When I woke up yesterday and looked in the mirror, I said to my image, “Man, you are a pathetic sad sack.” Hearing that, one of us thought there must be a way to get okay with his self, all things being equal and everything being relative. I remembered seeing a book in a used book store with the title, I’m OK – You’re OK, and thinking I wasn’t really OK, I was depressed and had a hard time concentrating on anything except my face in the mirror and the sorry state of my life. All the men I knew seemed so down too, so waddya call it, so fucked up or so fucked down. I never could understand which is the right way to say it. Is there a right way or can you say it any way you want? Up down – just fucked, or maybe not. These other guys were dragging too, but I needed to focus on little old me. I was definitely not OK.
So I got in the car and was cruising around, listening to some stupid news show on the radio when I heard a report that startled me and gave me a great idea. I drove to the Dollar Store to get a wedding card to send to myself. This report I heard said the latest cool thing was to marry yourself – they call it sologamy, I think the guy said. It made you feel good about yourself. OK, I think the guy said. They interviewed this woman who just married herself and boy was she flying high and enthusing about the great feeling it gave her. She said she had realized she had fallen out of love with herself and marrying herself was like the second time around. It really stirred my blood and got me thinking what I could do for myself. I started humming that old song, you know, “Love is lovelier, the second time around .…”
Like I said, so many of the guys I see around seem so down, in the bar they sit over their beers with their shoulders slumped and in the supermarkets I see the old guys looking so hangdog as they push those shopping carts after the women who have notes in hand and little calculators as they take charge of the food buying. Those women seem OK at least. The men always seem to be one or two steps back and the women talking and smiling all the time. I even noticed that when I pass an exercise studio the women come out in those yoga outfits looking so OK and up for things but the guys I know who go to the gym look all tied in knots after heaving the weights like they were performing some grim duty that would keep them above water for a while.
Then I stopped in the local coffee shop to get a pick up and think about this marrying myself thing. That’s when I lucked out for sure. Or is it lucked in? Like I said, these sayings confuse me, I never know what’s correct or not, out or in, up or down. Are there some rules to all this or can you just wing it? I get really confused. Anyway, there was a bunch of newspapers lying around and I glanced at a New York Times on the table. There was this weird article that jumped out at me about transracialism and transgenderism and this big debate about these big words and a philosopher who claims if you can self-identify as a different sex, or is it gender, I can never get them straight, you should also be able to self-identify as a different race. It was a long article with a lot of people arguing back and forth and I couldn’t concentrate on it all but I got the gist of the professor’s point and thought this might be for me, it might help me get OK which was my goal. As I said, I see all those women up and smiling all the time and the guys down and hangdogged and I always noticed that Magic Johnson the hoops star of old is always smiling on the tube and I’ve always wondered why that was.
So to get to my point, I made a decision then and there and I thought I’d just let you know. I’m going to give it a shot and marry myself on June 9th since they say June is the best marrying month and I’m going to self-identify as a black woman. It’s just for the day of course and I’ll go back to being me the next day so don’t worry. I’m just hoping it does the trick and the day after when I look in the mirror I’ll hear that smiling face say, “ Man, You’re OK, I’m OK.” Of course you’re not invited, but I knew you’d understand.
Edward Curtin is a writer whose work has appeared widely. He teaches sociology at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. His website is http://edwardcurtin.com/