I live in a very black and white world where people don’t change, where the rules don’t change, and where I am always right. There are certain things I have always sworn I would never do, and true to my word, I never have.
For example, I’ve never voted for a Republican, not even the one or two attractive ones. After being dragged to see “Robin Hood,” I’ve never paid to see a Kevin Costner movie, and refuse to watch one even for free unless given free reign to make wisecracks throughout. And I continue to steadfastly reject the notion that Celine Dion has anything remotely approaching talent.
Yet here I am in line at a theater waiting to see a movie with my partner and our friends Amy and Melanie. Suddenly, it strikes me. How the hell did this happen? I’ve become a “we” person!
I’m sure you know “we” people. They’re those people that always refer to themselves in the plural, as in “We don’t like chicken parmesean,” “We prefer the larger sized bath towels,” and “We think Jay Leno is a comic genius.” It is as though a personality lobotomy is the price you pay for having sex with one person on a regular basis.
“We” people never do anything alone, and more importantly, they rarely do things without other “we” people. I used to wonder if there is something in their genetic code that causes an explosion if in the company of an odd number of people for an extended period of time.
In short, I hated “we” people. In our single party years, my friend Edwin and I determined that if we ever found the right person, we would definitely never become those people. They were terminally dull, and what’s more, they seemed to have an agenda to make us feel like lepers for not being coupled. I thought of Edwin when I had the aforementioned Amy and Melanie over for dinner along with married couple Danny and Holly.
At first glance, we looked like some bizarre commercial for Bennetton, a male couple, a female couple, and a mixed couple, having cocktails and eating summertime barbeque fare almost as though there was nothing slightly off about the whole picture. In reality, we were all too conventional. A wee dinner party had turned into a “we” dinner party.
I suppose this insidiousness began to sneak up on me a few years back when we had our first Christmas together. I have long been an avowed Christmas hater after a childhood of divorce and being shuttled between two families, trying not to hurt anyone’s feelings by spending a minute less with one person than I did with another. Craig, though, had been raised as a Jehovah’s Witness, and for some reason I decided that he should have a real holiday full of bad decorations and crass consumerism.
That’s when after nearly a decade of living on my own, I put up my first Christmas tree. And while it was more colorful, stylish, and sparkly than the tree of your average family, it was probably the most nuclear family gesture I had ever made up to that point in my life. By the next year, I had taken up my mother’s hobby of baking breads as gifts to friends and co-workers, and we actually considered having our picture made for holiday greeting cards, in front of the tree with the gaily wrapped gifts and the cats.
After considering the nausea medication we’d have to include in that card, we nixed that idea. I suppose that deep down in the depths of what passes as my heart I knew that while being somewhat of a “we” person wasn’t necessarily the horrible crime I once thought, the card would be crossing a line that would put us in the same category as those people you see at amusement parks wearing matching t-shirts pledging their devotion in airbrush. Those people should be shot on sight, along with people who send family newsletters and who use the word soulmate.
My newfound flexibility, as best I can figure, is part of the milestone of finally feeling like an adult, even if I don’t always act like it. Just last week, I found myself willing to try sushi again instead of writing it off as smelly yuppie compost. If that isn’t flexibility, I don’t know what is. So I’ll say it…I’m a “we” person, and that’s okay. And it didn’t take me half as long to say it without cringing as it did to say that I’m th-th-thirty.
Besides, I never really made a conscious choice to become a “we” person. I don’t see my single friends as somehow deficient in some way. I don’t look at them with pity and assure them that the perfect person is out there somewhere (with the sort of friends I have, I would get punched a lot if I did that anyway).
In remembrance of my former self, I do make an effort when in the presence of single friends lamenting their singleness to point out that they don’t have to worry about someone else’s snoring. There are no struggles over the remote control. You never have to argue over who ate the last of the ice cream or who left that horrible smell in the bathroom. Aside from being true, I figure it is the least I can do for the man I used to be. I’m still not watching “Dances With Wolves”, though, not even if promised that Kevin Costner dies a painful death in the end alongside Celine Dion.