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In Hot Pursuit of Happiness

Of Colds, Sweat and Surgeons

One of my favourite authors, Agatha Christie, made me smile, when she advised in her autobiography, that girls who want to know whether they feel truly committed to a man or not should try to imagine them, not as they stand before them, smartly dressed, polite, savvy and saying all the right things… but rather ill, with a coad in their dose. If, with that imagine in mind, the girl can still feel wildly interested and affectionate towards this man, then it’s ‘Go’ for them. It’s so very true that there is almost nothing more unattractive than a man with a severe cold, sweaty, smelly, and rendered wild-eyed by a series of up-coming sneezes… but while I hug the walls when there’s a cold about, I know how to deal with it, whereas I abhor sweat. So, while I’m happy to follow Ms Christie’s advice, I have to try and imagine loving any man I’m interested in despite his coming home in a complete sweat, from a run. Or breaking into a cold sweat because he’s got bad news for us about the house we’ve just bought. Or keep a strong hold on my appetite at the table with him, if (God forbid) he’s the type who sweats while he eats (does ANYONE have a good, solid medical reason for this and can it TREATED? SUCH a turn-off!) I think this forbearance on my part may be the most definitive sign I look for!

In Grey’s Anatomy (an American medical television series I’m obsessed with) I feel like my romantic character is divided between that of Meredith Grey’s and Cristina Yang’s (respectively and beautifully played by Ellen Pompeo and Sarah Oh). Cristina, like me, never thought of marriage as a huge deal. When proposed to by Dr Burke (played by the stunning Isiah Washington, whom I still miss…) she accepts, after some thought –but not so much because she is in love with him, as because she realises clearly that this is a make or break time in their relationship, as many that have come before this point. Dr Burke, in his own words, ‘leads’ in the progress of the relationship, and Cristina ‘follows’. In actual fact, he is a super-controlling, insecure bully, though a well-meaning, kind man, and Cristina is fully aware of this too. She knows that if she agrees to marry him, she is in for a life of ultimatums and an obligation to ‘follow’ Dr Burke, in whatever he may choose is good for himself, for her, and for both of them as a couple. Yet this independently-minded, singly-mindedly determined, self-sufficient surgeon agrees to marry Dr Burke. Because the choice is ultimately simple: Say ‘Yes’, and keep him, at least for the moment, for there is always the option of divorce; vs Say ‘No’, and lose him completely –as a teacher, mentor, lover and other half of a usually ‘good thing’ that she belongs to. For her, it comes down to a simple mathematical equation, and she (as I might, under those circumstances) choses to go for it, and hope for the best. She would not have been happy in that marriage, just as she hasn’t truly been happy in the relationship –and neither would Dr Burke have been. His ultimatums limit her, and she is, as described by Dr Teddy Altman, ‘a racehorse’ that needs to be ‘pushed’ –both professionally and personally. Her security makes him even more insecure, and the truth is, part of man’s feeling of security within any relationship is knowing that he is needed, even more than appreciated (and where he is both, he will stay and probably never stray.) But for the present, she will marry him, for it is the better of two evils. I sincerely hope that I am never reduced to this. I almost was, once, but chose correctly. Still, I was much younger…

Meredith, on the other hand, is a faithful romantic. She cannot venture romantically into territory where she cannot be sure that True Love lives. She needs a man she can trust enough to sink her entire being into. Even when she is absolutely certain in herself that she is in love with Dr Derek Shepherd, she is able to refrain from committing to him entirely (at least outwardly) until she is certain that this is ‘for life’. She will not be a ‘dirty mistress’ no matter how much she misses him. When he is finally free, she doesn’t throw herself at his feet. She loves him, sure, but she would prefer to suffer now, than suffer later. She must be SURE of him, and of his love for her. That he IS her other half: her friend, her lover, her teacher, her rock –the one person she would willingly give her life (AND her unborn baby’s?!!) for, because his love makes it possible for her to live in him. His joys are her own, his sadness likewise, and her sense of independence, unlike Cristina’s is able to mould itself around his wants and needs… As Cristina-like as I love to think of myself, I’m afraid that this is the kind of love I inherently believe in. I believe that this is the only kind of love that would dampen the Cristina within me enough to allow me to accept the state of marriage, and my role within it as my husband’s side-kick and accomplice, staunch supporter, (moral and physical) compass, and ‘soft place to fall’. It’s that kind of love that sees a man through a bad cold, and thoughtlessly wipes off his sweat, before offering him a cold drink, I think.

Still In pursuit of Happiness!

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About Ciggie Cramond

Ciggie Cramond is an author, writer, editor and translator currently living in Nairobi, where she is actively writing her next book, supporting Arsenal, and looking for The One... Online, naturally!

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