Monday, September 28, 2009

Embracing Spinsterhood

In advance of our annual awkward Thanksgiving conversation, thought I'd let you know up front that yes, I'm still single, and no, I still havent gotten a real job

Growing up with two immigrant parents means that I don't see my extended family very often. When I was younger, we would spend our summer vacations abroad, but once I entered college and then started working, my visits lapsed substantially.

On one hand, I hate this turn of events because I have a huge family with dozens of adorable cousins, wonderful aunts and uncles, and grandparents that like to spoil their grandkids (including a grandfather who is a famous tycoon with a mistress and illegitimate children, but that's a whole other story). Time with my family is endlessly entertaining, to say the least.

On the other hand, in recent years, I have begun to feel slightly lucky in the situation and this is why:

On my mother's side of the family, I am the eldest of my generation. Little sister E comes next, four years my junior, then two cousins who are a few years younger than her (both in college) and then the remaining cousins' ages range from twelve to two.

Thus, I am in the popular position of being the eldest: the one they all ooh-ed and ahh-ed over at birth, the one who got spoiled the most growing up, the one who went to college first, the one who graduated first, the one who got married and produced the next generation of offspring first...wellllllllll...not so much on that last one, which is the root of the problem.

Since I so rarely see my family, I didn't realize what a dire situation I was in until my grandparents flew to New York to see us two years ago. I was excited to see them since it had been seven years since my last trip, and I knew they were curious to see how I had "grown up."

My grandfather (yes, the one with the mistress) walked in, hugged me, pinched my cheeks, told me I looked healthy and pretty, and then grabbed my hands and asked me very seriously, "When are you going to give me a baby?"

Whoa, back his truck up.

Beep. Beep. Beep.

Excuse me????

Grandpa explained to me, "I am getting very old and I have colon cancer and before I die all I want is to hold my great-grandchild in my arms. So when are you going to make me a great-grandfather?"

At some point after they resuscitated me, I explained to him that it was a pretty difficult request considering there wasn't even a boyfriend on the horizon, much less a husband. (And yes, I guess if an illegitimate great-grandchild was acceptable, I could've discussed the idea of sperm donors and whatnot, but could you imagine saying "sperm" to your grandfather? I really, really hope not.)

I had a good laugh about this with my sister and friends, and figured that was it. Then my favorite uncle called to catch up and I asked when him and his family would be coming to visit us in NY and he replied, "Oh we keep wanting to do a trip to New York since your little cousins have never been there, but we've been planning on using your wedding as the excuse to finally visit."

I was obviously thoroughly confused:

My wedding? I have a wedding coming up? When is this wedding? But I don't own a white dress? What kind of cake will there be? I like cake. Mmmmm...cake. Wait up. Focus. Who the hell is the groom?

I told my uncle that if the cousins want to see New York, he should probably come now because if he waits for the wedding, then they'll be way too old to appreciate FAO Schwartz and play at the Toys'R'Us in Times Square (or worse, the toy stores won't even be around anymore because they went bankrupt).

So after all this, it turns out my parents, who I had originally thought were the annoying ones about my plight as a single girl, have gone out of their way to protect me from the scrutiny of my extended family. I finally got it out of the rents last week that our relatives used to call repeatedly to inform them of the growing concern that I'm "no longer of marriageable age" and they should start interfering now or for sure I will end up a spinster.

Even more astounding than the idea that I am no longer of marriageable age in my twenty and six years (and that my family hasn't already arranged marriage for me in exchange for a dowry of twenty goats, three sheep, and a handmade quilt) is that when I asked my parents how they respond to these indignities, my dad told me, "I tell them you're healthy and happy so it's none of their business, and you can get married or not get married whenever you want. And that's the end of it."

Major props to Papa Drone on that one because honestly, I never saw it coming from the guy who was going to resort to picking up men on the street to bring to our house for a group dinner so I could date them, since I was (am) incapable of meeting good guys.

The other unforeseen but pleasant side effect of not being able to keep a man is it seems to have lowered my father's expectations for potential boyfriends. As is expected of men with daughters, he has categorically hated anyone I've ever dated, and had very strict requirements about someone that would be acceptable for his firstborn daughter.

Lately that list of prerequisites has pretty much lapsed to someone who's "intelligent and a nice person," which really could fit the descriptions of most generic guys (well, with the obvious exception of Shmucks and his crew). Apparently everything else is up for grabs. Seriously. I asked him if he would be ok with me dating someone older than him and he shrugged and said, "As long as he's still willing to call me dad even if he's 10 years older than me, then sure."

(So if anyone knows of a nice, moderately intelligent single man in his mid-to-late 60s willing to call a younger man "Daddy," please send his phone number my way ASAP.)

After the incident with my grandfather asking to be made into a great-grandfather, I even asked my dad if he would be ok with me being a single mother someday, if I chose to do so. And he ALSO shrugged at that. I almost made him write out a statement stating that he will be excited when I come home and announced that I'm officially knocked up.

(My mother does not seem to be quite as open-minded and informed me if I do any of the above, she will register for a shotgun. I don't dare imagine what she will do with it.)

But in general, outside of the familial pressure that I do my best to avoid, I don't feel that much pressure on me from my friends and society that I have to rush to the closest altar.

I guess most of the issue can be attributed to a generational difference from those who think a woman's life is over if she's unwed at thirty. And although there are still whispers of this mentality in society, it's definitely not the disaster it used to be when a single woman hits 30 and up.

What matters at the end of the day is that I'm doing what works for me, and I am happy in my singleness and definitely have not met anyone that I would remotely consider worthy of spending the rest of my life with. And if that continues to be the case for another decade, or two, or more, and people want to call me a spinster, or old (hot) maid, so be it.

Instead of cats as my companions, I'll have awesome funny friends and instead of knitting as my hobby, I'll troll the Lower East Side bars a a cougar.

All in all, doesn't look too bad.


Anonymous said...



Allison said...

I'll be along with you trolling the bars. Well, until I become that single mom - but that's probably 10 years off anyway.

Rochelle said...

Gotta love family. For some reason they think they can say whatever they want.
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