Category Archives: Going Out Alone

IT WAS NOT A DATE!!

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I swear. I was not a date.

Let me set the scene.

Well even before the scene, a little background. Things are a little tight at home.  So I’ve been looking for some side work. Don’t worry, it’s legal.  I mean literally — legal side work. A little per diem. It’s a thing. And, it is necessary, because submitting applications into the great black hole of the Internet hasn’t been working out for me.

Internet job search, if you aren’t familiar — that’s when, in response to an advertised position for which you are qualified, you put the digital best version of yourself out there — you enter information about your past, your hopes and dreams, your goals, your abilities, your salary requirements and references — you put it all out there. Raw.

You click “Submit.”

And then?

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Nothing.

But if you listen carefully you can hear it, the whoosh as your qualifications are flushed down the Internet toilet . . . “because in space, no one can hear you scream . . .

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But I digress, and I turned to Craigslist and answered an ad.

Admittedly, I had reason to be skeptical. The ad was barebones. No details, at all, not even the crappy stock language about working in a fast paced  professional environment blah blah blah.  The ad was only clear about one thing: The pay was not high. (Huh, what does that mean?)  But as I said, things are as tight as a Kardashian dress so I replied anyway and attached my resume. (Accidental rhyme)

Lo and behold — a response!

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However, no information.The email said that “they” have “someone” in my area the next day and asked if I could be at a local diner at 1:30. You know how when anyone says “long story short” they have already gone on for far too long? Well, long story short, I said I would be there. After not getting a confirmation of the meeting, or any details at all — like the name of the business, who I’m meeting with, his or her contact information or even their gender, I finally received a weak apology via email, “Sorry, I was in a meeting”  and “Someone will be there a little after 2:00pm.” I replied, confirming I would be there at 2:05pm.

I went to the diner, dressed nicely and actually with some makeup on. It wasn’t a busy part of the day so as soon as I walked in the manager offered to seat me.  I replied, “Well I’m meeting someone,” and looked around like I was looking for him —or her. The manager asked, “Do you see them?”

“No.” (But how would I know?)

So I sat at a booth facing the door. The waitstaff must have been just really bored because the server pounced on me,

“Can I get you something?”

“Not yet, I’m waiting for someone.” So . . . she brought me two menus.

The second time she asked me if I wanted something  I ordered coffee.

The waitress brought the coffee and two glasses of water, because, well, I had said, repeatedly,

“I was meeting someone.” (Who? Who was I meeting? I didn’t know.)

Now, if you’ve read some of my other blog posts you know I often go out alone. Always have. Not a big deal. But the two water glasses — they threw me. Those glasses were evidence that I was not really eating alone. I was expecting someone. And that someone was not there.

sixth-sense-dinner-scene

Spoiler Alert! The sad lady is really dining alone . . . BECAUSE HE’S NOT THERE!                                                      The Sixth Sense (film)

 

Then — hope!  A professional looking man with a briefcase came in alone and sat in the booth next to me and opened his laptop.

I asked him, “Are you here to meet someone for an interview?”

“No, I’m not.” He looked at me and shook his head. I can’t be sure, but the threesome in the booth next to him looked fleetingly in my direction.

I crawled under the table and assumed the fetal position.  Well, I wanted to.

I had no computer. No reading material. Just my phone. But that was useless.You see I was never given a  phone number of the person I was to meet or of the business, for that matter. I had no one to call or text to say, “Um — are you still coming?”

I finished my coffee. I told myself I would wait a half hour, which was way too long. No one emailed me.

The attentive waitress asked, again, “Are you ready to order?” To which I replied, as I was fishing for cash to pay for my coffee,“No . . . I think I’m just going to go.” The waitress said, “Okay,” but  didn’t look particularly surprised. I left the money on the table, got up, and quickly walked out. I must have looked upset, because I was. I was murmuring inaudibly  . . .  Shady ass Craiglist lawyers wasting my time . . . I don’t have to stand for this shit, I’m out . . .

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How to Get Away With Murder

And then I realized– to the restaurant staff and patrons it would appear that I was some unfortunate woman on a date who just got stood up! Like I was rejected in my quest for love instead of just rejected in my search for some extra money.

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No rose for me.                                    — The Bachelor.

I wanted to go back in and scream . . .

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IT WAS NOT A DATE!!!!!!!

But, that would invite more pity.

And that would be a shame.

And there was already enough shame going around.

Damn.

damn-damn-damn

From “Good Times”

Just Me With . . . . one coffee, two menus, two water glasses, no food, no money. 

Alone posts. Wait, why are there so many?

The New Walk of Shame for the Single Woman — Going Out Alone

You Don’t Have To Bring A Date, Come Alone! Come Alone! COME ALONE!

I Went to a Dinner Party Alone

Pissed: Parking and Dining Alone  Fun fact. This was the same diner.

My High School Self, My Vampire Boyfriend

I Went For Coffee and Took A Turn Into “The Twilight Zone”

The Twilight Zone — Again? Seriously?

 

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Pissed: Parking and Dining Alone

Wall Street

Wall Street

My Ex-Husband had pissed me off again, with a modified Nanny text that illustrated the fact that the  inconvenient visitation schedule is my obligation to uphold and his option to ignore.

I’m sick of it.

To the inevitable comment that “at least he seems them, ” I refer to   Misplaced Praise of a Father is Not Good Manners.

The whole thing sucks.  No other word for it.  Well, there are other words but that’s the one I’m going to use.

I was pissed.  Actually,  I don’t even want to talk about it.  There are so many things wrong right now and I have so very few acceptable or advisable or helpful responses or resources.  I’m exhausted and overwhelmed.  Five kids ain’t no joke.    Yes, sometimes things get to me, despite my blessings.   I’m human, and often treated like much less.

Holly Hunter plays a divorcee in Living Out Loud.  Excellent film.

Holly Hunter plays a divorcee in Living Out Loud. Excellent film.

To cool down I went for a drive.  Well, I drove and parked.   First I parked at the kids’ school, then the grocery store parking lot, then the bank lot, then on the street outside of a pizza joint.  When I remembered that I hadn’t eaten in almost twelve hours I figured food would help my mood.  Since I was alone I figured I could treat myself to  dinner at a diner.   The diner would be open for another hour and a half or so and there were some people still there so I went on in.

I took a booth for comfort.  No reason to perch on a stool when there were so many empty tables available.   I was thankful no one I knew was there.  I was not feeling like small talk.   Overhearing one waitress complaining that she was so tired and that her shift was just too long and another waitress  complaining that she’d only made $9 the whole day, I made a mental note to leave a decent tip.

I enjoyed the quiet, the children can be, let’s say, over-stimulating.  (That sounds so much better than saying my offspring can be a pain in the ass, don’t you think?  Don’t worry, I’ve withdrawn my application for Mother-Of-The-Year.)

I ordered and resumed my texting and tweeting.

When I looked up all the other patrons had gone.   I was the only one left.    Basically, the restaurant was staying open just for me.

I took dining alone to a whole new level.

Typical.

Just typical.

I ate quickly and gave a fifty percent tip on a cheap meal.  I was calmer by the time I got home.

Just  me with . . . NO ONE!!!!!!  I mean it.  Nobody at all.   Whatever.

See also I AM Here!  I Am Here!  I Am Here!  Said the Nanny

I Went To A Dinner Party Alone

Carrie, without a date at a wedding in Sex and The City

Carrie, without a date at a wedding in Sex and The City

If you’ve read my previous post, “You Don’t Have To Bring a Date, Come Alone.  Come Alone.  COME ALONE!”   you know that I was alternatively stressed, concerned, pissed and kinda bummed by the repeated suggestion that I come alone to a dinner party.   Here is the update.

Yes, I went alone.   Yes,  and as I predicted, it was fine.

Let me set the scene.   It was at a private  home, more like an estate.  The night was beautiful so everything was set  outside –cocktails and  hors d’oeuvres for an hour, then a buffet dinner at tables around the pool.  It was a catered affair with gorgeous centerpieces and decorations all in pink and white, to celebrate Cheryl’s being cancer free.  Guests were also encouraged to wear pink,  and on behalf of those who did, Cheryl would donate money to Cancer research.  Everyone had on some sort of pink.    It was a really classy affair, with around fifty guests.

Okay enough with the back drop, this is how it played out.

  • I walked in alone.
  • I was greeted by Cheryl who immediately introduced me to, let’s call her, Regina, who was the ONLY OTHER SINGLE PERSON THERE!
  • Cheryl informed  the group I was standing with that Regina and I were seated at the same table –because we were THE ONLY SINGLES THERE!

Awkward? Yes.  Appreciated?  Yes.   It made sense, actually.

  • After Cheryl made the announcement that Regina and I would be dining partners, Regina joked, “But we’re not a couple!”

Of course I took that opening to add, “Well, the night’s young.”   Ha ha ha, the Tears of a Clown.

  • Then, someone noticed, not me, that one of the ladies standing in my group HAD ON EXACTLY THE SAME BLOUSE I DID!  The same pink,  jeweled halter top.

I swear, that has never happened to me before.    We laughed it off.  She said she’d picked hers up in the islands, Martinque, I think, while on vacation.

Where did you get yours?”  she asked.

And me, being painfully truthful, admitted, “At a consignment shop.”

At a consignment shop.

Let’s review, shall we?  She got hers while on an exotic island vacation.  I got mine at a thrift shop.

There are two things wrong with this:

One:  I admitted I was wearing a used shirt.

Two:  I thought the beauty of buying at a consignment shop was that you were less likely to get something that someone else has!  I mean, seriously?   It was the only top like that in the store, of course.  Indeed it was the only top like that I’ve ever seen.   Oh snap, I guess it’s because I don’t vacation in the islands, or vacation at all.  Crap.

Wait, there’s a third thing wrong with this — WE WERE WEARING THE SAME SHIRT!

Eventually I made my way away from this group and my shirt twin to some familiar faces.  As Cheryl promised there were a couple of couples I knew because they had kids the same age of mine and who are in the same activities.    One was the same couple who, at the graduation party, had walked away from me.  But this time they  were very talkative and friendly.   The husband reminds me (and my kids) of McDreamy on Grey’s Anatomy.

McDreamy from Grey's Anatomy

McDreamy from Grey’s Anatomy

And we did the suburban parent thing and talked about our kids, college applications, etc.    The other couple introduced themselves to me as if we’d just met, which was weird, since I’ve been running into and exchanging pleasantries with this couple since our senior kids were in the fourth grade.

  • In discussing their children’s college application process, the couples shared that their children blamed them for having not gone through any hardship about which they could write about on their essays,  “Oh yes, she’s mad because we’re successful and not divorced and she has had what she needs.  Can you believe that?  Yes, we’re sorry we’ve given you a good life.”    I couldn’t even summon up the Tears of a Clown to respond to this particular topic, as I stood between the two couples.   Though I did discover that one of the women had not gotten into the college I went to.  Score one for me.  Empty victory, because she was being nice, damn it.
  • Cheryl had hired a professional photographer  and also took pictures herself.   The couples were asked to pose together.   I was asked to pose by myself.   Regina was also asked to pose by herself.   Yup.
Carrie, being photographed without  a "Plus One" in Sex In The City

Carrie, being photographed without a “Plus One” in Sex In The City

When the party moved to the assigned poolside tables,   I sat between the McDreamys and the only other single person at the event, Regina.   I discovered that Regina was divorced with children and in the midst of downsizing so we talked about the whole downsizing, moving, process, etc.   and I chatted with her and the other couples about our kids, etc.     I think the people (and by people, I mean couples) on the other side of the table may have been interesting, but the centerpiece was too big to talk over.   They must have been listening to our conversation, however,  because in the buffet line a woman asked if I was a professional organizer because I seem to know so much about it.    Ha!

No, I’m not a pro.   But yeah, I do.  I know a lot about it.  I know a hell of a lot about moving and downsizing . . .  but I digress . . .  

My hero, Matt Paxton from Hoarders

My hero, Matt Paxton from Hoarders

And that was that, except that at some point someone said,  I think it was Regina, “I heard someone else here has on the same top, is that true?”  And I, of course, helpfully, pointed her out.  My shirt twin was at the next table, as it turns out.  I added  that, “Well, I had wondered if I’d be dressed appropriately.  Clearly,” gesturing to my shirt twin, “I am.”   Ha ha ha, Tears of a Clown.

The party wound down,  I left when everyone else did.   It was nice, fine, a lovely affair.  It was the kind of party I used to like to look at from a distance, “Oh look, rich people are having a party!”  And then I’d drive or walk by to try to catch a glimpse.   It was good to be more than a fly on the wall, or a nosy neighbor, or a creepy stalker.

But, as to the whole “Come Alone!”  thing — no, Cheryl did not have an ulterior motive and play matchmaker for me, unless, of course, you count Regina.      And yes, I was fine without a date.    As far as I could tell, and based on Cheryl’s comments, all the other couples were married.   It was not a casual date kind of party.    It still would have been okay to have brought a date, but it was okay without.

This does not mean, however, that I will forever go to these things alone.   Nope.

Just Me With . . . a shirt twin, a lady dinner date, and a new career as a professional organizer. 

P.S.  Cheryl actually did a great thing by having assigned tables, especially when there are only a couple of singles and  some guests who don’t know many other people.  I didn’t have to walk up to a table of couples and ask if I could join them or wait by myself for coupled up strangers to sit with me.  And at least I wasn’t seated with my shirt twin.

From "You Again"

Sigourney Weaver and Jamie Lee Curtis from “You Again”

I Went To A Wedding Alone

Between an earthquake and a hurricane, I went to a wedding.  I think all three could be seen as surprising and unfortunate acts of nature.

I haven’t been to a wedding in years. Well, except taking my kids to see their teacher get married. Actually even before my marriage ended, I swore off most weddings.   I married young, my parents didn’t really approve and didn’t rejoice in it. His family was, well, not traditional. And although it was okay, I started to envy the grown-up,  joyous,  better funded and better planned weddings I witnessed later.   I usually went alone to my friends’ weddings anyway, my Ex hated weddings more than I did.   After a while, I just stopped going to the very few invitations I got, unless it was a command performance family thing.

But this wedding was of the daughter of a woman who is a good, special person.  The mother of the bride, Liz,  her husband and daughters are  former neighbors.  Liz  selflessly helped me — and my family —  for a prolonged period in my  prolonged time of need.  She’ll be a topic of another post at a later time.  Suffice it to say, as much I am usually disgusted by the mere thought of going to a wedding and reception, the fact that I haven’t been to one since my separation and divorce (even blew off  my bridesmaid’s destination wedding —  and she understood, see  Remote Attendance at Weddings — Royal or  Otherwise),   I had to go to this one.  I wanted to go to this one.  Kind of.   I wanted to see, but I didn’t want to go.  In my fantasy world, I’d be the proverbial fly on the wall,  I would materialize  just long enough to congratulate the family,  and then — Poof!  Gone!    But as I’ve discovered over the years, I am not magic.

First, let me say that the bridal shower was the day after my ex-husband got married.

(Insert knife, turn)  See, I Was “The Nanny” When My Ex-Husband Got Married.

Next,  I was invited, but the invitation did not allow me  to bring a guest.    Liz  had given me a heads up earlier that they just couldn’t invite all of my kids to the reception, though they could come to the ceremony.  I completely understood that, no problem.   Five plates for kids, totally not worth it.  And I also understand that it is appropriate to invite a single guest without  including an invitation for  him or her to bring a nameless date — some stranger  to share in the bride and groom’s a special day. I get that.

It’s  just that I’m a bit sensitive and unused to being single  — truly legally single, at a wedding.   But that was what was going to happen. As I said, I’ve gone stag before to weddings, my Ex  skipped the receptions for both my best friend and my sister’s weddings, he didn’t want to go with me to my college friends’ weddings, which was fine, I had more fun without him with that crowd.  So I’m used to doing things alone, before, during and now after my marriage. See, The New Walk of Shame for the Single Woman:  Going Out Alone.  But this was different.   These people, to varying degrees, witnessed my nervous breakdown.

My kids love the mother of the bride, Liz, know her well,  and the Bride and her sister used to babysit them from time to time and were my mother’s helpers when I had infant and toddler twins — so that I could, you know, wash myself or something.  So I thought the kids would want to see the ceremony at a local church.  Wrong.  Only one managed to get off of the couch to go to the wedding.   One daughter.

Oh well.

We walked in together.  Me and my girl.

Wedding

The church was full of familiar faces,  familiar friendly faces.  This wedding was  a  neighborhood affair, the neighborhood where the “marital” home was,  the neighborhood to which I had brought all of my kids home from the hospital and neighbors showered us with gifts, the neighborhood where we were living when  my family fell apart, the neighborhood from which the kids and I moved when I had to downsize.  Most of these people knew my story.  Many had seen me cry.   So it was at once a very comfortable and a little awkward reunion.

A very sweet woman and her husband sat in the pew in front of us.  Sally, I’ll call her.   She used to live across the street from me.  Correction, I used to live across the street from her.     This woman has always been very supportive.  She has suffered horrible tragedy in her life.  After surviving breast cancer, including all of the necessary multiple surgeries and treatments,  her oldest son died in a  senseless accident at college.  Unspeakable.   Still, Sally is very outspoken, says whatever the hell is on her mind and adores her family.   She has no love lost for my Ex and is one of the few people who has refused to exchange pleasantries with him.  If looks could kill I would have been a widow long before I became a divorcee.   She’d heard of his wedding.

Before the ceremony began,  she turned to my daughter and asked, with a hint of a sneer,

How was your Dad’s wedding?

Me, in my head:

“Uh,What the hell?  Oh no, make it stop, don’t show emotion, ahhhhh”

Daughter: 

Good.”

Me, in my head:

Ahhh.   No, please don’t talk about that.  Not now.   Not with my daughter.  Not in front of me.  Not at a wedding.  NOOOO  No No No NO NO NO.   Please don’t say anything more, please.”

Awkward silence.

Sally pursed her lips;  I held my breath.   I could tell she was holding something back.  I didn’t want her to say anything else.    Thankfully, she turned around without saying more. I could tell she couldn’t figure out what to say that would express her opinion but wouldn’t be inappropriate to say in front of my daughter.  So she self-censored, thank goodness.   But it was a bit too late — for me.  Oh my daughter was fine, but it made me feel like crap. I’m at a wedding and have to listen to my kid being questioned about my Ex’s wedding?  Ouch.

(Insert knife, turn, twice.)

The music was Stevie Wonder and Jason Mraz, the bride was beautiful and spoke intelligently as they read their own vows, the groom looked thankful and promised to walk beside her —  but also behind her as she achieved her success, and in front of her to shield her from danger.    There were meaningful readings,  and a very short sermon. (Actually, the minister was the one who referenced that this was a moment in time between an earthquake and a hurricane,  I  don’t want to use the words of  a man of the cloth without giving him proper credit — lightning strike averted.)    Anyway, the wedding  was elegant without being stuffy, comfortable without being tacky.  I would expect no less from and want no less for this family.   They are good, good people.  (And I barely had any of my normal  internal negative running monologue about how everybody says the right things in the church,  and may even mean it at the time, but . . .   )  Perhaps I still believe in love after all.  Huh.  I just wish I could forget my regrets . . . but I digress . . .

During the ceremony I saw Sally grab her husband’s hand and squeeze it.  He squeezed back.  She laid her head on his shoulder.   It was a sweet moment for the long-married couple.   They have been through hell.  This man eulogized his own son,  for God’s sake.  Through it all, though, they love each other, deeply.   I was happy for them, too.

But as I was sitting there, it occurred to me:  I had not felt this  alone  in a long while.

After the ceremony  while still at the church Sally apologized to me for her comment about my Ex’s wedding.  She explained what I already knew, that  in her mind she was thinking it was nice for my daughter  to see a young  (but old enough) couple get married, both for the first time,  with no baggage or no kids, from nice families, etc., kind of  “the way it should be”  — in contrast to what she imagined my Ex’s wedding was like with his five kids in tow, after a really cruel breakup and nasty divorce.    I get it.  And I know she meant well, but the apology made me feel worse.  I just wanted to forget about it.

I had to drop my daughter back home before going to the reception.  While there I had to mediate  arguments over dinner and television.   It was bad enough that I was going somewhere, a wedding reception no less,  alone,  but I also had to fight with my kids first.

Walking into the  reception  alone,  I panicked for a second until I found my old friends, couples from the old neighborhood.  Some of these folks have been beyond good to me, from sending me dinners,  lending me money,  to appearing as witnesses at court, one I’ve written about already, When I Needed a Helping Hand, and I may write about others.  It’s important to share stories about goodness in the world.    I’d seen some of these people  recently so the greetings were more casual.  From others, however,  I got that “So how are you doing?” head tilt.   Does anyone remember the  Friends episode where Richard (Tom Selleck) tells Monica about how people greet him after his divorce?   Yeah, that.

On a positive note, though, I also got the “You look great!” comment.    That was nice, because these people had seen me when I didn’t look so great (huge understatement).

It was a sit down dinner, and we (meaning me and the couple I was talking to) made our way to our table where I discovered that —

I was seated at a table with four couples.

(Insert knife, turn three times.)

 

I felt so, so SINGLE — but not in a good way.  Plus, I was also the only person of color at my table, which isn’t a big deal nor unexpected  but it  just fed into my feeling of being so obviously, visually ALONE.  (Singing the Sesame Street song, “One of these things just doesn’t belong here . . .”)

Plus, these long-time married couples reminisced about their own weddings and remarked about how the bride and her friends probably just think “we’re the old guys” now.

(Insert knife, turn four times.)

So, now,  not only was I  without an escort  and a third wheel —  or more accurately a ninth wheel,   I was one of the old guys, hanging out with happily middle-aged, comfortable, prosperous,  tipsy, married people.    After all, they had each other, good jobs, good times — past, present and future.   And, they were having a good time at the wedding.  It was all good.  Except for me,   I felt like I was watching everyone else have a good time, hell,  a good life.   I know things are not always what they seem, I know that couples are not always happy and certainly not all the time.  Oh yeah, I know that.   I mean, I was married once, you know.    But I didn’t really want to talk to couples as couples and the truth is, as couples, as a group, I have less in common with them than I did before.  If I had I been feeling better or had been drinking, I might have gone out to dance with the young singles,  but I know that would have been —  weird.  My time for that is gone  (and I’d never really experienced it, having married so young, and not been a drinker).

Eventually, we got up to mingle and  dance.

I danced with other couples.

(Insert knife, turn five times.)

One married woman commented on a cute younger single guy, but added “not that he’d want a broken down broad like me.”   This woman is not broken down, and  is attractive (as is her husband).  Suddenly I felt old by association.   She was cool with it, because she does not need  new male companionship.  Well, I do.  And what if I’m a broken down broad, or at least categorized that way?  Remember that early Sex and the City episode when Samantha dates a younger man who actually refers to her as an older woman?   She was shocked, like “Is that how he sees me?”     It’s one thing to be alone, it’s another to feel like you’ve been put out to pasture.   Especially when you’ve never even been to the Rodeo (enough bad analogies, I know).  See Undateable, Part II.

My friend Sally had had a few drinks, or not, she didn’t really need it.  She doesn’t need alcohol to express herself.    It was so good to see she and her husband out and enjoying themselves.   After the death of their son — well, I didn’t know if  Sally would be able to go on.   I can’t blame her.  But here she was,  loud and sassy, dancing with her husband.   At one point she said to me, “It’s so nice to be at a wedding instead of a funeral.”   Then she flitted off.

Later, out of nowhere she pulled me, actually grabbed and pulled me  from my conversation with another ex-neighbor, and dragged me to the dance floor.  I thought she just wanted to get me to dance.

Wrong!  To my horror, she was dragging me out there to catch the bridal bouquet.   There I was with the 28-year old, child-free, professional, drunk friends of the bride and groom.   Awkward. 

(Insert knife with serrated edge, turn six times.)

Sex and the City, the women watched as the wedding bouquet fell at their feet.

You didn’t even try!”  She scolded me when I failed to catch the bouquet.

She was right.  I didn’t even try.

You deserve a good man,”  She said.

See, you gotta love her.  Her heart is in the right place.  She wants me to believe in love.   She still does.  And apparently she believes that the bouquet thing actually works.

Free Spirit meets Blue Blood

Sally does love, deeply, even though she has suffered so.  She calls her husband her soul-mate, yet outwardly they seem to be opposites.  Anyone remember the show Dharma and Greg?  The flower child woman who marries the blue blood attorney?  Yeah Sally and Rob are like that, but older  — she’s an artist, a former dancer,  a wild child, dog-lover,  mouthy and loud — he’s a straight-laced corporate type.  But their love has survived cancer and the death of their first-born, along with the debilitating depression that followed.    That’s some serious love.  So I can’t be mad at her.  I was happy to see her smile.  And I’m glad people care about my happiness and wish me the best.

But being dragged out onto the dance floor to catch the wedding bouquet?  Awkward.   I’m not going to fight bridesmaids who used to babysit my kids to catch a  freakin’ wedding bouquet.  No.

When I returned the self-described “broken down broad”  whispered to  me when I got back, “I tried to warn you.”   I hadn’t heard her.  Damn.

Well, I made it until it was an acceptable time  to leave.  I walked out with another couple.   Liz  gave me a centerpiece to take home.  Beautiful flowers, but hard to carry home —   ALONE.   Damn thing fell over as I drove, I had no one to hold it for me or drive while I held it.  Another pang of loneliness hit me.   It was pretty. I like flowers,  but I didn’t need a souvenir from a wedding.    You might recall that my kids brought me back leftover flowers from my ex-husband’s wedding.  See  I Was The Nanny When My Ex-Husband Got Married.

Bottom line is:  I love this family.  That’s why I went.   But in going I had taken a trip back to a prior life and felt that I didn’t belong there.  It  reminded me of how much my world has changed, and moreover,  it reminded me that no matter how single — free — I am now, there is no complete “do-over” for me.   It was appropriate for me to be seated with those couples.   They are my  friends.  But it did cause me to be fearful that it was a snapshot of what I can expect from now on . . . feeling like a kid at the grown-up table . . .  but too old to be at the kids’ table.   The night was also a painful reminder of how bad the bad times had been for me and of how many people at this affair had witnessed them.  I look forward to seeing these people individually, but the whole wedding thing was just too much for me.   I’m a sensitive sort.

I left feeling happy for the bride, groom and the families.  But I came home feeling pretty down.  I had tried, but I could not have fun.  Just couldn’t do it.    Still, I’m glad I went to this particular wedding, the bride being the daughter of an angel and all, even though it took an emotional toll.

I know I have much to be thankful for; but I’ve been known to suffer from the melancholy anyway (another understatement).

Let me be clear, though.   I do not miss being married to my Ex, or being married at all.    I did not wish he was there and did not wish I’d had a date or boyfriend.  In fact, I can’t imagine ever getting married again, let alone being someone’s girlfriend.   My sadness stems from all the crap I’ve gone through (and the fact that so many of the people at that wedding knew about my crap, and have seen me at my worst), and it all leaves me wondering,

Where do I fit in? ”   

You see, I didn’t envy the couples  I was seated with. Well, maybe I envy their prior youthful shenanigans that I missed out on, but  I feared their present state of being settled and okay with being “the old guys” or a “broken down broad.”     That’s not me.   Yet I didn’t belong out there catching the bouquet either.   Truth is, I didn’t belong at any table.   I should have been a fly on the wall.

I haven’t felt  right since, to tell the truth.  It was a hard, beautiful night.  And the next night, well . . . there was a hurricane.

Just Me With . . . some leftover wedding flowers . . . again —  But NOT the bouquet!

Where Did I Put My Fake Boyfriend?

I recently took The New Walk of Shame for the Single Woman:   Going Out Alone.  I had attended a jam session/fundraising event by myself.   Something happened on my out, though, that I could have handled differently.

The jam session  was nearing the end.  People had come and gone throughout the evening, but the night was almost over.   When a group of guys left I decided  to walk out with them so I wouldn’t have to navigate out of the creepy building  and out into the night alone.   I waved goodbye to the host, who was busy playing keyboards.   He gave me the “call me” sign as I followed the others out.   The others were father and son guitar players  and an Up and Coming Rapper (Question:  Why do so many Rappers call themselves Up and Coming?)and his Manager. Together we figured out where to take the stairs down (no one knew how to work the freight elevator), and we walked out together making small talk on the way out.

The Up and Coming Rapper and his Manager’s conversation  was spiced with curse words about how tired they were because they had come  from another industry event.   I tried to pin them down about where they were coming from (they were late arrivals at the jam session, just there for some face time I think),   but the Manager was vague.  Exiting the building, the father and son disappeared, leaving me with the Up and Coming  Rapper and his Manager.

The Manager, who was lighting up a cigarette, called to me:

“Hold up, you married?”  And the evening had been going so well, I lamented.

“No”  I responded, because I’m not married anymore, I have not been legally married for five months (but who’s counting).

I kept walking.   He followed.

“You single, you got a boyfriend?”

“Yes, I’m single.”

“So you single?”

“Yes.”   Because I am.  I am so damn single. 

“You got kids?”

“Yes.”

“How many?”

“Five.  I’m divorced.”   (With so many kids, sometimes I feel the need to explain that I was once married.)

“Yeah, I’m divorced, too.”   He said.   “Well, can I give you my number?”

“I’m not into hanging out with anybody right now.”    My stock answer.

“Neither am I, you know we can just  . . . (he ran through a littany of over the top activities I have no interest in, then other tamer activities, I have no interest in sharing with him.) ”   Then he said some other stuff.   But I wasn’t listening.  I just wanted to get in my car and go home.

“So can I give you my number?”   He was persistent, and my stock rejection line hadn’t worked.

“Uh, sure.”  Why? Why? Why?   Because I’m an idiot.   See  The Landscaper Guy  and The Female Chandler Bing.

Have I mentioned that I’m not really used to being single?

As  I started to put his number in my phone and hoped for a sudden attack of dyslexia,  he  said, “Let me see,”  and actually leaned over to look at my phone  to make sure I was really  entering his number!     Geesh.

Then I said, “Well,  I gotta go.   Nice to meet you.”    He made some other small talk I can’t remember —- or I just wasn’t listening.

As he started to walk away  he turned and said,

“So are you gonna call?”  Ohhhh.   I was just minutes from a clean get away (like Jack Nicholson in Terms of Endearment).

“We’ll see.”  I said in what I thought a nice voice.   I am so freakin’ bad at this crap.

“We’ll see,”  he parroted back, mimicking my nice voice, in a not-so-nice way,  and he jogged up the block to join the Up and Coming  Rapper, who was waiting for him, smoking.

*shudder*   I got in my car as quickly as possible.

Obviously,  I just was not feeling  this guy.  I did not like his approach.  I did not care for his manner of speaking.   I’m not a smoker.  I wasn’t impressed with his  industry talk.  I didn’t even enjoy his client’s music.  Just — ick.    It occurred to me later that the whole exchange could have been avoided had I just said,  “I’m seeing someone.”      After all, his questions about my relationship status seem to suggest that having another man in the picture was a deal-breaker for him.   Why didn’t I just comply and pull out the fake boyfriend?

The Fabricated Boyfriend can be very convenient.  Single women have been using him for years,

I think he dates back to the Stone Age.

My answer:  Because I thought I was supposed to be embracing my new single status.

Bullsh*t

In my tortured thinking, since I had been someone’s girlfriend or wife for many, many years,  I thought that I was supposed to say loud and proud — I’m single, unattached, free.    WRONG!!!  Isn’t it the prerogative of a true single lady to lie when necessary and expedient?  For safety?   To save time or someone’s dignity?  C’mon —  the ole  “I’m not feeling well” or “I’m not ready yet” or “It’s not you, it’s me”  ?    It’s married people who can’t lie.   If you are married, you’d better ‘fess up to your status.   If you are single, you can be creatively coupled when necessary, in my after-the-fact humble opinion.

The bottom line is,  I knew I was never going to call this guy.  And that’s okay.   Being single doesn’t mean that I have to entertain every offer of male companionship I receive, I’ve learned.  See Landscaper Dude  and a Phone Smarter Than Me.   That said,  I was standing on the street alone with Rapper Manager and was  in a situation where I had to  reject him and  provide a valid  explanation which would end the exchange  yet not piss him off.   I had to say something.  I should have lied.

So what have I learned from this?  Okay, yes, I am Single.  Not married.  No boyfriend.  But not every person in every situation needs to know this.   Being single doesn’t mean I that I have to be so damn  honest about it.   Had I lied immediately and said I have a boyfriend,  Rapper’s Manager guy could have walked away with his dignity, I could have walked away without fear of retaliation or passive aggressive nastiness.

Going forward with my new single status,  I reserve the right to pull out the fake  boyfriend as the situation demands.   I realize now that it is not a sign of weakness, especially when going out  alone,   nor is it a  sad attempt to cling to my previous “couple” status.   Some guys just need to go away by any means necessary and  I will  concoct  an imaginary boyfriend when I need to,  damn it.

Just Me With . . .  a boyfriend  . . . in my pocket.

For a rejection without use of a fake boyfriend, see “I Turned Down A Dinner Date With An Ex-Con.”

The New Walk of Shame For The Single Woman — Going Out Alone

On Twitter I dubbed it “The New Walk of Shame for The Single Woman — Going Out Alone,”   though  there’s nothing really shameful about it.  It’s just not something that I want to be so  . . . obvious, or frequent for that matter.  But of course it is what it is.

Still,  as I walked out of my house in the ‘burbs, wearing  a little black top,  jeans and heels on a Saturday evening right before nightfall, I felt the little ick.  Perhaps under cover of darkness I would have felt differently.   After all, I was just going out.  I wasn’t turning tricks or anything.  (Ironically, even prostitutes are usually getting into a car with someone.  Not me.  Solo all the way.)  Still, I felt weird, exposed.

In the first place, I hadn’t felt like going out at all.   I was exhausted and frankly, tired of going places alone, tired of driving.   I  also hadn’t been sleeping well and had forgotten to eat — again.  See, Confessions of a Skinny Mom.  Additionally, I tend to be “melancholy”  (sounds so much better than clinically depressed) and it’s hard for me  to get out —  yet that is exactly  what I must do, or so I’m told.    Plus, I really hate driving  and this was going to be about a thirty minute ride.   On the other hand, had I stayed home, well, there may have been tears or  chores or nothing special, followed by  guilt and anger for the tears, chores or nothing special.  See Weekends Off.  I would have beaten myself up  for not going out on the one of two nights a month when the kids are gone and when this time,  coincidentally– luckily,  there was actually someplace where I could go — alone.  Oh yeah,  there was a whole carnival fun house of competing emotions going on my head.  So I forced myself to go out.  This again is where it is helpful to have people with you. When required to meet someone or when a friend is picking you up, you can’t bail.   That little voice that says “just stay home”  is naturally squelched.   But when going out alone, well, a woman can change her mind at the last minute.  A woman’s prerogative.  No one would be disappointed, no one would be left waiting, no one would be the wiser.  I confess that I have driven myself places, or attempted to drive myself places and gotten lost, not found parking, etc. and ended up turning around and going home without ever having left  the car.  This has happened, more than once.

Carrie, minus a “Plus One”

On this particular night I got the ick walking to my car.  It probably hadn’t helped that I’d just watched the Season Five Sex And The City Episode where Carrie does not have a “Plus One” for her big book release party and admits to loneliness,  Charlotte admits to not liking the sound of  talking about her divorce and Miranda avoids telling a man she’s become a mother.  All three of those hit home for me.

So as I walked to my car to go out, my feeling was somewhat reminiscent of the traditional  “Walk of Shame” home that a woman makes  in broad daylight, wearing the same clothes from the night before.  That look screams: “You had somebody last night, you were doing something all night, but  now you’re on your own, and everybody knows it.”

Marshall, Ted, and Barney enjoying the day of Halloween traditional "Walk of Shame" in How I Met Your Mother

Marshall, Ted, and Barney enjoying the day of Halloween traditional “Walk of Shame” in How I Met Your Mother

I felt  like the walk to my car in daylight and heels  screamed:  “Single woman,  all alone and trying to get some action.”   It’s my own paranoia, fueled by the fact that I’ve been known to “people watch,”  and I know that if I saw myself going out like that in daylight —  alone on a Saturday evening— I’d say,

I wonder where she’s going?

I just wanted to get in my car as quickly as possible.

I realize that the fact that I play music gives me a huge advantage for going out alone.   Music provides me with  night-time activities,  like jam sessions, or going out to listen to  other musicians I know play, where I can have a really good excuse for being alone, even in bars. This particular event was a jam session/fundraiser for a music studio run by a guy I’d gone to school with many years ago.   I’m on his mailing list and get impersonal invitations all the time.   I’d never gone before.  I’d never really seriously considered going.   But this was going to be the night that I would actually go, damn it.   I felt obligated —  not to him — but to me.   It was a timing thing.   It was a night I could go, and a place to go.

The studio was at a  location I’d never been to, in the part of the city where I’ve gotten lost more than once.  But it is a new world now.  I wasn’t really traveling alone, not anymore — now I had my new best friend Miss GPS, who right now is a  very polite British woman.  Let’s call her Emma.  Emma  tells me when to turn and when to “take the Motorway.”  I programmed Emma and she guided my journey.  Once I “reached my destination” and parked, I checked in with my Twitter friends, who were giving me the thumbs up for going out alone.

Okay.  Lipstick on, glasses off.   Valuables (meaning Emma) hidden, car locked.  I retrieved the entry code for the security door from my email invitation and was ready to go.  Following the prompts, I entered the code on the door.   Unfortunately,  the call went directly  to voicemail, which was full!  Crap.   No one was answering to buzz me in.  I tried again, repeatedly.  This is when having someone with me might have been  helpful.  You know, someone to complain to, bounce ideas off of . . .  someone to make me not look so stupid.  I mean, picture it, a woman alone, dressed for  going out,  in an iffy neighborhood, standing in front of  a building and —–  no one is buzzing her in!

Tragic, I tell you. Tragic.

I went back to the safety of my car.   Safe, that is, from the public humiliation of being  rejected by a security entry door.  I was about to tweet about my epic  failure of the night and go home, when, out of the corner of my eye I saw that someone had opened the door.  It was my Knight in Shining Armor (or, more accurately, some guy in a Lucky Brand Jeans Tee-Shirt)!   Yay!  Someone had been sent  down to let me in!  My calls were not unanswered!  I was not going to be left alone in my car to do the drive of shame back home.  I was going in!

The Lucky Brand guy whom I’d never met showed me upstairs in the not completely renovated warehouse type building, walking me down  long narrow hallways of exposed brick.  We took the freight elevator up.  I wondered for a moment whether I should have told someone where I was going so that if I were to say — go missing —   my loved ones  would have a general location  to give to the police for questioning.   But no worries, I safely entered the studio, full of people who were not scary.   I panicked for a split second when I didn’t see the only guy I  expected to know.   But he was there, and when he saw me, he gave me a hug and said,

“What a nice surprise.”

First part of  my mission had been accomplished.   I had arrived, alone,  albeit slightly overdressed.   But I was there.  Doing the visual room check it appeared that most people came with someone, of course.   Some were couples, some were related, some were friends.  While the people were open with introductions,  they mostly  talked to each other. I immediately joined the jam, avoiding the standing alone awkwardness.   When I wasn’t playing I parked myself in an area to watch and listen (and where, by design, I didn’t have to talk).  One other good (or bad) thing about music events is that a person can be there  and never really have a conversation at all and, more importantly,  the lack of  conversation is not so obvious.    This makes my attendance “minus a Plus One”  a little less alone, and it  comes as quite a relief to my road dog, Ms.  Social Anxiety, who is often with me, even if no one else can see her . . . bwa ha ha ha.

In the end, though, I  got out of the house, out of my neighborhood, and stepped out of the box (a different type of music, even played a different instrument for a little while).   Plus, I do love music.  And it is absolutely true that music brings people together without any talking at all —  it breaks down both language and more importantly for me,  social barriers,  and really,  how cool is that?

My English Electronic Friend Emma and I returned home safely —  under cover of darkness.

Just Me With . . . no shame after a night out, alone.

And I got hit on . . . Where Did I Put My Fake Boyfriend?