People get married because they just want to quit while they're ahead, because they'll lose it all in the long run if they don't cash out when their chips are up. I get that.
I also understand why people subject themselves to online dating. Don't get me wrong, on-line dating was pretty great... when I was in my 20's, because of the 20-something "Yeah? Fuck it, why not" approach to love. I could, and did, win first dates from basically anyone I wanted. Second dates, though -- now that shit's tricky. Whatever, 'cause when I got shot down in flames I could just go, "Well, that sucked," dust myself off, and go find another date. The quicker the turn around, the better. "Skip like a stone," we used to say -- I have some funny stories about that, but that's for another time. Hell, I once went on two dates on the same night, despite being told not too by every sitcom, ever. I went on a disaster of a date, went home, met another girl on OKC, and I was back in game withing two hours. While I didn't snag a girlfriend on either date, that's how I met Ruchela, and she's one of my favorite people.
I also know that people are going to accuse me of looking at the past with rose-colored glasses, because let's face it folks, courtship has never made any kinda sense:
"Dating after 30 can't be any different though! It's just like falling off of a bike -- you do it once, you can do it again," said your internal monologue just now -- but no, fuck you. Your internal monologue is wrong. In spite of being a 4 on the Pennywise-Gosling Scale, I could still snag dates from the mad-fly honeys,which I did not deserve. Ever since I turned 30 though, all my rendezvous go something like this:
|FIG 1. Darwin's Law of Biology|
- Look good.
- Don't look bad.
Since these are also the Rules of Normal Dating, verbatim, there wouldn't be any culture shock, for Camus, or for anyone else going to a 30+ Meetup. It doesn't go full-on absurdist/existentialist/stereotypical French until you start talking to someone you do like, because the only thing you have in common is loneliness -- and now that you've met, you don't even have that.
The problem with dating after 30 though, is that unless you're Connery-level awesome, the people you'll be dating are also over 30. I for one, was only ever Connery-level awesome for a single, brief moment back in 2005, but that's a story for another time. Right around the time that people turn 30, their wavefunctions collapse, and they become the person that were going to be. There isn't anymore learning or exploring; people have a preconceived idea of what they want; there are expectations. Whatever this is, it isn't love, because love is a flighty, fleeting thing, making no promises and no demands.
I don't know what to call it; the best I can do is to be vague or to assign some arbitrary-but-unclaimed arrangement of sounds, like "floob" or "heebaleeb" to what I'm feeling, because that's how languages work, and that's kind screwy if you think deeply about it. While there's no shortage of love songs, there are no floob songs. Floob compels no one to sing. Dates, courtship, relationships after 30+ aren't as passionate, and that's what scares me. I'm scared of drudging through life without the realistic probability of anymore St. Elmo's Fire moments; y'know, the ~2% of our life that's actually worth remembering. The sort of moments that are exploited daily by advertisers to coax us into buying detergent or breath mints or other things that we were probably going to buy anyway.
While it is admittedly unrealistic to expect the frenzy of young love to persist indefinitely, the presence of anything else just draws my attention to its absence. Meeting other people makes me feel lonely. What am I to do? What could I do? There's no easy way out of this, other than to ascend to some insurmountable level of coolness. I have to cultivate desire in others in order to satiate my meta-desire for desire. While it is unlikely that I can ever consistently operate at Connery-level coolness, I know that I can do it for brief moments, because I've done it before. I don't need to be great all of the time, just at the right time. Everything in life comes down to timing. While this plan seems entirely absurd, it is absurd not to be absurd. In the past my heart screamed -- it nearly drove me mad (though that's a story for another time) -- but now that I'm older and wiser, it seems like it didn't drive me crazy enough.