In a lot of movies (especially pretentious indie movies), you’ll see a guy living by himself. He wakes up hungover to a house covered in junk. The floor hasn’t been seen in years. There’s probably evidence of the inspiration for his hangover lying around. He puts on a stained white T-shirt and stumbles to the phone, answers rudely and discovers his rent is overdue. Oops, he’s broke. He moves some papers around on the floor and roaches scurry away from underneath them. He stumbles down the barren halls whose walls give no appearance of a human resident residing within them. There are cobwebs in the corners. He finds remnant in one of his bottles of inspiration and finishes it off, then lies down on the couch, contemplating taking a nap, even though he just woke up 2 minutes ago. He thinks better of it and stumbles out the door, destined to turn his life around. This guy shows signs of being barely capable of taking care of himself, merely surviving to pick up another check he’ll spend irresponsibly or that won’t stretch quite far enough to pay the bills. This guy is also balding, in his 40s and divorced. That’s why he doesn’t know how to take care of himself, he’s not used to being alone.
It’s not as if this is a completely inaccurate picture of bachelor life. I’ve met people like this, and I might still be recovering. But for the most part, this is not the life of a typical bachelor, or at least not a bachelor who hopes to keep his marital non-status.
Because any hopeful soon-to-be-bachelor-no-more won’t be satisfied with this. And if he is, he’ll learn better soon. And in fact, he’d better learn to get in touch with his feminine side, because eventually, he will face the fact that not is he only a hopeful partner-to-be, but for now, he is THE partner. Got that pardner?
As I’m sitting here, I’m staring at a pile of dishes that have captured my kitchen sink. Negative though that may sound, it also means I did something to put them there. And no, I’m not just putting my TV dinners on actual plates instead of just eating them out of the tray (even a bachelor like myself knows not to waste a plate on something so trivial). I’ll have you know I cooked myself a meal. And later on, I’ll be washing those dishes. By hand. Because I don’t have a dishwasher.
That is, I made dinner after going to the store to pick up stuff to make dinner. And while I was there, I picked up a couple extra things because I try to be practical about how I spend my time. After all, it’s just me here, and I gotta spend it wisely. Oh, and I forgot to pick up milk while I was there. Shame on me.
See, living by yourself gives you multiple-personality disorder. You’re the husband and the wife. You can nag yourself and get angry at yourself for forgetting to do the things you were supposed to do and then get angry at yourself again for not reminding yourself to do your own chores and work! Dang, I forgot to take out the trash. I told myself to do it earlier, but I just didn’t listen did I? I never listen (and so the trash bag sits there by the door for days waiting to be taken out. Poor trash. So lonely, so neglected).
Somehow the other night when I bought noodles, they fell out of the bag and I apparently lost them. Now, I don’t know how noodles manage to run away (unless it’s the Flying Spaghetti Monster, but then you’re the one running away), but I was upset at myself. It’s like one parter getting mad at the other. “How could you lose noodles? What, did the Flying Spaghetti Monster rapture them up to tomato sauce heaven?” “I don’t know, they must have just fallen out of the bag somehow.” “They just fell out of the bag? Why don’t you just take $2 out of your wallet and throw it on the ground?” “If you’re so upset about it, why don’t you do the shopping next time?” “Duh, I’m you, remember?” “I don’t even know why I bother talking to myself!”
I tell myself to clean the bathroom, and I tell myself I’ll do it on a day when I’m free. And I do. I tell myself I need to clean stuff up, and I respond I’ll get to it when I have time. And I do. But I have to do it in between my other “free time” activities, like doing laundry, cooking, washing dishes, grocery shopping, vacuuming. I don’t have a lawn, but if I did, I’d have to mow it. If I need any handyman stuff done, I gotta go get my handy-dandy 12-in-1 thingamajig and get to it, Tim the Toolman.
That’s not to say I don’t have any free time for myself, because I do. It’s not to say I’m never lazy, because I am from time to time. But when I have free days, I like to get stuff done, because it is a lot of stuff to do. Dinner won’t make itself after all. I won’t lie, the beer tastes extra good after a long day of tidying up around the apartment or making dinner.
Anyway, I’m writing this because I’ve told married folks I have a busy life, only to hear in response, “wait till you have kids.” I don’t doubt having kids makes for a busy life, and I commend good parents, because I’m sure it’s not easy. But try being motivated when you don’t have anyone else depending on you or reminding you to get things done. And then try doing all those chores by yourself. Living by yourself is a lot of work, and any single young person who does things like clean the bathroom on a regular basis will tell you that.
But it’s a good thing that I am responsible for myself. It’s a good thing to be able to take care of yourself, and I don’t mean just getting by like Paul Giamatti in Sideways. I live in a lap of luxury, of which I am also the nest mother. When I finish cleaning the bathroom, I joke to myself, it takes a proud man to have a clean bathroom. If I ever end up divorced, heaven forbid, I won’t be stumbling around not knowing what to do with myself like that guy. I know how to do everything I need to do, and I’ve had plenty of practice at all of it. I am responsible for myself.
So when I do find myself with a real, other person living with me to argue with about taking out the garbage, I’ll already know my place.
P.S. I got candles in my bathroom to make it smell pretty!