So, on Friday night, I had the opportunity to go out to dinner with a new group of guys, and while it was fun and I enjoyed their company, I feel kinda left out when a few of them started talking about their wives and such, and three of them were going to Atlantic City for a “bachelor party weekend” (not my cup of tea anymore, but still). There were other singles at the table, but I happened to be sitting next to the married crowd. Oh well.
I didn’t know what to expect logging onto this discussion group of Amy Gahran’s Off the Relationship Escalator, a book I read for my research for How to be a Happy Bachelor. After my morning run, I logged onto the Zoom group and was placed into a breakout room about “Preserving Autonomy,” where I heard others talking about the same issues we discuss on CoSP. I had to give them Bella’s site, as well as that recent Atlantic article, “The Hidden Costs of Living Alone,” and that OpEd from Charles Blow, “The Married Will Soon Be the Minority,” the latter of which really cheers me up.
There was another talk about intimacy outside of a committed romantic relationship, which I’m on board with. I’m more intimate in my platonic friendships than I’ve ever been with a romantic partner. I got a great deal out of it, and those feelings cancelled out the isolation I felt Friday night, but I was a bit sad to leave that space of truly like-minded individuals. And then I thought of the idea of a singles-centered utopia.
I would like to live in a community populated by single-at-heart people. No coupling or romance, and I’d especially love a world where marriage wasn’t privileged. Equal tax benefits for all, equal leave for all and no microaggressions. I remember reading about solo-dwelling communities in Eric Klinenberg’s Going Solo, and for my retirement, I’d like to live in one (or if I have the money, start one of my own). Spaces like CoSP are starting to make me believe that something like this can be possible for us singletons.
Happy Ace Week!
After coming back from my concert Friday at about 1 a.m., I set my alarm for 8:30, knowing I’d be dragging my blistered feet to the big Women’s March. But the way I see it, this abortion ban is an intersectional issue involving feminism and Singles Studies. Those old white men who think they can control women’s bodies are also implicitly saying that having children is mandatory, which ties into societal propagation of the “relationship escalator.” So I wanted to put together a CoSP meet for this.
I had fallen out at about 2:30 earlier that morning, and my eyes were burning, but I knew this was a worthy cause. That being said, that thermos of coffee was much needed. Janice and I ended up meeting at the Metro Center station downtown, and walking over to Freedom Plaza to meet up with Maggie and Dan, a couple, but allies in our singlehood fight. We met up with Maggie at the volunteer tent, and we made our way to the front of the stage. As the sun beat down on us, we admired all the cool signs (including “Keep Your Rosaries Off My Ovaries,” “We Stand with Texas Women,” “Real Men Are Feminists,” and Maggie’s “Men of Equality Don’t Fear Equality” sign, which got a bunch of requests for pictures). Janice and I also talked music, Singles Studies, and travel, a few of my favorite topics.
There were a large number of speakers, including Planned Parenthood CEO Alexis Johnson, and Erika Forbes, a progressive Reverend from Texas who supports LGBTQ rights. The music had a female empowerment theme, including “Vogue,” “Miss Independent,” and “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” The Soul Rebels, a funk band from New Orleans, also showed up to play a few songs. One woman even said, “It’s great to see men here.” As a cis white hetero male, it was certainly humbling, but it’s important that I be aware of my position and that I use my privilege to help other marginalized groups.
At around 1:45, we marched down Pennsylvania Avenue, past the Capitol, at which point Dan said, “This is what a peaceful protest looks like.” I responded, “Yep, no need to go storming the Capitol.” A bunch of people booed and made unflattering gestures at the Trump Hotel. Once we reached the Supreme Court, the crowd split off, and tired as I was, I made it with our group to We the Pizza, which had some pretty good slices. Not quite NY worthy, but pretty darn close. The Powerade I drank with the pizza helped revive me some, as we walked back toward where Dan parked. Janice split off to hit the Metro, but since I don’t see Maggie that often, I hung with them until I reached the Metro Center station.
That night, I needed to nurture my introvert side, which I did with leftover pizza, the end of the first season of Seinfeld, and the third season of Dear White People. I was exhausted, but I felt good in showing up and being a part of a movement that’s way bigger than me and that ties into something that’s become a big part of me these past few years. It was even better having a fellow singleton there. Thanks for coming, Janice; we’ll be in touch!
My sympathies out to the women of Texas who’ve been subjected to men’s outdated views on what they should do with their bodies. I had a conversation with a close friend who was feeling enraged about it. Millions of people (not just women) are feeling similar anger, which is why there’s another Women’s March happening October 2.
After our conversation, I’ve started thinking about all of the activism I’ve been doing on singlehood, and I’ve told the story about how my interest developed so many times it’s become second nature. I felt anger at all the times I’d been microaggressed (that verb should really not be highlighted red) about being single, and that anger developed as I read more about how laws and policies are designed to benefit the married. I can’t even watch a film without analyzing it for a pro-romance message.
While anger is looked at negatively, it can actually be a good thing if used constructively. My anger resulted in this blog, which in turn, resulted in a bunch of articles, a book, and a developing brand. I thought of this when I suggested to my friend that she engage in some painting, a favorite pastime of hers, as an outlet for her anger.
I do find that through conversation and writing and allowing myself my anger over discrimination toward single people (micro- and macro-), I’m actually able to be a lot less angry. I find myself being genuinely happy for people who get married, engaged, pregnant, etc. Because even though it’s not my life path, I can congratulate others who are doing the things they want to do, even if I won’t be attending their weddings or getting them gifts. After all, I didn’t get any gifts when I got my doctorate, got my promotion, published my book. So why should I subsidize them? But maybe that’s my anger there.
At any rate, I’m proposing that CoSPers and other singles activists attend their state’s marches on October 2. The abortion ban in Texas is very much an intersectional issue that involves singlism, because banning abortions is anti-single in that it reinforces the government’s preference in marriage and children. And to my DC tribe, hope we can meet there!
NOTE: This post is cross-listed with one on my other blog, Not Enough Concerts.
In the spirit of living my best solo life, I decided to take a two-day trip to Baltimore since I have the time “off” during the summer. Friday was spent walking the city, enjoying its crab cakes, and being dazzled by the unconventional artwork at the American Visionary Art Museum. But the real reason for the trip was meeting fellow CoSPer Heather for the Acrocats show, that event where cats do cool tricks like jumping through hoops, walking on balance beams, and even playing instruments!
After hopping the #56 bus to Highlandtown (which seems like the cultural hub of Baltimore), enjoying an Italian sub at DiPasquale’s, I walked over to High Grounds Coffee Roasters, where I did another thing I intended: distributed a few flyers for my coaching business. I had a nice conversation with an older gentleman named Wiley, who asked if I helped with things like ancient writing. I gave him my pitch wherein I tell people I coach the individual writer and what that writer needs, and he revealed he was a student of ancient writing. Very cool.
After reading my newest literary acquisition, Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime, and writing in my journal for a bit, I met up with Heather and her friend Missy at the venue, where we look at the cool merch. I acquired an Acrocats bumper sticker for my amplifier, as well as some treats that can help with my cat/son Chester’s hairballs. Missy and I did what all cat owners do when they meet each other in this digital age: show off our cat pics. She also referred to the event as a “catcert,” which I found delightful.
The cat puns continued as the event’s emcee started with an “ameowncement” greeting “Baltimeow.” The soundtrack consisted of cat-related songs like The Cure’s “The Love Cats,” Tom Jones’s “What’s New Pussycat?” and Ted Nugent’s “Cat Scratch Fever.” I would have also loved “Eye of the Tiger” and “China Cat Sunflower,” but I guess you can’t have everything.
When mice were brought out, my first thought was, “They’d better not have the cats chase them around!” And they didn’t; they just walked the balance beams. We were also treated to some antics from a rooster named Cluck Norris.
The emcee gave some explanation on how the trainers get the cats to do their bidding via the use of clickers. That, and a lot of patience. In fact, her line “nothing teaches you humility like trying to train a cat in front of a live audience” stuck with me.
Tricks that stuck out included the following (I was writing too quickly to remember most of the names):
My favorite was when a white cat named Tuna walked into the audience and eventually headbutted me. Of course, I kept saying “Hellwoooo Chester” under my breath because, again, I associate all cute things with little Chester. Plus I just like to act weird.
The highlight, of course, was the Rock Cats, their band. “Tuna, more cowbell!” was a common request from the trainers. I’m pretty sure I heard “Bad Romance” on sax from Oz, and “Careless Whisker” appeared as well. Bowie rocked out on drums, Nue took us to the 1980s with the synthesizer, Sookie played those chimes like a champ, Buggles emerged from her high perch to play some trumpet.
One line of note. The emcee revealed that she fosters most of these cats. She said, “I won’t say how many cats I have but I am single and probably always will be.” I felt some subdued, awkward laughter from a few members, but mostly silence. I’m not sure how I feel about that self-deprecating humor, which really plays into the stereotype, but then again, I do try to subvert it though my “crazy single cat male” persona, so there you go.
At any rate, it was a fun time, and thanks to Heather’s astute observational skills, I found a place to put more flyers for my business. Of course, I was missing Chester, and was ecstatic to come home and do my thing where I pick him and give him endless kisses. And, of course, some Netflix and chill.
I must say the preview of Kevin Can F*** Himself intrigued me. A twist of the classic type of sitcom with the buffoonish husband as protagonist with demure wife as foil (think All in the Family, The Honeymooners).
Annie Murphy, who, up until this point, I knew as the ditzy Alexis Rose on Schitt’s Creek, plays Alison McRoberts the long-suffering housewife of Kevin, who personifies the archetype of the dumb husband. Whenever he’s on screen, usually accompanied by his father, Pete, and less intelligent neighbor Neil (which isn’t really saying much), the show is brightly lit in the multi-camera 90s-sitcom style, and includes that classic “laugh track” feature.
However, when these stereotypical males disappear, we transgress to a single-camera style, and the screen turns dark, as does the story. Without giving too many spoilers, Alison dreams of a better life, a life where she’s more than just “Kevin’s husband,” and it turns out that some of Kevin’s antics that make for a good sitcom storyline have a much darker impact on Annie’s life (like putting sugar in the gas tank of Alison’s boss, and subsequently getting Alison fired from a job that seemed to give her a send of purpose). Accompanied by her jaded, taciturn neighbor Patty (Neil’s sister), she decides she can only do one thing: kill her husband and enjoy the freedom to sit in a café with a book, a scone, and some peace. How many trapped wives have enjoyed that fantasy (and even some husbands for that matter)?
The show does a pretty neat thing with that classic “family sitcom” structure by twisting it on his head, but it also provides some commentary on marriage. I don’t know how many actual marriages resemble the sitcom union (I suspect many, given how many women I hear about on CoSP talk about being “mother” to an ex-husband), but the show does take a few pokes at the institution. In one scene, Alison complains to her aunt/boss at the liquor store where she works about her marriage, and her aunt responds with an anecdote about how she hid a foot injury so she could wear heels to titillate her husband. She concludes with, “That’s marriage.” Even though it’s television, I was sad to hear that statement.
(SPOILER ALERT) At one point later in the season, Alison begins an affair with her former high school flame, Sam, and she ponders running away with him, but he points out, “You’ve never stood on your own.” It’s a true statement. She stopped going to school because Kevin told her it was a waste of time; she also rarely drives because Kevin tells her she’s a bad driver. Part of the show is a female empowerment tale in which she comes to realize she can be a whole person.
There’s a parallel story as well: Patty, the neighbor, has been “one of the guys” as part of Kevin’s crew, but she feels dissatisfaction at her role of having to put up with her brother Neil’s antics (usually influenced by Kevin). Initially, she regards Alison as a “Barbie” but over time, she gradually develops a respect and affinity for her and her situation.
The movie’s last scene, which I won’t spoil here, is a masterpiece, in which the single-camera setup and multi-camera setups merge. I’ll only be curious as to how they can maintain the storyline in Season Two.
Kevin can F*** Himself is essentially telling sitcom views of marriage to go f*** itself. Perhaps it could continue societal trends in telling marriage itself to go f*** itself? Only time will tell.
After a breakup and subsequent period of sadness during which I obsessively told myself I was going to die alone, I found the work of Bella DePaulo, which essentially saved my life and transformed my thinking about singlehood. It transformed it so much that I’ve become a scholar/writer/activist/crusader for singlehood, writing articles and even a book about it.
Yet, there’s been a downside about it. I now hear microaggressions where I hadn’t previously (such as politicians referring to “American families” as opposed to “American people”). On the way back from a solo trip from hiking the AT, as I walked toward my apartment, I heard a woman refer to her brother as a “loner/bachelor.” That triggered me for a second before I realized she may not have meant it as a negative thing. After all, I hadn’t heard the entire conversation, so I’m probably missing a great deal of context.
I’m reading a book entitled The Professor in the Cage: Why Men Fight and Why We Like to Watch, which is about a professor’s foray into cage fighting, done as a study in masculinity (and in my opinion, the primal urges that lead to toxic masculinity). He mentioned that marriage pacifies men, and that the lion’s share of violence is done by unmarried men (I hate that word “unmarried”). I grinded my teeth for a second, and then I thought, well, actually, I think I felt pacified when I was in relationships. And toxic masculinity among men is real, and men are often competing for relationships/sex, so yeah, I guess it makes sense that would be the case. Of course, without such perceptions of how manhood is connected to sex, we might see that violence drop, so we need to look at the root of that problem, which the author neglects.
The problems of singlism and matrimania still exist. But the trick for me is learning to see it where it actually does occur and to not overread where it may not.
A short prose piece inspired by Peter McGraw's Solo podcast episode, "Waiting." A widower is infinitely more attractive than a never-married person, as our protagonist proves.
There was word of a widower in Pine Hills, the gated community for senior citizens. Peter, a grey-haired man in his 70s, had lost Elizabeth, his wife of thirty years. All the widows in the complex brought him casseroles and pastries until he coupled with Gretchen. Upon doing so, he placed Elizabeth’s pictures in storage.
Peter had been a graphic designer. His specialty was altering stock photos to give them different appearances. Elizabeth, whom he had gotten from one of his suppliers, was his masterpiece.
Since I have the summers “off,” I travel to New York to visit my Mom and brother. Last summer, that couldn’t happen due to the combination of the pandemic and me moving to DC for my new job. I visited during the winter, but given the surge of the virus, I wasn’t about to go into a crowded space like New York City. Besides, it was shut down anyway. With things reopening this time, with things opening up, and I decided a New York City trip was just what I needed.
I love trains. I’d be a happy man if I could just use trains exclusively. The fact that there’s a train station not too far from my mother’s house makes me ecstatic. The hour-long train ride was a nice, meditative experience for me as I stared out the window at all of the different New Jersey towns. All the golf courses, McMansions, more modest homes, and downtown areas had me imagining what life might be like there, and it made me grateful for the one I currently have.
Once I got into Hoboken, I had to walk around the waterfront that overlooks the Hudson River. After lying in the nearby park, I spotted a CitiBikes station and decided I had to get my bike fix in. For $15, you can get as many 30-minute rides as you want in the span of one day. I rode on a path for a spell before grabbing a street hot dog and working it off by walking through downtown.
After about a half hour, I decided to head toward the reason for my trip: The Big Apple. The PATH train provided some much-needed AC in this July humidity. I got off at Christopher Street in the West Village and was greeted by a CitiBike, which, of course, I rode. After a brief ride toward the Hudson River and back, I had a hankering for some Italian Ices. I thought the nearby pizza place would have it. They had the flavors on a board, but the man behind the counter said, “Sorry. Maybe next year.” Not enough people walking around? Next, I tried an ice cream parlor. The young woman seemed apologetic at the idea that an ice cream parlor wouldn’t have Italian Ices. The next pizza place housed a man who said, “What’s an Italian Ice?” I just didn’t have the energy to explain it.
Finally, it occurred to me to use the Google Maps to find Italian Ices, and at that point, I found Ralph’s Famous Italian Ices & Ice Cream on Avenue A, about a mile away, but as I would soon found out, well worth the walk. That first taste of the Cherry Coke ice was like heaven in my mouth. I found a nearby park bench, and enjoyed my ice while I watched passersby, another old favorite hobby of mine.
Another mile down to the Pickle Guys, where I got my brother that quart of sour pickles I promised him. From there, I found another CitiBike and rode around Chinatown before the highlight of the trip, dinner with fellow CoSPer Laura Zan at Nyonya, a Malaysian restaurant on Grand Street. From our conversation, I learned that during my time as a teacher in Malaysia, my hosts had sheltered me from real Malaysian street food (they’d fed me the cuisine the school cooks had made). Laura knew a lot about real Malaysian culture. Fortunately, I was able to sneak away on a couple of occasions for Mee Rebus, a popular Malaysian breakfast dish. Laura also gave me a good tip for a hiking trail in Tuxedo, New York, right near the train station. Two things I love all rolled into one; I may just do that this weekend.
After dinner, we got dessert from Ferrara Bakery right next door (I had to have my cannoli). We took a nice walk through downtown, and there was a part of it Laura referred to as “the backwoods of New York.” A very desolate area, and soon, I learned why: the correctional facility nearby.
We parted ways at the City Hall station, and I walked away feeling exhilarated by meeting a new friend. As Kislev said in Happy Singlehood, “singles are more connected socially than married people.” Recently, that kind of connectivity has become a major core value in my life, and it’s always nice to meet people with those core beliefs.
As more and more people are getting vaccinated and the pandemic is beginning to subside, I’m slowly emerging from my cocoon to socialize. Moving to a new city during the pandemic was a challenging experience, but as an introvert who loves spending time alone, I was able to adapt. But once the school year ended, I suddenly had more time to fill (projects keep me busy, but it’s on my own schedule). And staying in all the time just wasn’t cutting it anymore.
I was revitalized on Friday night by going to a Tennis Meetup at the Dwight Mosley Playground and Taft Field in Northeast DC. And Saturday morning was lunch with fellow happy singleton and blogger Christina Diane Campbell of Onely fame.
I was in a bad car accident back in October, and as a result, driving has been a challenge. I could have taken Metro to this spot, Plaka, in Falls Church, Virginia, but I decided to step up and drive, and while I do get testy with DC traffic, once I hit the Chain Street Bridge, it was a nice, picturesque ride, filled with verdant landscapes and, yes, churches. “Exposure therapy.”
When I reached the spot, I pictured the area being a more walkable, a la Old Town in Alexandria, but it was still a cool spot. I tend to be early to most things, especially when I’m exploring a new area. I got there at about twenty to noon, and grabbed a table. Christina was not far behind. She got a nice-looking salad. Sadly, I had some fillings done the day prior, so I couldn’t eat anything crunchy. I did, however, indulge in one of the best gyros I’ve ever eaten. Due to all the outdoor tables being occupied, we were “relegated” to a newly created patio in the middle of the lot with AstroTurf where we talked about our work, our cat children, toxic masculinity, the sheer awesomeness of Planet Word, and the possibility of a local CoSP meetup in the future (I’ll probably do something in the fall).
After we finished eating, we walked back toward the restaurant, and suddenly, the tables were all empty (interesting how that works, right?). We talked about book launches (Donna Ward is having one on Monday), and Christina helped me gather some ideas on how to promote my book, How to be a Happy Bachelor. It came out in 2020, but between moving and starting a new job, that fell down the priority list. Fortunately, our conversation inspired me to create a Virtual Book Launch, happening August 14.
A long-haired dude at the next table commented on my Phish shirt, and he talked about his work with the Washington Scottish Pipe Band. Normally, I’m not that open to random strangers just talking to me (I feign politeness nicely), but the conversation brought me back to “pre-pandemic” times when we could talk with each other.
Of course, after a bunch of socializing, I was happy to get back to my cocoon. Movies, Chester, couch.
I could barely sleep last night. The excitement of going to Planet Word with my good friend Heather was too much to bear, particularly after my Saturday pandemic routine of jogging, biking, hiking, napping, playing with Chester, and take-out (which is actually a pretty fun routine). But somehow I made it, and I made it to the museum. Heather and I waited on a socially distanced line (and behind us was a woman named Sheila, who we found out later is a member of CoSP! Small world!).
After we got in, the first place we went to was this interesting word wall. You could speak into a microphone, and you’d hear the stories of the origins of some of the words. The wall opposite that had more origins. Heather and I, both devoutly childfree people, spotted the words “infant,” “fabulous,” and “banal” and “Infants are not fabulous; they’re banal.” (No offense to our parent friends on here).
From there, we participated in a virtual interaction where we got to learn some words commonly used in other countries. Apparently, kediler means “cats” in Turkish. Heather and I both love our kediler! We also got a cool picture of me being “mischievous” and Heather being “impish.” And, of course, us holding cardboard cutouts of our favorite creatures: cats.
Once in the room full of classic books, we separated for a bit. I watched videos on the rhythm of poetry and was transported back to a course I took during my Master’s program at SUNY New Paltz with Dr. Robert Waugh where I learned all about poetic devices such as iambs, trochees, and dactyls (the latter of which are used in rap music). Next up was a video on corpus analysis of text, which is why whenever I type the works “picks self up,” my phone automatically gives me the option of autoentering “from floor,” and then “wipes tear,” and finally, “from eye.” Heather checked out the karaoke room starring Neil Diamond, which, as I type, I now regret not seeing. But, hey, I can always go back.
I made us a reservation at this lovely Mediterranean restaurant called Zaytinya, but we had more time than I thought we would before the reservation, so we walked around and talked. At Heather’s encouragement, I continued to say, “Hellwoooo Chester” to every dog that passed (but not every baby; that would be banal). Heather even said, “that’s a cute Chester,” about one dog, about which I commented on her use of metonymy. She also informed me about “evil eyes,” which were on the restaurant’s website, and she texted me about them yesterday. She had sent a picture of her cat/son Raven, so I thought she was referring to his eyes (Chester can also make some pretty intense eyes when he wants to). Evil eyes; I’d love to be able to use it on a few people, but I digress.
We enjoyed some awesome cuisine. Heather got the Falafael, while I sampled an omelette horitaki, and we split some Brunch Fries. Mmmmmm… We talked words, people who will eat McChickens and hot dogs but won’t get the vaccine because they don’t know what’s in it, gas hoarders, people who need to get permission from their spouses to drink soda, old-world Jewish culture, and other fun topics.
We parted ways at about 1, and when I got home, I sampled Smarties (not that tart candy, but a British version of M&Ms). I dug ‘em, for sure. Thanks, Heather! And, as always, I enjoyed our banter. Word to your Raven!
My name is Craig. I'm an educator, writer, and unapologetic singleton. When not reading, writing, or teaching, I enjoy hiking, running, watching movies, going to concerts, spending time with friends, and playing with my cat/son, Chester.