Long before we had to suffer through the tired tropes of today’s romantic comedies, we had fairy tales; the sugar-spun stories of our childhood that made us believe in unrealistic things like talking animals, happy endings and Prince Charmings.
They also made us puzzle over another important fact. No, I’m not talking about the obvious problems with wearing glass footwear or how you can apparently remain alive inside of a wolf’s stomach after he eats you. I’m talking about how fairy tales made us believe no matter what our station in life, be it stable boy, farmhand, fisherman or pauper, we could win the hand of our true love with nothing but devotion and a pure heart.
So answer me this question: If you met someone that you felt a connection with today, and they told you they were a stable boy or a fisherman, how would you react? Are you being honest?
Because even in this day and age, when it comes to dating and relationships, we still reside within the confines of the ancient caste system when it comes to the subject of employment. The truth of the matter is, we all work for a living. Whether you are digging ditches or performing brain surgery, a job is a job.
Even though many people use their job as a way of identifying themselves, a job doesn’t make you who you are. When you die, you will be remembered for the feelings you stirred in those left behind. Gravestones don’t say: “Here lies Eric. He was a great pharmacist.” The inscriptions say the person was loved and will be missed; that they were a great father, a wonderful brother, an amazing friend, or a loving partner.
We are defined by our actions and our interactions with the other members of the human race, and your personality will shine through whether you are holding a scalpel or a shovel. But, even though we shouldn’t use our employment or unemployment as a factor, the question of what you do for a living is usually brought up in the first few sentences between two people meeting for the first time – usually right after your name, your age and the place where you reside.
So, does the person’s response to “What do you do?” affect your decision on whether or not to go any further? Because I can pretty much guarantee someone’s talent for flipping burgers or dealing priceless art is not going to make a difference once you hit the sheets.
Here’s an example: Years ago, I met a guy and we had been hanging out for a few weeks and none of my friends had met him yet. When they asked me what he did for a living, I told them straight up: “He’s an assistant manager at a Burger King.”
Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. It’s probably exactly what they were thinking as they scoffed about it for a couple days. Then they met him. He was goofy-sexy-cute like Chris Pratt with perfect teeth, curly brown hair and the body of a collegiate wrestler. Needless to say, I didn’t hear much more derision after that.
He was funny and sweet, and he kissed like he had invented it, and where he worked meant absolutely nothing to me. Why would it?
Since then, and even before then, I’ve dated guys whose careers were all over the map. Nurses and bartenders, artists and chemists, corporate drones and Starbucks baristas – and even though I parted ways with all of them, it was never because of their jobs.
So why does it matter to some people and not others? Is it because someone’s job is a direct reflection of their background and education? Why should that matter? The world is full of people that pulled themselves up from small towns and working class roots to make something of themselves, even though their family tree might trace back to what some would consider undesirable. There are also jobs where someone might make a great deal of money, but it’s the job itself that makes someone undesirable. It’s common knowledge a stripper makes more than a schoolteacher right?
I believe the measure of what someone does for a living is in direct correlation to your own materialism and self-consciousness. If money doesn’t matter to you, and the busboy you just met makes your heart skip a beat, then who cares about money? If what other people think is unimportant, then there’s really no problem bringing a mechanic to a fancy party, is there?
The sword cuts both ways, however. Having a great job and a successful career can intimidate people because they don’t feel like they are on the same level. Someone who works at a convenience store might feel uncomfortable mingling with the friends of the attorney they are dating. Being unable to jump on a plane to go to Puerto Vallarta at a moment’s notice because you have to bartend until 4 a.m. all weekend to pay your rent tends to make you feel poorer than you actually are.
What about being attracted to ambition? There are a lot of people out there who believe someone’s drive to make themselves a better person is the same as having a full head of hair or a nice ass or a sense of humor – just another trait that makes someone irresistible.
People talk about how it’s okay to be a waiter or a bartender as long as you are working towards something else. So it’s not okay to just be a bartender? An honest day’s work is an honest day’s work and when you clock out, you’re done.
Ambition just means you have a strong desire to achieve something through determination and hard work, and sometimes just getting through the day is an achievement in itself. Especially with some of the jobs I’ve had. How many people out there work mind-numbing, spirit-crushing, well-paying jobs but dream of doing something else?
I’m not negating the achievement of going to college, studying hard and earning a degree by any means, and I’m certainly not knocking ambition and drive, but I am saying that to deny someone the chance to sweep you off your feet because they make pizza and you perform root canals is foolhardy. Who knows what you might be missing? You don’t lie next to a diploma at night, do you?
Regardless of these trivial things and the ones preceding them, it all boils down to compatibility. Does the person you are with make you happy? Are you interested in what they have to say? Do they make you laugh? Is the sex unbelievable? If so, then everything else should fall by the wayside, whether you are the one making a hundred grand a year or the one working for tips.
When you first wake up in the morning and you’re suspended in that moment between dreaming and facing the day ahead, that’s when you are your true self. That is the person you want to be when you meet someone new. Your job is merely a way to make money. It doesn’t define you or make you better or worse than someone else – whether you’re a stable boy or a corporate attorney.
Cast off the caste and open your heart. Then you will live happily ever after.
Article republished with permission from The Gay Word.