I’ve never really understood the fascination with numbers. We all have one: some big, some small, but none, none are just right. In the game of sex and a perfect equation, there is no Goldilocks, no storybook ending. Just like our soon-to-be wrinkles and the number of gray hairs we’ll so desperately try to hide, it grows with our passing age. Maybe it’s constant, maybe it’s steady. Maybe it’s tapered off in our later years, maybe it’s growing at a faster rate than ever. There’s no right answer, and no wrong one, either. It’s undefinable. A gray area. A black hole. An abyss, if you will, where judgment should cease and shame should be nonexistent.
In one of the more sincere episodes of “The Office,” Pam said, “It’s not about who you’ve been with. It’s about who you end up with. Sometimes the heart doesn’t know what it wants until it finds what it wants,” and she’s right. Or, at least, I suppose she’s right. Poets, scribes, oracles, painters, Marilyn Monroe posters, and modern day rappers have all said some variation of this exact same quote: it doesn’t matter where you’ve been. It doesn’t matter what road you traveled or even how long it took you to get there. What matters is that you made it. Your past is irrelevant, they say, a compilation of poor choices and fond memories–nothing more, nothing less.
So, why, then? Why do we feel as though our number is our everything? We’re taught to let go of the past. To hold our heads high, to live a life free of regret, but we can’t do it. No matter how hard we try, we cannot do it. We want to be the Samantha, we want to wake up the next morning and feel nothing, feel unattached, feel free. And sometimes we do accomplish this. On those days, we’re above it all, we’re superheroes–no, goddesses, rather–amongst men. But for every morning we’ve been Samantha, there is one, or five, or 15 where we have felt a twinge of guilt, a fleeting moment of sickness, a wonderment of whether or not we really should have done that. We had fun. We were safe. And yet we feel remorse.
As we make the divot in our headboards and carve the notch in our belts and painstakingly write yet another name in our Little Black Book, we can’t help but play a game of mental addition. Two plus three is five plus two is seven plus six is…wait. We shake our heads furiously so as to get rid of our product. Whether it’s two or seven or 27 or 72, we don’t want to hear it, don’t want to know it. Whatever it is, whatever it may be, it’s not okay. It’s too high. It’s too low. It will never be just right.
Society teaches us to be both the Madonna and the whore, the saint and the sinner, the lady and the tramp. We’re caught in the middle of this promiscuity see-saw, and with even the slightest misstep, we go crashing to the ground. It’s a balancing act–and a ridiculous one at that. There is no right answer, just self-doubt, self-hate, and a whole lot of fear of what society will brand us as. Is she too innocent? Not innocent enough? Is she hookup worthy? The kind of girl you date, but not marry? Is she the kind of girl who could mother your children or simply the kind of girl that you don’t call the next day? And it kills us, this mental warfare we wage on ourselves. It kills us. We harp and we focus and we scrutinize and we drive ourselves so fucking crazy with the maybes, the what-ifs, the too fars, and the shouldn’t haves. But we’ll never get it right. We’ll never find the magic answer, the magic number. Because. There. Is. No. Goldilocks. We are who we are, for better for for worse. We’re not our mistakes, our exes, our one-night stands, or our passionate love affairs. We’re not our bad memories or our good ones. We’re not our past mistakes or even our future ones. We are not our numbers. We’re not the Madonna and we’re not the whore. We’re just trying to figure it out. And when we do, just as Pam said, we’ll be right where we need to be.
Image via E! Online