Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
A medley of extemporanea;
And love is a thing that can never go wrong;
And I am Marie of Romania.
- American writer and wit Dorothy Parker (1893-1967)
Well, polish up the tiara, good readers. Your faithful
columnist, Marie of Romania, is about to assume her eastern European nation's crown.
Which is to say your faithful columnist is likely certifiable.
In what way, you ask? Consider this. After more than 10 years of singledom, she is taking a precarious plunge and moving in with a party of the opposite gender. The relationship will not be platonic - and we all know how that can turn out.
Certainly, there are those who think her recent delusions of love would best be handled with proper medication. But they're just hard-nosed cynics at worst - or fully committed to being single at best.
A lot of obviously sane people fall into the latter category. We are led to believe that there's a notso-subtle urging imposed on all of us to find a mate.
In fact, the pressure is so bad, argues American social scientist Bella DePaulo, that there's an inherent bias against those who choose to remain on their own.
She calls it singleism.
Yet the trend to couple up clearly appears to be reversing. StatsCan consistently reports a truly significant increase in people living alone. In just one five-year period, for example, the number of one-person households rose by 11.8 per cent.
In fact, as of 2006, more Canadian adults had never been married than had.
Queen Marie herself had been married, but her divorce a decade ago put her off the notion of a forever-after partner. The breakup shattered a dream and wounded a family. The pain was visceral and complete. As a result, she believed she was content to be single for the duration.
That didn't mean she didn't date. Men, she rediscovered, came in a fascinating, strange array of flavours. There was the Blue Suitor - a fella of great accomplishment and high rank who was bereft and depressed as retirement loomed. There was the Wild Man of the Malahat - a Hunter Thompsonesque personality who consumed all the air in the room. There was the Extreme Penny Pincher, who once requested that she find her own way home by bus at 10 o'clock on a rainy night.
While none of these oddballs diminished her desire for companionship, they also reinforced her sense of privacy and independence. She was the queen of her little castle - and if someone left the milk out overnight, she had no one to blame except herself.
Then, along came the right guy at the right time. Marie regally resisted at first, clutching her singleness as though it were some kind of life raft.
She cherished her routines. She liked being answerable to no one in particular.
She enjoyed her evenings out with the girls, with no tacit curfew hanging over her head. Secretly, she feared she was too set in her ways to contemplate sharing any space with another human being.
But her gentle beau, who had learned a few things about women, was patient, sweet and reassuring. He eased each of her doubts over time - even those she didn't realize she had. He backed off when she got antsy. Cannily, he waited until this feral creature came to him. Eventually, she did.
Queen Marie remains trepidatious. What if? What if it all blows up in their faces? There could be scenes - and who needs scenes at our advanced ages? Can he deal with her family? Can she deal with his ex? Can they adapt, unbend and reinvent themselves in a shared household? Will they continue to love each other in the increasingly unforgiving light of the morning?
Turns out, the Ruler of Romania is a romantic in spite of herself.
Oh yes - and as for all those single-adult households? Trust boomers to go against the grain.
Statistics Canada reports that people in their early 60s are entering into common-law relationships at the most rapid rate of all age categories.
Perhaps that's because "forever after" is far less frightening when the end of forever is on the horizon.