Tuesday, 30 October 2012

The Way of the Bachelor

There's a nice phrase I picked up from here: "a bachelor's way of being in the world is both rich and arid, exciting and static". That strikes me as about right. It's exciting, if I want it to be, because of what I can choose to do, and how I choose to perceive the world around me: it's static in that there's nothing happening in my life that changes its structure and gives it a sense of time passed. As opposed to having children growing up under your nose, and living with someone who, after a while, starts to change and get irreversibly older in front of you.

My way of being in the world is rich, in that I have the time to entertain, educate and develop myself almost every day, and can loaf in a manner a man in a partnership simply cannot, and I'll accept that what the writer meant by "arid" is that, in the end, I don't have children. Or they were just being snotty. I can kinda live with either.

A bachelor does something with his life that doesn't need the company of women: study, good food, discussion, mountain-climbing, sailing, collecting art, healing the sick, whatever. The way he earns his money may have something to do with that purpose, but often it's just a day job. So when he leaves work, he is moving into his real life. He doesn't want to "share his life", or anyone else's, he wants to share his interests. His interests are his life.

A bachelor who lives on his own comes to value the quiet, security, privacy and comfort of his own place. At the end of a day spent in a hostile or indifferent world full of work-related nonsense he has a couple of hours to recuperate, to expand and feel safe. Anyone who has experienced an empty flat or house as a place of recuperation will never give it up.

Then we get down to the practicalities and it gets a little less metaphysically romantic. 

I cook my own food, iron my own shirts, do my own shopping, clean my own house, make my own bed, have a job, can entertain myself, and am relaxed eating in restaurants on my own. Weekdays, I wake up at 05:30, leave the house at 06:30, commute and have an hour in a cafe before arriving at work at 08:50, leaving at 17:00, when I go to the gym, to a meeting, a movie, or sometimes just straight home. I'm home between 18:20 and 21:30 and target bedtime is 21:30. Sunday morning is a visit to the gym, and whatever else to pass the time. Saturday is the messy day of ironing, shopping, housework or just goofing off because there's only so much order a guy can impose on his life. Plus I hate seeing the miserable, unhappy parents and their screaming children who infest the world on Saturday after about 11:00. Sorry, did I say that last bit out loud?

The logistics of that life doesn't give other people many hours to make a valuable difference to me. Women can do so by being amusing, interesting, attractive, good company and maybe lovers, but only if they have somewhere else to be tedious, messy and scratchy. I keep to myself in such a mood and don't expect to inflict it on others nor them to inflict it on me. Since part of the price that women charge for sex is that men put up with their tedious, messy and scratchy hours and weeks, I and other bachelors tend to have affairs, if we can afford them, or a succession of what amount to extended one-night stands.

However, as you have just read, even I have flinched. Everyone does.

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