Catcalls: You’re Doing it Wrong

Yesterday I was getting out of my car, parked on the street, when a jeep passed me, windows rolled down. The passenger then stuck a bike horn out the window and honked it in my face as they rushed past.

It had been a long day. The kind of long day where I just wanted to go inside and eat pizza in my sweatpants and watch Heathers. I had neither Heathers, clean sweatpants, or pizza though so I was resigned to be annoyed.

And then someone honked at me from close range and as my ear was ringing later, and the rage came over me — like it does from time to time, I had this thought. This …. biting little gnat in my brain.

Ostensibly, catcalling women on the street, shouting at them, honking your horn, revving your engine, is supposed to elicit a response of some kind, right? I’m no expert, but I assume that when you do something obnoxious it’s to get a response.

Like toddlers, right? I mean, that is your base of reference isn’t it? Because adult humans don’t do these things. Mature, rational, reasonable, intelligent humans do not act like drooling infants who cannot control their fine motor skills and act out on every hormonal or emotional impulse, so that’s what you intend, right?

I’m going to go with yes. Let’s assume you know you’re being a horrible person when you do this. Of course you do, how can you not? It’s not as if someone has ever responded to your “attention” with gratitude, have they? Do women actually clasp their hand over their heart and shout “thank you” as you fly past? Do they, perhaps, scream their number after you and wait for a call?

I’m going to go with no. So you’re doing it to be a dick then. Fine.

You’re still doing it wrong. Because you see, part of being a jerk is getting acknowledged for it.

Flying past me loses the gratification of seeing me flinch, seeing me scowl, seeing me resist giving you the finger because it’s a main street, my church is across the way, and I have been raised to not do that even when I really, really want to.

You missed all of that! And why? I will tell you why. Because you’re not courageous enough to slow down and wait for the reaction. You’re too terrified of the fallout. Whatever that may be. And to be honest, with me it’d just be a stern, clipped, irate response that will probably be more funny for you later than your hasty retreat.

In hindsight though, I do have to acknowledge that you’re not doing it wrong. You’re doing it exactly right as chauvinistic prick. You’re objectifying women and giving them no voice in the matter, no say, no way to rebuttal. You’re assaulting women on the street for your own amusement. And because no one can ever say it’s you, you can continue to do this as long as you like to as many women as you like and pretend later that you’re a “good guy”. But you’re not.

I know, I’ve made a lot of assumptions about you, you in the over-compensating vehicle with the excessively loud music. I’d like to stop making assumptions though. I’d like to get to know you in person.

I’d like to believe that once I got to know you and talked to you that we could discover the rational, reasonable human being in you. But there I go again, making assumptions.

Didn’t We Pray?

So maybe this story begins as many do. With a “sweet friend’s” post on Facebook. You know the kind of Sweet Friend I mean. The sweet eternal optimist, whose every dream or whim seems to get fulfilled. The champion tennis player, who also toured nationally with the select choral group in high school, who garners accolades and yet never seems affected by success.

The one who, years ago, tearfully prayed in youth group about being called to be a missionary…in Paris. And then actually went to Paris, and actually did mission work there for 3 years while you were slogging it from dorm to classroom and worrying about failing Philosophy of Religion. In the rain. Uphill.

That same Sweet Friend who went cheerfully to every prom and dance in a beautiful dress with a nice boy who also happened to be quite good looking. That same sweet friend who seemed in some way to be elevated above true drama and bitchiness that might come with such a role for less worthy people. In fact, she was the prom queen that everyone actually liked. You know, because that was the only dance in high school that you went to.

That same Sweet Friend who was asked to sing in a friend’s band in New York City when she was 25, just back from Paris, and while there, met the portrait photographer/Craft Woodworker/expert drummer who of course fell in love with her very white teeth and her shiny long hair that never seems to have a bad day, and her clear skin and her smiling eyes, and oh yeah, her actually glowing, phosphorescent, pearly personality and kind heart.

THAT friend.

The friend you can’t hate. The friend who actually empathizes because she is kind and sensitive, although she may not truly understand. But it doesn’t bother you because she actually never gives  you those abhorrent chunks of romantic advice like “it’ll happen when you’re not expecting it,” because she’s also eminently sane and smart and doesn’t have a death wish.

THAT friend.

That friend who you cried for in the bathroom at her wedding, just because you’d miss her, and then you redid your mascara and went out to smile and dance, not because you had to, but because you wanted to.

That Sweet Friend, of course, who posted a beautiful, emotional tribute about her husband of 5 years, which ended with an exhortation to girls to pray for their future husbands, because she had prayed for this man since she was little, and God had answered her prayers and more by bringing this wonderful man into her life.

I direct you to my go-to author on this matter, the great C.S. Lewis, speaking in the voice of Aslan the Lion to Aravis in The Horse and His Boy: “I tell no one any story but their own.”

This Sweet Friend of course has her own story about the events of her life. Far be it from me to assume that she has no trials, no heartaches, no sadness, because her life has been dissimilar to mine. I don’t need to know, perhaps, all of her story. Perhaps it is all true. She has prayed for this man to come into her life since she was small, and God said yes.

But…I can’t help but feel that I know a few women have prayed for a husband since they were small, and, to use Sweet Friend of the Shiny Hair’s rhetoric, God has said (so far) no. Many weddings I’ve been to have been marked by teary parents saying that their greatest prayer for their daughters have been answered. There are songs about it, even, praying for the little boy your daughter will grow up to love (which sort of creeps me out).

But what about those parents who have prayed faithfully, prayed in tears, prayed and prayed for their sons or daughters, or those sons or daughters who have prayed to be part of a family of their own?

I know it’s the bride’s day on her wedding day, but I always felt my face grow hot with shame as I sat with my parents at a reception table, poised to race to the bathroom at the opening notes of ‘All the Single Ladies’, while the bride’s parents praised God for answering their faithful prayers.

It helps to understand that “no” is also an answer. It isn’t that my parents haven’t been faithful in prayer. I’m not single because I’ve dreamed about it my whole life and prayed faithfully to be single forever.

No. It may not have been the answer I wanted. But it is an answer. Some might be tempted to say that sometimes a “wait” answer to prayer looks like a “no” answer.  In fact, a friend of mine who has been single far longer than I have and has even written several books on it got married just this past weekend. I’m sure that she didn’t think she was waiting anymore. As it turns out, her answer was not a no, but a wait. And wait she did, faithfully.

Whether my answer is a no or a wait is not for me to decide. For now, I just want the catharsis of noting that just because God answers one girl with a yes, doesn’t mean he will answer every girl with a yes, no matter how much they might pray.

Instead of “praying for your future husband,” how about just pray? Pray for yourself. Pray for your neighbors. Pray for your pastors, your leaders, your friends. Pray for the people who will come into your life, male or female, because God knows they will need some prayer to deal with you. Unless you find yourself relating to the Sweet Friend in this scenario more than to me.

In that case, I love/hate you. Hugs, I really love you. You and your shiny hair and white teeth and Paris vacation-oops-I-mean-mission-trip, too. I may not like you very much, but I do love you.



Encouragement for Regretters

I’ve noticed something, in life. Well, a couple somethings. But one of the important ones I’ve noticed is you can’t really go wrong with encouragement. By that I simply mean I’ve never said something to encourage someone else and regretted it later.

I talk a lot. Like, a lot, a lot. Whether I’m with humans or animals or by myself I’m talking. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I’m telling myself or someone else. And the reason that I talk a lot, the most fundamental reason, is because I’m hoping to bury my idiocy in a barrage of words so large that you can’t figure out which ones were stupid.

The really cool part is that no matter how much idiocy comes out of my mouth, I will remember all of it in case you don’t. You’re welcome.

I cringe at things I’ve said in high school still. Ugh. Thinking about it again. I was awful.

Point being, there’s lots of reasons why I’m an introvert, but one of the biggest is how exhausting I find social situations because of how much extra work and anxiety I put into my conversations. I’m not alone in this. But I am an obsessive over-analyzer, worrier, and as has been pointed out, I can be a little hard on myself from time to time.

All that being said, I’ve often told myself — before launching into a controversial conversation topic — that I shouldn’t talk. Just don’t do the mouth opening. I can’t ever seem to manage it and I always tell myself way later, “You see? This is why we can’t spend time with nice people. Because you say all the things.”

Given that at any moment something I personally find horrific/offensive/embarrassing/inappropriate/derogatory/etc will fly out of my mouth, the epiphany I had this week is exceptional.

The only words I have ever unequivocally not regretted saying have been words of encouragement.

For some reason, giving another human positive feedback never results in me later giving myself a pep-talk about “don’t use your words”.

I don’t know if you know this, but people love getting compliments and encouragement.

I know, mind-blowing.

I personally don’t care for it too much. Any positive word or note I’ve been given I burn immediately. When someone says something kind to me I immediately flip them off and walk away.

Yeah. Right.

I LOVE positive feedback. I have saved every kind word anyone has ever written about me. Back to the fifth grade when we were all forced to write nice things down for our classmates. Half of them wrote “You played trumpet good”, like they knew, but STILL it made me feel great to get it.

Sometimes I wear clothes because I want to be complimented. Sometimes an encouraging word or a compliment can transform my entire day into something beautiful. And whenever someone says something nice to me, against my will I like them better.

Guys, there are literally no downsides to improving someone else’s day by treating them kindly and saying nice things to them. In fact, when I say something encouraging or kind, my own day improves too. It’s crazy.

It’s like giving someone a sandwich and then one magically appears on your desk. Man, people would be giving out sandwiches left and right if that was a thing.

I don’t know why it’s not like that for positive words. It should be, you’d think that’d be common. But we get caught up in all these stupid blocks:

  • I bet they hear it all the time
  • They don’t need to hear it from me
  • I don’t have time to stop and tell them
  • No one’s said anything nice to me in awhile, what’s the point
  • If I say something nice it’ll start a conversation and that would be terrible (this one might be just me)
  • I don’t want them to think too highly of themselves
  • Let’s not get sappy and sentimental
  • What if they take it wrong

Of course there’s more than those too. We all have weird reasons for why we don’t say nice things to others. But in my limited experience with positive expression, it does wonders. You might hear something like:

  • Really? I always thought it wasn’t…
  • You have no idea how much I needed to hear that today!
  • Thanks! I wondered if anyone noticed…
  • That makes my day
  • I was thinking it might be time to stop…
  • Seriously, thank you so much!
  • You’re amazing! Here’s a thousand dollars and a sandwich.

No that last one hasn’t happened to me. But sandwiches are amazing, and a compliment in and of themselves. To food.

I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me. But I say give it a try, you know? Just try telling someone that great thing you’ve observed about them. Don’t settle for liking a status on facebook, use your words.

I promise, this might be the only thing you say that you don’t regret.

Movie Over-Analysis: When Harry Met Sally

It is impossible for me to watch When Harry Met Sally and retain my well-adjusted single woman persona. Maybe it’s the Harry Connick Jr. music, or New York in the fall, but my guess is that it’s Harry and Sally.

My gosh, when he leaves her in the morning I turn into a pajama-clad, pint-holding, tissues-crumpled, sad-sack. I can almost feel myself becoming a cliche as I tell Harry Albright, “don’t break her heart”, repeatedly.

Of course, he never listens.

But by the end, as the credits roll and I return to my jean-clad, beer-swilling, regular-self with tear tracks on my face, it occurs to me not how important romance is, but how important relationships are.

Hold on to your shorts, I’m about to commit one of my own pet peeves by moralizing this movie. When Harry Met Sally is the epitome of this romantic relationship fixation we have in our culture.

Indulge me as I shred apart a favorite movie.

It’s brilliant in its simplicity and yet wrong. All relationships disappear as soon as they can no longer apply on a sexually interesting level. Sally’s married friend has all of one scene. Harry and Sally each have a best friend who is single, naturally these two fall for each other (oops, spoiler alert on a 30-year-old movie) and there are no other players — except ex-partners.

We realize how perfect Harry and Sally are together because we’re never distracted by anyone else, and neither are they. Maybe we all live small lives with only an intimate circle of friends, but I don’t buy it. I’m an introvert and even I can claim at least three-five close friendships. How come these two leads can’t say the same? what kind of relational retardation have they experienced? Are they so co-dependent on each other after ten years that marriage was the only option? After all, their best friends are married, wouldn’t it just be more convenient?

I know, I know, when you love someone everyone else disappears, but (I hate to say this because I love this movie passionately), maybe that’s the real tragedy. Maybe it IS tragic to be so consumed and absorbed by someone else to the point that your supporting cast is only 20 characters long (not counting “uncredited” and “documentary couple”, but indeed counting “Joke teller at wedding”).

I know what you’re going to say. It’s a movie. The limited cast is what makes it so realistic, so raw, so comedic and relatable. I know, I get it. I do. But what movies do us the disservice of validating is our persistent belief that true love is a completely consuming experience. That there is nothing outside of life for us except to be consumed in romance, or with romantic prospects.

Sally has a career, right? What is it? What exactly does Harry do? Do they have families at all? Have either of them experienced loss in their life? Severe health concerns? What impact does society have on them? Has Harry ever had financial worries? Sally, ever changed a tire on the freeway ?

We watch the movie and we feel they are well-rounded, but we know so little about them outside of each other. What if Sally’s that woman at work who always steals your sandwich from the fridge? Or Harry’s the kind of guy who prints off jokes and posts them outside the men’s room? We think we know them because we know them with each other. And we think they’re perfect because we only ever see how they effect each other.

But isn’t it remotely possible there are other people that bring out different better sides of them? Other people DO exist, do influence your life, do add color, confusion, pain, happiness. Perhaps a woman that makes Harry less morose, or gets him to a shrink. Perhaps a man who makes Sally less uptight, less “I like it the way I like it.” Sure they accept each other’s flaws, and that’s wonderful, but do they change each other? Do they make each other better people? Or does that not matter? Is the main goal to marry someone who expects nothing?

Or maybe it’s just a romantic comedy with clever dialogue and engaging characters.

It’s definitely that, I mean. Forget everything else I said. There is no conspiracy of film to make you aware of how mediocre your life is by comparison. Or drive home that you should be dissatisfied and waiting for your happy ending. That’s definitely not happening.

Eh. It’s like any other media isn’t it? It is what you make of it, I suppose.

What I DO know is that the old couple near the beginning, the high school sweethearts who connect after THIRTY-FOUR YEARS apart…I want to see that movie. I wonder what Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan are up to these days…

Starfish Sleepers: In defense of twin beds

I’m an adult, or so it has been explained to me, and I sleep in a twin size bed.

In your head right now you’re picturing it, aren’t you? It’s got a pastel duvet, maybe with giant flowers on it. And if you fold this back you will reveal sheets with a pattern. Maybe not superheroes, but definitely old, aged, faded Care Bears or something along those lines? Did they make Care Bear sheets? No idea. Kinda want them though.

There’s an assumption that twin beds are only acceptable to a certain age. And that age, the topmost limit that even some people wince at, is 18. College dorms are different and an exception, I might add. It’s institutional living. But you’re expected to have a “grown-up” bed and only resort to the twin when you come home. (Of course sometimes when you come home you don’t even get a twin mattress, you get the couch right by the loud, ticking grandfather clock. another time.)

Who voluntarily decides to sleep in a twin bed past this age? Who, as a single adult without children, could ever go to a mattress store and try out twin mattresses with the intent of sleeping on one for the next foreseeable ever?

That’d be me. Hi.

Before you get all weirded out about how I have a delayed adulthood issue, or lingering adolescence, hear me out.

  1. Beds are expensive. If I want a good queen mattress I have to be willing to shell out large amounts of funds. I do not have large amounts of funds. But I do want a good bed. Do you see the dilemma? In order to get a good bed with smaller funds, one must be willing to own a bed with smaller square footage.
  2. I have sensitive skin. My skin is so sensitive that right now I can feel you rolling your eyes. Yeah, man. Take it easy. I like my sheets to be smooth, silky, kind to my skin areas. Most sheets are crap at this. That first wear? Are you kidding me? The chafing! The sore areas I wake up with! It’s like sleeping on cacti. Egyptian cotton is the only thing I clothe my moderately expensive bed in. But guess what? Egyptian cotton sheets? Terribly expensive. What makes them less expensive? Smaller mattress.
  3. No one likes making their bed. It’s a chore. It’s cumbersome, it’s taxing, and it’s sometimes annoying. You know what makes it easier? Smaller mattress. Way less time, less irritation, and happier me.
  4. Apartment square footage is a hot commodity. Everyone is all about the space saving compartments, but no one ever thinks about this in relation to a bed. This is a mistake. Right now, because I sleep on a twin, I’m able to fit an entire dining room table with chairs into my bedroom. Who needs a dining room table in their bedroom? No one, but I CAN so I do.
  5. Sleeping on a twin bed is reassuring because you know if someone or something is in it with you. Queen mattress? No idea what’s happening on the other side of that bed. It’s like another country over there. A scary country where monsters live and want to eat me (perhaps I am still a bit stuck in the past).
  6. I’ve stayed at hotels and you can’t get a “twin size” room, I’ve not checked, but I’m pretty confident if I asked they’d give me a cot in the alley. Anyway, the luxury of sleeping on queen mattresses at hotels has taught me that when left to my own devices on an oversized mattress I will try to take up every corner of the mattress at all times. Plenty of tossing and turning and limbs thrown out. Quintessential starfish behavior. It’s not cute. When I’m sleeping on a twin you know what I more resemble? Sleeping Beauty. Total win.
I mean, this is beautiful in its own way, no disrespect, starfish.

In conclusion: Be fiscally responsible, rational, economical, optimize your laziness, protect yourself from night terrors, and sleep like a princess. Buy a twin mattress. (I mean, clearly, right? Can’t be a princess on a queen bed, can you?)

Small Town Doppelgänger

My 30th birthday fell on a Sunday this year. Start of a new week, start of a new year, start of a new decade. It had been a good birthday weekend. I’d gotten together with friends, eaten a lot, avoided people a lot. Excellent birthday-ing all around. I’d even managed to avoid the blues of turning 30. Who says it’s depressing? Not this girl. And now, on Sunday I was headed to church as was reasonable and logical.

This was the last logical thing to happen for a solid fifteen minutes.

You know how in small towns there’s a healthy gossip circuit? And also in small towns how everyone sees you doing something that you have to later explain? Like the time I bought Heineken at Rite Aid directly in front of one of the small impressionable girl in my church group.

Thank God it was a Dutch beer.

This is probably not me.

So. Sunday morning one of the delightful older women at my church excitedly motioned me over. She’s one of my favorite people. She’s tart, blunt, independent, and funny. I thought perhaps she wanted to wish me a happy birthday. Some inspiring message about “don’t let aging get you down.”

“I hear you have a boyfriend.” Were her opening words.

My heart did that thing it does when I get into a car accident or I’m giving a speech in middle school. Or when I want to get hired and I’ll say anything but am I sure about that? It jumped a little and then I said, “uhhhhh”.

I stood there, wracking my brains for a boyfriend. Surely if I had one, I would know. I considered all the men I’d met lately. I hadn’t asked someone out, had I? I hadn’t accidentally started dating, had I? Was there like a special girlfriend ceremony I’d taken part in? No. No, that was crazy talk. I wasn’t dating anyone. I was 30 and unattached. I’d had that conversation with myself last week. No boyfriend and 30 and pretty cool.

But instinctively I wanted to agree with her. She was so happy about it! So I said cautiously, “I mean…I have friends who are boys?”

She shook her head. “I saw you with him.”

Well she had me there. Big fat liar that I apparently was. I stared at her, mutely. What does one say to such conviction. Clearly she knew my romantic life better than I did.

“You were walking with him down Front street.” She insisted.

When a matriarch of the church is telling you something, I don’t know what it is, but you believe her. I just blinked at her, mentally going over my last week. I did walk down Front street sometimes. Had someone walked with me? DID I HAVE A STALKER? Also, a pretty good one if I didn’t notice him walking with me. Which is flattering I suppose except that maybe it just means I’m not self-aware. It’s probably that. Who is stalking me??

“When was this?” I asked. As if that would help. Like I chronicle the days I walk Front street.

“Last week! You were holding hands.”

This was new information. And surprising. The last time I could recall holding hands I was four and my Mom made me because what if I darted into traffic.

“I don’t think that was me.” I said trying to let her down gently. She is not young, after all.

“It was you!”

It really wasn’t, I thought. I hate holding hands. I have, hands down (ha, ha!) the sweatiest palms in existence. Sometimes when I clap I spray people like an orca doing a belly flop at SeaWorld. Except less majestic.

Based on the new evidence alone it was clearly time to call a mistrial. Besides, I could hear the prelude ending which means the Pastor was about to begin the service. I am never late for service.

“It wasn’t me. I mean, I feel pretty confident on that.” I tried again, a bit hurried now to get to my pew in time.

She looked at me, suspicious. As if I’d just used margarine in place of real butter in a cookie recipe. “No I definitely saw you while I was driving.” It’s clear she thinks I’m hiding a relationship by trotting my boyfriend out on the main drag of the town.

“I’m really sorry it wasn’t me!” I lied. Because she’s an old lady and I’m only in the vestibule of church.

She sighs heavily and I wonder who she’s already told about my boyfriend that she’s now going to have to un-tell. “I was really hoping you had a boyfriend.” She says, and I feel like I’ve just told my own mother that I have no life goals and am seriously contemplating illegal drug usage.

And Happy Birthday to me, I think. I chuckled though. Smiled. “Sorry to disappoint!” I lied again before taking the walk of shame to my seat while the congregation sang the first song.

And while months have passed since this event, I’m concerned I’ve got a slutty doppelgänger brazenly walking around town holding hands with boys.

On the upside, if I ever do decide to experiment with holding hands, it’ll be nice to know I can blame it on some vague lookalike who leans toward PDA. Or maybe I’ll just blame her the next time I’m walking my bottle of wine home from the liquor store in a conspicuous brown bag.


Small Screen Supporting Sirens

Dedicated to the “sidekicks” who refuse to be sidekicks. To the women on the small screen that don’t have time to acknowledge they’re “only on TV” and probably believe the show should revolve around their character. And by and large, they’re right. They bring serious entertainment value and incredible sparkle to their shows.

This isn’t a comprehensive list, just my personal favorites from some favorite, probably nostalgia inclined, shows.

In a side note, I’m contemplating having a daughter so I can name her “Donna”. Clearly that’d be a win.

…”Be more like a character from a TV show?” Is that not allowed?

“I’m not into you. I’m Donna.”

Donna (Suits) played by Sarah Rafferty

Suits is presumably about two hotshot lawyers and their cases. In reality it’s about how awesome Donna is at being Donna. She may be “only an assistant” but as the show progresses,and she continues to chip away at egos and be fabulous without trying, I find I’m mostly interested in what Donna’s going to say and do next.

“I’ve got all the advantages of marriage: I got a tea kettle that whistles, a parrot that talks too much and a cat that stays out all night. Who needs a husband?”

Sally (The Dick Van Dyke Show) played by Rose Marie

Sally is a third of a comedic writing team for a sketch comedy show in the black and white era. Her other two counterparts are male, but that doesn’t hold Sally back from being a witty, cutting, clever woman. She’s not out to prove a woman can make it in a man’s world, she just does.

“Do I look like I drink water?”

Donna (Parks and Recreation) played by Retta

No one throws shade better than Donna. Just a glance puts you right in your place. She knows what she’s about and she goes out to get it. She’s got her priorities right where she wants them and doesn’t apologize for living the life she enjoys. Man or no man.

“You’re having a lousy streak. I happen to be having a terrific streak. Soon the world will be back to normal. Tomorrow you will meet a crown head of Europe and marry. I will have a fat attack, eat 3000 peanut butter cups and die.”

Rhoda (The Mary Tyler Moore Show) played by Valerie Harper

Rhoda didn’t really ever enjoy being single, or most of what was happening in her life. But despite the disappointments, she kept on trying and managed to be upbeat even when totally depressed. She was the perfect cynical-yet hopeful-counterweight to the perennial Pollyanna in Mary.

“If you hurt my best friend again, one day, in the future, anthropologists will find your skeleton in an unmarked grave with a massive, massive, life ending blow to your head, by a totally awesome chick that rhymes with frenzy.”

Kenzi (Lost Girl) played by Ksenia Solo

Kenzi is undeniably Bo’s sidekick, but she prefers being there because it lets her kick ass. She’s a one-of-a-kind original and refuses to let anyone keep her down. She’s all about defying the odds and building her own community through fierce loyalty and fight.

“Why can’t these aliens ever get in trouble somewhere decent? Like Graceland or Tahoe or New Orleans. No, Utah. Mormons and mountains.”

Maria (Roswell) played by Majandra Delfino

Maria was 100% done with aliens as soon as she found out there were aliens. Three seasons of Maria living life normally in spite of alien absurdity. Sure, she had her meltdowns, and her crying fests, but mostly because her alien boyfriend was being a very human tool. She thrives in the midst of chaos and carves her own path even when the drama gets drama-ier.

“Get in there and bust up her date. Show her you care. Ruin her night.”

Rosa (Brooklyn Nine-Nine) played by Stephanie Beatriz

She’s infinitely quotable, infinitely stoic, and infinitely having none of your shit. She doesn’t know how to relate with emotions and prefers to speak the language of practicality and violence. She’s wry, she’s tough, and she understands the practical value of an ax.

“Ah, come on Sam, you know my philosophy. If you can’t say something nice, say it about Diane.”

Carla (Cheers) played by Rhea Perlman

Carla may have been a low-brow, usually single, uneducated mother of six (and counting?) but that didn’t mean she’d just take it when other people got her down. Her fights with the always prissy and pretentious Diane were half the reason to watch the show. Carla’s always got a glib retort or biting comment that let anyone in the bar know that even if she is pint-sized, she’s definitely got a fearsome bark, and bite!

Just so we’re clear on this, all the women on this list are mostly single in the shows they’re on. They’re strong, fabulous women who have more personality than anyone knows what to do with. And they all spend more time living their life than worrying about a man (except maybe Rhoda). If they DO get married, they do so without settling and without changing their best qualities.

More than that, on shows that don’t keep them in limelight, they manage to steal it more than once and prove that even if you’re not the hero of the moment, you can still be the best thing about the moment.

Table for One

I have a really adorable, small, round table in my kitchen. It faces the windows and looks out over beautiful gardens. But I almost never sit at my table to enjoy the view, because I never, ever sit down at a table to eat.

I’m not sure it’s exclusive to single people, but the concept of communing over a meal is most certainly lost when you’re eating solo. Sitting at a table in silence staring out the window munching on whatever I’ve managed to concoct from my kitchen of “it seemed like a good idea at the time” crossed with “this is going to go bad tomorrow” is a recipe for disaster. The less aware I am of what I’m forcing myself to eat the better.

The Mother of Wine Inventions
Pro tip: When eating alone, use less dishes by drinking straight from the bottle.

In college I was a big proponent of eating in bed. Cutting off 12 inches of hair was critical for making sure I no longer got food in it while lying prone and having dinner. Why stop watching movies or TV shows to eat? What is the point, really?

And what’s the point of trying new restaurants by yourself? Sitting there in a booth or a table quietly waiting for your food and watching others who are having conversations and laughing. It’s a bit weird, and the few times I’ve been brave enough to try eating out alone I never take my phone, refusing to be one of those forever socially dependent people. But believe you me, you run out of things to look at in a restaurant when you’re sitting by yourself.

I had one friend tell me she takes a notebook and paper to solo dining experiences so she looks like a food critic. I’m sure it’s a wonderful way to ensure a great meal, I just don’t have the courage. I also believe that if I’m going to go out and be single in public I need to do so baldly and obviously. It’s not embarrassing to be single, and it’s not something to cover up.

Then again, I never eat out alone in public. So I suppose even for my own criteria I’m a bit of a failure.

There’s so many rites and rituals with eating in a group of people. Because they’re rare, Sunday dinners are a favorite time of mine, now. I sit with loved ones gathered around the table, and sometimes for hours, enjoy conversations that range over the gamut of life and experience.

There is something special about eating with others, something almost supernatural because the communication it generates happens in no other group setting. No other activity outside of a meal has the ability to catch us off-guard, make us amenable to those we sit with, make us prone to linger, to share stories, make us willing to listen, to encourage, to critique, to think broadly or in-depth. And because we’re gathered over food, and not a social activity, our interests and experiences can be more varied and the stories we share more diverse creating unique opportunities for growth.

As a kid I remember family meals mostly being defined by what happened after the meal. Eating cookie dough from a communal bowl kept in the fridge. Or, more frequently, playing pinochle and learning how to win and lose gracefully — something we all still struggle with.

Don’t get me wrong, I love eating in front of the TV. I love eating standing up and doing different things around my apartment, but the blessing that I most receive from eating alone is learning to value much more what it means to eat in a community.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that singleness can add a layer of gratitude for community. Conversely, community gatherings are often an occasion for me to celebrate the solitude I so enjoy and look forward to. Not least of which because no one notices if I get food in my hair, or on my shirt, or bothers to mention if I have two servings, or three, of mozzarella sticks.

Friends with Boys

Even before I saw When Harry Met Sally I’d been intrigued by the question of “Can men and women be friends?”

I distinctly remember hoping and praying in high school that I’d have boy friends and no actual boyfriends because I didn’t want the drama. I wanted boy friends more than girl friends too, and it took me years to appreciate the female friendships in my life. That’s a blog post for another time.

For example, men don’t take pictures of their feet. This is a female phenomenon. I can’t get behind this. Why would I want to show off one of my not-so-great features? Women, what is this about??

But ever since I’ve had male friends I’ve been getting the side-eye from strangers and acquaintances, and even close friends. Come on, men and women can’t ever REALLY be friends.

One of my best friends in my teens was a boy. And I still remember the looks from church people when we’d sit together, and I remember the one time we wore the same clothes to church (I was wearing a skirt, version, but otherwise…) and freaking out that people would think it was some kind of sign. I remember having to defend every time we arrived anywhere together and having to cheer lead all his romantic relationships because otherwise I’d look jealous.

I remember having one of my married male friends pick me up at work to get lunch together and the knowing glance I got from the receptionist.

Going out to dinner with a man is a problem, having dinner at his house is a problem. Driving is a problem, movies are a problem…

Romance potential is literally everywhere.

I keep asking myself the question “Can men and women be friends” and I keep hearing – from women and men – that this is not possible. Even men I am actually friends with tell me this. There’s this underlying feeling that the opposite sex is too enticing once you reach a certain level of intimacy. That sex is the inevitable obstacle to co-ed friendships. That men and women will naturally fall in love when they get to know each other really well. Thanks Harry and Sally.

No matter how much adamant agreement there is on this topic, I just can’t believe that God would create men and women to have relationships between the sexes that are only passing acquaintances, familial, or romantic. I can’t buy that I’m only allowed casual friendships with men. I can’t buy that God intended me to keep all men at a distance of several feet unless we’re planning on marrying.

I’m a single woman and  I need men in my life. I need the influence of men, the conversation of men, the viewpoint of men. I need these as much as I need the influence of women, the conversation of women, the viewpoint of women. I’m aware that as a single woman it’s far too easy in this life to simply lose touch, lose connection with a large quantity of the people in the world strictly because they are male.

I need to be careful in my relationships with women as much as I need to be careful in my relationships with men. And this is what we forget. Sure, perhaps you’re guarding against different things with men than with women, but any relationship ought to be entered into with carefulness, watchfulness, and openness.

Can men and women be friends. I have to believe yes. Are there overwhelming obstacles to making a friendship between a man and a woman work? Experience and others tell me definitely, 100%, yes. Naturally, any true friendship faces some pretty tough obstacles. It’s the nature and essence of relationship.

Is it still worth it? Is it worth valuing friendship with men as more than a gateway to romance? I believe 100% yes.

Have more movies damaged this theory than assisted? Yeah. Just. All the movies. I mean Just Friends. It’s in the title! How could that go wrong? Anyway, that’s a rant for another time. Until then, as always, I’ll remind myself that movies are a work of fiction, and relationships are real and really hard work. Woman to woman, man to man, and woman to man. It’s difficult because at the end of the day it turns out, we’re all people.

Look at that. Perhaps we have more in common than we think?

Babe, Keys?

I have gotten chewed out by married people for forgetting my wallet and keys when I leave places. It falls into the list of things you simply shouldn’t do, especially if you’re single.

I quite agree. One shouldn’t lose one’s keys. Yet one does. One does more than once.

This is the face of a duck who hides her keys in her feathers. You think ducks don’t hide keys? Look at that face. This duck probably has yours right now.

In college my roommate asked me to run with her to the drugstore real quick and I walked out the door with a jar of peanut butter and a roll of Oreo cookies and a knife (because I’m not an animal) and she walked out the door without keys.

We spent four hours on our apartment landing, vaguely hallucinating and getting dehydrated (the stairwell had to be about 80 degrees) because no locksmith believed us when we told them what happened. The giggling might have abetted the disbelief.

I would have been more upset about it, but I got to skip a class with the fantastic excuse of “I’m locked out of my apartment because my roommate.”

I once actually managed to lock myself out of my apartment in the middle of a tornado warning as I was making dinner in the oven and walking around barefoot. Drove closer to the tornado to pick up a spare set.

I’ve locked myself out of my apartment in the middle of a rainstorm wearing pajamas, and walked a mile to recover my spare keys.

When you’re single — and most especially if you’re living alone and single — getting locked out is always an adventure. There’s no reliable person who has keys who is contractually obligated to come to your rescue. And I’ve never once found a safe place to hide my keys outside my apartment that won’t be easily discovered if someone with an extra five minutes decided to rob my adorable, though hardly richly furnished apartment (you hear me burglars?).

I don’t know if it’s true that married people don’t lock themselves out of their home as much as single people, but given the surprise I’ve encountered, it seems to be a real thing.

Perhaps when you marry you get better at keeping track of your keys, or perhaps you get to take advantage of “babe, where are my keys?” something single people don’t usually say.

I mean, I could. I could say that the next time I lose my keys. But honestly, people get uncomfortable enough when I talk to myself in the Safeway parking lot. Adding an invisible significant other to my repertoire probably won’t help.