One of the many things I've been wanting to post about lately is gentleman callers, an endlessly fascinating topic about which I am always learning new and very basic thing. I had a gentleman caller for a couple months right when I came back from Paris who was, before he stopped calling, everything you could imagine wanting in such a person. He was intelligent, well-educated, and well-employed; thoughtful and considerate; pleasant to be around. He was a good listener and a good talker, he knew how to use tools and didn't mind moving furniture for other people, and he had an amazing apartment the perfect distance away from mine. Plus he was totally appropriate for me in every way. I was quite disappointed when he stopped calling - but about a third of the disappointment was confusion and hurt pride, since I had considered things to have progressed past the point when it was reasonable to simply disappear, and another third was sadness over losing the idea of such a gentleman caller, leaving only about a third of the disappointment as missing the actual caller himself.
It was not that there was anything wrong with him. It was not even that there wasn't anything right with him. There were a lot of things right with him, and - more pertinently, which perhaps was a big part of the problem - a lot of things right with the sort of relationship he was clearly looking for. But much as it would be pleasant to be the sort of person who is destined to meet a nice Jewish lawyer and get married and move to Connecticut and have 2.5 nice Jewish children, I don't think I find such a transformation entirely plausible. Maybe it's just something I would need to get used to - it took me half a decade to convince myself I was really capable of leaving academia, after all - but people around me have been getting married and having children for even longer than that, and I have mostly been skeptical that such an arrangement will every apply to me, at least in any recognizable form. (Interestingly, when I say such a thing to people I know in real life, at least female people, they immediately object in exactly the same comforting, condescending tone girls use to tell each other they are not fat. Is skepticism about one's desire or ability to form a permanent attachment to a human being - something which is clearly warranted independent of one's personality and history, given the divorce rate - the same thing as poor body image?)
I have a new gentleman caller now. He is very, very different from his predecessor, and totally inappropriate. He's - it's such a stereotype to be enthusing about this sort of thing, and I hope you'll appreciate the spirit in which I do so - a musician. A jazz guitarist. He also works various odd jobs to make ends meet, not spoiled-starving-artist things like barrista-ing but actual-labor things like carpentry. He smokes pot and says words like "awesome", and he is roughly twelve million years younger than me. It is, obviously, a very different sort of arrangement than with his predecessor, and one not destined for a long duration, but then, neither was that one, as it turned out. I just got to the point where I figured, why bother with all the boring bogginess of dating-as-extended-job-interview, which gets in the way of actually enjoying being around the other person? When I was much younger I would have wanted to date guys like this one, but I was always too serious about and intimidated by them, even on the rare occasions when they were interested in me, and later on I was mostly interested in guys with whom I had more in common. Now I feel like I can appreciate Guitar Boy without being overly invested, plus the whole arrangement has (from my point of view, at least) a kind of Samantha-and-Jared-in-Sex-and-the-City frisson of inverted gender dynamics and female empowerment. I knew I wasn't really excited about meeting ten zillion more bankers and lawyers, who in New York all seem to suffer from the same minor aversion to women and major need to appear cool in front of other men, but I hadn't realized quite how boring and pressurized proper dating had become until now.