Just another manic monday. Welcome back to the old blog peeps. Here’s yesterday’s Sunday Times column:
A MILLION MILES FROM NORMAL – By Paige Nick
JUST THE TWO OF US
Did everyone see that Charlize and Sean Penn are allegedly together now? Phew, we can all stop worrying about ‘onse Charlize’, for now. That’s funny though, I didn’t see anyone all that worried about Sean Penn, still single at 53.
When I tell people that I’m absolutely positively sure that I don’t want any husbands or children, I always get the same upset response. Oh don’t be silly, you just haven’t met the right person yet. Or, that’s ridiculous, you’ll change your mind. Is it so hard to believe that I simply don’t want what you’ve got? It can get exhausting always feeling like the vegan in the room. Why is coupledom considered the norm?
It’s not that I’m against being part of a couple, it’s like watching socccer, it has its moments. Like when Carte Blanche and the Mnet Movie rolls around on a Sunday night, or when a spider or roach needs reallocating. Sure being part of a couple is nice, but then so is the beach for a couple of hours, until you get sand in your cozzie. Why do we have to do it forever and always, who said?
All our other instinctual behaviours are driven by our most basic need to survive. Breathing, eating, finding shelter, sleeping, pooping and having babies all feature high up on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, but being in a couple doesn’t appear anywhere in the pyramid. And you can’t say this coupling up urge is driven by the survival need for procreation, because you don’t need to be in a commited relationship to have babies, any old slapper with a pin and a condom can do that. And it can’t be that we couple up for safety in numbers either, otherwise polygamy would be the norm and just being part of a couple would make you a sitting duck.
So if it’s not inspired by survival instinct, whose idea was it? Was it the first couple? I mean Adam and Eve, not Barrack and Michelle. Or did this instinct originate when cave women first whacked cavemen over the head and dragged them into their caves? Maybe the bump on their heads was worse than we thought. I wonder if the dinosaurs went out hunting for their soulmate-rex-a-sauruses? Or do we blame it all on Noah, who had us walking the plank two by two?
There is some evidence to indicate that we’re an inherently lonely species. Commedian Louis CK does a great bit about why we sit on our cell phones in traffic. He says it’s because we can’t bear to be alone for even a second. Ever since I heard this I’ve become increasingly aware of it. The second I pull up at a red light my brain takes me into some kind of who-shall-I-call mode. Is it that awful being in my car with just my own thoughts and Gareth Cliff for five minutes? Okay wait, it doesn’t sound that great when you put it that way.
Picture a world where being single was the norm, and we popped in and out of being in a couple as it suited us. And people in really long term relationships were worried about and prayed for, and ever so slightly pitied. Shame, they’ve been together for twelve years! See how they argue and bicker constantly. Poor couple, they have three kids now, I heard they haven’t had a full night’s sleep, sex, or a white couch in over seven years. Now picture a world where we aren’t limited to the same sexual partner for decades, or pressured to stay in a less than satisfying relationship. Where we don’t have to stick it out as long as possible, but instead we happilly and guiltlessly leave as soon as it’s not working for us, and there’s never pee on the toilet seat and you’re always being wooed or in that honeymoon phase of a relationship. It doesn’t sound that bad, does it?
In the animal kingdom it’s always like that. Only a handful of species choose to be monogamous. Female kangaroos have three vaginas, so you can count them out. But swans mate for life. Not for romantic reasons though, it’s purely practical. It takes them so long to migrate, establish territories, incubate and raise babies, that it doesn’t make sense to have more than one partner in a lifetime. The whole song and dance would eat into vital reproductive time. So they have a scientific reason for coupling up.
Black Vultures are another monogomous species. But maybe that’s just because they’re so butt-ugly that they’re literally eternally grateful to find just one partner that finds them attractive, so they stick with that instead of trying their luck on more.
Some other monogomous animals are French angelfish (are the ones from other countries slags?) and wolves. But for pretty much the rest of the animal planet, monogamy is unatural – if you can catch it, and it’s keen, you can shag it. Just as nature intended.