So I've recently come to the realization that for five years now, people around me have been getting married. Ever since I returned from my mission in June of 2003, between numerous friends, a business partner, a roommate, a brother, most of my missionary companions and just about all other acquaintances thinkable there has been somebody in my sphere of influence who has been constantly engaged. Most recently my roommate and his girlfriend, Sean and Mary (they are mentioned in "The Seemingly Brainless on Valentine's Day") were married.
Returned LDS missionaries have a tendency of being married earlier in life than the rest of the world. One missionary companion has three kids and I trained him. From a cultural standpoint, I am constantly barraged with questions of when I am going to get on the marriage bus by people at church, extended family and friends. I know that they all want me to be happy and that's why they ask, so I don't mind too much when they ask. There are a lot of guys in my situation who dwell on the fact that they feel left behind the rest of the group.
I'm a pretty optimistic person. Sure, I'm a little sarcastic at times (see all previous posts) and for the most part, I would describe my sense of humor as somewhat self-deprecating, but I really am a glass half full kind of guy. Listed below are the reasons I love being single.
1) Freedom. I know it sounds callous to some, but being single means that I have the freedom to do whatever whenever. Being married means you've got to get at least one other person to buy in. For example, I recently moved due to the fact that Sean got married and Mary moved in. It didn't take me a week to realize that I had moved into a house that really isn't my style. I'm moving again on Saturday. Try doing that as a married adult. As another example, every once in a while, I get the urge to take off on a road trip somewhere. I pack my car with whatever and go. Sometimes I bring friends along and because they are single as well, the only thing anybody ever considers is whether or not they want to go.
2) Church. LDS singles wards have their drawbacks for sure. All these drawbacks can be summed up by the underlying principle that a singles ward creates the social pressure of going to church to hookup. I have a policy against dating girls in my ward, so that pretty much eliminates all the downsides of a singles ward and that leaves the positives. For instance, every ward in the church has activities outside of Sunday services that involve food, but only in a singles ward does the food part happen twice a month guaranteed. Munch and mingle, break the fast, linger longer and flirt and dessert are all names by which this activity is called, but all the names point to food. That just doesn't work in a family ward. Another huge benefit of a singles ward is that it is quiet in church. Before church and after church, it's as noisy if not noisier than a family ward, but during church, the reverent atmosphere in meetings really helps to maximize what I learn in church. Don't get me wrong. I love kids. My nephew and my niece rank in my top ten favorite people on Earth and they're pretty near the top at that. I even like kids to whom I'm not related. And though I would like nothing more than to be a dad myself, not having any kids around in church is like nothing else. Lastly on the subject of church, I will say that the lessons in Priesthood and Sunday School include much more class participation than I've experienced in a family ward. Since most young single adults are students, it seems that the members of the class are much more prone to be involved in the lesson because it comes naturally. Every time I visit my parents family ward, I feel so bad for that poor sap who is teaching upwards of 30-50 adults with at most five people contributing.
3) Appearance. Most people would think that being single means that you have to maintain your image and marriage is the time to let it all go. For the most part this is true, but once married, your spouse has certain expectations. My brothers and I all decided to grow moustaches once. It's stupid and strange and sophomoric, but it's also something brothers do. It didn't work out so great for my sister-in-law. The contest was over before any of our lip push brooms had the chance to flourish when he shaved at the request of his wife. Contrast that experience with a bunch of single guys in a similar contest and bam, it's like a Tom Seleck wannabe convention. While on hair indiscretions, I have to mention that in the last two years, I've shaved my head twice. This was something I did as a little kid when I didn't care too much about other people's perceptions of me. Junior high and high school brought an end to that sort of hairstyle, but as an adult, I don't necessarily need to be validated by others' opinions of me, so shaving the head is something I can do again. Shaving the head is one thing, but the events that preceded the head shaving included shaving male pattern baldness into my head, while keeping the moustache the first time around and a green mowhawk the second time. I'd like to see if any married LDS guy could get his wife to buy in to that sort of hairstyle.
So there you have it. Freedom, church and appearance are all great aspects of being single. Of course this whole post is just here to reassure anybody who reads the next post that I'm not some whinny little baby who is bitter about my continuing single status. Stay tuned for my list of grievances against the single life.