Last weekend, I was laughing my head off at a Phillies game, having fun with a single female friend, and chatting-up the "lads" in our vicinity. (Side note: the male-female ratio at sporting events is very favorable for women.)
Everyone was “single again,” i.e., divorced, except your fearless blogger. Thus, I expected suspected my 7th inning stretch might involve a round of Big Why.
If you are Single on the Sweet Side of 40, you already know the Big Why is “why are still single?” or its multi-purpose cousin “why aren’t you married?” Your shields go up when a game ensues. My weapon of choice is punch-line as land-mine. I have an arsenal of witticisms aimed at stopping the conversation dead in its tracks.
Then along came Sara Eckel with reinforcements. "It's Not You: 27 (Wrong) Reasons You're Single". Bonanza! Sara hits back at the well-meaning but mindless folks who keep asking us that question, as if we actually know.
Feeling well armed, I took my first swing at Big Why with an oldie but goodie, and my personal favorite.
“Why buy the cow when the milk is free?” was my first swing at Big Whyat the Phillies game.
Seemed perfect for the surroundings and the Jumbo All-Beef Hot Dogs we scarfed down earlier.
One of the charming and delightful lads– I mean that sincerely –chuckled, snorted and graciously invoked Sara's Reason #21 on my behalf: You Don’t Really Want A Relationship.
I invoked right back with my own retort #2: “No, I just never wanted to get divorced.”
For Charming Lad, this translated to ‘Ah, so there were men, men who didn’t make the cut,’ aka, Sara's Reason #8: You’re Too Picky.
I smiled and replied, “Reason #9: You’re Too Available.”
Not really. I actually said, “Next you’ll be telling me I shouldn’t lower my standards.”
The stand-up routine appeared to be working. I have to admit, I am never sure who is the comic and who is the heckler. Either way, the timing of my next move was perfect for my still-single-snappy comeback #4: “Not for lack of offers.”
The Friday night lights went on over the charming lad’s head. 'So you did want to get married,' he declared. True enough. Deciding not to marry him is different than deciding not to get married, which I say almost as often as I answer the Big Why.
I haven’t made the latter decision. I think I want to get married. I add “think” as the qualifier because it’s embarrassing to admit… what? Defeat? Reason #23? (You’re Too Old)
There comes a point for “Modern Single Women” when, as Sara puts it, we become “wildly embarrassed that we longed for love.” Partly because, heaven forbid, we fear Reason #6—You’re Too Desperate.
It’s also partly because we trusted the Fixers and the evil-twin internet. Hear/see the same message over and over and everywhere for four or five decades and you drink the Kool-Aid: It Must Be You. In fact, we relied on there being something wrong with us, something that we could, well, fix. (Reasons #1-27)
Modern single women are masters of self-improvement.
Mostly, though, it seems to me, we are embarrassed because we do the rest of life right (Reason #5), but love and marriage confound us. Our inner-spinsters believe the hole in our hearts should be filled by now (Reason #15). If not by a spouse, by bitterness and scar tissue.
Being completely vulnerable to something we cannot control is petrifying, and some of us are scared stiff of even dating. Wanting something so big for so long seems sad (Reason #16) or tragic or pathetic. We are grown-ups. We should be over this by now.
The thing is, we aren’t over it. We are used to it. We made sweet lives, and a commitment to ourselves for better or worse.
But back to baseball and boys: Charming Lad eventually landed on the true reason for my marital status: I haven’t met anyone I wanted to marry.
Of course, Charming Lad put it like this, “You haven’t met the right one yet.”
The irony of his own divorce escaped him. Not me.
Though said in jest, my honest answer to the Big Why is that I never wanted to be divorced. And I would be, had I hitched any of the men with whom I entertained the idea of marriage. Call me crazy but I preferred breaking an engagement and cancelling a wedding to annulling a bad decision.
And I don’t consider any of it a violation of Reason #20.
If by now you still need a reason to buy Sara’s book, here's the best: “It Isn’t You” is your story, too. Don't just react to the Big Why. Hit back.
I’m throwing Sara a party on May 1 in Philadelphia. Come for a free fun talk by Sara, snacks, Happy Hour Drink Prices and friends you haven't met yet.