While it’s not noticed, I love that there is an Unmarried and Single Americans Week, even though I’m not a huge fan of the word “unmarried, as the prefix “un” implies a deficit. I didn’t do this last year, but now that things are opening up in this urban landscape in which I reside, I figured it’s worth a blog post.
Live music is not just an interest of mine, but a way of life. My friend Mark came to visit me to see a band called Widespread Panic play at MGM National Harbor, just outside of DC this past Saturday. On Sunday morning, we woke up and took a walk to the Cracked Eggery, which is known for breakfast sandwiches served on challah bread. After he took off, I just vegged out and recuperated from the two shows I had been to (Friday and Saturday night). I watched a few episodes of that old show, WKRP in Cincinnati. Interestingly, out of the entire cast of characters, only two are married: one is a nebbish (Gordon) and the other is a sleaze (Tarlek). I also watched Wildcats, a light 80s comedy with Goldie Hawn as a football coach. No romantic subplot.
The workweek was busy. We’re in Week Five of classes, so the semester is underway, so much of my time consists of emailing with students and grading work. On that front, I offered my first-year writing students an extra credit option, taken from my How to be Single and Happy course: go somewhere by yourself (movie, restaurant, café) and write about the experience. It’s not due until Friday, September 30, but two students already volunteered. One went to a bar by herself, and the other wrote about her experience going solo to sign up for classes here. While not technically under that umbrella, that was a big step for this person, so full credit!
I also hosted a Meetup for my Asexuals and Aromantics group Thursday night. We went to dinner at this burger/Asian fusion restaurant called Pogiboy, near Farragut Square. Four of us showed up, and we had good conversation around a range of topics, from music to the differences in weather throughout the US to travel.
Saturday was the big day. After spending the morning grading student journals, I was off to Anacostia Park for a bike ride (pic above). The Anacostia River is a nice view, and one of the nice perks of being a DC city employee is a free Capital Bikeshare membership. It was fun riding along the river, and I got to pedal across the newly built Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge and past Nationals Park. From there, I headed to the CVS to get my second booster shot combined with a flu shot.
In all my single splendor, I’d been out the past five Saturday nights, and I’m planning to go out the next four, so I figured this weekend would be a perfect one to stay in. I made chicken and decided to break out the gnocchi I bought from Cornucopia, an Italian deli in Bethesda, a few months earlier. I watched my favorite movie, Midnight Run, a buddy action comedy with no romantic subplot, and decided to check out The Man from Toronto, another buddy comedy newly released on Netflix. Don’t bother with this one.
As I write this blog, I realized I have a full life BECAUSE much of it is spent solo. I hope my fellow singles-in-arms recognize that for themselves too.
I have to credit Heather for the title of this post. When we were at the O Street Museum and I mentioned that fans of the band Phish are referred to as “Phishheads,” she started singing this song. I had no idea what she was talking about, and she showed me this video. I thought they were sung by Alvin and the Chipmunks, but upon research, discovered it came from a 70s duo named Barnes & Barnes.
I always love getting together with fellow CoSPers IRL; they are true kindred spirits, especially Heather, a fellow bibliophile, ailurophile, solo, and introvert who loves her alone time as much as I do, and that includes traveling solo. But we had a good time.
After some confusion with the diagonal one-way streets that compromise downtown DC, we made it to the Mansion on O&O Street Museum, which is a visual cacophony of any kind of artifact you could think of. Below is just a sample of what they had:
They also had Disney memorabilia, Simpsons apparel, and a bunch of Beatles gear. And some secret doors, four of which we discovered, which, according to the museum, makes us above-average sleuths. I walked away with a Prohibition-era style sign that read “Bathtub Gin Joint,” which I’ll cut to read “Bathtub Gin,” which inspired our “fish heads” conversation. There was also a book called The Bronx Zoo, a day-by-day account of the 1978 Yankees season as told by pitcher Sparky Lyle. I’ve been keeping a daily journal of my academic year and hope to turn it into a memoir or piece of fiction, so this book would be a good exemplar.
We then walked toward Georgetown, the hoity-toity section of DC (high-end retail shopping and boutiques). Within all the chic is a cat café called Crumbs & Whiskers, which had these beauties:
The only thing I can say about this place is that if there were an image of heaven, this would be one of them in my view. Soft cushions and cuddly cats. Words can’t really describe it, so I’ll let the pictures do the talking:
From there, it was off to the ultra-chic 1310 Café & Bar. I hadn’t had French toast in a while, and Heather added to the Francophile theme by topping it with French fries. A light dusting of maple syrup on fries is actually okay. We marveled at how well-behaved the kids at the table next to us were, when that’s not always the case. We also discussed childfree restaurants, which I certainly appreciate.
The last part of the day consisted of books and ice cream, two of my favorite things. On our way back to Dupont Circle, we stopped at Second Story Books. I had been at the one in Rockville, Maryland, which resembled a warehouse. This one looked more like a bookstore. Wanting to limit my cash, I walked out of there with nothing, as did Heather. We agreed that while we’re bummed out that these independent bookstores are beginning to disappear, online purchases are a way to stretch our budgets.
While in Dupont Circle, Heather read a book of poems by Edgar Allan Poe while I finished Chelsea Handler’s Uganda Be Kidding Me, a true solo’s travelogue. We then got ice cream at Larry’s Homemade Ice Cream before the parting of the ways.
I’m part of a number of different discourse communities. In my work and music communities, someone always talks about their kids, which is par for the course. But it’s nice to meet people who have the same lens on those things that I do. Thanks for coming down, Heather!
And when I say “we,” I mean, people who identify as male and those who identify as female. I thought about this after a Meetup group called Solo Living in 35+, and it’s exactly what it sounds like. It just started, so groups tend to be small. In this case, it was myself and a new woman named Ruan, and we watched a group called Turtle Recall play at the DC Waterfront. The band was decent, but the conversation was even better, and on the Metro ride home, we discussed why it is so hard for men and women to be platonic friends and wondered why that is the case.
I vaguely remember being five years old and having female friends I’d play with. As I got older, I started gravitating toward other boys for my platonic friendships; females were for romance. One could not wind up in the “friend zone” with females. That was just the kiss of death.
Still, I found myself having platonic female friends without the desire for romance or sex, and as I got older and started learning more about myself, I realized I prefer platonic relationships. And when I posted on CoSP, many members (mostly female) posted about their male friends, some of whom suddenly stop being friends when they enter romantic partnerships.
As someone who has many female friends, I have some theories. I think societal pressure has conditioned us to think that if a male and female meet each other, there is some subconscious voice telling the two parties there must be romance, sex, or some form of physical intimacy. Whenever I see a male and female walking down the street each other, my first thought is: they’re coupled. I’ve actually made that mistake when I’ve referred to a woman or man as “your husband/wife/boyfriend,” only to find out they’re friends or relatives. So I’m as guilty as the next person.
There’s no immediate solution, but we do need to normalize male/female/agender platonic relationships.
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.