February 2, 2012

What Your Relationship Status Says About You

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What is the issue?

As categorized by Facebook relationship status options.

Single — Worrisome and self-loathing gait into a bar, desperate for some form of love — however fleeting, shallow, and carnal; just some affirmation — the childlike look of fear and wonderment peaking through the emotional armor slowly rusting around a beaten, still beating heart; the coming home alone and coming alone, that clammy orgasm pulled, pushed, or flicked into a room, perhaps a door considerately closed to spare a roommate from the restrained sounds of one’s auto-erotic saddening arrival; the New Yorker reading train ride downtown for the therein reviewed movie with a friend, or friends, some contraption of standing souls, for the mercy of other people’s eyes.

In a relationship — Regular sexual intercourse two or three times a week, usually Thursday nights after The Office and on the weekend; Saturday “date night” dinner at ethnic fusion restaurant whose assimilation of Southeast-Asian or Latin flavors one earnestly abridges with “wow”; brunch on Sunday morning in casual outer-wear waiting in line with other people also in relationships, the competitive visible peck on the cheek, an occasional unhappy dog on a leash tied to a poll; argument last night over the pill, he in favor, she weary, based on sensory and commitment implications, respectively; skiing or boating trips during long weekends for which items from REI and L.L. Bean are finally worn.

Engaged — Weekly trips to Crate & Barrel and Pier 1 Imports to decide what to include in the wedding gift registry, the man slowly ambling behind the woman’s consumerist empowered gait as she “drives in the point” that their future will be centered around the conquest of appliances, lavender scented things, and seat cushions; the man’s friends warning him in bars with mocking yet sympathetic pats on the back “dude it’s over,” in reference to any further pollination of his genes, our eunuch conceding with a bowed head into his last whiskeys he will drink without getting into an argument; a still warm kiss on the cheek when the higher-income earner comes home hoping the other made dinner.

Married — Vaguely more content yet depleted version of a single person trapped inside 18 – 20 lbs. of soft pinkish body fat, like over-cooked noodles left in broth overnight; the metallic drone of the television and its manic and vulgar commercials; the silent weight of the mortgage bill buried under expired coupons and glib Hallmark cards from in-laws; the lost keys, the freezer-burnt lasagna, the sporing mold on the bathroom ceiling which slowly becomes a black Sistine Chapel over time; the porn depleted limp dick choking on the humid menstrual air of its supposed target; the hand holding on a beach at sunset on their anniversary as two naked baby animals, blind, tend to grasp for each other.

It’s complicated — Problems with infidelity and lack-of-communication euphemized under it being “complicated,” usually enabled and sustained by people suffering from borderline personality disorder, MFAs, and narcissism; 1:00 a.m. drunk complicatee at bus stop screaming at complicator over the latter’s making out at a party with tween girl tumblrer deeply influenced by Lolita, guy smashing Banana Republic ad in, almost breaking his hand, but the next morning half a dozen texts make it alright, until next weekend’s “threesome issue,” the issue being the implicit emotional politics behind the penis to vagina ratio. The bruised hand a romantic purple flower in the mind of complicatee. It’s complicated.

In an open relationship — Sluts, hippies, and incest survivors wearing loose clothing in the grassiest area of decrepit yet gentrified district of edgy city, often barefoot, eyes closed, swaying themselves to a song featuring a ukulele; progressive over-educated Socialist-y people who don’t subscribe to petty and provincial notions of monogamy, using words like “polyamorous” to describe an STD; the cranberry juice used for urinary tract infections and with vodka for a cocktail whose name they don’t remember — all the names they don’t remember, from bar to car to mattress to car to bar, repeat, the lineage of humanity as accidentally passed through the cervix, that unlucky baby.

Widowed — Sitting on dock by a lake with gin n’ tonic in hand, wisps of graying hair incurred by partner’s death fluttering across the forehead as some attempt at cursive, some signature on a death certificate that meant something once; the calm waters in the estuary of one’s chest, the warm murmur behind the sternum, the loss and grief losing its contour and contrast to the world as a thunderstorm that eventually dissipates, as if God gave up on hell and simply went to sleep; the sole ice cube from finished drink barely melting in the freezing cold.

Separated — 6-month “trial period” before legal divorce, at times used prosaically by married couples who break up without going to lawyers or court, somewhat cordial, but mostly out of fiscal modesty, a kind of concession towards each other, as children grow old, splintering off into their own fragmented selves; a sweet sentiment lingering in the kitchen, perhaps from a spice rack left behind by the more cooperative one who moved out; the memory of dinner rendered together, once happy.

Divorced — Being thrown into the horrifying world of being single, trying to “get out there,” only you’re older, hence more depleted and cynical, without the youthful incentive of [ever] wanting to get married [again]; a semi-threatening email from “the ex” flagged in your inbox for the lawyer, just in case; wedding band somewhere in the coin jar, or oddly stashed away in the orphaned sock/ condom drawer; the nightly naked scrutiny in front of the mirror to assess the “used goods” with which you might attempt to attract another human being again, perhaps one just as worn and spit out as you.

In a civil union — Homosexuals not allowed to marry because heterosexual legislators need to get a f-cking life; probably very clean and more well-adjusted than straight couples; patient, nurturing, accepting of others, their commitment strengthened by the morally vigorous terrain of being gay; beautiful (at times) people who straight people wish were also straight so the latter could do them; fans of Barbra Streisand and Ellen Degeneres; a rare orchid properly cared for on the kitchen table.

In a domestic partnership — Neither married nor in a civil union, these “chronic daters” seem to express “I’ve given up” by the wearing of gray sweatpants (or for the insane, the Snuggie), eating of scrambled eggs on one’s chest while tv supine, and other zombie-like co-habitation rituals practiced by married couples; having dated for 8 – 9 years, the domestic partnership is a kind of compromise between the woman’s ultimatum for marriage and the man’s need to secure a sexual partner; a half-finished bowl of chili in the kitchen sink, a vague halo of suds around it, the cranium exploding constant drip from the faucet above, the one that should be but isn’t fixed. TC mark

Jimmy Chen

Jimmy Chen writes essays, criticism, and satire. He also contributes at HTMLGIANT, among other places, and …

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