all these years. She’s even told me that none of their neighbors like him and avoid being outside if he’s home and outside anywhere.
Back when I first met her, Carol was driving a car borrowed from a family member. The Grump was driving a spiffy new rig (“rig” of course being redneck-speak for a pickup truck) they had bought all shiny and new not long before. Well, eventually the day came when The Grump lost his job, and that of course led to them losing the truck. Not long after, the family member whose car Carol had been driving needed their car back. So they were down to an old Ford Explorer that needs some TLC from a mechanic. With The Grump out of work, he had the use of the Explorer all day, and was driving Carol to the bus stop most days. Many days he’d just take her all the way to work. I think it was an excuse for him to get out of the house. Despite The Grump’s lack of employment, and Carol having no wheels to get herself around, The Grump spends HUNDREDS of dollars a month on all kinds of crap (just the other day it was a box of assorted wood for I’m not sure what that he had picked up at some garage or estate sale), not to mention all the gas driving around and up to Seattle for a “Tool Club”. It’s a group of old geezers who like to buy and sell antique tools. Was ever a club more aptly named?
The Grump is a member, and Carol has to go along and collect the dues and spend the day wherever the meeting is because The Grump “likes to spend time with her.” So she sits and reads a book most of the day while he’s off looking at items with the other grouchy old goats.
And they just laid out a fortune for new brakes on the Explorer, when it was discovered they were down to metal-on-metal. Carol wasn’t sure how they were going to buy food after that, but by god, The Grump is always out buying more crap at garage or ‘estate’ sales.
Since The Grump has been working a little lately and interviewing for jobs (and therefore of course he gets the car), Carol has had no way to get to the bus stop, so I’ve been picking her up in the morning and driving her to the park-n-ride where we catch the bus, then taking her home again in the afternoon from the park-n-ride. She doesn’t live far so it’s no problem. She and The Grump have often given me rides home from work to avoid having to take the bus on days when The Grump comes to give Carol a ride. This all sounds great, except then I’m subjected to country music in their car, and having to listen to The Grump regale me with his tales of accidents and run-ins with the police and his opinions on everything. If it costs the public any money, he’s against it. Laws seem to exist only to suck money out of people and be a hindrance to life. He beat up a bus driver once who’d hit his car, but of course The Grump was held at fault for ‘violating the civil rights’ of the driver (who evidently was black). He can tell you that seat belts cost as many lives as they save. He can tell you of the corruption of the police, and city building code scams designed to suck money out of honest citizens.
So you see why I call him The Grump.
Anyway, I ended up getting a ride home with them a couple of days ago. I was being quiet as I normally am in their car while The Grump holds forth on his grouchy tale of the day, when suddenly the conversation turned to a member of their tool club. As Carol tells it, this tool club guy is super-polite (a foreign concept to most of these old buzzards, it seems) and all the wives of the men in this club are trying to hook him up with their young daughters. The Grump says they rib him about being “A-mish” because he’s so nice. So then he suggests I need to meet this guy.
“Why?” sez I.
“So you can get free membership in the club,” sez Carol.
“Why do I want to join this club?” I ask.
She laughs and shakes her head. “You don’t.”
Damn straight, I’m thinking.
That was the end of the conversation but this made me realize they must have been talking amongst themselves, deciding I need a MAY-UN in my life (because really, who doesn’t want to be miserable and make excuses for a foul spouse?) and thought up this little scheme to match-make me and Mr. “A-mish” dude.
Now, let’s just leave aside for a moment the fact that this would be a TERRIBLE match, and focus on how people can not get their heads around the idea that a single woman could be happy with her life. I don’t have to put up with anybody’s bad tempers or moodiness, or smoking, drinking, drugs, gambling, or spending money on crap they can’t afford. Why is it people can’t stand for a woman to be single? Why does being single = failure for a woman?
Carol opines on a regular basis about how every weekend they’re busy doing stuff that The Grump wants to do and she never gets time to herself or to do what she wants.
“Because he likes to spend time with me,” she says. Same reason he drives her to work, instead of letting her take the bus.
Now some of you may be thinking it’s charming that he still wants to spend time with her like this after so many years of marriage, but I’m seeing this as a control issue. She doesn’t even like to take a day off during the week because if she just stays home to relax or catch up on things, he’ll be around bugging her to go do things and she won’t be able to do anything she wants to do.
At my last job, Overseer (whom some of you will recall) even tried to give me advice for finding a MAY-UN. He informed me one day, unbidden, that his wife advocated making a list of desirable qualities that you want in a partner. Somehow this would set events in motion throughout the cosmos to manifest whatever you were looking for. And yet people say they don’t believe in magic. Trust me, I shut him down very quickly on the subject.
I understand relationships are a series of compromises, but they never seem to be equal. I don’t think Carol and her husband are an uncommon example. But, I never say anything critical about The Grump or their marriage, it’s not my place. I simply choose not to live my life that way. I wish other people would extend the same courtesy to those of us who are, for whatever reason, single. And I sure as hell don’t need people like The Grump interfering in my personal life.