“You will never know,” advised a boy about my life’s entire future, a boy whom I had just met, “Unless you sow some wild oats.” This was back in October. He was/is married, interested in me only for my story because, he said, it sounded so familiar. He had once been separated for a year and was miserable for most of it. He then went back to his wife and all was wonderful–spectacular, actually–for the next year. He has been mostly miserable in the five years since. Hence, his unsolicited oats advice.
Every time I feel the self-imposed pressure to make a decision about what is next, I think about those oats.
He called a few weeks ago, completely out of the blue, as if he knew both the precise location of the crossroads I find myself and the need to talk to someone who has also visited this very scary place. “No matter what you decide, you are still the gutsiest person I know,” he concluded, when it was clear I had reached no conclusion whatsoever.
Gutsy? Ha! So little does he know.
Gutsy is the gal I met this weekend in the fully contrived club scene known as Disney’s Pleasure Island. Like all the other partnerless women in one spot, we were enjoying a round on the dance floor to a Rick James video. (Yeah, I know, Rick James–how can you not dance?) She made it clear she liked me. I made it clear I wasn’t ever going to be her type. She made it clear she was fine with that and said we might as well dance until the song was done. Would that it was that simple with men.
In the next few minutes, I learned she had lost more than 65 pounds in the past year, and that she owed much of this accomplishment to this very dance floor. “I dance to keep losing weight. I hate exercise. I hate health clubs. I love to dance, so….” So yeah, dance on and on.
I pointed to a large woman leaning on the railing above the dance floor, with whom I had seen this one talking. “Why aren’t you dancing with your friend?” I asked.
“Oh, that’s my sister,” she replied. “And she can’t dance. Bad back, bad knees. All kinds of health problems.”
That seemed too bad, because this sister was swaying and tapping her feet like all women do when they are dying to be out on the dance floor but are too shy to go it alone or ask someone to join them.
“But she obviously wants to dance,” I said.
“Oh, she’ll dance again, soon. She’s already lost 35 pounds. Another 25 or so, and she’ll be dancing. We’re in this together.” My dance partner reflected for a moment, then said, “Sometimes, a guy comes up to us, maybe gets a little too friendly with my sister, you know? But I got that covered, too,” she smiled. “I just show ’em my knife.” Guts she clearly has aplenty.
If I had guts, I’d watch every episode of every season of “Sex in the City” and then use any couple of issues of “Cosmo” as follow-up CliffsNotes–you know, so I could get up to speed on all that goes on with today’s oats. Instead, I am an uncertain and nervous wreck, even as a girl I hardly know pretends quite convincingly otherwise in my so-called dating world.
If I had guts, I wouldn’t hear my mother’s voice from three-and-a-half decades ago reminding me that “playing the field” is quite proper and that “a girl who is too available is also viewed as too easy.”
If I had guts, I’d scoop up handfuls of the oats and toss them in the air for the sheer fun of it, allowing them to scatter about in the wind, landing where they will. I would not care if I was simply another girl in another port. I wouldn’t hang on every text message or wonder if the thrill of a chase is over before it’s really begun. Because I’d have the guts to be joyful and excited for the sake of the moment as it unfolded–past sadness, current guilt, and future worries shoved aside and out of mind.
I need a split personality, I think. I need to learn how to really relax and live for today and only a little for tomorrow. I need to allow myself unconditional happiness–just plain old, honest I-don’t-care happiness. Happiness lived in my moments here, because I will never have these moments again, ever.
And I guess that gets back to the oats and, of course, guts. What I really need are the guts to sow those oats. And maybe a knife, just in case.