O Lord," said Augustine, "grant me chastity and self-control — but not yet!" This was, of course, prior to his conversion, but I can relate. And I can also relate to the more modern quip, which for no good reason is sometimes misattributed to Augustine: "O Lord, grant me patience — and please hurry!"

While the time frames might seem to be contradictory, these two requests fit neatly together into my present-day existence. I'm not about to make any claim to any particular level of sexual purity: the quantity of wild oats I've sown is surely meager by contemporary standards, but I can't think of it as insignificant or even inconspicuous. On the other hand (a phrase I should probably have changed, now that I think about it), a decade or so of celibacy hasn't been as ruinous as I might have anticipated, and I'm loath to throw myself into a one-night stand just to break the dry spell, simply because that's not really what I'm looking for.

Hence: patience. It's not a virtue I possess in any substantial quantity, as any wayward member of the Anti-Destination League clogging up the left lane will no doubt testify as I whip past at 115 percent of his speed, or lack thereof. Still, when the question of the day boils down to a: take what you can get, or b: wait for what you really want, I'm accumulating rather a lot of b and not much a. As the joke says, the problem with delayed gratification is that it takes so darn long.

Still, if it ain't broke, it's probably not a good idea to fix it. Last night I got a notification from my Web host, announcing some changes to the email system: it was signed, typeface-in-cheek, by "The Happy DreamHost Seemingly-Minor-Internal-Changes-Can-Break-Everything Team!" Yea, verily. Still, there are advantages to the new setup, provided what remains of the old one doesn't come crashing down around their heads — or worse, around my head.

Then again, I probably need not worry about it; things do have a way of sorting themselves out in the long run. About a decade ago, a friend of mine, noting that I was living in a fairly crappy Rent-A-Hovel, said, "You know, you ought to buy a house."

"Yeah? Where?"

She indicated a major intersection. "Oh, yeah, right," I scoffed. "Like there's a chance in hell I'll ever get to live in a place like that."

Today I'm four blocks — rather less than half a mile — from that very intersection.

Maybe I'm not in such a rush to find myself a girlfriend after all.

The Vent

  17 August 2004

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