My now-husband finally moved in with me a few weeks before our wedding in November. While we were packing, he tasked me (after I begged for the responsibility) with shredding his notebooks that he kept about ten years ago when he first moved to New York City as a rising stand-up comedian.
“You can look at them if you want,” he said. “I don’t care anymore.”
I greedily began speed-reading the spiral-bound Meads hidden in the back of his closet. Canada was a pain in the ass, he had written. Queens was affordable. He liked getting his dick sucked.
At the top of one of these pages a particularly prescient insight stood out in all caps. It read: “DO NOT GOT MARRIED NO MATTER WHAT.”
I laughed out loud and shredded the page with delight. I also thought about my own notebooks from that era, which probably had a line scribbled with equal fervor somewhere on top that said: “DO WHATEVER YOU NEED TO DO TO GET MARRIED AGAIN NO MATTER WHAT.”
That was until I broke up with the blue blood I was dating by having a devil’s threeway with two Italian pilots I met after I bummed a cigarette on the street. I proceeded to go on a two-year bender of self-destruction (the likes of which my liver had never seen) and pretty much set my personal and professional life on fire — and watched, out-of-body-like, as I morphed into the most unwifeable woman in New York.
My case of fuck-it-itis was at pathological proportions. There were the New York Post covers (one with a gigolo, another with a rapist I accidentally dated). There was the New York Observer front-page profile that called me “gross” in the headline. There was the Dr. Drew segment in which the chyron screamed, “LIFE RULED BY SEX?”
Within hours of meeting Pat Dixon in February 2015 at a coffeehouse near my Chelsea apartment, I had already baited him with a ridiculous stream of inappropriate sexual anecdotes — including the always-impressive, lazily revealed, “So I was fucking this married guy the other night …” (In my defense, the married guy said he was getting divorced and had only gotten hitched in the first place to try to get over me when I broke his heart years ago. Related: I’m an idiot.)
Instead of doing what most other dudes would do, instead of responding to the blaring signals of “DTF! This chick is DTF!” Pat just laughed and said, “That’s great.”
He was unfazeable. Unfazeable, meet unwifeable.
I told him that I had given up on ever getting married again because I had wanted it so badly once before. I told him I had made a vision board of engagement rings, raised the subject drunkenly to the executive editor of the Post one night at Langan’s, and given him the tattered poster the next day, telling him he should try the same thing to boost circulation.
On a roll, I crowed to Pat: “I mean, honestly, I could get married in two seconds if I wanted to. But I’d rather be alone than be a person I’m not at this point. Shit, I turn 40 this year.”
I had so much bravado. So much bluster. At that point I was starting to embarrass even myself, and I absentmindedly grabbed the stained napkin in front of me and started nervously shredding it into tiny pieces. He put his hand on mine until I stopped.
We became fairly inseparable after this first date. But it wasn’t a routine. It was never predictable.
Amongst the crazy deal-breaker-worthy things that I will admit to: I estimated that I had “probably sucked 100 dicks” in my time as a single woman, I texted him that I was touching myself while thinking about him after we had gone on one date, I told him that I deleted his contact in my phone because he didn’t follow me back on Instagram, I rehashed to him his past Facebook posts for the prior year, and I broke down crying on our second date because I liked him too much.
Not just unwifeable. I was undateable. I was no-one-should-have-to-put-up-with-that-kind-of-psycho-behavior-able.
But something interesting unfolded. Something soothing, reliable, and steady occurred amid the chaos. He saw that I laid it all out there. There was no stealth crazy. The warning came pretty clearly on the package, in the anecdotes, in the way that I instantly got naked on our very first date.
“Would you marry me?” he asked me after a few months of sexual and emotional intimacy, the likes of which neither of us had ever seen. I knew the question wasn’t for real for real but I also knew that it was real enough.
Not too long after that first proposal, my poker face and smugness began to crack in unexpected ways.
“This guy, he like — he really wants to marry me,” I murmured in a dream one night, doing a sales pitch to a book agent in my sleep before realizing with horror that I was boasting to the man in question. I opened my eyes and then buried myself deep into my pillow, humiliated at my own hubris.
“Oh my God,” I said. Talk about blowing up one’s own spot.
We soon did the usual comparing of notes, going through the mutual friends each of us had slept with, received oral from, made out with for a few minutes, had a threeway with in which orgasm was not achieved, or jerked off together on FaceTime, so all that awkwardness was well covered. Yet we are still discovering new wrinkles.
The other day I came across an email I sent to one of Pat’s friends years ago. It was innocuous — but also not, in that way that any email from a single girl to a single guy is never really truly about the “maybe we could, you know, talk sometime.”
When he read the email, Pat looked at me and — as if calculating my compatibility with this friend — concluded, “I can see why so many men didn’t know what to do with you. You have so much kind of excitable and intense sexual energy already, that it’s easy to dismiss it or be intimidated.”
They say you find someone when you stop looking, but I don’t think that’s it at all. I think you often never find someone. I think you often die alone. I think there are, as Woody Allen says, two kinds of people in life: the miserable and the horrible. I think you get so discouraged from trying everything (what if I only dated men I was definitely not attracted to? what if I only dated men whose last names I didn’t know? what if I pretended to have a lobotomy?) that the “try” eventually gets beaten out of you.
When you can’t try. You can’t pretend. You just can’t do it anymore.
That’s when it happens.
The very person you’ve spent your life trying not to be is the only one who ever had a chance at finding love in the first place.
Which is a lucky thing.
Because it’s not long after the honeymoon is over that the marriage really begins.