It has been some time since I last suffered from a truly excruciating hangover. Having flirted with moderation the last several weeks, I spent most of the weekend ensuring that I would soon become reacquainted with the experience. It is exactly as I remembered it, only more so.
I attended my first Christmas party of the season on Saturday night, a girls-only affair that was lavishly hosted by Ellen. Predictably, much of the alcohol-fuelled conversation that transpired there concerned the subject of men, and, as two of our number are presently experiencing relationship difficulties, the tone was distinctly jaundiced. As the usual litany of injustices was recounted – jealousy, infidelity, insecurity, slovenliness, dishonesty – I felt a momentary elation at being single, which I celebrated by drinking until eight ‘o clock in the morning.
Thinking about it again in the deep fog of a hangover, I realize that it is not simply a matter of A or not-A, relationship or not-relationship. The more interesting question is, I think, what kind of relationship? Is it Oprah-relationship? Whitman-relationship? De Beauvoir-relationship? Further, upon what premises is the relationship based? Assuming heterosexuality, are its participants essentially different or fundamentally the same? Is its form predetermined, or does it create itself? Does it inevitably lead to cohabitation? Marriage? Children? Does it assume a dichotomy between reason and passion? Commitment and individuality? The self and the other?
I suspect that the way in which we answer these questions has something to do with the kind of relationships we find ourselves in, or not in, as the case may be. It may also account for the gulfs of misunderstanding that we routinely encounter when we talk about them. I am reminded almost daily that what I mean by relationship is not necessarily what others mean by it, and that in certain conversations, the only commonality that may exist between speakers is the word itself.
Radical nominalist seeks same for relationship of undetermined nature. Likes: drinking, occasional travel, and hot sex. Dislikes: hangovers, winter, and Oprah Winfrey. Smoker preferred.