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Why I hate being single #3: Clothes

When you’re little, you have your mom, aunts, and grandmas to help you get dressed. When you’re older, your sisters or girlfriends help you choose what you’ll wear, and help you get into it. Presumably, when you have someone else at home, be it a roommate or significant other, they’ll do up anything out of reach.

A number of years ago – okay, 12 – I made a disconcerting discovery when I tried to get into my red dress. It was my bridesmaid’s dress from my friend Jessie’s wedding.


I loved this dress, and some time after the wedding, I wanted to wear it to a theatre event. Problem: it had a hook-and-eye closure at the top of the zipper. I got the zipper at the back done up fine (it took some flexibility), but there was no way I could do up the very top myself. The day of the wedding, this had been no problem: I had two fellow bridesmaids, a bride, and the bride’s mom to choose from in doing it up. I have no idea who DID – because it was irrelevant. NOW, however, alone in my apartment in a beautiful dress that I realized I couldn’t wear, it was agonizing. I ended up introducing myself to a neighbour by asking her to finish doing up my dress!

That night, when I got home, I realized I had the same problem in reverse. But it was after midnight, so I was stuck figuring this out on my own. I figured if I undid the zipper, maybe I could slip the dress off over my head, which worked. And then it occurred to me…since the hook-and-eye was still done up, maybe THAT would work in reverse. I slipped the dress back on over my head, did up the zipper, and voila.

I love dresses. I have lots of them. And, because I’m still on my own, 12 years later, that’s how I get them on. But it means doing this kind of contortion in the store change room for every piece of clothing I buy.

Single = Invention.

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Reasons I hate being single #1: Roadside Assistance (or, How I spent Father’s Day)

Most men like cars, and thus, most men have a car. Many also fancy themselves mechanics: whether or not they are, they’ve made the weekend trips to Canadian Tire, and acquired the tools to do basic auto repairs without causing too much harm.

So: If you’re in a relationship, you likely have access to:
A) another car besides your own,
B) tools, and
C) a person who can provide one, or both, A and B.

I am a newly-minted car-owner, and I’m single. Therefore, I have:
D) none of the above.

Today I picked up a piece of assemble-yourself furniture (more on that tomorrow), and was on my way home, going 60km/hr on a major road, when a lady pulled up beside me, and signalled for me to roll down my passenger window. I did, and she called out that my back right tire was looking very wobbly. ACK!

I pulled into the first tire-repair place I could find, but today’s Sunday, and it was closed. I called their 24-hour emergency number, and after a couple of tries (and 40 minutes), I learned there were no after-hours technicians available in the city. I briefly considered calling AMA (hey, what’s emergency assistance is for, right?), and thought…Sunday… Father’s Day…how long will I be stuck here?

In the end, I called my friend Barry – an auto-body mechanic who helped me choose my first-ever car. Barry is a dad. And I called him on Father’s Day. He happily came, and checked the torque on all my tires.

I have done pretty well at being an independent person: I hold down a job, I pay my own bills, and even before I had my car, I successfully got around on my own most of the time. I haven’t relied on anyone, out of necessity, but the upshot is, I am self-reliant. But while I sat in my car today waiting, I thought of the countless times I’ve heard girlfriends on the phone say: “Honey, can you pick me up?” Today…I felt helpless.

Yes, it is mostly that I really wanted to have a family, and that I feel alone. But I’m realizing recently how many tiny, everyday things are harder because I’m on my own. And I hate it.

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Am I a Penelope?

Last night I saw The Penelopiad at the Citadel. I’m not sure about the play, but I loved the idea; what was it like for Penelope those 20 years Odysseus was away? And why DID he kill her servants? What was the point?

After what happened the last few days, writing anything pertaining to ME seems trite. This, however, could be about half the human population of the planet. And, like most of my ideas, it’s been gestating in my head for ages and seeing Penelope deal with her life the only way she could have has caused this idea to burst out. It will, to some, sound catty, or old, or like I’m man-bashing. Not at all; I know lots of wonderful guys…all of whom are married or gay.

I am 38. I was hoping, nay expecting, to be married and have two if not three kids, a house, a minivan, a dog, and a cat WELL before now. I did a solo show earlier this year speculating in part on why it might be that I am still single, when I am apparently still nice-looking, smart, fun, and interesting.

I’ve quit beating myself about it, though. For years I listened to the voices saying I wasn’t pretty, thin, or fun compared to other women around me. Being made to feel that you’re constantly competing with the women around you is wearing. One Christmas my sister – my SISTER, who loves me – gave me a copy of the book He’s Just Not That Into You. A book whose message is essentially “Hold out for the guy you deserve. He WILL show up.”

More than once, I have held out. I have been put on a string of women by a guy, so he could pick and choose when he felt like it. And I put up with it because – despite his behaviour being obviously disgusting—I liked him. And…I wasn’t getting any other offers. I’ve also held out for truly amazing guys who kept saying they wanted someone like me—and then waited patiently for them to go through every Helen-of-Troy-like dough-head who wasn’t me, sure that eventually, one of these guys would clue in and pick me. None ever did.

So I vacillated between two thoughts last night while watching Penelope: 1) “Did that. Did that. Learned that a long time ago,” and 2) Being really angry at her for putting the disposable slaves she did care about in harm’s way, so they’d get used instead of her.

Recently I ran across two bits of information which have finally convinced me it’s NOT my fault I am still single—I KNEW this, but to see someone else state it was like being doused with ice water. First, there’s this, from The New York Observer. (WARNING: Don’t read at work!) In summary: there are many handsome, successful men who would rather hire escorts than establish relationships with women. Then there was this, from The Atlantic, which explains that one reason so many obviously desirable women are still single, is that too many men have been rendered “unmarriageable” – there are LOTS of bright, beautiful women who can support themselves, but the number of such men has dropped like a rock. And yet we desirable single women put up with these deadbeats, or guys from article one, who can’t do the smallest thing for themselves. We want families…and if this is all we have to choose from as mates, we accept it.

Now. The thing that really hit me about the article #2 was the assertion that a number of men from, say, article #1, upon deciding they DO want a relationship, start champing at the bit for one. BUT, they don’t decide this until they’re at the age when WE WOMEN, who WANTED kids, can no longer. It seems that for too many of us, too many guys decide they want us when it’s too late for us to get all we want.

I’ve given up actively looking. I refuse to compete with any other woman anymore. I’ve decided that if I’ve been made to wait this long, any guy who wants me had better make it worth my while. I am nobody’s Penelope.