BY GLORIA MARIS One evening after I’d put my daughter to bed, I was dumped by phone. When the call came in, I recognized the name on the phone’s display, and after I’d answered with my usual cheery greeting, I heard:
“Well, I’m calling because I’m breaking up with you.”
It was an interesting phrase from someone who’d never called me his girlfriend to begin with.
I’d been warned that he was a serial dater and a commitment-phobe. He’s lived in the same bachelor pad for over a decade and, though he’s had steady, highly remunerative employment since he finished university, he has procrastinated buying a home. He talks often about buying a condo near his workplace. Now, condos are great. I’ve lived in three of them, and I like not having to be personally responsible for, e.g., roof repairs. But a condo is admittedly often a stepping-stone to “real” home ownership of an actual house, with a lawn and a tree or two and a driveway — in other words, a way to avoid commitment to “real” home ownership. And he was putting off making a decision to even buy a condo, in the face of the first-time homebuyer stimulus incentive, too. Though far be it from me to try to force upon others my own boring bourgeois values. In any event, between the home-buying delay, his reluctance to have sex with me in the previous week, and the content of a few “how’s our relationship going” conversations, I had already been expecting the phone call for a couple of days before the phone finally rang.
Several months ago, he decided to get rid of his things. He wanted to live more lightly and not be encumbered by so much stuff, he told me. So he got rid of books, clothes, CDs, videos and DVDs, kitchenware, boardgames, linens, and so on. Because he’d rid himself of his kitchenware, he used plastic plates and Solo cups. He had a few coffee mugs and a brandy snifter upended in the kitchen sink. The fridge held an assortment of 2-liter bottles of soda. The cabinets held some packages of disposable plates. The dining table served as a liquor cabinet.
When a practicing Zen Buddhist friend of mine simplified her life a dozen years ago, she also got rid of a lot of her kitchenware. She kept a single bowl, a plate, a set of flatware, a coffee mug (and her moka pot), and a stripped-down assortment of cooking essentials. Far be it from me to question a person’s motivation, but dare I say that my Buddhist friend went about her lifestyle simplification process with a little more meaning and purpose than this guy did? Unfortunately for a commitment-phobe, we started dating just before the end-of-year holidays. My family Thanksgiving was slated to be a brunch affair, because my sibling had numerous commitments with her spouse’s relations; and since my nuclear family is small I invited him along. He reciprocated by taking me to his family Thanksgiving later in the day. What I thought was a fun and highly entertaining way to meet new people, he interpreted as “moving too fast.” MORE