We went to a wedding in Austin, and at the reception, she pointed out one of the women on the bride's side and told me that she had worked for the John Kerry campaign, had climbed the Himalayas, and was going to climb Mt. Everest.
"So she's cool?" I said, knowing why she was bothering to mention this. And then, against my better judgment, I added, "I noticed her at the garba; she was dancing up a storm."
My little sister seized upon that and came to the (um, correct) conclusion that I liiiiiiiiiiiiked her, which apparently meant I wanted to maaaaaaaaaaaaaarry her. It was true; I had noticed her dancing, and I had found it attractive. Even though I have no moves or grooves of my own, I'd like a potential mate to have some. Sometimes I think I want to marry someone who's just like me, but then I also think that I want someone who fills in what I'm missing. Who...completes me. (Ew, did I just say that?)
But it was just the dancing, really, with her. I had been checking out a few other girls besides that I found more attractive. A wedding is a good place to find Indian women, right? It's not like I run into them that often anymore. I tried to figure out what my Type was. I tend to prefer lighter skin, I think. And softer features. Not that sharp features are bad, but I don't mind a little cuteness in my women, and sharpness works against that. What kills me is a great smile. Like I said, fill in what I'm missing. I don't need to be happy as long as she is.
As a single guy of marrying age, I was supposed to Put Myself Out There so that the ladies would run to their mothers and ask, "My, who is that handsome man?" But I found that to be rather difficult because I am very, very bad at talking to pretty girls. So bad I...can't. Because I automatically assume they're too good for me. That I don't deserve to have them talk to me. Or find me the least bit attractive. The idea is unfathomable.
I thought I had that whole self-esteem thing under control, but apparently, not so much. I'm just going to hide away here on the Internet where it doesn't matter what you look like and girls think I'm awesome.
Besides, I couldn't talk to any girls with my family around because if they saw me talking to a girl, they would assume I was totally interested in her and totally wanted to marry her. And that sort of makes me uncomfortable. My little sister teased me about Himalaya Girl (her name) all night, and it was horribly annoying, and I was terribly afraid she would tell someone and the whole Process would start and before I knew it, I'd be married to this chick I hardly knew and was only moderately attracted to in the first place.
I have a feeling weddings engender the When Are You Going to Get Married? in any family, but you have to admit it's particularly strong in a culture that still practices arranged marriages. Because it's not so much a question of When because I've finished school and secured a job, and therefore Getting Married is the Next Step in Life. It's an inevitability. A cultural imperative. As we opened our Christmas presents, my aunt said, "Let's hope this time next year, we are going to Sunil's wedding." Relenting, she amended, "Or at least he is engaged."
I don't even know if I'm done sowing my wild oats yet. But I already have to make up some sort of "biodata," which is basically the Indian version of a dating profile that has such useless information as education, occupation, and names of relatives. They need this to exchange with families interested in securing me for their daughters. Apparently, they've already found me a pharmacist and an accountant. They'll look for a year, two at the most, and if that doesn't work, then it's off to India, where they manufacture wives.
None of this white or black or Mexican or Muslim business, of course. She has to be Gujarati. Mixing cultures just doesn't work, in the long run. There are too many differences. One of those differences is that I don't tend to run into Gujarati women on a regular basis, which makes it hard for me to find myself a good wife before they do. And the clock is ticking.
Why can't I just marry Pam? That would make things a lot easier.