Monday, December 13, 2010

My Greatest Fans

Recently I had a bad day. A fight with the new guy, shall call him The Chef, left my eyes swollen and sore with the salty remnants of tears and face so blotchty and so red that they seemed to blend seamlessly with my hair.

After calming both the physical and mental effects of the argument with a frozen ice pack for my face, and a bottle of Zin for my soul, I went to bed. Two days later I was on the phone with my father when he detected something in my voice. Whether a hint of sadness or a slight tone of frustration managed to seep through my masque of perhaps overly compensatory cheerfulness, I'm not sure. But my father, never one to be fooled by any false sentiment I may utter or deterred with a deflecting "I don't want to talk about it", finally wore me down. I gave him a brief outline of my recent romantic turmoil, bemoaned general frustration with dating, men, and relationships. Expressed frustration and in a state of emotional exhaustion, I think I even touted the virtues of an arranged marriage system.

The next morning I woke to the following email which I thought both caring, thoughtful and poignant. Frankly, I believe its underlying thesis to be an emotionally stinging truth but one that bears consideration

Hi Sweets.  Just want to say how sorry I am that you feeling low.  Life is tough in more ways than one, but that's not going to assuage you much I'm afraid.  I don't know what the answer is, Scarlett.  Your Mom and I tried to raise you to be successful and independent--and we succeeded spectacularly. 
If we made a mistake by not just marrying you off at eighteen, then I apologize.  But the older I get, the more I am convinced that happiness in life is about maximizing one's choices, and you have more choices than most women have. The flip-side of that, of course, is that you have to make some tough ones. 
It seems to me as if you are waiting for lightning to strike in an ecstatically transformative way--as with Cinderella or Snow White.  Since you are an incurable romantic (and you may not know this, but  you get that from me), you are sort of caught in a vise, waiting for that optimal situation to transpire.  But the truth is, honey, that it may or may not.  And you need to be prepared for either contingency.  And if, in the end, a very good alternative presents itself, rather the one of your dreams, it will be left to you to choose.  
My advise is simply to not  allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good.
I'm nearing old age, and long distanced from the dating scene.  Yet I can't believe there are no good men out there with whom you could be happy.  Then again, remaining unattached and unencumbered has its own advantages.  Just know that your specifications as to what you deem acceptable may change with time, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.  It isn't 'selling out' so much as it is an adaptation.  Just know that however you choose to configure your priorities, it is your life and your decision.  All I can offer is the father's hope--that if you do find someone, that discovery is impelled by much more than the mirage of transient attraction--such as the revelation of deep character, mutual respect and long-term goals.  That's my take, for what it's worth.
I know that I often sound churlish in trying to discipline you financially.  But don't ever forget that Mom and I can only be as happy as you are.  We are your greatest fans.

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