If you would rather not engage in delineating your status vis-à-vis someone else, you can run into trouble. People and institutions demand it.
Last Saturday, I went to a wedding reception. My occasional traveling companion (there! a status!)...
...agreed to run me up the hill to the Café Soleil where it was being held and I insisted he come in with me. I told him it’s absolutely fine to show up at a wedding hoopla in cut-offs and a free t-shirt with some language on it about a bike club in town.
I introduced him as Ed, even though I know people always wait for more detail there. It doesn’t help that his name is so short. Ed. Would you like to expound a little? Give some background?
I did not provide any. Ed doesn’t have a status. And being status-free is okay by him. By me as well, the only difference being that I believe in internal status delineation (don’t ask) and he does not.
Yesterday morning I taught a seminar at the Dept of Justice. My colleague there watched me hop off the motorbike (thanks for the ride, Ed!) and said: did I see you hop off a motorbike? He knew and I knew that I had done just that and I know that this was his way of asking for more – like, who is it that gave you a ride over? But to say “my occasional traveling companion, Ed” would have sounded odd just before a seminar at the Department of Justice and so I just stuck to an analysis about how one gets helmet hair riding on a motorcycle.
Today I had a brief hospital visit. Not to worry, just one of those things. The most notable bloggable event came actually the night before, when, during the mandatory fast, I flipped on the TV and watched 4 hours straight of the Tour de France. If you’re not allowed to eat, you may as well dull all your other senses.
Checking in at the hospital this morning, I had to name a person who would be taking me home after all was said and done. Earlier, Ed had willingly zipped me over, waved a cheerful hand and went back to work. (He is such a good sport about these things, if a bit unsentimental.) I had gotten him to promise to zip right back and pick me up at the tail end and so I answered: Ed. Question, fired at me: And what is his status?
This was a natural question, but what could I say – Ed doesn’t have a status. To mention that he is an occasional travel companion seems all wrong when you’re checking into a hospital. To call him (as I do to his face) “dating material” sounds somehow tentative. You are entrusting a pick-up in the hospital, to someone on a motorbike whom you refer to as dating material?
Still, I do just that. When you are away from home as often as I am, close friends recede from your daily life. They cease to follow your minutia and you theirs. It is peculiar that this happens especially with the proliferation of cheap phone services, but believe me, when you cross the ocean, your phone contacts go dead, except for those who are geeky and know how to work the system so that it costs them virtually negative dollars to call you.
And so rather than calling a friend out of the blue and telling them: hey, I’m back! Want to take me to the hospital? I ask my dating material to do so. And he is happy to oblige. But it raises questions.
The registering nurse and the nurse after her and the one after -- all inquired tactfully who this person was in relation to me, but they got nowhere. No, we do not share a residence. No, not married (not likely ever to go down that road again), not anything. Status free. Dating material.
Like I said, status in this country is everything and people ask. If you’re in a similar pickle, try using the terms dating material and occasional traveling companion. Only you must travel with that person first, or else you’d be lying.