Friday, April 27, 2007

Single, Lightly Steamed

Okay. I’ve been a big girl for years now. I own my own tool set, balance my own checkbook, and if they’re not TOO scary I can kill my own bugs, although if they’re nightmarish I’m big enough to admit defeat and call in some brave warrior to kill it for me. ‘Brave warrior’ usually means the nearest child, cat or elderly person. I’m not picky. They just have to be bigger and faster than the bug.

I was lucky enough to be brought up to be independent. To think of my life and my responsibilities as my own, and not to put anything on hold ‘until I get married’ or ‘in case my future husband does/not like it’. I’m single, and while I may have daydreams about what it would be like to share my life with someone on a daily basis, it’s not going to happen any time soon, if ever, and I choose not to be upset by that.

So it is sometimes a shock to me when other single women of my acquaintance make what sound to my ears like retro, even vintage, comments about women living their lives for men. Case in point: (Bear with me, the exposition is a little long.)

I have a single female roommate and 2 cats. I’ve had the cats longer than I’ve had the roommate. One of my cats – Wilkie – is quite large. The vet’s eyes get bigger when they light on her. Wilkie’s not petite. But she has been the same size and weight for years, and she seems to be quite happy about it. She’s been on the same weight control food forever and while it doesn’t appear to be lessening her weight, one can only assume that the ‘control’ it exerts is preventing her from becoming the size of an armchair.

So one night this week while Roommate and I were each making our own dinners in our tiny kitchen, we were talking about Wilkie, who was sitting on a chair, keeping a sharp eye on all food prep activities.

Roommate was telling me that when her mother calls from California she always asks about the cats, and always asks whether Wilkie has lost weight.

We both look at Wilkie. As usual, no discernible weight loss. Wilkie looks back at us, unperturbed. We laugh a little. I shrug.

Roommate continues: “We think that maybe Wilkie has already found her lover and doesn’t need to worry about keeping a slim waist.”

I froze mid-shrug. I was really quite shocked. I felt obliged to defend Wilkie so murmured something about “Oh Wilkie loves herself as she is, very healthy self-image…” Roommate didn’t seem to notice the vast gulf of difference between our comments. I got my food and I got out of there. (Wilkie went with me.)

Now. This is just appalling to me. How can an intelligent single woman in her thirties in this day and age say something like that without being struck by lightning? When I told my sister this story she gasped in horror, which is exactly what I felt like doing at the time, but politely did not.

Question: Why on earth does Wilkie have to find a lover at all???

Roommate’s Answer: Because she is an unmarried female.

It makes me want to bang my head against a wall. Lovers are a BONUS, people!!! You don’t live your life only to find them. You appreciate them when they arrive, try to make your two lives fit together if you really want them to, you might look for them if you really want one but don’t have one – but the entire reason for your existence is NOT simply to find one. You have to make something of your life either way, whether or not you find a partner to share it with.

It’s alarming to me that my independence today still doesn’t rest entirely easy. It may have been relatively easy for me to go to college, get a job, find an apartment – all things that single women in the past had to fight to do on their own. But it exasperates me that I still have to justify my choice to live on my own. I am not marking time. I am not waiting for some male judge to pop out at the ‘end’ and grade my performance, maybe even give me a ring if I do well enough. And yet comments like Roommate’s imply that that is exactly what I am doing.

Roommate, Wilkie and I are all unmarried females. Wilkie and I are okay with that.

1 comment:

CrownLaidDown said...

You Go girl! I think Wilkie and I have the same weight situation...we're just fine the way we are...for no other reason.
What part of Texas? I'm from Marshall in East Texas, but lived in Austin and Bryan/ College Station for college. Oh, I better go, my Lean Cuisine is ready :) I hope you're laughing (but it IS true).
Holly