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4:06 pm | 08 June 2004 | The Plan

For no reason, I am sitting down to write the beginning of this and I have the accent in my head of a very old, very portly black gentleman from the South. Like, please read this first paragraph as though my name is Fats LaRue and I am pausing between sentences to suck the innards out of crayfish--sorry, crawdads--and tossing their shells into the street, in, like, Georgia. Jaw-juh. Yes, I realise that this is a sign of my ever-more-impending madness, but please play along with me. Thank you.

Seems like our generation's got all kindsa crazy, anti-traditional crap associated--so much more than any previous generation that it's spawned its own new anthropological studies. Like this whole "urban tribe" theory. Lord, was I glad they put a name on that! I used to try to describe it as "well, my friends and I didn't really get along so well with our families, so in our late teens and early twenties we sort of became each others' families." And we did. We used to have potlucks and sing whole Weezer albums and make, like, tuna casseroles and shit, every Thursday. Taking care of the clan. Never visiting home. But it took way too long, and sounded waaaaay too emo and "I hate you Dad!" to explain that out, so the phrase "urban tribes" was such a good one.

Even more so after we all bailed out of our hometowns and had to tell our folks "Look, I don't know what kind of misapprehension you're labouring under*, but we're never coming back here to 'settle down.' We're never coming back, period." We are city people. My parents cried with disbelief, "But what about when you have kids**? Won't you need us to be right down the road to babysit***?" My folks, divorced since 1990, remarried almost instantaneously and now live six miles apart. I think they seriously thought I'd get hitched and move into the middle. As many a rapper has said in similar situations of incredulous disbelief: "Aw, HELL no!" CHILDREN?!

The Contingency Plan is, I believe, another of these popular Social Tricks of Our Time. It is this: Having a Plan B for marriage. What? No, not Jennifer Lopez. It's when you say to your closest friend of the appropriate-for-romance gender: "If I'm not married by the time I'm thirty, let's get married." It's true, and I'm pretty sure it's common. I have found it useful to be asked a few times, because all the men I'm close to are good ones and will no doubt be snatched up by some broad before we hit the Golden Age. Stacked up in dominoed regiments, I have Prospective Mates for the ages of thirty, thirty-two, thirty-five, thirty-seven, forty, and fifty, and one mysterious moniker of "Future Wife #12." It's a weirdly full-circle thing, I think. Our grandparents married for practicality and stayed together, even though misery seemed pretty common. Our parents tried to marry for love and got divorced 800 times. We'd like to be in love, but we have fewer illusions, I think. We are born jaded. We have hope, but that hope has bootmarks on it. In the end, we'll settle for a good friend.

Except: Who's settling? Not me! The idea of "me being married" posits first a "me being in love" which leads directly to "me being happy" which entails "DOES NOT FUCKING COMPUTE." The second I'm happy I'll get hit by a train! Or et by a shark! I coexist with joy the way Russians enjoy strawberry wine coolers Miss Hawaiian Tropic competitions! Also: my stomach hurts! Aaagh! clm.

*We don't actually speak to our parents this way.
**The same parents also say things like "How is your...I guess, 'man-friend'? It seems silly to say 'boyfriend' when you are 25 years old." Because, yes, I am a raging spinster. Wtf.
***Actual quote.

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