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The Big Lie
Colin James Haslett
'A guy can die if he doesn’t get any'

I’ve just come back from an out of town wedding. He’s my oldest friend, she’s a lovely girl and I had an excellent time, but there was one downside: I was about the only person there without a spouse or fiancé or live-in significant other. Not that many years ago I’d have been among the majority there in that respect, family members maybe not included, and it would have been like one big single’s mixer. This time I stood out like a sore thumb; sitting with people talking about their kids, dancing with women whose husbands or boyfriends were too tuckered out to keep up with them, and gritting my teeth as person after person, close friends and virtual strangers alike, told me one version or another of the big lie, the one I’ve been hearing most of my adult life, "Colin, there’s a woman out there for you."

On the scale of big lies this one is right up there with "The check is in the mail", "Size doesn’t really matter" and "A guy can die if he doesn’t get any." Well, folks, I’ll wait a couple of days for the post office, and I’ll take the rolled up socks out of my boxers, and I guess I’ll have to make out a will, but there is not a woman out there for me.

Don’t get me wrong: I like women. I’m a normal, healthy, straight male who would be thrilled to be in a stable, committed relationship. But that’s just not going to happen. I’m single, always have been single and always will be single. Call it fate or destiny or self-fulfilling prophecy if you like, I believe that it’s just my lot in life. I don’t know if it’s nature or nurture, wiring or programming, and I don’t really care. It’s just the way I am. It’s one of those grown up truths I’ve come to accept over time, much like I’ve come to accept that I’m never going to have super powers or inherit billions of dollars from a long lost uncle. And while I’d still like to be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound or buy a Caribbean island, most of you would likely think I was a complete fool if I went around being depressed about those things. Or worse than a fool if I exposed myself to radioactive materials or racked up mountains of debt waiting for them to happen.
So why is it that when I tell people that I’ve resigned myself to being a life long bachelor they feel compelled to repeat the big lie?

It’s not like I’m miserable being single. Even some of the people who tell the big lie will admit to me in the same breath that I’ve got it good. I’m not tied down. I can come and go as I please. I can walk around my apartment in my underwear and belch with impunity. I can follow my passions with a freedom that none of my married or seriously involved friends could ever hope for. I’m a fairly happy guy these days, and no tiny part of that happiness comes from the fact that I’ve managed to accept my bachelorhood as a permanent condition. I used to be stressed out by being single, by the pressures people and society put on me to be part of a couple. These days that stress isn’t there. Until somebody tells me the big lie, and then I get to thinking.

You see, I have hands. And they’re pretty good hands, what with the opposable thumbs
and the manual dexterity and all that good stuff. I like my hands and I’m satisfied with them, but birds have wings, and they can fly with their wings. I like my hands and I like what I can do with my hands, and I’d never actually trade them for wings, but sometimes I find myself watching birds and wishing I could fly. And sometimes when people tell me the big lie, especially when it’s people I love and trust, people who’ve known me for years, sometimes I believe them for just a little while.
I’ve admitted that I’d be thrilled to be in a romantic relationship. I don’t know if Shakespeare was right about loving and losing, but I don’t think finding out would be the end of the world for me. I said that I’ve accepted being single and I’m happier for having accepted it, not that I’m happy about being single. Most of the time that’s not an issue. Yes I occasionally falter: I meet a woman who completely fascinates me and I start to consider the possibilities until, for whatever reason, nothing happens. It’s not a big deal, and I can count the number of times it’s happened in the last decade on the fingers of both hands with a Bronx salute or two to spare. I get over it. But when I start to believe people who are telling me that there’s someone out there for me, that some woman’s going to snatch me up and make my head spin or some other version of this lie, it does not help me. In fact it generally makes me pretty damned miserable for a while, until I remind myself that it is a lie and that I will always be single and that’s no bad thing.

I understand why people tell me the big lie. I understand that my friend the groom wants me to be as happy as he is. I understand that my parents want grandkids. I understand that my ever shrinking pool of single friends may see my acceptance of being single as a threat to their own potential to find a life mate. And I understand that people who don’t really know me think they’re doing me a kindness by being encouraging. But except for that last group, who I’m generally able to ignore with ease, these people should know better. I tell them how I feel and still they persist. I roll my eyes and they think I’m kidding. I’m writing this knowing that many of them will read it, and I have absolutely no doubt that it just won’t sink in.

And I’m not the only person on the planet to feel this way, folks. If you know any single people then you most likely know someone who feels the same way I feel. We don’t want you to pity us. We don’t want you to set us up with your co-worker’s cousin’s hairdresser. And we don’t want you to be trying constantly to encourage us or cheer us up. What we want is for you to stop lying to us. Even if you don’t think it’s a lie, even if you truly believe that we’re going to meet our true love right around the corner, just keep it to yourselves, thank you. We don’t need to hear it.

© Colin Hasslett September 2002

I Wish I Were an Asshole
Or Damn my Parents for Raising me Right Anyway
Colin James Haslett

Aging Angry Young Man or Bitter Old Fart in Training?
Colin James Haslett
'Mostly I’ve been the kind of person who walks around wanting to punch those shiny, happy people right in the pie hole and then ask them what they’re so bloody cheery about.'

© 'Mr Nice Guy' Colin Haslett - 2002

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