From the Forever Alone files

James Friel bewails, not his singleness, but the fact that couples always bring it up:

Take dinner parties. There comes a moment, and that question: “Why don’t you have a partner?”

It is usually asked by one of a couple, with always a swivel of the eye to his or her other half, so really two people are asking this question.

And I struggle to answer: “I have never found the right person … I am a sad and sorry manchild … I am incapable of love… I am a deviant, and prefer giraffes.”

I could use these responses, it occurs to me, with little alteration.

But however horrid this condition may be for men, it’s apparently downright unspeakable for women:

A few years back, in an age of Bridget Jones-type heroines, the novelist Carol Clewlow wondered about a female reader of her own generation, a woman who had long decided not to twin her destiny with another’s. She wrote a novel about this single state. About spinsters.

She called it Spinsta.

She delivered Spinsta to her agent, who was delighted, as were her publishers. A campaign was initiated. Various columnists and celebrities were to be asked to consider and celebrate this word, but then another word came back from the booksellers.

That word was “no”. They would not stock and no one would pick up a book with such an ugly word as its title. The novel was retitled Not Married, Not Bothered.

At least it wasn’t Fifty Heights of Giraffe.

(Via this @syaffolee tweet.)







6 comments

  1. JT »

    8 November 2012 · 9:43 am

    From the article:
    Last week a friend of mine went on a date. A foolish thing to do. The man she met had been married three times and had a child by each wife. An example of emotional continence I’m sure you’ll agree. And he asked my friend, single and childless, why she had failed at life.
    ==
    As someone once said: the common factor in all of your dysfunctional relationships is you. Sad that so many people never see that.

  2. CGHill »

    8 November 2012 · 9:53 am

    I’ve always known that. Unfortunately, being aware of that, and saying so, tends to decrease one’s perceived desirability.

  3. fillyjonk »

    8 November 2012 · 11:00 am

    Well, I don’t know that there’s a variant to explain singleness in the same way, but a friend of mine used to lightly say, “Oh, I can’t bear children” when someone asked her why she and her husband had not procreated.

    They immediately backpedaled and apologized, presuming that “bear” meant “conceive and give birth to,” rather than what she actually meant, which was “stand.”

    I really wish I could come up with a comparable one for being single. Though I will say most of my meddling friends have given up on me after I brought up the fact that the guy one of them wanted to link me to was, in fact, one of those three-previously-failed-marriages guys.

    Except for having someone willing to be a listening ear after a bad day (and I understand that not all marriages work like that) and maybe reach stuff off high shelves for me, I manage pretty well unattached.

  4. McGehee »

    8 November 2012 · 1:34 pm

    Take dinner parties. There comes a moment, and that question: “Why don’t you have a partner?”

    It is usually asked by one of a couple, with always a swivel of the eye to his or her other half, so really two people are asking this question.

    “Oh, she’s at home, chained to the stove.”

  5. canadienne »

    8 November 2012 · 10:34 pm

    Why would one even respond to such a breathtakingly rude question, let along get all worked up about it? My response is usually a disbelieving stare, followed by a remark about the weather.

  6. canadienne »

    8 November 2012 · 10:44 pm

    I do like the “can’t bear children” comeback, though.

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