The irresistible panache. The upturned collar. The artistry. The Kung fu fighting. That incongruous mix of shock value and brilliance. I remember it all like it was just yesterday. He was elegant, enigmatic, eccentric, eclectic, explosive or as my French friend would put it “Man you cannot eee-magine”. Ladies and Gentleman … Eric Cantona. The creme de la creme. The big enchilada. The King. One of the greatest footballers to ever grace the Theatre of Dreams.
Playing Jean-Toussaint Arrighi de Casanova to Sir Alex Ferguson’s Napoleon Bonaparte Cantona inspired the Red Devils to 4 league titles, including 2 doubles(1992-1997). He was Manchester United’s talisman, eliciting during his time at Old Trafford some of the most boisterous renditions of Glory Glory Man United. For me as a budding football fan it was the genesis of an inexplicable love affair with a football club, that would last the better part of the next 20 years. A relationship that was signed, sealed and delivered by the time the 1999 Treble winning team’s exploits had many a United fan delirious with glory. Although by 1999 Cantona had since hung up his boots, he had been the perfect wing-man. I decided on United.
Decisions. Decisions. Decisions.
As a pseudo intellectual, I do occasionally, in my private moments acknowledge that I don’t know everything and revert to helpful aides to explain things to me. so not wanting to make any mistakes for this piece, I reached for the dictionary gathering dust on the top of my over stacked , under read bookshelf to look up a word I think I know the meaning of.
Ultimatum – noun: a final, uncompromising demand or set of terms issued by a party to a dispute, the rejection of which may lead to a severance of relations or to the use of force.
Now, as far as the dictionary definition of this term can be applied to my scant experience of relationships, I think I have been on the end of some final uncompromising demands, the rejection of which or in my case the reticence to deal with , while not leading to the use of force, have definitely led to the severing of relations.
Sometimes I have been naive enough to ignore an ultimatum expressed in no uncertain terms. Other times I have only become aware of the ultimatum after the severing of relations when I was told how my girlfriend had given me the ultimatum in her mind and then watched as I failed to deliver,leading to scenes of tears, shouting and wheel spinning departures into the mist of the lonely winter nights.
These ultimatums usually involve a demand that I change my loyalties ( i.e. not seize every opportunity to accept friendly invitations to go crazy and instead devote my attention to the needs of the loved one), my habits ( i.e. passionately indulging myself in all things Manchester United), or my outlook ( i.e going all Forrest Gump and responding , “Mama always said life is a box of chocolate” to a serous question about feelings, life, the universe and everything).
Though not always expressed in the kindest or most rational manner, these ultimatums are not without merit. In past I have always acknowledged those merits only once the horse has bolted far beyond the bounds of my stable. ( It’s a metaphor, I swear I am not saying you are a horse.)
The problem is that I have an inherent and sometimes irrational tendency to try and keep everyone happy and not hurt anyone’s feeling, which is impossible at the best of times and unforgivable in the face of an ultimatum. Its probably the former altar boy in me, the inheritor of thousand of years of neurotic Catholic guilt that sends me into a whiny, pacing hand wringing dance of indecision and self doubt. Something that highlights my ability to make excuses rather than decisions. Deciding not to decide, that’s usually my decision. Which is also why I am not much of an ultimatum deliverer myself, preferring instead to cower, glare and mumble to myself that the reason I own too much Manchester United memorabilia and books is that at least they don’t make demands. Ultimatums, however, have always had the stamp of authority and I have had a problem with authority for at least the last 15 years of my life.
There are women I have waited for to tell me to marry them or else, who are now married, have left me or just don’t want don’t want to hear it anymore, and all I can here is the spirits of my departed objects of desire laughing at me and singing “You turned out to be the best thing I never had … Sucks to be you right now“.
This is not to say that ultimatums should be accepted but in the case of an often indecisive schmuck like me, you need to recognize the ones that count and then do the right thing. Otherwise you will be lying awake alone at night telling yourself that next time you wont make the same mistake and that you mean it this time, as you ignore the book on the bedside table and the record that reached its conclusion hours ago, hissing incessantly as it waits for you to change it.