Coded violet.

Monday 4 September 2000

Half me

Pic of the day: Am I incomplete? You be the judge ...

Man without a woman

OK. This won't be easy, but I think I can do it now.

I can't say how much is culture and how much is biology; nor can anyone else say, I believe, because it seems to go back to our beginning as a species. The fundamental concept of gender as a social trait. Gender roles are complementary in all cultures I have heard of, from stone age tribes to Europe today. That is to say: Men and women do not just have different roles, but they depend on one another.

Human fertility is not impressive, compared to other mammals. But even so, we would not need to see the opposite sex often if reproduction was the only concern. But because of the way our two genders complement each other socially and psychologically, most people feel incomplete alone. There seems to be real, biological differences between men's and women's brains. (For instance, most women have speech centers in both halves of the brain, while men have only one. The bridge of nerve fibers connecting the two hemispheres is also thicker in women.) But regardless of that, culture constantly builds upon and reinforces the gender awareness.

In light of this, you have every reason to be suspicious when someone lives alone, decade after decade. Doubly so when the suspect is a seemingly healthy person with a full-time job. And triply when it is a male, who traditionally get the better deal in a relationship. The long end of the stick, or whatever. What's the deep dark secret?


Sometimes - not often, really - people ask me politely if I'm gay. (Or homo, as it's more fittingly called in Norwegian - we don't have the wordplay on happy in our language.) The answer is, not really. I don't fall in love with men. Then again, I don't fall in love at all. But I don't think men look sexy either, while lots and lots of women do. I don't think it's disgusting or pukeworthy when men try to flirt with men. It just seems misplaced, sort of like a dog trying to hump your leg. Target error. Some wires crossed early in life or something, I don't know. But not my style, no.

So perhaps I am terminally shy? Perhaps I break out in cold sweats when someone looks at me, and try to avoid going outside in daylight? Do I stammer and turn red if someone smiles at me, and run away if they ask me where the railway station is? Far from it. As a kid, I loved being at the blackboard, and I've more or less continued that way. One part of my job is being an instructor, for groups or for individuals. I feel alive and energized when I have the attention of others, and I get it easily. It's just that in these situations, I actually have a reason to do anything with others. Usually I don't.

Normally, there is no reason at all why I should be out and about among the humans, except that I have to go to work to get some money. I live my own life, other people live theirs. Nearly all of the friends I've had have been pietists from "Smith's Friends"; and so far as they are human at all, they are deeply ashamed of it. Now that they're ashamed of me too, I don't have many friends at all. No, not many.


But I've had a few friends, mostly girls. I like girls. I like women. Not just because they're decorative, but they are interesting. They think and talk in a different and interesting way. Some more than others, of course. I don't understand women, I readily admit that, but they are the more fascinating for it. And I am normal enough and male enough that they do complement me in some way, making me feel more complete.

It is very cool to have women for friends, even though I don't play in bed with them. I'm missing my friends a bit now. Especially my best friend. I loved her, sort of, in a reasonably platonic way. We used to go shopping together and listen to music together and such fun things. It felt so good, it felt so right. But she doesn't really need me any more; and I don't really need anyone in particular.

I mean, I need a bus driver to drive the bus to work. I need someone to sell me yoghurt. If I grow old, I may need someone to dress me and undress me and stuff like that. But I don't need any one person. I don't need a person, it's just that the robots are not advanced enough yet to do these things. I don't need another human to make me into me. It's far too late to make me believe that.


I've lived alone for a long long time. I found out that I could do. That I could do quite well. That I could do pretty much what I wanted. I hear the love songs, they go like "I can't live without you" yadda yadda. Have you tried? I mean, there are lots of guys who jump from mommy's lap to someone else's lap, without even trying to stand on their own feet. How would they know whether they could live without you or not?

I know I can "live without you". I've done that for decades, remember? It has its good sides (I can basically do what I want) and its bad sides (I can't do it together with someone I love). But all in all, I'm not complaining. (Well, I am, but not over that.)

What I can't do alone is have kids. But I guess the world is not much concerned about that loss.

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