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The Debachelor



When my partner and I celebrated our paper anniversary (five years) this September, it also marked the six-month milestone of my official entry into the debachelorization program. Having maintained separate residences for four years, five months of travel somehow convinced us to settle into a single abode. Mine being larger and more convenient, it seemed the logical choice. Given it was my personal fiefdom for 15 years, however, I couldn't blame her for beginning the de-me-ing process on Day One.

This wasn't an entirely new concept (I was married for eight years), but 15 years of having things I wanted, arranged how I wanted, and doing what I wanted, when I wanted, had naturally led to all sorts of structural and decorative dead-ends, echo chambers of a persona requiring either a complete purge or modifications significant enough to allow for other sensibilities to flourish (or take over). Dudes, you know what that means: you're going to school.

To begin, living with a woman allows you to explore arcane corners of science you wouldn't otherwise be exposed to on a daily basis. The random distribution of objects — and thoughts — in time and space comes to mind. Not only is this inherently instructive in its own right, but it allows for development of previously unheralded paranormal skills — such as an ability to divine where objects have likely come to rest with a much higher accuracy than the person they belong to. You conduct a detailed study of gravity — everything from the Newtonian dynamics of a falling body (i.e., bottle, glass, vase, avacado), to near-constant invocation of the five-second rule — which no amount of mansplaining seems capable of rationalizing. This is nevertheless truly gratifying stuff that can make you wonder why you lived alone for so long. But it's only the tip of the heuristic iceberg.

In my case, the place where our sensibilities met — a love of books — also opened new ground. These needn't, I learned, be stacked on shelves for ease of access or reference, but were best scattered throughout your existence where they might be encountered at different times, in varying moods, lodged in myriad corners, baskets, vehicles and beneath sofa cushions. Oh, and reading one or two at a time was nowhere near as intellectually stimulating as 15.

Debachelorization also brings interesting and tractable questions of mechanics you have never thought to pose: e.g., how much can you pack in a garburator before it stops working? (Like all good science, this experiment must be repeated for verification.) There are also abundant lessons in ergonomics, such as how spatial awareness and an intuitive sense of what might fit in a cupboard, shelf, closet, or up-and-down stairwells must be challenged for the banal orthodoxy they represent. For instance, nothing can be learned from employing the right-sized vessel for a particular cooking project, while unerringly choosing the one most likely to overflow engenders proper provocation of the innate sense of volume (Archimedes Principle) or surface area (πr2) so "obvious" to the male mind. Perhaps this is also why they are often left to boil dry.

You might similarly learn how to achieve random asymmetrical spacing with framed objects. I had, it turns out, been approaching this all wrong: the trick, apparently, is to not use a level or measuring instrument of any type, and to make it further interesting by pounding hangers into un anchored drywall with anything but the frightfully jejune tool known as a "hammer." Shoe heels, rolling pins and rocks serve much better in this regard.

There are also lessons in Zen — learning to meditatively allow troubling trends to pass right through you: like the long-term influx of material from storage points around the province that cannot be offset by frequent purge-and-dash missions to the Re-Use-It Centre, which just as often results in goods flowing back up the highway into your abode.

Finally, and most importantly, you learn — through direct discussion — how these occasionally entertained perspectives are but mere amusements borne of the insularity, introversion and dullness of your previously myopic existence. Should the opposite have obtained and we'd moved into her space, she could have penned a similar tongue-in-cheek on how typical male space-usage is lacking in creativity, an armchair, remote-control paean to tedium that beats the fun out of any household existence.

Nevertheless, I recommend debachelorization for anyone interested in how entropy works, in developing new analytical skills, and in broadening interpersonal horizons — all while gaining a healthy dose of humility.

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