“bad man, easy to find. bad man – everywhere” she says in english that is broken but coherent. “good man,” she continues, “all dead!”.
the four of us burst out laughing and we have a good long chuckle over it. it’s true, we say, it’s true. and wouldn’t we know. more than the comment of bad men, good men, and dead men, i am amused by the context of our conversation.
never mind the age gap between the two of us and two of them. never mind the difference in nationality, in culture, in tongue. never mind how far apart our lives are, there appears to be commonality within our experiences of men. and a large part of that experience is negative.
all the good men are dead, she said. i wonder about that. it rings on repeat in my head. all the good men are dead. i wonder if it’s more to do with our age. veering close to the end of our 20’s the marriage market has changed to say the least. if nothing else, being near 30 means we’re nearing our culturally stamped marriageability expiration date. a cute prospective turns out to be 24 and such significance in the age gap negates the possibility of relationship. where are all the good ones? we ask. taken, we say, or dead.
we’re too independent, we say, and we are. we weren’t raised to be buharis, we say, and we weren’t. we won’t settle just to be married, we say, and we won’t. but as the list of friends married increases and single friends dwindles, we must, of course, take a look at ourselves. sorta.
these things…the context, the age, the culture, the good man…all factor into this worry of ending up “alone.” how dreaded that ‘a’ word has become. how my mother hangs it over me in an attempt to get me to see the merits of marriage. you’ll end up alone. is that a prophesy? you’re too picky with men, no one is perfect, my mother has also said to me. there is truth to that, but still, even with these realities swirling about me, i still choose to leave men. i still choose (admittedly with various degrees of difficulty) to walk away from relationships. and in due time, i am more than happy with the men who have left me.
i find comfort in solace. i don’t miss waiting for him to show up to dinner, i don’t miss waiting for someone who is late. i don’t miss feeling like i’m not beautiful enough, or that she might be prettier than i am. i don’t miss not being valued or appreciated. i don’t miss being let down, being put down, being led to feel inadequate. there are far worse things than being alone. i rarely dread being alone.
i rarely feel lonely when alone.
i don’t fear singlehood, i fear being in a marriage i hate. i fear love turning into hate. i fear the changes of people, how one day i can be adored and the next i am unwanted. i fear knowing admiration doesn’t equate to respect. i dread knowing fidelity isn’t assumed anymore. i fear the promise broken oh-so-many-times of my heart being treated with care. i fear how easy care turns to callousness.
in a different place, again, the two of us find company with two other women and a near empty second bottle of rum they kept calling whiskey. “men….no gooooood” one slurs. we piece together something about having a husband, a son, and a boyfriend. “only good for one thing” the slurring continues into giggle-filled full throttle hip thrusting. again, we burst out laughing. again, i wonder at how basic communication is enough to convey that we are together in this experience of bad men, good men, and dead men.
i can only guess the detail of their stories. men who didn’t respect them. men who cheated. men who lied. men who used them. men who moved on. men who no longer cared. men who maybe never cared. (and yes, women are guilty of the above too)
i’ve experienced all this. in men all around the world, in men from many countries, many languages, and such different backgrounds, i have come to see there is more to fear from marriage than there is from being single.
do i still hope to meet someone? certainly. i would like to meet someone where we are more like close friends who understand and encourage each other. i’d like to share household duties. to take turns making dinner. to appreciate and value each other. it’s not much to ask, but it’s not easy to come by.
and if i don’t meet someone? i’ll be better than fine. i’ll have different adventures. i’ll still live my life, and i’ll live the way i want it. the possibility of this is far more appealing than a marriage of misery.
and in the meantime, i’ll laugh with women over this. we’ll laugh together, we’ll laugh at ourselves, we’ll laugh over the memories. good men. bad men. dead men. i am equally content with no men.