Way back some time in the last century when I was in high school I was part of an unusually close group of friends. There were five of us in total. It’s not really clear what bought us all together as we didn’t have anything observable in common except for irreverent senses of humour, an incination towards the theatrical and a tendency to call “bullshit” when we saw it (usually emanating from one of the other four) which tended to alienate us a little from other students, not to mention the teachers.
Chris, Phil, Jess, Garry (well…) and Dan.
Actually, the other thing we had in common was that all of us had parents associated with the staff or governance of the school we all went to. It was an extremely poorly kept secret that said parents had a number of informal betting pools running.
1) Which of the five would be the first to get married?
2) Which of the four guys would end up marrying Jess?
3) Which of the five of us would turn out to be gay?
Our school being of the fundamentalist Christian persuasion, obviously there was no actual gambling involved, especially on that last one.
Shortest odds for first married were almost certainly on Daniel, who was the oldest of the gang and had been voted the southern hemisphere’s most eligible bachelor (his parents had objected to the use of the term ‘sexiest man alive’) three years straight, albeit by a panel that consisted of the other four of us. Consensus on which one of us was going to marry Jess depended on whose mother you were talking to at the time.
In the end Chris was the first to go, in what was described in hushed tones as something of an upset. However, he had to go all the way to New Zealand to do it, which was agreed by most to be cheating. Jess went next and threw a spanner in everyone’s mother’s works by not marrying any of us (actually, Jess’ mother was probably quite relieved). At least she had the common decency to marry a local. Just a year later it was Phil’s turn.
And then there were two.
Ever since Phil’s wedding back in 2006, Dan and I have been engaged (huh?) in a gentlemen’s wager. I say gentlemen’s wager, but I really just mean friendly competition, as there were no stakes riding on it, and I’m not a gentleman. Basically, we decided to see which of us could go the longest without getting married.
If that seems like a reasonably pointless (not to mention backwards) competition, that’s just because… it is. But when you think about it, it makes much more sense than trying to see who can get married first. For one, it provides an extra layer of disincentive to do something stupid too soon if you get romantically entangled (“Maybe we should take this to the next level… nah, I wouldn’t want to lose a bet to Dan”) and also it has the added benefit that if you lose, at least you’re getting married, so that’s some sort of consolation. As endurance sports go, doing it this way has also made it much more competitive, as remaining single has historically been something both Dan and I have been pretty good at. It’s been six long years, and neither combatant has shown any sign of flagging.
That is, until now.
Yes that’s right, I have an announcement to make, the repercussions of which could shake the very firmament, but probably won’t. It has come out of nowhere and taken more than a few people by surprise, especially me, but… I, Garry with 2 Rs, am now officially…
Indeed. Dan announced his engagement last weekend, and I am now The Last Man Standing. It has been suggested that perhaps I shouldn’t be as happy about this as I so obviously am. However, these suggestions have, without exception, come from people who gave up and got married years ago and are just jealous. As Josh Lyman so eloquently put it:
“I drink from the keg of glory. Bring me the finest muffins and bagels in all the land”
Or as Horatio Nelson said:
“First gain the victory and then make the best use of it you can.”
And as Sachin Tendulkar put it:
“You can’t hold a ceramic tiger with a pair of size nine mittens made out of apricot jam”.
The point is that, the wager now being won, I can stop playing. All this time people have assumed I am single because I’m a cynical cranky debt-ridden misogynistic bastard (or possibly that I turned out to be the gay one. I don’t know what the odds were on that and I don’t think I want to), when all the time I was just trying to win a bet. And now I have.
So it’s time for a new game. I was going to call this new game “Travel Monopoly Junior” but apparently that’s already taken, so I’ll leave the title open as a work in progress. Everyone else around me having been disqualified on grounds of matrimony, the new game is a variation of solitaire and begins when the person left of the dealer rolls a seven. Winner is the first person not to die alone. Spades are trumps, it’s tippy-go and only one person gets to be the top hat.
Make of that… nope. Just forget it.
Garry with 2 Rs