Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Moth of Narcissus

Perusing a personals advert from a comely young lass recently, it occurred to me that the reason she needed a personal ad was that she didn't have TIME for a boyfriend. Between her triathalons, incessant tourist vacations to exotic lands, work, and non-stop swimming-running-biking during the week, a guy would have to be a triathelete to spend any time with her. "He needs to be someone who can keep up with me" the ad went on, "someone with a brain, not a couch potato, who is creative and interested in learning new things".

Well, I have news for you sweetheart: all those guys are just as self absorbed as you are. What they need is someone who isn't trying to win triathalons, someone who is into, well, stuff that doesn't compete as much with what they are doing. It isn't that one shouldn't want to be a triathelete; it's only that if you are one then maybe a couch potato is precisely what the doctor ordered: to cook your high-starch meals, iron your skimpy lycra suits, and drag your tired ass and all your equipment around the country to your meets while holding down a job so you can focus on your sport. After all, the last thing a narcissist needs in a mate is another narcissist.

So when I see ads like that, I wonder: is modern singles society just a bunch of narcissistic, nutrition-obsessed, neurotic exercise freaks talking past each other? And is this why so many single people are out there in their mid to late 30s - ages when women were once considered old maids, and men confirmed bachelors?

If so, it's not looking good for yours truly. Work, sailing and building are crowding all those would-be evenings out, well, out.

Breeze came late to Long Beach today, catching me at my computer. So it was a mad dash to drag the Moth out from beneath its rubber tree camouflage and rock on down to the beach. Only the beach today was different: all winter long I have been wondering why I am the only one on the beach when I go sailing, and the answer is that Californians don't consider it a good beachgoing day unless it is over 80 and sunny. So the beach was packed with people, the water was an interesting shade of stinky, and had lots of grass floating in the surf. The wind was dying already around 3:30 when I launched but out beyond the breakwater it held on for a good long time and I had some nice gybing runs down behind various cruising boats who must think I am completely mad - gybing every 30 seconds or so, making it most of the time but occasionally screwing something up enough to capsize. As the breeze moderated I wasn't even going downwind very fast in this mode - just getting up to speed on a reach before pointing it down and going for it yet again. At first I was depressed as they seemed to have gone better last weekend, but by the end of the day I had regained the lost ground and even began to appreciate new subtleties of the gybe.

Then the wind shut off and I had a very slow sail back to shore, where couples feuded in the parking lot and various children attempted to commit suicide by running full tilt out onto Ocean Boulevard faster than their fat, inattentive parents could catch them up - but not for lack of screaming. One thing drunk, beachgoing Californians seem to do very well is shout completely trivial or private information at each other loud enough to make you wonder if there is some emergency at hand. It makes the occasional "stop you little shit or you'll get run over by a car" seem halfway normal even.

So in my ripe old age I am beginning to appreciate why yacht clubs were formed in the first place. They may have their issues, but at least one does not have to kick bags of half-eaten fast food out of the way to put one's boat on the trailer in the parking lot.

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