One pastor said, "Would all the single people stand up?"
He said, "I hope all of you find a good spouse."
Another pastor said, "Would all the married people stand up?"
He said, "I hope all of you find a good divorce attorney."
The second didn't actually happen to my knowledge. But, in all seriousness, though, if you're offended/upset by the second pastor and NOT the first, you may wish to look at how you've been conditioned to believe that marriage is the right way and singlehood is the wrong way.
Research the terms "singlism," "matrimania," and "amatonormativity," and then I'll be happy to engage in a discourse with you.”
I posted the above on a few Facebook groups, as well as my own. In my journey through the world of Singles Studies, I like to get people to question our cultural norms/assumptions about marriage: namely, that there’s a cultural bias around marriage. And in my advocacy, I can get carried away with myself sometimes, and I can delve into self-righteousness. I originally framed this as a joke, but thanks to a friend directly calling it out, I realize I wasn’t really making a joke. It’s more of a commentary. But I think it’s an important one.
I haven’t had the experience of being divorced, but in talking to people I know, it can be brutal. So I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. But it is interesting how we’re quick to accept the first pastor’s gospel as fact, and when I posted the second, I got a variety of reactions.
My personal page: laughter. I’ve developed a whole schtick around being a clown, so those who know me understand I mean no ill intent.
Community of Single People: (CoSP) laughter, applause, some questioning. Members who’ve been divorced would probably say no.
I tried it on another page because, well, I like to rabble-rouse every now and again. It got some applause and laughter from those with the capacity to understand, and I made a new Facebook friend, Rebekah. But there was definitely some hate around that post. Someone even called me an “incel,” which I found humorous. A few others, of course, went into how “that pastor should be fired!” I guess social media doesn’t convey humor or sarcasm very well (then again, I did relabel it a commentary).
I was inspired by Bella’s work in Singled Out where she said (and I’m paraphrasing), “We don’t encourage married people to become single. Why should we encourage single people to get married?”
That’s the big question that inspires Singles Studies. A phrase I learned recently is: acceptance is not resignation. I find my anger reaches into the stratosphere in my advocacy. But I’m trying a new approach. The statement “this is a cultural norm.” It is what it is. But if I can approach that norm with empathy, I might just be a better advocate and a better educator in this respect. And perhaps I’m being a bit quixotic, if more of us can do this, I think we might be able to change the world – in many ways.
NeMLA 2023 - Fun at the Falls
I love to talk Singles Studies, but oftentimes, the problem is finding others to talk Singles Studies with, outside of the CoSPers. But, the last two years, NeMLA’s offered me an opportunity to present work to others who, at least for the duration of the panel, “get it.”
Elizabeth’s a great co-organizer to work with in this respect; we democratically agreed to split up the duties involving contacting presenters and doing those mundane, thankless tasks we do at conferences, like reading bios and timekeeping.
Getting to Buffalo was easy, although the contrast in weather was interesting. After a mini-jog in 75-degree weather, I wore a T-shirt jeans as I chilled out through the 90-minute Metro ride to Dulles International Airport. The Metro just expanded to Dulles back in March, which is very convenient. While I’m happy with being able to catch Metro straight there, the ride was very long from Van Ness, my neighborhood (note to self: fly out of Reagan next time).
Upon checking into my Airbnb at midnight, I slept very well and enjoyed a brisk two-mile walk to the Niagra Falls Convention Center, where I was met with a visual buffet of books, booksellers, tote bags, and name tags. The morning was productive: I attended two talks on mindful writing and mentored a job seeker named Yeojin, who’s interested in K-Pop.
The main act, though: our presentation on “The Resilience of Singlehood.” My presentation provided a Singles Studies 101 primer before going into the study I conducted on how singles in the US fared during the pandemic. Belkis Gonzalez followed with an analysis of a single female empowerment theme in Naima Coster’s Halsey Street; Andrea Covailis offered a talk on male friendship in the works of John Steinbeck (which brought me back to my experience having student taught Of Mice and Men and subsequently reading Cannery Row); Dany Jacobs went more deeply into the study of “incels” than I ever could have dreamed of doing in my research; Theresa Desmond delved into “spinster” representations in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, and Radclyffe Hall’s The Well of Loneliness. Elizabeth viewed the Hulu show, Only Murders in the Building, through a Singles Studies lens, examining the single characters. This show is now on my watch list.
Post-presentation, Elizabeth and I ate at Buffalo’s famed Anchor Bar, where I had to, by city law, order wings and a beef on weck sandwich. We went further into our analysis of societal perceptions of singlehoods, and we even shared our dating histories. I didn’t want to write it here, but I actually did date someone for five months. We got along well, but to put it succinctly, our core values didn’t match up. She wanted an escalator-style union, while I didn’t. In fact, through conversation, I concluded that while I like physical intimacy, I don’t need it. In fact, I see it more like chocolate cake. It’s fun to have once in a while, but too much will get boring and might even make me sick in the long run.
On my other blog, Not Enough Concerts, I write about the concerts I attend regularly. However, I’m currently on a 40-day cleanse (I’m on Day 15 as of the time I’m writing). I had four options to see concerts: a Rolling Stones tribute, a Grateful Dead tribute, a 90s tribute, and a funk/hip-hop group called Sophistafunk. I’m glad I forwent all of them. I would have had to rush through dinner to get to the show, Uber service wasn’t great in Niagra Falls (two cancelled on me just to take me from the Convention Center to my Airbnb), and I was exhausted from being “on” all day. It was nice being able to relax and mini-binge watch (two episodes) of You, that dark show about a love-obsessed serial killer.
Despite the delayed flight home (an hour on the tarmac without explanation), the trip and the conference were well worth it. Next year: a presentation on how I integrate Singles Studies into my first-year writing courses right on the banks of the River Charles, hopefully followed by lobster and clam chowder.
Welcome Dr. Katherine Fama
Conversations on the CoSP page really ignite my passions about singlehood. Conversations with Singles Studies colleagues about Singles Studies ignite those passions; not only are we academically in sync, but there’s a camaraderie that comes from that shared interest and trying to advocate for our marginalized population.
In my experience, though, nothing beats bringing these conversations out of our CoSP/Singles Studies cocoon into a world that, as far as I know, has been led to believe that “marriage is the way.” In that vein, I was thrilled to bring Dr. Katherine Fama of University College Dublin into my Foundational Writing class to talk about her research on the housing spaces of single women in the early 20th century U.S. While I have a very broad research interest in the intersection between Singles Studies, Rhetoric, and Popular Culture, talking with Dr. Fama brought me out of my comfort zone, into a much narrower field of study, one I knew nothing about. And I’d be taking this journey with my students, and my colleague, Dr. Jillian Wendt.
Dr. Fama’s presentation is a preview of her upcoming book, The Literary Architecture of Singleness: American Fiction & The Production of Women’s Independent Space, 1880-1929. I’m enticed by those narrow historical periods because there’s a clear focus for what I’ll be learning. It essentially offered an intersection between how single women were portrayed in late 19th/early 20th century American fiction and their housing situations.
As a kinesthetic learner, I was most enthralled by being able to read the rules of the Stewart Hotel for Women, which opened in New York City in 1877; my students were asked to write about what stood out to them. Some excellent notes arose, such as:
While some of these rules might be familiar to anyone who’s ever stayed in an Airbnb, particularly in New York City, these are obviously degrading to single women. When my student, Nick, made a note about having to pay extra to be in the room alone, my mind immediately rushed to the phrase, Singles Supplement! We talk about these all the time on CoSP: being charged extra if you want your own room on a group tour, cruise, or something of the like. When I went on a seven-day group tour of Ireland, everybody in the group got their own room, and everybody paid the supplement. A nice way to make an extra profit, right?
When we parted ways, I felt exhilarated by the pro-singlehood conversation I so rarely get to experience outside of CoSP, but work very hard to facilitate in academic spaces. I must say that while it saddens me that some of the events Kate referred to still occur on a small scale today, important work is being done to raise awareness. And with that could come change.
More and more people are opting not to travel the traditional route of marriage and parenthood, or as Amy Gahran would deem it, the relationship escalator. Thanks to social media, we can access article upon article giving various takes on this trend. And, of course, social media brings out people’s true (and oftentimes dark) natures on this subject. In reading through comments on such pieces, I’ve devised the following categories of commenters:
Matrimaniacs (who are mostly Boomers)
People are generally uncomfortable with change. Many people who were raised with the attitude that they needed to get married and raise 2.4 children are naturally going to want everyone else to do it (“We had to do it, so you should”). I saw a meme that read “Tradition is just peer pressure from dead people.”
While tongue-in-cheek, like most jokes, this meme has some truth to it. The folks that are alive and lamenting the declining of marriage are typically Baby Boomers, who don’t know any relationship style outside the “escalator.” If they’re not, they usually come from conservative areas and have been raised inside the “monogamy box.” They’ll make comments like “I’ve been married for 43 years, and it’s been worth every minute” or “people just don’t want to work for love anymore.”
On the plus side, the former category will die soon. And the more we continue to accept alternatives to marriage, the more newer generations will embrace those alternatives, and the latter category will eventually fade away (or at least decrease in number).
Because many pro-singlehood articles address women who are opting for singlehood (and virtually none too for men), much of the backlash comes from angry singles (usually men), who fit the stereotypes matrimaniacs purport and give the rest of us a bad name. Many men feel that the fall of marriage was the result of women being allowed to have credit cards and work outside the home, and they reflect a 1950s patriarchal attitude (men work, women cook).
They’re an angry group. Angry that they just can’t get a phone number or a date because women are now more liberated and don’t have to settle for the first dude that comes along, unlike the matrimaniacs we read about above. They need to learn how to be comfortable in their own skin as singles before they try dating.
Like singles, those who support singles are not a monolithic group, so I’ve divided them into categories:
The Bitterly Coupled or Divorced
These are people in unhappy relationships or those traumatized by a bad breakup or divorce. They’ll make comments like “never get married; it was the biggest mistake I made. 25 years of hell.” After a bad experience in couplehood, they’ve learned (or are learning) to enjoy singlehood.
I really appreciate these folks; it takes a lot of intelligence and open-mindedness to be able to see outside your own experience (something I’m still learning to do). These people tend to have happy, healthy relationships because they’re comfortable in their own skin and have identities distinct from their partnerships. For them, their partnerships are like icing or sprinkles on the cake.
The Happy Single
I don’t need to say much about you. You’re truly the shining stars and will be a great example for future generations.
On Solo Concertgoing
I’ve loved live music since college, when I saw Phish play at New Jersey’s PNC Bank Arts Center. And I’ve had experiences where I’ve gone to shows with friends, as well as those where I’ve gone solo.
Going to shows with friends is wonderful. I have one friend, Sal, a drummer, who would provide critiques and commentary on who the “weak link” in the band was. Some of my fellow Deadhead friends went to shows in the 1970s and 1980s and have enlightened me on some of the history behind the songs played by the Grateful Dead. And there’s always the pregame dinner, where we talk about the show, as well as the postgame trip home, where we comment on the show’s highlights. My friend Maggie and I once went to see Zoso, a Led Zeppelin tribute, where we interacted with a group of friends who engaged us in a bet to see what song they’d play. My friend Pete, who goes to way more shows than I do, is able to inform me what tunes certain bands play if I’ve never heard them. And they’re all stars on my blog, Not Enough Concerts.
But there is a great deal to be said for solo concertgoing. When I do go to a show solo, I’m a lot less insular and more open to meeting people. And with jam bands (particularly general admission shows), there’s an energy that just unites us fans and keeps us engaged with each other, as well as the music.
The first time I went to a show in DC (after lockdown) solo (a Grateful Dead cover band called Better Off Dead), I met a dude named John, a lawyer who I subsequently met up with at future shows. A month later, when I went to see Trey Anastasio play, I ate at an Indian restaurant near the venue. Pete commented on my Phish T-shirt, and we just got to going. A few minutes later, we were walking to the show, and we’ve met up for several in the DC area since, as well as a Phish show in Philadelphia. There was also my adventure trying to catch an Uber when Phish played at Jones Beach, and teaming up with John during my quest. And having Larry introduce me to all the regulars when I saw the Montgomery Warlocks (another DC-based Dead cover bad) solo.
And I don’t always meet people who I stay in touch with for long periods of time. Sometimes, they’re just friends for the night. Like that guy Mark who had driven from Boston to New York to see Phish. And those two dudes from Georgia who flew up to New York for the Widespread Panic show. And countless other people whom I can’t remember.
As an introvert, I definitely appreciate this article and have internalized most of the tips, like being close to an exit (I like standing in the back during general admission shows). One nice thing about going solo is that I can leave whenever the hell I want and not have to stand around and jiggle my keys while one of my extroverted friends chats with some stranger.
Not that I don’t love my extroverted friends, but still…
Chris Rock: Single Person at Heart?
A few days after the “slap heard ‘round the world” at Oscars, I just had to buy a ticket to see Chris Rock. I had seen him on his Tambourine tour at Richmond, Virginia’s Altria Theater with Drew/Brometheus, Maggie, and Sherrie (RIP) and found it funny and insightful, so I figured why not? I had never gone to a comedy show solo, but there’s a first time for everything.
DAR Constitution Hall is a regal venue with stylish carpeting and architecture. I don’t have pictures because we had to lock our cell phones in cases (no videotaping!). Usually, when I’m solo, I’ll read articles on my cell phone or read a book. But, no bags either, so no books. I did settle for writing in my notepad and making observations. I did see a nice diversity of cultures there, including a group of what appeared to be Indians. And they were enjoying the show. I did see one other solo person, a young woman in glasses and ripped jeans who barreled through the couples and groups to get to her seat. The way I look at it, when traveling solo, you’ve gotta be dominant.
I didn’t care for Rick Ingraham. While insult comedy is his specialty, I didn’t like the stereotypes of Asians he presented (“you’re all engineers, right?”) and his calling out of the dude there by himself as “creepy,” even if they were audience plants. But that’s comedy, so what can you do?
Chris Rock immediately followed, and his shows seemed to follow a structure. He starts with political humor, riffing on current “wokeness” and “victimhood.” The selfishness of non-maskers came up, as did the idiots who stormed the capitol on 1/6/21. From there, he got into the personal, like with parenting, and I love that story on how he told his daughter’s school to expel her for breaking an important rule, and how, as a result, she became less entitled. While I’m adamantly childfree by choice, I wish the parents of some of my students would follow Rock’s example.
When he got into relationships (the typical closing routine of his act), I couldn’t disagree more. Men are supposed to pay for everything? I can get on that in situations where the gender pay gap applies (men do still make more than women, and if that’s the case in the relationship, the scales should be balanced), but in some situations only. Why do men have to be the pursuers/hunters in relationships? And do all women want to be pursued? Do some want to do the pursuing? Are men less than men if they don’t have to pursue? When Rock said that “women want to be taken care of,” there was a smattering of applause.
In a previous blog, I shamed Rock for chiding his audience to “settle down” when he seemed to be unhappy in his marriage, and indeed, he did divorce from his wife in 2016, largely due to his cheating and pornography addiction. In his Tambourine special, he embodied regret and essentially told his audience, “Do as I say, not as I did in order to maintain your relationships.” He mentioned that he’s single again, and he stated one line, “Women say all the time ‘I don’t need a man’ but you never hear a man say ‘I don’t need a woman.’ I need a relationship!”
I love to analyze people. So, here’s my “pop psychological” take on the roots of that statement: Chris was born in 1965. He was probably raised with the idea that “you need a spouse.” In his 1996 special, Bring the Pain, when he was just marrying his wife, Malaak Compton, he said, “You gotta settle down.” Eight years later, in Never Scared, he said “You’re either married and bored or single and lonely.” My guess is that he had grown bored of his married routine, hence the pornography and the cheating.
Now he’s single again. A few minutes after stating “I need a relationship,” he said, “There are times when I don’t want a relationship and sometimes I do.” Is it possible that Chris Rock is a Single Person at Heart and unaware of it? Perhaps he “needs a relationship” because that’s what he’s been taught? He does go to movies solo. While that doesn’t necessarily categorize him as a SPAH, I wonder if he’s just wired for singlehood.
Maybe we’ll find out on his next tour.
Marriage Can F**k Itself - Part Two
SPOILER ALERT: Don’t read if you plan on watching the show.
Last year, I wrote a post about the first season of Kevin Can F**k Himself, a show that peers into the dark side of the “nuclear family” sitcom trope, revealing the husband to be less of a buffoon and more of a self-centered narcissist and the wife, traditionally a foil, as a fully realized human being. The second set mines that to be even more extreme depths. And after watching the second season, particularly the series finale, there are layers of pro-single messages, which I’ll examine through the lenses of the four major characters. At its core, this is a show about people taking a back seat in their own lives and learning how to “show up” for themselves.
Kevin’s put-upon wife, in a traditional sitcom, would either shrug and roll her eyes at his antics or be the “voice of reason.” Here, Alison is looking to get away from Kevin, and while she seems like a milquetoast, she is self-aware enough to realize that she’s miserable always having to give everything of herself to Kevin. We learn that she was a talented runner and once had dreams of getting out of the blue-collar haven of Worcester, Massachusetts before meeting her husband. After a failed attempt at murder and a successful one at faking her own death, she realizes running doesn’t solve anything. After six months under the assumed identity of Gertrude Franch (and a successful stint at working in a Maine boutique), she comes back to tell Kevin she wants a divorce (to thunderous applause from the laugh track). The resolution of the film then gets several degrees track, as we finally see Kevin outside of the sitcom world, and he is an ugly sight.
Patty is Alison’s sorta friend-by-proximity. She’s the sister of Neil, Kevin’s best friend. She sits in the shadow of Neil, who is just a sidekick to Kevin. She comes alive when she learns of Alison’s plans to separate herself from Kevin, and, while she claims to hate Alison, she still assists her. During the first season, she begins dating Tammy, a police detective who’s on the cusp of finding out about Alison and Patty’s plan. Tammy is the dominant partner in her relationship with Patty, constantly trying to shoo away Alison from her. When Alison “disappears,” she’s on Patty to move away with her. In the series finale, Patty decides she’s staying Worcester, and she kicks out her freeloading brother, Neil, who’s been like a Kevin to Patty.
While Neil is not likable by any means, we’re able to empathize with him in the second season, when he becomes a part of Alison’s “dark world.” He stays loyal to Kevin, his lifelong best friend, despite being the frequent target of his bullying. When he learns of Alison and Patty’s plan to kill Kevin, they give him a concussion and are intent on disposing of him as well. He tries to inform Kevin, but he laughs in his face. This is a turning point, where Neil starts to realize Kevin isn’t much of a friend. He starts sleeping with a married family friend, Diane, and when Kevin mocks him for it, this is where he tells Kevin to go f**k himself. When Patty throws him out of the house, he invites Diane to run away with him out of desperation for a place to live. Diane has feelings for him but knows it wouldn’t be the right move. In Neil’s last appearance, he huffs off from Patty and carries a duffel bag with him. This suggests that Neil has potential to learn to stand on his own.
Onscreen, Kevin plays the role of the traditional sitcom buffoon. Offscreen, he’s committed arson, vandalism, and he’s even gotten people divorced and fired from their jobs due to pure malice. He meets his new girlfriend, Molly, at Alison’s funeral, and they’re dating immediately afterwards. At one point, he confuses the two (“Sorry, I was thinking of my past partner” is a line of his, when he’s berating Molly for forgetting something). By the time Alison divorces him, Neil’s walked out on him, Molly’s realized she’s made a mistake, and his own father’s written him off (repeatedly making fun of Dad’s girlfriend’s laugh really isn’t cool). Having grown a full beard and drank an entire fifth of whiskey, he calls his “support” to get “revenge” on Alison, but nobody responds. Finally, he’s burned down the entire house.
I’m sad this show only lasted two seasons; there are heavy themes of codependency and self-suffiicency, and the pro-single message is clear. The last line of the series, as said by Alison to Patty in a salute to platonic friendship: “Let’s die alone together.”
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.
Fish Heads, fish heads...
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!
Why Can't We Be Friends?
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.