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July/August 2018

I hope I’ve not grown so cynical about marriage as to enjoy the failure of the marriages of friends. Trust me, I really don’t enjoy these failures. But I do have to confess feeling, and of course supressing, an air of “I could have told you so.” Somebody, I can’t just now remember who, called marriage, or maybe it was re-marriage, which so many of my divorced friends also have entered into, “the triumph of hope over experience.” Maybe my problem is that the experience of so many other people’s failed marriages has left too strong an impress on me to allow any room at all for hope on my part to begin with.

In exchange for the potential intimacy of marital companionship and the mixed pleasure of having children — the mix being that between pride and worry — bachelorhood offers freedom. I’m not sure whether I’ve taken anything like full advantage of my own freedom. I’ve not lived a year in Italy, nor visited either the north or south poles, but then I was never interested in either leisurely or exotic travel. I’ve been able to sample a fairly wide variety of woman over the years; I’ve never counted but I suspect I’ve slept with something like sixty or so woman. I’ve had a few of what I suppose would pass as relationships, though I’ve not lived with any of these women, nor ever really wanted to. But the real prize of bachelorhood is in the everyday freedoms: eating what and when I want; watching on television on Sunday two pro football games back-to-back and if the mood strikes me a third one in the evening; never having to compromise my own little pleasures because they conflict with another person’s desires. I feel like going to a movie, or walking the few blocks from my apartment to watch a night baseball game at Wrigley Field, I go, responsible only to myself, no questions asked. In the realm of freedom, all this might seem minor, trivial even, but I assure you it is not.

Having said all that, I now have to report that over the last three months I have been seeing — a neutral enough word, “seeing,” no? — a woman in whose company I have found considerable pleasure. Her name is Laura Ross. Like me, she’s an attorney; she does wills and estate planning for Austin Sidley, which is what I do for my own firm, Winston, Klein, Gates. She’s thirty-five, never married, no interest, she tells me, in having children, at least for now, when she wants to concentrate on her career. “As for my so-called biological clock,” she remarked not long after we began keeping company and the subject of children arose, “I neglected to set the alarm.” Laura is, as I hope that one remark reveals, witty. And good-looking — strikingly so: slender, tall, dark hair, uses make-up subtly, dresses well. When I asked her how she, an obviously attractive woman, had evaded marriage thus far, she answered, without hesitation: “Haven’t found anyone sufficiently worthy.” I’ve since reviewed the remark several times, and don’t believe it contained a scintilla of irony. She didn’t ask the same question of me, who am eighteen years older than she. Had she done so, I might have answered, “I haven’t yet discovered any serious need for a woman permanently in my life.”

We slept together the fourth time we went out. We had had an early dinner at The Phoenix in Chinatown after which we went to the Joffrey Ballet. We both enjoy ballet. I told her that my mind wanders at classical music concerts, and the darkness of most modern plays leaves me depressed. Finding movies that aren’t made for adolescent boys is becoming more and more difficult. Ballet presents the prospect, usually fulfilled, of lovely music and elegant movement. Laura took ballet as a kid and loved it, but felt that she was too independent-minded to put her body, like so much clay, at the service of choreographer-sculptors.
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