July 2, 2006

Lately I've been around a lot of couples. And you know what I've noticed? Being in a relationship is like having a full-time publicist. You don't have to feel embarrassed about listing your accomplishments, because the other person will do it for you. It's devotion you can't buy.

This past weekend I was at a wedding and was seated at a table of couples. When the "What do you do?" question was raised, one of them would answer demurely and then their spouse would jump in and list their accomplishments. For instance, one man announced he was a film-maker and his wife interrupted: "His short film on doughnuts just won at Cannes. It was brilliant." No matter what, it was always brilliant.

Then it was my turn. I've always had a problem with talking about what I do. When I did nothing, it was a lot easier. Sometimes I'd make it sound like there was a big career on the horizon: "I'm working on something..." People responded nicely to that because even though I could be a loser, I could also be the next big thing. You never know.

But even when I told the truth and said I had nothing going on, people thought I was just being modest. I would say, "I'm a writer," and if someone asked what I'd written, I'd reply: "I can't really talk about it." They thought I was mysterious.

Of course, now that I've done stuff, I resist going into detail because I know that when someone asks "What do you do?" what they're really asking is: "Are you someone that I want to talk to?"

And it's not that I don't want to sell myself, it's that I'm too lazy. There's a second where I have to decide if I'm going to gear up and trawl through my history, and I think: "What's the point? We're all going to die soon - what does it really matter?" So instead I say: "Can you pass the butter?"

If I were in a relationship, though, it would be different. I would sit back while my boyfriend sold me. The problem is, who's going to sell me to my boyfriend? I'm done selling. I need to be in a relationship where the "getting to know you" phase is out of the way. I wish I could hand my future husband a CV of my life. Here. It's all on paper, my childhood, the break-ups, the best friends who dumped me - all of it. Then, never again would I have to nod my head and say: "Yep, I'm an only child."

Of course, a lot of men would take one look at the CV and run a mile. But that's a plus. Think of all the dinners it would save me having to sit through.

So let's say I find someone, we fall in love, become a couple, and he knows me well enough to be able to sell me. Then what? Does that mean I'd have to reciprocate? Because the only thing less appealing than selling myself is having to sell someone else.

The last boyfriend I had was also a writer, and whenever someone asked me what he wrote I'd say: "Ask him." I'm barely interested in the details of my own life. I suppose the best-case scenario would be to end up with someone who doesn't sell me, so that I don't have to sell him in return, and if anyone asks either of us what we do, we simultaneously get up and go home.