There’s a scene in season one (I think?) of The Wire where the scene opens with one of the cops (“Herc”) trying to move a pretty large desk that’s stuck in a doorway. He’s not making much headway, and his struggle is so obvious that a couple more cops stop what they’re doing and help. One even gets into the room by crawling underneath the desk so he can help on the other side. Still, no progress. After a few more futile moments, every cop present stops what they’re doing to help, half on one side of the desk, half on the other. This doesn’t help at all. The desk doesn’t budge.
At this point, the cops—exhausted by the struggle—all stop for a second to catch their breath and think of a better way to move the desk. While they’re all standing there, wiping the sweat out of their eyes, Herc says (paraphrasing) “Damn. At this rate, we’ll never get it out.” As soon as he says this, another one of the cops (I think it was “Carver”) looks at him incredulously and says “Out?” Herc replies “Yeah, we’ll never get it out.”
As soon as he says this, the other cops roll their eyes, shake their heads, and mumble different variants of “motherf*cker” in his direction before going back to their desks, all coming to the same realization: The desk wasn’t moving was because while everyone else was trying to get it in the office, his dumb ass was trying to get it out.
This scene was meant to be a metaphor for the futility of the drug war, and how much time and effort is wasted on it doing things that ultimately counteract each other. But, while thinking about it the other day (I have random moments of Wire-based nostalgia. Don’t you?), I couldn’t help but think that scene also could have been a metaphor for how we (generally) view dating and relationships.
All of the blogs, books, podcasts, Nightline specials, panels, interviews, features, shows, oral histories, news stories, and web series devoted to this topic have the same underlying theme: Helping people get into and stay in relationships.
This is understandable. Being in a healthy and happy romantic relationship is something desired by most people—mankind’s existence is somewhat dependent on it and shit—so it makes sense that we’d devote a ton of resources to help make that happen.
But, maybe we’re going at it backwards. Maybe all this talk about relationships has helped to cultivate a condition where people eschew all common sense to achieve this elusive goal. Maybe instead of putting the focus on getting people into relationships, we should be more concerned with getting people out of them. Maybe instead of thinking of a break up as the worst thing that can happen to a person, we should start to recognize the beauty in them.
Yes, the beauty. The beauty in recognizing that certain fundamental incompatibilities are never going to change. The beauty in being willing to free yourself from some contrived commitment to get a return on an investment that you know will never be recovered. The beauty in not having to make excuses to yourself and everyone else when asked why you stay if you’re so unhappy. The beauty in enjoying singledom and not allowing external factors to pressure you into doing something you’re just not ready to do yet. The beauty in the hundreds of thousands of people back on the open market after freeing themselves from non-starter relationships; people who may actually be perfectly compatible with someone who’s currently single, but will never know as long as they stay in shitty situations. The beauty of taking time “off” to legitimately work on yourself. The beauty in saying “No” and continuing to say “No” until you’re completely ready to say “Yes.” The beauty in shifting our focus from getting people into relationships to convincing them to leave and stay out of shitty ones.
***BTW, today is the 2nd anniversary of Liz’s twenty-somethingth birthday, so if you see her, please wish her a happy one and buy her a shot. If you don’t see her and can’t buy the shot, just read a random Bible verse to yourself on an Apple product in her honor instead. If, while you’re reading the verse, you happen to come across Liz, continue reading and give her a lapdance***
—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)