Botanical Bachelor

by Green Deane

in Blog

As a seasoned life-long bachelor I had my pickup line all crafted and rehearsed, so I could say it naturally at the right moment when my Dream Lady came near. It was: “Have you seen any Usnea?”

Now I am sure you will all agree with me that is a great pick up line guaranteed to set many a heart afluttering.  The problem is I never found anyone to use it on today… or yesterday… or the day before. And perhaps that‘s the problem: Great pickup lines are pickupless unless there is someone around to sound.

Let’s face it, as pick up lines go there are few better. It’s understandable but unknowable so there is no short answer or dismissing. She has to stop and ponder what I said… and in that moment I explain.

“It’s a hairy lichen that grows around here.  It tastes good, highly nutritious, and is a great antibiotic for battle wounds….or cat scratches” …. well… I suppose I could leave out the battle wound part if I ever get a chance.

Perhaps I’m missing something but women exercise to feel better and look better and from what I hear, meet people. Yet on the exercise/bike/nature trail only twice in the last decade have I ever had a conversation with a woman. One asked me what the name was of the tree I was looking at (Black Cherry: Prunus serotina) and another was carrying a bromeliad. I recognized it. I knew exactly where she got it off the trail. It was a great conversation starter.

She was the right age, nice personality, and I found her quite attractive… and we talked plants for a couple of miles. I gave her my card and she told me her name… I recognized it as an old cartoon character… Brenda Starr….definitely lost that one. I went and collected some Usnea for the wound.

Here’s an essay I wrote in 2001 about bachelorhood:

A bachelor, I have been told, is a man with no social commitments and unmatched socks. When I’m asked why I’m a bachelor, I tell the truth: I was born that way. And as a bachelor, I’m in good company. Most of the popes have been bachelors. Divorced men are also called bachelors, but what really is a bachelor?

Any male who’s never been married is a bachelor, but we don’t call 10-year old boys bachelors, though some women may call some bachelors 10-year-old boys. Young men in their twenties are technically bachelors, but it’s better to call them unmarried, which doesn’t convey the same nuance as bachelor. It’s as if men in their 20’s and early 30’s will get married, they just haven’t settled down or found the right person yet.

Somewhere in the mid- to late-thirties, the word bachelor becomes quite appropriate. By one’s forties, one actually exceeds the word bachelor. By age 50, “confirmed bachelor” says it all though some people might use the more descriptive phrase “entrenched bachelor.”

I’m now past 50. I always intended to get married and have kids, but it didn’t happen. I did ask a woman to marry me way back in the psychedelic Dark Ages of the 1970’s. The diamond ring back then cost me a semester’s worth of tuition. We soon disagreed over attending graduate school, finances and whoever won the ’72 presidential election…. At least some one did clearly win. So now, when most men my age are grandfathers, I am, for better or worse, childless and – certainly for the worse — still dating. Being my age and dating creates challenging situations.

It’s difficult, for example, to avoid having a family if I marry because most women my age have children or grandchildren. Nothing so far in life has made me feel older than the day I realized I was dating grandmothers. Another problem is younger, fertile women. If I were to become a father today, I would be retired before the child started high school, if I didn’t die from exhaustion first. I’d have to join OTHPTA, the Over The Hill Parent Teachers Association. Fortunately, younger women tend to take my age seriously and stay away, which is just as well. I’ve reached the stage in life in which when I think of going to bed, it’s really because I’m tired.

One advantage of being a 50-plus bachelor is that 65-year-old moms have finally stopped trying to set me up with their 35-year-old, three-times-divorced daughters. The disadvantage of being a 50-plus bachelor is the 65-year old moms are now making passes at me. I’m really not ready to date great-grandmothers.

Fortunately, my well-intended friends have stopped trying to set me up. They have accepted my bachelorhood, kind of. Instead of working to match me up with women, they’re always trying to give me a pregnant dog or cat. There is something ironic about avoiding a shotgun wedding all one’s life to end up with a litter of hungry, bathroom-missing furry infants to care for. My pet-pushing friends say I need companionship, as if becoming the owner of fleas and a hair ball collection gives one comfort. My friends also seem to think I’m a good place to dump unwanted furniture because as a bachelor I don’t have a woman around telling me disintegrating lava lamps are ugly.

While many women may be wary of a bachelor my age, men are not. That I have never tripped down the aisle has caused many a married man to call me his hero. The first thing a married man usually says is that he envies me, that there’s no reason to get married. He says he wished he never married and could still play the field. I don’t think my married friends realize the playing field was never level and that it tips strongly in her favor today. I also think my admirers are letting their imagination run wild. A balding, pudgy, grandfather-aged man with a flea-ridden house and fire-hazard furniture is not exactly a babe magnet.

I also remind my lamenting wedded friends that research definitely shows that as married men they will, on average, live far longer than I. Or, even if they don’t, it will at least seem that way. And to be frank, if I had to do it all over again, I would have married my first and perhaps only love. The ’72 election really wasn’t that important.

 

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Green Deane February 5, 2016 at 20:26

It’s been some 15 years since I wrote that article… and yes I am still a bachelor though now the chances of ever getting married are slim to none. It is rather surprising to find oneself at the end of the life as single as one started out. But the perspective does tell one marriage most likely happens when you are young or not at all. Loneliness has never been an issue per se though the winding down of life without much personal support is a concern, no family and most of your friends dying off. Still, it is what it is. We sleep in the bed we make even if it is by ourselves.

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Richard Portman October 21, 2015 at 20:27

Yes I understand. Take comfort, we are not all born to be the same. At various times and places, people have figured out ways to integrate those who cannot or will not marry. We have made so many important contributions as scholars, artists, scientists, philopanthropists, memory keepers! Comfort ye. Not always easy being different.

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Rob December 12, 2013 at 12:06

As a 67 year old bachelor, I identified with just about every word of your essay. Isn’t it strange how life just happens that way?

And yes, I can remember going to the airport to see McGovern’s plane land and hear him speak when the door opened.

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Mark September 30, 2013 at 16:37

Thank you for sharing this. It’s really a great post! Being an entrenched bachelors in his 30s myself I can relate to a lot of what you wrote.

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Green Deane October 1, 2013 at 07:36

Thanks. Not too many people read that article but their comments are heartfelt. Again, thank you.

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mwangi March 13, 2013 at 13:45

Good,funny article.I’m in my 20’s. I see myself being like you in the years to come.

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venus January 9, 2013 at 12:15

That was sweet and endearing and a little sad at the end. I dont think that being alone is a bad thing. I am a mother, and by proxy a grandmother. I have been through many good and many painful relationships. I am currently learning to be alone again. I, for once am looking forward to it. I didnt get from your article that you were looking for pity, and I admire that. Everyone around me, after hearing about the end of my last (what I thought was great) (I THOUGHT!) relationship— wanted to shower me with pity. After reading about your acceptance of being a bachelor it gave me a bit of brightness. Thanx

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