After an intense weekend of paper-writing in the library, I decided that I didn't want to go the library today. It's more accurate to say that I'd already set aside Monday as a no-work day after I'd agreed to a mini league match at 2pm. Whenever I have some social engagement or some other appointment (meeting with supervisor, medical appointment, etc) in the afternoon, it pretty much means that it's a no-work day. I did think of going to the library after the match to do some work because I did not finish my revisions as I'd originally planned...but in the end, I couldn't be arsed.
I won the match 7-4. I stopped caring after I was up 6-1, as I'd already won, but it was still quite embarrassing how I fell behind 1-5 in the tiebreak. My excuse is that I was standing with the sun in my face, and I literally couldn't see clearly after tossing the ball up into the air, looking up at the ball and getting a blast of unadulterated, unfiltered sunlight into my eyes. So I missed two easy forehands. That was quite annoying.
My opponent wasn't very good though. She gave me these wonderful high, paceless serves that I whacked away for return winners, which made me very happy. I felt a bit embarrassed at 6-1 and we changed ends; didn't really know what to say to her. I know, how ridiculous. I guess that's the Type B in me speaking.
Isn't it odd, this seeming bipolarity of my impulses and character traits? I don't know if I'm more Type A or Type B. My A traits are diametrically opposed to my B traits: I am ambitious but lazy; I am competitive but embarrassed when I'm in a winning position. Does any of this make sense?
Anyway. Tennis got more interesting later on, when I sat down on a bench next to an elderly man with the purpose of waiting for the kid who was hogging the hitting wall to leave so that I could hit a few balls. The man started talking to me, asked if I was waiting for a game. It was apparently social tennis time, which meant that one could form impromptu games with whoeover was around. I thought, yeah I'll stick around, and played two sets of doubles with him as my partner.
Yeah, I was shit at the net. I was also shit at returning this guy's slice-y serves. I was the only one on court hitting the ball really hard, which makes me wonder in retrospect if I should've done that. But it's immaterial anyway; we lost both sets (lost in a tiebreak in the second set though) and I don't think I held serve even once. Oh well.
The interesting part isn't the tennis. It's the elderly man. His name is Steven. He's maybe 80. We chatted a bit while waiting for a game, and he told me these things. First, when he was at university, he travelled to some far-flung place of the globe by ship. A journey to the US, I think it was, took 3-4 weeks. He stopped by Fiji for a day. Second, his uncle was a prisoner-of-war of the Japanese when Japan invaded British-ruled Singapore and the British surrendered.
I found that latter fact so intriguing. It's fascinating talking to elderly people. I would love to know more about his uncle's experience, but then, he did say that his uncle rarely talked about it, and understandably so. Apart from that, the notion of taking 3-4 weeks to get to my holiday destination is utterly foreign to me.
There is so much to be gained in talking to the elderly. I should go to social tennis more often, meet more people at club, maybe see Steven again. He was very nice. He gave me a lift back to Magdalene in his AMAZING 80s-styled Jaguar. I noticed his car when we were playing and I was definitely checking it out, and so when he pulled up next to me when I was walking out in that Jaguar, I was totally overawed. The interiors were classy too: wood panelling, beige leather (I didn't like the leather, but liked the beige). It's a real shame that Jaguar doesn't make these cars anymore; the modern ones are bulky and boring and even rather vulgar.
By the time I got back, it was close to 5, and I was meeting John for dinner so obviously, going to the library was 100% off the table. I was supposed to meet a guy from college for drinks, but he mercifully did not text to say where and what time. Is it bad that I was really relieved not to hear from him? I have no romantic interest in him at all, and I suspect he likes me, but I couldn't really say no to catching up or however it was that he phrased his message. I guess he doesn't like me that much if he didn't text to say where and what time to meet. Whatever, I don't give a shit; I'm just glad that I spent my evening with John rather than a guy that I didn't really feel like meeting.
John was great, as always. Our conversation topics included sex and his deontological virtue ethics/morality framework. The latter was sparked by my taking a contrarian (well, not completely contrarian) viewpoint to his claim that slavery is absolutely immoral; what if one consented to being a slave and is treated well? Blah blah. I would go into the details but I'm too tired, so suffice it to say that I was struck by how, despite my PhD being on communitarianism, I seem to be more willing to defer to individual autonomy and choice than he is. I say 'despite my PhD being on communitarianism' because one strand of the communitarian critique of liberalism is that liberalism is mistaken in valuing individual choice as the ultimate value (though this may be a bit of a strawman characterisation of liberalism), and so we should also be concerned with the thing that is chosen. So if someone chooses to be a slave, I would say that there is no obvious moral wrongdoing because it is plausible that this person has chosen to be a slave after a process of rational deliberation. For John, though, this person is denigrating himself and committing a moral wrong to himself, for he is holding himself out to be treated like an object, which offends his moral worth and value as a person.
Am I simply unable to shake my liberal inclinations? John has said that I am being bipolar for doing a communitarian PhD when I'm clearly a liberal. Or maybe I just need to rethink the consenting to be a slave issue more.
ANYWAY. I don't want to go into that right now. I just want to finish this entry with this: I am pretty much over the initial scepticism about English Lit Academic's sudden assertion of interest. Now that I know that he really likes me, I'm quite excited about seeing him tomorrow. I really like the idea of him. He is such a good fit for me on paper: literature, vegetarian, humorous, not fat, older. I don't know what his religious views are but he doesn't strike me as the religious sort. It's also nice that he's nerdy-cute, and I find the fact that he has tattoos rather sexy (just small ones, not those sleeve types which I definitely don't fancy).
And yet...I feel like I have finally gotten used to not seeing a man in my upcoming days in Cambridge, not seeing a man next to be on the airplane when I book a trip to the beach in the summer, not seeing a man in white tie with me at the Magdalene May Ball. I have reached a stage where I don't care about the outcome, or non-outcome, of my dating adventures. I don't care if a guy doesn't text me, if someone like K kisses me three weeks ago, tells me he's very interested, then does nothing after that; I don't care, too, that some random Tinder guy cancelled a date citing illness, then says let's reschedule, but doesn't follow up. I like this not-caring. By that I mean that I am very comfortable with not caring. I feel very secure in my lack of caring, my cavalier attitude; and I am rather wary of letting go of that.
But let's not jump the gun. We will see how dinner goes. I hope he's a good cook. I also can't wait to check out his collection of over 1,000 books (I may be more excited about this than about him...ha ha nah I'm not).
A parting shot: a passage in A Room of One's Own, which I read while having lunch at Fitzbillies, was so powerful that I nearly cried. This deserves more attention than I can currently give it, so I'll leave it for another entry.