Earlier today, I was waiting for a taxi, due to the rain pouring out of the big purple sky directly onto my head, and a concurrent lack of hat or umbrella, and also, truthfully, because taking cabs is what I do best – if you don’t count bitching on frenemies, and failing to stifle seething envy over women more successful than me, particularly ones who are good-looking. As I waited, I spied three men in the corner of the cab office, huddling from the torrential downpour, conversing in booming, ecstatic voices – apparently unbothered by the fact that I could hear every word they were saying, an attitude which I’ve taken as carte blanche to reproduce their conversation, verbatim, here:
Man 1: So – does your girlfriend know you have a wife?
Man 2: Yes. She does not mind!
Man 3: But does your wife know you have a girlfriend?
Man 2: Ha! No. She does not!
Man 1: They have children, brother! She would kill him!
All three men fall about laughing. I exit the cab office. Man 2 catches my bedraggled, rain soaked eye.
Man 2: Hey sexy. How are you?
Despite the ease with which I might be tempted to pass judgement on Man 2 and his moronic mates, I have decided not to take the moral high ground. Partly, this is because I’m trying to be more like Jesus (more of which later). Partly, it’s because I’m flattered anybody finds me sexy when I’m dripping with rain water. Mainly, it’s because it has dawned on me in recent weeks that, when you’re single, and particularly when you’re me, you are in no position to take the moral high ground over anything.
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but I am not a nice person. I do bad things, and they thrill me.
Like the time I told a telephonist to die, in escalating screams, when she called to collect an outstanding credit card payment. And the time I called my mum a cunt. And the other time, when I punched my aunty in the face. And all those mornings after I insulted people at parties and woke up and vomited into a shiny porcelain toilet bowl and felt bereft because of the alcohol but also, admiring of my own drunken, bitchin’ wit. And that one Christmas, when I had had sex with my ex-boyfriend, in his car, in the middle of a blizzard – with the wind cracking against the doors and the snow circling us in great clouds, like a flock of angry angels – because someone told me he had a new girlfriend, and so: fuck him. Literally.
Being single forces you to push up against the edges of your own morality, to square off with it, face to face, in a way that being in a relationship doesn’t. For example, look at Hitler – who was famously coupled, and who famously took the moral high ground, to his eternal detriment, despite being history’s most notorious cunt.
Although, in Hitler’s defence, it is easy to feel morally superior when you’re in a relationship. This is because a) your single friends will career about engaging in reckless behaviours which are likely to seem bad, from your narrow, conformist perspective and b) you will have reason to mistrust your partner, especially if you’re a heterosexual woman, because men are arseholes, as demonstrated by my cab office encounter, above.
As a single woman, accepting my own badness has been liberating. But it has also required becoming more forgiving of others. I am not, I’ve realised, a better person than the cheating cab office cad. Indeed, I have come to understand that cheating cads possess a darkness I also possess, and that I’m sort of into. It’s seductive, although I have long since learned that following my instincts in that area is a bad idea. Which is why I’m trying to be more like Jesus, and why I’m looking for a man who’s more like Jesus too.
No! Wait! Listen.
I understand better than almost anyone that goodness, in its pure form (i.e. not doing wrong things because you have no compulsion to do them), is not sexy. Although I have learned, in recent months, that goodness is sexy – but, like just about nothing else, it is only sexy when it’s an affectation. Imagine: a hot, ripped young thing who is sometimes drawn to the darkness but who stays out of its way through choice, and willpower. That is strength of the kind Jesus was talking about – I think, having surmised His meaning from the sporadic Christian assemblies that punctuated my secular education, browsing internet scripture and that month I spent in a mission, in 2010, when things were, spiritually speaking, at rock-bottom.
Strength is not about being ‘good’ per se; it is not about being good in the core of your soul, like a dove or a new-born kitten or a primary school teacher. It’s about being good because you realise, with the clarity and precision of sunlight breaking through clouds, that goodness might make you happier, in the long run.
Not that you have to completely indulge such a realisation. I’d say a bit of spite, once or twice a month is, ultimately, necessary – to keep one grounded. Especially if you’re single. Like Jesus.
*That’s Jesus. By Lanmee. I got him from freedigitalphotos.net. No, I don’t know why he’s waving the crucifix around rather than dying on it.