The perpetual bachelor party that was Park Avenue South has finally ended. Now that sexist bacchanalia is just compulsory night out with the boys; limp and early, out for a few beers and home and dry.
Men these days are delighted to be engaged. They just can’t wait to get in out of the cold. You can’t live a shelter-magazine spread without a spouse. Metrosexuality was the gateway drug to heterosexuality.
And so their marriages have the masculine sheen of an aggressive and antisocial act—more about leaving than arriving.
(Likewise: Our various types of pretend-marriages, such as living together, getting married in Massachusetts and even nonsexual Brooklyn-based permanent roommate-ism. Cat-sharers!)
And now it’s Valentine’s Day, and the picture of the man in the gray suit arriving at his doorstep in Scarsdale with a hastily arranged box of Russell Stover’s and a dozen red roses seems dated: a celebration of male providence and concupiscence with female devotion and materialism. Now, both halves of a couple can have it all: connubial entitlements—and, particularly, social isolation.
They forget that the group is more important than the pair!
In the breeding years—27 to 36, the years at which adolescence expires now—these normals happily drop out. They combine apartments, or ditch two and get one, often in a new and farther borough, and throw each other surprising parties every six months.
Good luck keeping—let’s just say!—your weekly poker game together. Any gay man in his 20’s or 30’s (who has not made the mistake himself of fake-marrying, and there are plenty enough of those) can tell you that in the past five years, he’s probably lost more friends to marriage and babies than he has to H.I.V.
The marrieds are society’s takers. Gifts, good wishes, legal protections, admiration, marketing energy. What they give back are catered dinner parties.
There are exceptions! (Until the consequences of heterosexual sex catch up with them and they retreat to their diapering hidey-homes.) Still, there’s everyone else. Take it from the saddest sentence in the 2005 American Community Survey on New York State: “Most of the nonfamily households were people living alone, but some were comprised of people living in households in which no one was related to the householder.”
In the new ownership society, where all the cargo is tucked away at home, their shared ownership of feelings and tragedies and nicknames carries more freight than a big television. The relationship is no longer ruthlessly complimentary and gender-determined—thank God!—but also therefore no longer self-sufficient. They will always want more and more for themselves, and not just things but those “we” experiences.
Consumerism failed the rest of us just a few years back—was it that luxury goods became too accessible? Is Best Buy to blame?
Yes: I HAD TO WONDER.
When they poke their heads out from their stolen retreats, they can see the sad singles on the street—all stomach in, tits out. Then by maybe 45, they are many of them divorcing; before 38, though, they are not at all ready for adultery.
You can try, though. I took a married man to a friendly lunch recently. I only touched him once! Who said anything about wanting to wreck a home?
Oh, but I would. And we all should!
“The reason why adultery is expressly forbidden is—because in addition to the turpitude which it shares with other kinds of incontinence, it adds the sin of injustice, not only against our neighbour, but also against civil society,” goes the Catechism of the Council of Trent.
Four and half centuries later, it seems, what goes on between two people eligible to vote, drink, multiply and buy furniture is still a question of good civics.
I told a young married the other night my completely valid position on adultery: “It’s your contract, your problem.”
She was actually, like, “bag your face.” Offended!
Because their vows are somehow all of ours.
The best thing any of us singles can do is have sex with a married person this Valentine’s Day. The last remnant of Manhattan excitement is disappearing into happy monogamy. The late-night streets are silent with Puritanism; everyone at home, in khakis, living out a centuries-old modesty as immodestly as possible.
If the Bomb doesn’t get us, Valerie Solanas wrote in 1967, then society “will hump itself to death.”
Wrong again, sister! Society, humping itself in classic six’s, is all that’s left in this town.