Part 187 I Went To A Dinner Party Alone
I fear that I have left people on a cliffhanger off a curb. “It’s not that deep,” as my daughter would say. But it does feel like a Ground Hog’s Day kind of thing. Here are the posts on the topic of the Dinner Party, from the oldest (2013) to the most recent (February 2023):
You Don’t Have To Bring A Date, Come Alone! Come Alone! COME ALONE!
I Went To A Dinner Party Alone
I Went to a Dinner Party Alone, Parts 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6
I Went To A Dinner Party Alone — Update
Basically, I get invited to this thing every year and have never had a date. Now you’re caught up.
So here I was days from the event, without a date. Again. Now I had made a vow to you people and myself that I would not go alone. If you are new here, just know that this ain’t my first single ticket to the rodeo. I Went To A Wedding Alone, The New Walk of Shame For The Single Woman — Going Out Alone, Pissed: Parking and Dining Alone. Oh, I am soooooo comfortable going places alone: dinner, concerts, bars, etc. Even when I was married I went out alone a lot, which should have been a red flag, but I digress. So I do go places alone. I’m just sick of it.
And this event is heavily couple oriented. There are always a few — like three — stray single women but those women are generally closer friends of the hostess and the other guests. For them, they are going out alone to meet up with old friends. I’m a long time friend of the hostess, but a fringe friend. We’ve never vacationed together, gone shopping together, never had dinner together or anything like that.
For me, I would be approaching clumps of people and introducing myself. Again.
I consulted with three single girlfriends. Two younger, one older. One never married, two divorced. The consensus was — drum roll — just say no. The chances of my having a good time were very, very small. The last year I’d gone was not fun for me. It made be feel like crap, actually.
I told the hostess the truth, that my date was suddenly unavailable. I didn’t tell her that my date was as far from a traditional romantic date as could be. (See previous post). She of course said I could come alone! She has said that before. (See above) But I held strong, and declined. I think that she understood. I really do. And I felt an immense sense of relief. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.
The weather was perfect on the evening of the party and not gonna lie, I was a little sad. I even drove by the house. But yet at the same time I was truly content with my decision. As you know it has been a source of stress for — yeah — years. And I didn’t break my vow to you. I vowed not to go alone, so I didn’t. I just didn’t go.
I know it must be killing you to know what happened last year, Fall, 2022.
Truthfully, I didn’t even try to find a date last year. I wasn’t dating anyone, hadn’t really been trying to date either. Post Covid inertia plus a lot of other stuff. And I’d broken the seal, I’d RSVP-ed no last year. You see, I’d gotten comfortable with saying no — to a lot of things, but I digress. I replied no via email — saying something about I can’t believe I’m declining again, but hope to see you next year. So there it was.
But wait, there’s more.
As the party day approached I began to have second thoughts. Unarticulated rumblings. Just bubbling under. But it kept me up at night. I remember lying in bed, unable to sleep, thinking I should go to this party.
Next year is not promised, I thought. I felt that I needed to go. I really needed to go. Date, or not.
I didn’t consult my girlfriends about it. I just decided. I listened to the little man (woman) inside me, as Kramer from Seinfeld advised. A couple days before the party, I got up in the morning and I texted hostess. I asked if it was too late to come. She, being the sweetheart she is, said, “Nope, not too late, I can’t wait to see you. I always tell the caterer to add a buffer for last minute guests.” And once again, I felt great relief.
And wouldn’t you know I had the perfect dress that matched the party theme. Second hand? Well, yes. But with the tags still on? You know it, baby. No one had ever worn this dress, not even me.
I boldly went where I said I’ve never go again, to this event, all by myself. But I did so in a great (free) dress that even matched the party invitations – a fact that was included in more than one compliment thrown my way.
It was a lovely event.
But wait, there’s still more.
In her annual welcome and thank you speech before dinner, our hostess officially revealed that she and her husband were moving, putting their beautiful home on the market after the first of the year and have already purchased a new home in a warmer climate. This would be the last of this event — ever.
Now, some of the guests, those close friends I spoke about above, already knew this.
This much must be understood, I had no way of knowing. I had completely removed myself from Zuckerbergland. I have a dislike/hate relationship with Facebook. See: Facebook Mutual Friend with the Ex’s Girlfriend? – Part One. Facebook Mutual Friend with the Ex’s Girlfriend — Part Two So I finally deleted my account last year. And I felt great relief with that decision, too, by the way.
But something told me, ate at me to rescind my “no” RSVP, ignore my vow to myself and you fine people, and just go to the damn party.
Thank goodness I did.
If I hadn’t gone, and found out later that it was the very last one? I would have been absolutely devastated. I listened to the little man(woman). And it worked out. Not only did I go, but I had a great time. I sat with the hosts’ church friends who were very friendly and welcoming, and brought me to their table. One of the women even did the girl thing of inviting me to go to the bathroom with her. I was one of the last guests to leave. And I went back two days later with my mom so that she could see the gardens — for the last time.
For almost a decade I have lamented about going to this event alone, but this time I happily did so for the very last time. I’m going to miss it. I’m going to miss her. Though we didn’t spend much time together outside of the party, it was a comfort that she was nearby and that she included me in her special event every year. I am happy for her, though; it’s time for a change.
Perhaps for all of us.
Just Me With … a post about this dinner party for the very very last time.
Another time when a received a message from — somewhere. I Went For Coffee and Took A Turn Into “The Twilight Zone”
I Went To A Dinner Party Alone — Update
Has it been ten years? A brief review of prior posts tells me that I have posted about this particular party since 2013. Wow. Let’s let that sit for a minute. Or maybe not. If you are new to this very “seasoned” blog I am a divorcee (sounds fancy) who gets invited to a friend’s fancy party every year and has yet to take advantage of the “Plus One” offered to me. See You Don’t Have To Bring A Date, Come Alone! Come Alone! COME ALONE! The party has become an almost annual thing and I have gone many times. Always invited with a plus one, always attending alone. See I Went To A Dinner Party Alone
The last post on the subject was I Went to a Dinner Party Alone, Parts 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 . That was the 2019 entry. In that post I swore I would never attend this particular function alone, ever again. Ever. Never. Again.
Let’s do a quick and dirty update, shall we?
I will put aside for the purposes of this post the losses suffered by many as a result of Covid 19. For me, with regard to the dinner party, Covid 19 gave me a reprieve, an extra year to find an appropriate date for the party. When the party was officially canceled for 2020, not gonna lie, I breathed a sigh of relief because I hadn’t yet found my plus one. I thought “alright, alright, alright” (Matthew McConaughey style) “I have another year to find the perfect man for this event.” A perfect man would be a professional, wealthy, age appropriate, single, charming, outgoing, devastatingly good looking, and completely enamored with — moi — such that his gaze would cast a glow upon me that would cause other women to shield their eyes. Bonus, he would also be one that I would or have welcomed a physical connection with.
Now, again, to be honest, I would have settled for less than the perfect man: alive, able to speak, remembers my name, does not appear to be homeless. You get it.
While the world was on lock down — well it was not the best time to go out to meet men. Not the best time to go out at all. So my plans were all quite cerebral. I mean I have a couple of options from my past, but I didn’t want my invitation to be an invitation for anything else, whether I wanted that or not. Too much pressure.
I made no headway. And 2021 was just around the corner.
I remembered my vow from 2019. And I was willing to go outside my comfort zone. How far outside your comfort zone you ask?
I invited a longtime acquaintance, a man who had been my parent’s senior services caseworker, a man who has invited my family to visit him at his beach house, a man who advised me over the years with my kids’ college choices, an educated man, a man who comes from wealth, a brilliant conversationalist who would fit right in with the one-percenters who attend the event.
This man, who I’ll call Brady, was damn near perfect. However, he was also around half my age and gay. I’m even taller than him.
How much more of a stereotype, cliche, over used trope could I be? The not quite so young single woman who shows up with a younger gay man. I mean it doesn’t happen as much anymore since gay men are more comfortable being out and proud. I can’t even think of a recent pop culture reference. But trust me, there was a time where a – closeted or not – gay man date was a thing.
Anyway, Brady — is that what I said? I finally worked up the nerve to text him and ask. I made sure to note that I wasn’t asking him to pretend to be my boyfriend or anything and that it might be a good business opportunity for him — he’s into real estate and the families at this party have or plan to have or may want to sell beach houses.
It took him an interminably long time, to me, to respond. But to my delight he said he’d be pleased to come, he just had to check his schedule – and also find friends to stay with — he lives out of town. I got my hopes up. Although he’s much younger than me, he was prematurely gray and presented as preppy old money so it might not have been that obvious that we were not a couple, except for the fact that there would be no physical contact and his sexual orientation might come up in conversation. That might be a problem. I would be outted as actually dateless. So not exactly the romantic plus one I’d hoped for but still–I’d show up with a rich, younger man who I enjoy hanging out with. I was almost looking forward to it.
I should have known.
He declined at the last minute.
He didn’t have a place to stay and had just started a new job, etc. Truthfully, I was just glad he had entertained the thought and grateful he wasn’t offended. I do believe he had been planning to come, but it would require him to spend the night somewhere and it wouldn’t have been with me. Anyway, it gave me a few blissful days to think I would have lived up to the vow I made to you people — and myself.
So there I was, back to the where I’d been 8 years earlier. No date.
Yeah, I think I’ll have to make this a two-part entry . . . stay tuned.
Just me with — you guessed it — no date.
This sounds much more pathetic than it is. I swear.
A Story of Stunning and Brave
I often think of this. It makes me smile.
My youngest were in high school. They had dentist appointments. We have always had a tradition of stopping to get something to eat on the way home because they usually miss their school lunches on dentist day.
This day was no different. We stopped at Chick-fil-A, a bit of a treat for us, and ate inside.The dental hygienist’s work was in vain as they ordered nuggets, fries and sodas. My girls were makeup free, as usual, in normal jeans/yoga pants and tee-shirts, hair pulled back in pony tails. They are beautiful girls, if I do say so myself. And especially back then didn’t wear makeup, “outfits” or much jewelry — quite the opposite of how teen girls have and are portrayed on film — you know, those girls who don’t leave the house without full makeup and a highly coordinated and pulled together ‘look.’ My girls were probably still doing the — pick up the clothes from the floor and doing the ‘sniff test’ — to choose their outfits.
Anyhoo, my point is they were natural beauties, without a second thought about it.
As we ate a young man approached us. Walked right up to our table. Me and my two girls, fraternal twins, Baby A and Baby B.
He introduced himself, apologized for interrupting. He was so respectful and polite. Then turned to one of the girls, Baby B, and said:
“I would have kicked myself if I’d left without coming by and telling you that . . . . “
wait for it . . .
YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY STUNNING.
My jaw dropped to my waffle fries, as did her sister’s.
He proceeded tell us about himself and to ask for her number; she took his. Nothing came of it, but it sticks with me because this young man, who turns out was also a high school student but from a neighboring school, knew how to approach a girl in front of her sister and her mother and did so politely, without being creepy, and without any hint of aggression.
I’ve seen guys, men, checking out my daughters. Of course I have. And not gonna lie, I usually want to hurt them. But not this guy.
This guy spoke softly, but without the menacing whisper. He smiled. He kept a respectful distance. He greeted all of us with eye contact, and when speaking directly to Baby B his eyes never strayed below hers as he delivered the ultimate compliment.
He didn’t ask her to leave her table and talk to him.
“Can I talk to you?”
He didn’t ask if she had a boyfriend.
“What, do you have a boyfriend or something?”
He didn’t lick his lips.
And the word choice. He didn’t tell her she was hot or fine. No.
When he didn’t get her number, he didn’t respond with with,
“What you don’t want to make any friends?”
Nor did he turn her sister and say,
“What about you?”
No, he said it was nice to have met us and wished us a good day.
I noticed when he left that his buddies were outside the restaurant, waiting. He hadn’t allowed them to watch and perhaps laugh when he approached us. Maybe that protected him from the walk of shame in front of them? Maybe. But since either way they waited for him, what it did do was protect my daughter from feeling like a bunch of boys were watching us from the next table, watching his approach, waiting to hear her response.
Instead, this boy had left Chick-fil-A, told his friends to wait outside, and doubled back — to take a shot. He did so in the most respectful way possible.
And in front of both her sister and mother? Impressive.
Who raised this young man?
I want to send his parents a thank you note.
And since he did get her name and her high school, he could have done the stalking thing, but she never heard from him again. I actually hoped she’d call him. He was cute, but I think she was too embarassed (but not in a bad way) and wasn’t really dating yet.
If any of you are concerned about her sister, Baby A, the girl who was clearly not the subject of his appreciation, don’t be. Baby A is usually the one who gets the attention. She is also beautiful and plus she is super tall — like six feet — and a star athlete. Her name and picture had been in the paper, people know her. She is the girl who gets stopped in the mall by grown men asking if she is a model or —wants to be one. And what does Baby B get? She gets called the short one, in all her 5’7″ glory. So don’t worry about Baby A. This was Baby B’s day. And that’s okay.
And as I said, Baby A and I were too busy managing our unhinged jaws.
A girl doesn’t get that every day, not when she isn’t even trying.
It gave me hope that the days of meeting organically might not be completely over — if people know how to approach one another respectfully.
Rather than regretting a “Missed Connection” this teen boy took a shot. Props to him.
Notably this was a few years ago, before “stunning” began being used frequently and usually to describe transgender, nonbinary, or nonconforming people. Now you hear stunning (and brave) all the time. But even so, “stunning” is usually used to describe someone who is wearing a dress, is maticulously coiffed, and/or sports flawless makeup.
But back then? Stunning for a girl in jeans hunched over chicken nuggets? Not so much.
But stunning? Naw, not something you hear every day.
I mean, you know, my daughter is, of course, stunning. I feel that this is an objective fact.
But that boy? He was brave. And just a very nice, polite young man.
Just Me With . . . a chicken sandwich, waffle fries, and dropped jaws.
I sometimes remind Baby B of that boy, and say, “We all can’t be ‘absolutely stunning.'” Hahaha
She rolls her eyes, tells me to, “Stop it!”
But she’s smiling.
Side note: My girls have many other positive qualities and talents other than their looks, and none of us judge self worth by the existence or quality of the male gaze. Of course.
For a not so nice way to approach somebody see The Landscaper Guy posts, all five of them.
For a humorous approach, see The Best Pick Up Line, Ever .
But still, it was nice.
The One Where My Son Is Like Chandler Bing
I didn’t think I would, but I kinda miss Friends on Netflix. I don’t have cable so I don’t see it on the umpteenth random daily showings on network TV. When I’m at my parents’ house and get control of the remote and see it, I stop, sit, watch. I know it had some moments that might be problematic now, and it’s cool to diss things that were and are very popular, but whatever, I find it soothing and the writing is so very clever, in my opinion.
Some of my favorite episodes are “The One Where No One’s Ready,” “The One With The Embryos,” “The One With All The Wedding Dresses,” and “The One Where Everybody Finds Out” Also, I have fond memories of watching all the episodes in order on DVD with my kids (when they were old enough). Imagine watching it with people who had never seen it and didn’t know what was going to happen next! The “WE WERE ON A BREAK!,” Smelly Cat, the gasp heard around the world when Monica and Chandler got together and when Ross said the wrong name at his wedding! My son lost his shit during the Unagi episode, so much so that one of his sisters wrote about it in a college essay describing a memorable family experience.
Speaking about my boy, and I have said it before, he is in many ways, like Chandler Bing.
Here comes the list:
1. He lives in the big city with one roommate.
2. When he dances, if you can call it that, there seems to be a lot of flailing about.
3. Everybody thinks he’s gay.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that . . .
Seinfeld, Season 4, Episode 17 “The Outing”
The stereotype about a neatly dressed, slim man survives!
4. He carries a backpack to work with nothing in it.
Chandler: “You know I forgot the combination to this about a year ago? I just carry it around.” The One With The Hypnosis Tape. Season 3, Epsisode 18.
5. He’s the neat one.
My son told me he just throws his roommate’s stuff out when it clutters the kitchen.
6. He does use humor and sarcasm as a defense mechanism.
Poor Chandler had social, emotional, and commitment issues caused by his parents’ divorce at age 9. Surely this isn’t the reason why my son has developed a kind of sick and sarcastic sense of humor and has never had a serious girlfriend! Couldn’t be. My boy was 8 and half — “Totally different!” (She said, firmly footed in the land of denial.)
“Oh, it’s awkward.”
7. And here’s the big one:
No one really understands what his job is.
We do know it has to do with computers and numbers, just like Chandler. And he works in an office, like Chandler. But . . .
8. And my favorite: His mother is a best selling novelist.
Okay, so that one isn’t true — yet. But a girl can dream . . .
Just Me With . . . My boy — Chandler Muriel Bing, or Miss Chanandler Bong if you receive his TV Guide — or if you’re nasty (vintage Janet Jackson reference).
I guess he gets it honest because I’m a little like Chandler Bing as well.
I Went to a Dinner Party Alone, Parts 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6
A good six years ago I wrote about being invited to a party with a plus one but being strongly encouraged to come alone. See You Don’t Have To Bring A Date, Come Alone! Come Alone! COME ALONE! The party has become an almost annual thing and I have gone a few times. Always invited with a plus one, always attending alone. See I Went To A Dinner Party Alone
This year was no exception.
I fleetingly considered asking a male acquaintance to come with me, but that may have meant more than I wanted it to and I figured, this is what I do and it is what I have been encouraged — emboldened to do.
I boldly go where no man has gone before — meaning to a public event with me.
So I went. Did my thing, walked in unaccompanied and alone. I confidently approached strangers standing in clumps and joined their conversations. Like a boss. Well, like a politician, more accurately.
The hostess greeted me, the same woman who repeatedly lauded my decision to go alone back in the day. “Come alone!” She’d exclaimed. “No pressure to bring a date I would have to entertain,” she’d reasoned. “I used to do it all the time when I was single,” she’d shared.
But not this time.
This time she hit me with,
“One of these days you are gonna have a date!”
“I want you to come with somebody next time!”
To which I awkwardly, jokingly, painfully responded,
“Oh yes, next year for sure.”
You get the drift.
Apparently coming alone was brave and practical and cool back then. But now? Six years later? Now it’s just getting ridiculous.
Enough is enough.
Adding awkwardness to awkward, when it came time to take our seats for dinner, the hostess loudly pointed out the three tables that had seating for nine, rather than eight or ten like the others. “You can sit here, or there, or, let me see, there.” You know, the ODD numbered tables, for the odd men (or ladies) out. There must have been two other singles there, though I never found them.
I settled at a nine top table, with four couples I did not know.
Four couples, and me. But this ain’t my first rodeo; I’ve gone to a wedding alone.
Also, I was the only other person of color there, except for the Latina housekeeper and anyway, she brought her husband. Come to think of it, there was a slightly accented slightly brownish man in one of the clumps of people I invaded. But he blended, and, you know, he had a wife.
I felt as though I did not blend quite as well, though I may have been a touch paranoid.
Also, knowing the family and talking with some of the guests, their net worth was likely substantial. I’d guess that during cocktails they probably earned more in interest than I make all year.
Conspicuous and out of place as I felt, everyone was friendly and it was a pleasant evening. I have known the hostess for years and I truly admire her. Though she doesn’t have to think about money (or lack thereof) and is happily married, she has weathered personal challenges that others have literally not survived. To see her smiling and laughing is a gift. I’m happy to have been included in the event, and appreciative of the option to bring a Plus One.
But dang it even if I have to rent one, I will bring a man next year. I will be conspicuously coupled, if only for the night. I will casually drift to a table with even numbered place settings. I will introduce my date by name (if I can remember it) and gently caress his arm. I will ask him to fetch me a drink. I will allow our photo to be taken together and — wait for it — posted on Facebook.
As God as my witness, I’ll never be dateless again. Not to this party.
Just Me With … out a Plus One for this particular event since 2013.
RIP Mary Tyler Moore. She was still with us when this post was first published.
I have written a lot of posts about going out alone. Huh. There are more coming, because I have some thoughts about it . . .
The New Walk of Shame For The Single Woman — Going Out Alone
Pissed: Parking and Dining Alone
We Only Have One Bathroom
Do I have two heads? Well some people look at me like I do when they find out we only have one bathroom. It happens often.
After the gasps, they usually follow with this comment:
“I don’t know how you did it.”
Which actually means:
“Wow. That sucks. Your life sucks and I am so happy I don’t have to deal with your horrid living situation because I know I couldn’t survive that.”
I’m usually polite but in my head I’m rolling my eyes.
Well, for those lacking the ability to comprehend how a family can possibly live with only one bathroom, THIS is how we do it:
- Before taking a shower, ask if anyone needs to use the bathroom.
- Modified shotgun rules apply. You don’t have to be within site of the toilet to call it, but you should be in site of the house. For example, when returning home and pulling into the parking spot, that is when calling it is permitted. But not an hour before. C’mon now.
- In cases of urgent need, give up your legally obtained, valid place in line. That’s just the right thing to do.
- Understand that washing and elimination are the two main activites that must be done in the bathroom. Other activities — drying, brushing or combing out, flat ironing, curling, or braiding one’s hair and also applying makeup can, should, and will be done elsewhere.
- If you are engaging in non-bathroom essential activities see Rules 3 and 4 above, and step aside (um, Get Out!).
- Again, in case of urgent need, be willing to share. There have been times when one girl is in the shower and the other is on the “pot.” (That’s what my mother calls it.)
- Become a nighttime shower person. That whole — bath time before bed — doesn’t have to stop at puberty. In fact, it can quite relaxing.
My son has always been a resourceful young chap, and he is, you know, a boy. His anatomy is conducive to certain alternative elimination arrangements. Much more so than me and his sisters.
I only found out about this recently. I promise. Like in the last couple of years. The girls were fussing over some bathroom violation and the boy just laughed, shrugged, turned to me and said,
“I don’t have this problem. I have my own bathroom.”
“Say what?” I asked.
When I began to breathe again and my head stopped spinning it was confirmed that years ago my boy child had, at times, peed out his window.
I can’t imagine this was truly necessary. Or that it happened often. In fact I can’t imagine it at all. It must be a boy thing, given, again, the anatomy. Talk about male privilege . . . heh heh heh
I did not condone this activity. I didn’t even know about it.
To be fair, you should know that the adjacent house on his window side was an abandoned foreclosure. So he didn’t pee at anyone’s home. Notably, that house has since been flipped and though it’s a twin and smaller than our’s it is now worth much more. Likely because they added a BATHROOM! . . . but I digress . . .
Anyway, my point is that, yes, a family can live with only one bathroom. It is not the end of the world. It does not make them freaks. Ask New Yorkers, San Franciscans, people outside of the United States, your parents or grandparents, or those tiny house folks. It builds character, patience, law and order, teaches people to be considerate of others and yes, at times, requires resourcefulness.
Do you hear me HGTV? We haven’t bravely “survived” living with one bathroom, as if it were akin to living under a bridge or in a circus tent.
It’s really not that big a deal.
Just Me With . . . just one bathroom in my house. And one boy — with one window in his room.
What is it with this house and urine placement?
Toilet or Kitchen Sink — Who Can Tell?
My Love Affair with Dunkin’ Donuts’ Bathroom
I’ve blamed HGTV before . . .
Double Sinks in the Master Bath – Must We Have Them? Really? Part I
My Refrigerator Broke. Do I Really Need a Fancy, Stainless Steel, New One?
THEY KNOW … What Have I Done? Part II
Sooo when last we talked I suggested that my failure to acknowledge the fruit of my loins was going to be a problem. See, What Have I Done? The problem was that I had recently broken one of my rules — that is — I promised myself that I would never directly deny that I had children. Well I kind of did that, and I did it in front of someone who knew better.
But I have to go back a year and a half to explain.
Although when I began this experiment and this job I was with a large group of lawyers, we were later broken up into small groups and sent to different places. I worked closely with the people in my room, but rarely talked to people at other locations –until the holiday party.
I went to the party alone because that’s what I do. Once there, the only people I recognized were a couple of women from my project who worked in different locations.
But it was a party. There was alcohol. Things happen. You understand.
So I’m making small talk with virtual strangers. These were two younger child free women. They were nice. One was drunk. I’d had maybe a half a drink. My half a drink on meds is like three for a normal person. So I felt suddenly close to these women. They were my new work party best friends.
Twin talk began because one of the women, let’s call her Cheryl, brought her twin brother. I was way too talkative and knowlegable about twin stuff. And apparently alcohol is Goddamn truth serum delivered by the morality police, and I felt sooo bad for not revealing the source of my expertise. I confessed.
“I feel like I’m lying to you guys. I have to tell you. I have kids, twins. Two sets plus a singleton.”
And then the whole story came out. I begged my new work party best friends not to tell anyone about my — experiment. They promised.
This was the Christmas before last. Almost a year and a half ago. Fun fact: The drunk one has since had a baby of her own. But God love ’em they kept my secret – easy, though, because we didn’t work in the same room.
Then we were all relocated. I found myself sharing space with a new set of attorneys, including Cheryl, the twin. The one who knew.
That was fifteen months ago. People have come and gone since then. Currently in this space it’s me, Cheryl, another woman I’ll call Sophie, and two guys. One of the guys has never mentioned a wife, girlfriend or children. Let’s call him Bill. The other is married and has one daughter who is, reportedly — repeatedly reportedly — a certified genius. Yeah, he’s that guy. We’ll call him Ross.
Ross explained to the room that he feels comfortable bragging about his daughter at work because NO ONE ELSE HERE HAS CHILDREN. Consequently, he reasoned, we can’t get jealous or feel bad because our kids do not and can not possibly measure up. Then he stood and asked the room,
“Wait, no one here has kids, right?”
Sophie is a talker. We know all about her life. No kids.
The other guy, Bill, said nothing.
I opened my mouth briefly and closed it.
In that moment my silence felt dangerously close to denying my kids — and Cheryl knew it. She murmured, “Well, not little kids.”
Guilt showed up and took a seat.
I must endure Ross brag brag bragging about his academic superstar daughter to us childless folks. Side note, child free folks don’t want to hear that shit either, not all the time. Well, except Cheryl. She encourages him. She’s in that holy trinity love bubble of just got engaged, planning a destination wedding and can’t wait to have babies!
Bless her heart.
But I have condemned myself to silence while Ross talks as if he is the only person to ever have had a child, a golden child.
Listening to Ross actually confirmed my decision. It is possible to talk about kids too much. Parents of high achieving teens are much worse than parents of adorable babies in my opinion. There are awards involved.
It is important (to me) to note that my original observation that started all this, that the guys do not talk about their kids as much as the women, still holds true. Ross doesn’t talk about her in meetings. And when he leaves early because of her he only says, “Well that’s it for me today,” as opposed to “Oh I’m on carpool duty this week because soccer started and I have to pick up the snack etc.” You know, Facebook detail. Ross shares no day to day kid stuff, he merely announces her many, many awards.
Plus, what’s the harm in my nondisclosure? It’s not like I’m dating any of these people. I have been enjoying being me without reference to kids or my ex-husband. I won’t ask Cheryl to lie, though. I figured I’d just continue to opt out of kid talk. I’ll just play it cool boy, real cool …
But Sophie . . . Sophie was NOT at the Christmas party.
Today, Sophie was talking about some estate law issues and asked me if I had siblings with young children. Then she casually added,
“Well, you have kids.”
“Wait! What? How do you know that? Who told you that? WHO TOLD YOU????? GODDAMMIT WOMAN, WHO TOLD YOU???!!”
But I didn’t say that.
But I didn’t say that either.
I didn’t say anything. Sophie went on to discuss something else. The guys weren’t around.
I tweeted about it because I was like what the F— ??
I never ever told Sophie about my kids. It must have been Cheryl.
Then when Cheryl left for the day, she said, “Happy Mother’s Day” to me, albeit a little under her breath.
Happy MOTHER’S Day???????
I’m not entirely sure I formed any actual words in response.
Happy MOTHER’S Day?
Twice in one day. Two different people acknowledged my motherhood. Out loud.
Soooo there ya go. Cheryl must have told Sophie, the talker, and Sophie let it slip. I’m sure Cheryl was just being nice by wishing me Happy Mother’s Day. It’s just that Ross was there and it freaked me out. Thank God for earbuds. He missed it.
I don’t think either of the guys know. That’s all I have to hang on to. But Sophie, as I said, is a talker. My days are numbered.
Just Me With . . . children.
This is so silly, I know. But you must understand. First, the number of kids I have, coupled with the twin thing and my slender physique tends to be a big deal and dominate the discussion. And second, I married my high school sweetheart (and that, as you may have read, did not end well). I never got a chance to be single with no kids. Never. It’s certainly not the same now because I’m of a certain age (something else I never acknowledge) but it’s the closest I can get.
So when I leave my former hoarders house to go to work, I’m just a single girl on the train.
The New Walk of Shame For The Single Woman — Going Out Alone
What Have I Done?
It started as an experiment.
And everybody experiments, right?
It was just a little thing, you know, so I can hang with the cool kids. But now I fear it’s gotten out of hand.
It was last year. You see, I’d started a new job, a new assignment, along with about 80 to 100 other people. We were in a huge conference room, seated randomly at round tables. Some people knew each other from other projects, but most, like me, were amongst strangers.
We were a room full of attorneys in professional attire. The women outnumbered the men, slightly, as I noted when I conducted the unofficial scan of the room. This isn’t necessarily a function of progress. These assignments are, shall we say — upward mobility challenged? The ages in the room spanned from about 25 to maybe 65 years old. There was a respectable sprinkling of people of color, mostly women of color, but it was a predominately white crowd. None of this is particularly important, except I want you to experience the look and feel of the room, so maybe you can understand how I got all caught up.
I uttered the normal hellos, introductions, and Have you done this work before? –yadda yadda yadda– but then, as I often do –and I think it’s the writer in me — I shut up, watched, and listened.
Before and after our training sessions, and during every break, many of my new colleagues talked about about babies, toddlers, school aged kids, teens applying to colleges, school schedules, dance classes, sporting events, husbands, meal planning, diets, vacations, grown kids, daughters’ weddings, sons who just got engaged, etc. You know, personal stuff, family talk.
But most of this talk was by the women. Even the childfree women asked the other women about their kids.
My male brethren? Not so much.They were largely quiet, or spoke of the commute and past work experience.
Considering the age range of the group — these dudes were in prime dad years. All years are prime dad years for men, but I digress . . . .
And, I couldn’t help but notice the golden glint of a fair share of wedding rings on these men. Alas, in my single state the hunt for wedding rings (or lack thereof) is a commonplace activity for me, but I digress, again . . . . My point is, it stands to reason and probability and you know, math, that many of these men must have had wives and kids — that they just weren’t talking about.
And me? Having had all the kids I could have jumped right into the mom talk. But I wondered, what would it be like to be one of the guys? I’d still love the fruit of my loins, I’d still be ridiculously proud of them, but I knew — or perhaps I wanted to prove — that I was capable of making small talk that’s not about them.
Just like the guys.
Now, let the record reflect that I’m content with my gender, and I’m not one of those women who hate other women or moms, and I’m not trying to be a guy, I just wanted to be like them. Just for a minute. And to be honest, be like myself, the archived self I was before I had all the babies, two at a time, before the nasty divorce, crippling depression, and crushing debt, before the struggle to maintain normalcy for the kids while the mom was decidedly not all right. I wanted to conjure up the time where, in similar professional situations, I managed to talk the talk without all the baby talk.
Admittedly, having been through all the stuff I’ve been through — peruse old posts if you are not familiar– I just wanted to get away from it. You know, for a minute. Because discussing the kids always leads to questions about the ex. Always. It also leads to comments about my shape (and weight), and to my tutorial on fertility and heredity.
I don’t think there is anything wrong with talking about family at work. Nothing at all. But I couldn’t help but notice the gender divide and I thought . . . I’m gonna jump to the other side.
For a minute.
So, I opted out. I told myself that I would never deny the existence of my offspring, but I would make a conscious effort not to voluntarily talk about them, unless or until I felt like it.
For a minute.
But that was well OVER A YEAR AGO!
During this time I have worked side by side with both men and women, gotten to know them, like (some of) them, bonded with many of them, laughed and bitched with most of them. But I haven’t mentioned to them that I have almost half a dozen children, those young adult humans that I grew in my body, birthed and raised. And no ex-husband either. Nothing. Just me (ironically).
Like a fucking psychopath.
And now I’m in too deep.
What have I done? What kind of mother doesn’t talk about her children? — for over a year?
Just Me With . . . no children — to speak of, anyway. Are you kidding me?
There were a couple of times when I kinda broke my rules, which I’ll talk about later, because now — it’s a problem.
And I guess at some point I should report on the results of my experiment — how it felt.
To be continued . . .
Full closure: My kids are, in fact, AWESOME. The younger ones are still in college, happy and healthy, my oldest kid graduated from college, got a full-time job in his field, an apartment, and a roommate. They are crushing it. And by extension, so am I.
And, if I can be completely superficial for a moment, they are freaking gorgeous, objectively, like people stop and stare. I don’t post pictures of them. Just take my word for it.
It Was Never A Nest
Now. I accept the fact that I could be over sensitive. I admit that I can get hung up on semantics at times, and I understand people mean well. So I’m going to dial it back a bit and not correct people when they say the following to me:
How’s it feel to have an empty nest?
But right here and now I’m going to explain why that question makes my skin crawl.
You see, to me the concept of empty next is like this: A couple creates a home in order to raise their family there. And they do raise their family there, together. Nothing’s perfect. Everybody has issues and ups and downs but for the most part things went according to plan. The Empty Nest Syndrome is a term that describes a sadness and emptiness parents feel when their kids move out.
That is not my situation.
This was never a nest.
If you’ve read some of my other posts you know that when I acquired this home it was basically a hoarders’ house. And I bought it because I could not afford to stay in my other nicer home in a friendlier neighborhood because of divorce. From the get-go it wasn’t me happily building a nest for my baby chicks.
We were in survival mode. I built this home for the purpose of fleeing it.
It was never a nest. What I have here is a foxhole. Yeah. Think about it. We left what would have been the nest and were set off to war conditions — divorce. We dug a hole and survived. Made do with whatever rations and provisions we could find. My little soldiers were sent out for small battles (various life functions) and came back to the foxhole. And now? They finally made it out long enough to have somewhere else to lay their heads (A dorm can be a lot like a barracks — also temporary housing — but safe).
During these past years in our foxhole I have lived one step ahead of bill collectors while my career took a big hit. The only thing about the foxhole that makes me sad is that I still owe money on it and have not built enough equity to flee. I weep because I need a new heater and a sump pump.
I feel like a sergeant screaming — Go Go Go Go! Whilst I hunker down and try to figure out which bill gets paid next.
I know we are blessed to have had a roof over our heads. We have had some happy memories here.
Soldiers will tell you of good old war stories and lifelong friendships –But they don’t want to go back to the front lines!
The kids and I have funny stories. Remember when we didn’t have a toilet? Good times, good times.
Also, I’m a divorced, custodial parent. This is the kids’ only home and all their stuff has always been here, but they did visit their father. This ain’t my first time alone in my house surrounded by reminders of the children while they are somewhere else. I have already felt that pain and emptiness. Been there. Done that. Over it.
For the record, most people have it backwards. Back then people assumed I was happily enjoying a “break” from my kids when they visited their father. No, that separation was gut wrenching, because they were just kids, I missed them, they missed activities, and none of us had any choice in the matter.
Now people assume that because the kids aren’t home with me full-time, I must be sad. No, this separation means I did my job, and the kids are somewhere they chose to be.
Empty nest? No. It’s completely different for me.
Now I just need to plan my escape.
Just Me With . . . a college graduate and four college students, a mortgage, and various other forms of growing mountainous debt, water in my basement, a heater and water heater on their last legs. And no one to combine income or share expenses with.
P.S. I promise to dial it back when people ask about the empty nest, though. I really do.
Going Away to School — and Staying There!
Double Sinks in the Master Bath – Must We Have Them? Really? Part I