You want to marry me.
You haven’t said so, or even hinted at any such wish, but I know it’s true because getting married is what we’re supposed to do, and everyone wants to do what they’re supposed to do.
I’ve only slept with one person other than you, and with that person I only slept with them three times. The third – the final – time was of the longest duration, and by my estimate it lasted for around thirty seconds.
I felt like crying after the first time. The other two left me only with a thin sense of disappointment, but disappointment with what?
We rarely fuck.
Mostly, it seems, because neither of us really wants to.
This isn’t because you aren’t attractive.
I also masturbate frequently, at least twice a day – frenetic ritual of shame; oh, the grotesque things I’ve seen! – and so the paucity of our sex-life is another thing I don’t understand.
When I imagine our life together, after we marry, I’m suffused with a feeling of anaemic dread. But this feeling dissipates as soon as I think about other things, such as my career.
Thinking about my career gives me a feeling of having a sharp object perforate my bowels.
So we’ll get married, because that’s what people do, and because you love me. Or, at least, that is what you say.
Do I love you?
This is another thing I don’t (can’t?) understand: what does the question mean?
Reading the Wikipedia entry on love hasn’t helped. It describes love as “a variety of strong and positive emotional and mental states”. This only made me question whether I’d ever felt a strong emotional or mental state. I know I’ve experienced positive ones because when people ask me “how are you?” (or some variant form of the same question), the replies I give seem to be well received.
The replies are usually: “I’m ok.” (or some variant form of the same answer).
The Wikipedia entry on love also claims that love ranges from “the most sublime virtue or good habit” to “the simplest pleasure”.
Simple pleasure is something I think I understand: it feels pleasurable to eat, shit, drink, piss, masturbate or scratch an itch. I think that most people would consider these pleasures to be simple.
Standing in the shower for a long time, staring at water drain away while feeling it pour over me is something I hesitate to call ‘pleasure’: staying there long enough, staring at the hole into which the water relentlessly pours, while being enveloped in the undulating warmth of the pouring liquid, lifts me into a state of being so detached from any sense in which I can claim to be anything that resembles a “self” seems too ineffable to preclude the pleasure from being simple.
When I was a child, it was necessary for at least one other child to be bullied mercilessly. It felt good not to be that child. That feeling was relief, and relief is probably considered a pleasure, but I don’t think it a simple one. Simple implies innocent. Or at least, I think it does.
Joining in with the bullying, which I suspected was one of the conditions required for not receiving the bullying myself, didn’t feel pleasurable. Yet I can’t say that the relief felt unpleasurable.
Leaving the shower feels unpleasurable.
Waking up – or rather, leaving the bed – feels unpleasurable.
So it’s easier to define what isn’t pleasurable than it is to define what pleasure is. This is one thing I understand.
As for virtue, sublime or otherwise, I haven’t the slightest idea what that is other than behaviour other people approve of. I don’t feel compelled to ask if that’s a correct summation, because I suspect that it is.
It would seem that I trust my suspicions.
So that’s another thing I understand.
I don’t know why it is that I trust my suspicions, and I don’t want to know, for the same reason that I don’t want to ask you what you mean when you say that you love me: something makes me suspect that I’ll fail to understand the answer, and I don’t want to add to the list of things I don’t understand.
Failing to understand things feels unpleasurable: one more thing to add to the list of things I can claim to know.
So we will get married. Then we will fall into a routine not too dissimilar from the one we currently posses; when we’re together you tell me about the things you’ve done since I last saw you, or else those that other people you know have done, while I listen for as long as I can, until my mind begins to conjure the same – always the same – daydream: my eyelids are almost, but not quite, closed, as all around me people I can only vaguely discern mingle amongst each other seemingly happy and saying inconsequential things that amuse them for some reason.
Then they all abruptly stop what they are doing and begin moving closer and closer towards me.
They form a circle, and then the laughter begins.
The laughter grows louder, and as it does the sound becomes somehow threatening; chimps screeching; malevolent animals attacking.
My heartbeat starts to increase: fear creeps into my senses; adrenal glands firing; sweat yet cold skin and then…
You bring me back to reality again, asking – annoyed tone of voice and hostile posture – “Are you even listening?! Sometimes, I swear it’s almost as if you’re somewhere else most of the time.”
And in those moments I can’t decide which I hate: you, or me, or everything that existence entails.
So I say “Sorry”, and hazard a guess at what’s the best thing to say next.
If I guess right, we don’t argue. If I guess wrong, an argument begins.
This is my life.
This is my life, and I don’t want it to be like this.
This is my life, and I suspect it will remain this way until I die, because I lack the capacity to change:
Another thing to add to the ever-growing list.