A Little Married

He said he was.

Melbourne, Street Art, photo courtesy of author

I am getting good at this. It takes me less and less time, a matter of few seconds now, to understand where the conversation with the taxi driver is going to end in the short 1.5 km ride to the office.

I get on board, he squares the rearview mirror on me before turning the meter on.

How are you this morning? he asks with exceeding enthusiasm,

I am good, I reply. Are you having a busy morning?

He says he has just started his shift, he asks me if I am Australian, I say close, he puffs his chest out, I come from Italy, I don’t think he got the joke. I really have to stop with this stuff.

In a matter of nanoseconds, he makes his way to second base.

He asks me where my family is, I say my mom and dad live in Italy, which triggers the return-to-sender-error-message question, and where is your husband?

I say, I am not married and no kids either.

He says you are living the best life.

I tell him I am not sure about that. I tell him that often I struggle to know what is best for me at any given moment, let alone life in its universality.

I tell him I am living the life I am living, the life I am given, the life I have chosen to live, though sometimes it feels more like unraveling rather than choosing.

I can tell I am too honest for his taste, he would rather hear me talking about how I am enjoying living the life of HIS wildest dreams.

Now the ball is back in my court, still 35 seconds to go before the game is over.

I ask him if he is married, thinking I know already the answer (yes).

In slow-mo, he slides his hand from the front to back of his head, resting his heavy hand on the back of his skull, his sense of resignation is palpable.

Sheepishly he says, I am a little married.

Little married, a man the size of a mountain, is a little married? Maybe he means little married for the day, maybe just for this conversation, because who knows, I might be a little desperate, he might get a little lucky? Ouch, I can’t handle this s*ite, but I know it is not worth it, so I just smile a censoring smile.

Yes, I want to strangle the little married man from the back, but I would need a pair of extra hands to go around his neck, besides he is driving, and I am in the backseat.

I just look straight at him in the rearview mirror and tell him there is no such a thing as little married, I laugh at it but there is nothing funny about it, and I remind him, that if anything, he is very married. Yes, I can get quite self-entitled. He adds he has also two kids with the same sense of helplessness.

Arrived.

You have a blessed day ma’am. Thank you, you too sir.

Of course, WTF do I know? I know that in this part of the world the pressure to marry and have a family — both for men and women — is quite something. Yet, we all — starting from myself — must learn a different way to tell our story, a story of respect and appreciation, of where we are with our lives regardless of how we thought or ought it should have gone.

It is sad to watch someone betraying and be-little-ing his own story, while thinking there is such a thing as the best life, and God only knows how often I have been there myself.

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Stories triggered by men behind the steering wheel, men who have the power to angle the mirror as they please, while we are talking to their skull. Stories trapped and suspended in the fraction of a taxi ride.

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