One recurring theme in this series is Woman, and how I fail to comprehend her. And while I'm hardly the only person suffering from this syndrome, it's a lot easier for me to search my archives for clues than to go through everyone else's. Some things I've written on the subject, in more-or-less chronological order:

The word "marriage" makes such a conventional noise to the contemporary ear that many people choose simply to tune it out. Whether this is a Good Thing or not is hard to quantify. Judging by the divorce rate, far too many people are getting married anyway. On the other hand, the one appealing aspect of marriage — a contract between two people who promise to stick it out through thick and thin and all the other variations on the theme — is downplayed, lest fear of commitment rear its ugly head.

In my particular age group, the divorced, demographics to the contrary, seem to outnumber the married. I'm not entirely sure why this should be so — are divorcés drawn to one another by commonality of experience? — but it seems that everyone has a horror story to tell about an ex who [fill in list of real and/or imagined crimes] right up until the breaking point.

I wrote that in January 1998, which would have been my — um, our — twentieth anniversary. In fact, the marriage didn't last even half that long, and the warning signs were popping up as early as Year Three. Historically, I've tended to point to two causes: immaturity (more mine than hers) and desperation (we were both convinced no one else would have us). She subsequently demonstrated that the latter conviction was incorrect, at least with regard to herself. But I still think that I had the right idea about that contract business, even if I eventually backed away from it.

And I know how hard I can fall:

She spoke of thunderstorms and of rainbows, of clouds and of sunshine, of tribulations and of triumph. Or maybe it was of something else — about two minutes into her speech, I lost track of the words and began focusing on Jeannie herself, her neatish, bespectacled face, her unruly but still somehow flattering hair, her soft and not-even-slightly whiny voice. Were it not for the presence of the podium, I might have checked out some of the other secondary sexual characteristics, at least to the extent Sixties fashion and Southern modesty and rigorous upbringing would permit, but by the time she finished, it wasn't necessary; I wanted her to go on forever, and I wanted to be there for all of it.

It was, of course, not meant to be, though it would be many years before I figured out that it never would be:

[T]here's probably not much reason to turn one's attentions to me so long as anyone else is still breathing. Which leaves me with a quandary of sorts: If someone appears to be somewhat taken with me, for whatever inexplicable reason, should I assume that it's just a