February 16, 2008

My friend Barbara has been trying, for years, to set me up with someone. I've always declined her offer. Until recently.

"Okay," I told her, "I'm ready."

"What changed your mind?" She asked.

"I need someone to sit with me at the hospital."

People get married for different reasons. Sometimes it's for money and status, or to start a family. Sometimes it's for the companionship or because it's what they feel they should do. I've never felt compelled to get married for any of those reasons. I've never felt I needed to get married at all.

But there's nothing like sitting alone in a hospital waiting room to make you realise you want a husband. Waiting for my father to get out of the operating theatre was agonising. Every terrible thought went through my head. Just then it hit me: I really need someone to share this with.

And I want that commitment. If only there was a way to marry someone who would show up during the tough times - funerals, hospital visits, disease diagnosis - whenever I'm scared and needing support. And the rest of the time, there's no obligation. We don't even have to have sex. The only requirement would be to that when a loved one got sick or died, he had to hold my hand, supply tissues, and listen to me talk. And handle all the arrangements.

Afterwards, when the crisis had passed, if he wanted to, he could go away. He could live on his own, travel, lead his own life - but like a surgeon, he'd be available when tragedy struck. People might say that's what a therapist is for. But a therapist won't spend the night. Plus, the meter's always running.

When it comes to finding a partner, people always say it's good to know what you want. But sometimes it takes a major event to realise what that is. Going through life on my own, I'm fine. Going through a crisis, I need someone to lean on. Someone who can help me find where I'm going, make sure I don't lose my keys and or my wallet; who knows what to say or, even better - knows when not to say anything at all.

Of course I'd love nothing more than to be there for him during the tragedies in his life. I'd feel special. The one time I got a call from a man saying, "Get in a taxi - quickly - I need you" it was because he was in the mood to have sex. How often does a girl get a booty call from someone too lazy to leave their apartment? Not the kind of special I had in mind.

I'm all for honesty. Next time I meet someone I'm interested in I've got a good litmus test. I'll tell him all about the hospital experience. If he says, "Wish I'd been there," I'll know I've met the man I'm going to marry.

Although chances are, after he says that his next question will be: "Do you want to hop in a taxi and come over?"