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…

Read Katrina’s new post on SheLoves Magazine!

You’ve read posts from Katrina here on a regular basis. To change things up, our friends over at SheLoves Magazine are sharing her post today. Check out the excerpt below, and click through to read the full story on growing up in the dialysis room:

The dialysis unit of the children’s hospital is in the basement. A dark, quiet room with ground floor windows. Old plastic recliners face each other, separated by thin sheets, with accompanying TVs and wiped down antiseptic remote controllers. Guest folding chairs sit beside each recliner, or rather “parent” chairs. No child brings a friend here.

The two cribs in the corner have no TVs above them. No parents complain. The rocking chairs next to the cribs that are well used, the other parents eye them covertly, but they would not for the world trade places. Near the door is the nurse’s station, regularly abandoned. Most patients here are regulars too.

Full Article:

Life on the Rocks

When I was ten I was at the beach in Monterey, California walking over the large boulders, enjoying the challenge and the adventure. And that’s when I saw it. A crab. There are limits to my adventurous spirit.

You know in horror movies when you see someone wants to eat you and you freeze, and then you look around and you realize EVERYONE wants to eat you, that’s how it felt when I noticed that crab was not alone.

There were crabs everywhere. And I know, I know, some people think crabs are “adorable” or whatever, but I can assure you, they are not. Not when you can sense their murderous hunger in their little sideways claws made of grappling hooks.

Like these rocks...but with more crabs.
Like these rocks…but with more crabs.

I panicked, as you do when you feel grossly outnumbered and about to be on the receiving end of upsetting the food chain. I tried to run away, but again, boulders, and that’s when I jammed my leg in between two of them — boulders, not crabs — Effectively ruining my chances to run away and increasing my panic.

Eventually I was able to pull my scraped and bleeding leg out. And much to my dismay and embarrassment, I realized none of the crabs were interested in me at all. All that horror and panic, and it led to no actual dismemberment.

There’s a moral I believe can be drawn from my adventure with sea life.

Sometimes you’re afraid of the wrong thing. My fear of being surrounded and closed in on by an army of what I thought were organized and militant crabs led to me being genuinely trapped by real life boulders. I let one fear dictate my life so completely that I made myself miserable.

We do this with a lot of things. To be honest, most women do this more with their fear of being single than their fear of being in a relationship. Fear of being single can lead to being trapped in a relationship you otherwise would have sensibly avoided.

Because marriage can be a huge societal pressure on a woman. It’s one of those things, like those Monterey crabs—you see one marriage and you think “well it’s only one, I’m still fine” and then you look around and you see marriages everywhere. And the panic builds.

Why am I the only one not married? Is there something wrong with me? Are people talking about me? What if I wait too long and there aren’t any men left? What if I’m single the rest of my life? And in that panic, there are some women who can make the wrong decision.

Panic very seldom leads to good decisions, and relational panic is always very detrimental to your health. The trick seems to be, in this sort of panicked situation where marriage is coming at you from all sides and you’re balancing yourself precariously on rocky ground, to keep an eye on where you’re standing, and to not focus so intently on the married people around you who, more often than not, are minding their own business and encountering their own set of fears and tough decisions.

As the saying goes, life’s a beach. It might be a rocky beach full of giant weaponized spiders craftily hiding between boulders, but it still has a pretty epic view.

Stages of Outrage

There’s a lot of anger simmering under the surface sometimes. Like the Hulk, some of my drive, determination, defensiveness and stubbornness as a single woman may be rooted in a simple secret: I’m always angry.

When I laugh at the tweet I saw last week that said “If we put a woman on the twenty dollar bill, will it only be worth $15.88?”, it’s a laugh that hides a twinge of frustration.

When certain politicians co-opt my values and play on fears to get votes, I feel helpless rage.

When my favorite writers are misquoted and misappropriated to prove a point or justify an action, my inner English major goes all Braveheart.

When I arrive at an airbnb booking and there are extra charges and fees and you have to pay for towels and sheets and a 400-euro deposit in cash, and you have no option except to swallow their requirements, because cancellations forfeit the whole cost of the booking.

When my car tires get slashed by someone who makes approximately fifty times more money than I do.

When these things happen, I feel outrage. I sense the injustice of it all. I lose a little bit of hope in the world. I feel powerless to effect change, like it all matters a little bit less.

For others, however, it seems that injustice fuels the sense that the words they have to say in this stage of reaction matter MORE. Words spoken (or written on facebook) in the stage of injustice-processing classified as outrage seem to matter MORE than words spoken out of deep thought, considered study, or any sort of expertise.

It’s not because I never feel outraged at political, financial, race, class, or gender injustices that I don’t often post about them on social media or even here on our oh-so-unbiased-and-totally-like-philosophical blog. I suppose I feel that my response should be more than mere reaction, especially in this culture of outrage, where it’s common to emote outrage every other day about what this politician said or didn’t say, or how celebrity A supported or backstabbed celebrity B, how corporation A is lying and corporation B is cheating.

I’m not saying that anger doesn’t have value. but what happens beyond outrage that we often don’t record? Pick your favorite incident of outrage–an oil spill, a politician misquoting the Bible, Cedric the Lion getting shot, The Bachelor giving a rose to the wrong girl, Disney re-make ruined your favorite childhood movie, or, to use a recent example–The Cincinatti Zoo’s decision to kill Harambe the Gorilla after a four-year-old child escaped into his enclosure.

Who’s the target of your outrage? The mother? People in general who choose to propagate the species? The zoo staff? Zoos in general? The child? THE HUMAN RACE?

You see, outrage is easy. It’s our first reaction. What comes after outrage, blame, and snarky/angry comment discussions that apparently way too many people have time for? Real thought. Real conversations about important things. I am guessing many parents had good talks with their kids about not running away, about death, about how it’s important to care for animals by leaving them room. A realer, deeper anger than mere outrage.  Quietness. Grief. Despair. Confusion. Discouragement. Depression. Coping with a new normal. Healing. Hoping. Responding with life-change, instead of just reacting emotionally.

Comedian John Cleese speaks along the same lines in this video. Comedy, (which we hope can be found on this blog now and again) is a sort of thoughtfulness that takes processing, takes us beyond mere reaction. It requires a filtering and distilling, and it requires hope; a transformation that takes us past “This HAPPENED! OMG! Disaster!” to “This happened, and this is what it means for me and possibly for you, and just like with everything that has happened or will happen, there are highlights and shadows and it’s important to see both of them to get the whole picture. Also, have a laugh to keep from crying.”

I’m No Elizabeth Bennet

If you ask anyone which of Jane Austen’s characters they relate to the most, people will invariably say “Elizabeth Bennet” for two reasons:

  1. Pride and Prejudice is Austen’s best known work and thus her most widely read and so Elizabeth is her most well-known creation. When in doubt, always pick the only name you can remember.
  2. Everyone, but EVERYONE, knows that Elizabeth Bennet is the coolest of all Austen’s heroines. And everyone wants to be as cool as Elizabeth Bennet. So we’re all looking for points of comparison and finding them against all odds, because we WANT to find them. Made a witty comment once? Has anyone ever told you your eyes are your best feature? You might be Elizabeth Bennet if…..

And this is how you get monstrosities like Bridget Jones’ Diary, broadly defined as a “modern day Elizabeth Bennet.” Bridget Jones is in reality, a woman in a modern day setting who wants to have a Mr. Darcy and Wickham fighting over her. By no means does that make Bridget Jones Lizzie Bennet.

Interesting to note, too, is that no one ever admits to being one of the other Bennet sisters. In fact, if you even suggest to someone that they remind you of one of the other siblings there can be a great deal of protestation and/or friendships ending.

But, I’m taking a stand for all the Lydias and Kittys and Marys and even Janes of the world. Because I am a Mary.

That’s right. I said it. I’m no Elizabeth Bennet. I’m a Mary Bennet. I’m not ashamed to admit it either.

Here’s my proof:

  • Intellectual and off-putting snob: Noticeable from either my vocabulary or tendency to “trump” with obscure facts no one cares about that I could have made up because everyone stopped listening anyway.
  • Socially awkward: Evidenced in my ability to make any conversation uncomfortable by over-sharing and tactlessness.
  • Introvert: Because during said conversations, in my head I’m only imagining how to leave here.
  • Condescending Teacher: Have you read my blog? But just ask my opinion on something and I can give you a “wise” answer.
  • Single: Fairly obvious, this, but my disinterest in the institution of marriage seems to neatly match Mary’s.
  • Drama-free: While I personally love hearing about drama, I’ll admit to preferring to be a wallflower while it plays out in front of me.
  • Moral Judger: Mostly because there is no drama in my life I feel free to judge the drama in others.

So there you have it. There’s my Mary connection. It’s not all bad, but that’s what I like about Mary. She’s got some poor qualities, sure, but she’s not a bad egg at the end of the day.

So how about it, ladies? Which Bennet sister are you…if you were honest?

Jane Austen Action figure

Platitude Adjustment

I’ve heard the same “encouragement proverbs” or as I personally call them, “crapped out platitudes” from two different sources. The first is, “I’m not afraid of storms for I’m learning to sail my ship” and the second is “life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…it’s about learning to dance in the rain”.

To both of these craptitudes I have this to say. No. No it’s not.

However, if that winsome argument doesn’t sway you, here’s my detailed observation on what’s wrong with them.

Craptitude One: “I’m not afraid of storms…”, okay. right on. I mean, me neither. I’m not a male protagonist in a blockbuster comedy. I’m an adult woman who knows that storms are not out to get me directly. I even enjoy them, you know, from the comforts of my dry home on land.

“…for I’m learning to sail my ship.” Aaaand you lost me.

Presumably our novice sailoress is out on the ocean where there is a storm headed her way and she’s totally not alarmed because she’s LEARNING. Now I’m sure she’s got the basics down, like the steering and the right and port thing, knows her aft from her ass, etc. And maybe it’s just me, but it’s when I’m in the learning stages that I’m always the most freaked out. I know to do exactly two things 1) the job when it goes as it should with no problems, and 2) how little that knowledge really is. If I’m a newbie sea-woman and a storm’s a brewing, you know what I do? I head for shore and pray I get there before the storm gets me.

I have yet to see a movie about sailors “based on real events” that didn’t feature a storm at sea in which a large chunk of people DIED. And these aren’t even movies about people that are LEARNING.

Craptitude Adjustment: “I’m not afraid of storms because I’m beginning to sail my ship which is why I’m safe at home.”

Or even,

“I’m not afraid of storms for I am an experienced sailor and I have survived many storms, know what to watch for, and know how to act quickly when sailing in inclement weather.”

Craptitude Two: “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…” Let’s stop here. Because I am with you. Never jut wait out a storm. Start weather proofing your house — getting buckets, bottled water (ironically), boarding up the windows, moving treasured possessions to higher ground or just plain getting out of Dodge. Or…oh wait, it’s not done is it?

“…It’s about learning to dance in the rain.” Okay, sure, if your idea of a storm is a spring shower, or a sprinkle, perhaps a light misting, then by all means, dance. Give new meaning to the rain dance. Gene Kelly your worries away.

But when you say “storm” I think “wrath of God”, power outages, and flooding. You go ahead and try dancing in knee deep water as your dog paddles by you chasing the bagel you left on the couch this morning.

Craptitude Adjustment: “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about weather-proofing preemptively.”

Or even,

“Life isn’t about moping over every rain shower, it’s about dancing in the mist.”

Here’s my root issue with both of these: they appear to be written by people with no experience in hardship for those with no experience in hardship. It’s the thing people get crocheted onto throw pillows or wall hangings. It’s what someone says dismissively as they put a hand on your shoulder to comfort you over a personal crisis.

It’s sometimes a poster (with matching coasters) someone thought would make a great gift.

I’ve yet to be encouraged, emboldened, or energized by someone trivializing my struggles.

This Conversation Is Not for You

I don’t like to say I’m a petty person, but I do have my peeves.

  • Breathy singing
  • Books falling down as I shelve them
  • People without spatial awareness
  • People touching me
  • People staring at me
  • People
  • Writing something and having it completely misunderstood

Boy that last one. That’s one that really gets on my nerves.

I don’t have an exceptional sense of humor, I’m aware of that. I have a mediocre sense of humor which means 50% of the time when I try to be funny either no one gets it, no one likes it, they’re annoyed, or they’re offended. And then like 2% of the time I make someone angry.

The other 50% of the time is a lot of eye rolling with a good humored smile or the popular “lol” with no change in facial expression. All fine by me, because for whatever reason people still like to listen to what I have to say.

And sometimes they like listening to what I have to say because it’s so easily contradicted. Like I said, my humor misses at least 50% of the time.

So here is my letter, and one of the few blog posts that I’m going to direct to married people.

Dear lovely misunderstood married person,

I don’t know the struggles you have. I don’t know what it’s like to be married, I don’t know how hard it is to live with the love of your life, and I don’t know the burdens that come with being devoted to another person. I don’t know what it’s like to feel trapped or isolated or abused in your relationships. I can’t speak to these troubles, and it would be a disservice to you if I tried.

I also don’t know the particulars of your life. Your personal problems, your health problems, your relational issues, financial worries, physical discomforts. I know they are different from mine, and I know that your struggles and challenges are no greater or less than mine.

I do know two things though:

  1. We all struggle. It’s the nature of life — from birth to death. I don’t need to say anything more here. I thought this was a given, but I’m fine reiterating it for those who feel I don’t perfectly comprehend that all people have difficulties.
  2. When you grow up in the church you learn that singleness is perceived as a curse, as a tragedy, as a pity, as an unfortunate and disagreeable situation.

Marriage is always the ideal, if not in secular society, than most definitely in the religious communities where I have spent my entire life.

Somehow, in spite of all this, I have managed to remain happily single. I can’t say I’ve been happy every single year for the past 30, but the years I’ve been unhappy have generally speaking not been related to lack of marital prospects.

There are so many many of my sisters and brothers in Christ that this does not hold true for.

There are so many men and women who want to be married. They long for the intimacy of marriage. For the security they see in marriage.

I know. I know. Not every marriage has that.

But what they’re also longing for is to be accepted in their social situations. They are longing to no longer be the odd man out. They are longing to be part of a pair. They are longing to be part of the conversation they have been on the outside of for so many years.
This blog is an aid to those who are longing.

I’m not sunny on a lot of topics. But on the topic of singleness of this I am convinced: it is a joy, it is a blessing, and it is not the unfortunate or sad alternative to marriage. But for those that feel this way, for those that need some encouragement, or a lift, for those that need a reminder that even in the midst of their longing and their sadness there is still a spark of delight, I write.

I am not writing for you.

I encourage you to seek out writers that do give you that acceptance, that understanding. But please, please, dear married reader, please respect that when I write, I am writing to the frustrations of my single sisters and brothers. Hopefully my posts are not bitter or cynical. Hopefully I am not exaggerating to seek sympathy, or to gain pity. This is definitely not the goal.

I am writing to those men and women who are tired, worn out, and hopeless.

Please let me address their hurts, speak to their loneliness without vocalizing about “the other side of the coin”. We all crave understanding and acceptance. When you are single, believe me, you are perpetually familiar with the concept — How many sermons have I listened to on the married life or the family life? How many dinners have I gone to where my opinions and thoughts are not weighted (rightly or wrongly so) because I have no marital experience? How often have I received the condescension of married people because I am not married? Single people are familiar with the notion of not having their needs represented in all conversations.

You would be wrong to suppose that I have spent 30 years tuning out these conversations, sermons, Bible studies on the married life. On the contrary, I listen eagerly. For married life is a heightened relationship that sheds light on all relationships — even my own poor reflected friendships. In listening I am better equipped to support my married friends, better equipped to pray for my married friends. Better equipped to love them as best as I am able.

I am not asking you leave off reading. (In fact, I am overwhelmed with gratitude that you read this at all. Let me take this moment to thank you again, with a look of undisguised shock on my face. Seriously, thank you!) I am not asking that you leave off correcting me when I’m wrong (I’ll try to take it as best as I can), but please respect that the men and women who take the most delight in this blog are the men and women who crave a voice that speaks for them and to them in their place of hurt.

This is one conversation, dear married friend, that could benefit much from your listening and compassionate ear.

With sincere love, and heartfelt gratitude that you actually read this whole damn thing, Katrina

Wealthy Singles?

I see a lot of myths out there about single people. One of the more offensive myths is that single people are wealthy, or at least more financially sound than their married peers.

I don’t know where this comes from. I’ve yet to meet a single person just rolling in cash going “Thank God I’m single, because if I was married I’d be dirt poor!”

It doesn’t actually work that way, you know? Unless you were working at a job before you got married that paid really well and then after marriage you started a new job that paid poorly.

Who is it exactly that thinks I spend all my wages on super expensive frivolous things? Who is it that thinks I’m buying liquor with gold flecks in it and any name brand anything?

You know what name brand I buy religiously? Tilamook. Because their cheese is the best. Other than that, I guess you could say I buy Target a lot. Or Walmart. Or Thrift Store. And by “a lot” I mean whenever I’m getting desperately low on essential items. Like last week when I realized I’ve never owned a vegetable peeler.

Here’s the real math on being married or being single. The hypothetical poor single couple starting out: you find an apartment. It’s a one bedroom with a tiny bathroom. All that you can afford because it’s just the two of you against the world. But it’ll work, you’re in love. You buy it and you share a car, because again, love.

Now, subtract one of those people and you have what most single people have which is double the cost for the exact same lifestyle and just one less person breathing your exact same air.

Sure, you could get a roommate if you want to be a daredevil. But that’s a lot like marrying the first person who promises not to buy a cat or eat all your ice cream when you’re not home. Best of luck.

And as a special bonus, no single people got a party when they moved out to be single somewhere else.

You only get gifts for relational “success”. Which is why it took me five years and my mother visiting to realize I never bought a vegetable peeler. Draw whatever conclusions about my diet you wish.

I still think being single is awesome, but I would appreciate it if people didn’t extrapolate from my relational situation any correlation to wealth. Because there is none. Of anything. Neither relationship nor wealth.

There are however four pairs of sweatpants, and I defend each of those purchases.

Bad with Babies

A few weeks ago I went to a baby birthday party. The kiddo turned 1 and it was time to celebrate (frankly, I always think this is more of a celebration for the euphoric and relieved parents that they have kept a child alive for a year).

When I got to the party I saw my friend holding the little man. So I walked over and turned to him and said “Happy birthday, buddy!”

To which my friend replied. “Do you think this is Layton?”

And I froze because I actually had at that moment when I said the words  thought “he looks a bit different” but then the next thought was, it’s a baby and it’s been a few months. They change a lot so…”

In fact, she was not holding her son but rather a friend’s five-month-old son.

Just a brief aside here. I know that every baby is a precious little snowflake and looks like its parents and no one else. And I am sorry. Particularly because the next thing I said, in like a stunned I’m so embarrassed I have no response kind of way was, “All babies look the same to me.” Because when you have just said happy birthday to a child you’ve never met before (probably?) there’s no graceful way to get out of the situation.

But I’m friends with this woman for a reason. So she didn’t burst into tears or accuse me of being awful. She laughed. And then she said “This guy’s five months old. He’s not one.” Which was her way of saying “I’m not even remotely sure how you could have confused these two infants.”

And again, in my defense, I’m really bad with estimating things. (A jar of jellybeans and how many are in it? 12. Because I don’t know. And honestly, I also don’t care.) If you tell me your kid is big for his age I will believe you even if he’s a peanut. Because I have no barometer for success on these things.

Then, this past week, a friend of mine asked me if I would “house sit and take care of Sadie for the weekend”. And my first thought was “I can’t believe you’d leave your daughter (who is like six months old (maybe?)) for the weekend! AND WITH ME?? ARE YOU INSANE??”

And then I remembered her daughter’s name is Madison.

Her dog’s name is Sadie.

So I’m writing this to inform you that I’m a really excellent friend like 50% of the time. But when it comes to your kid. I’m just sorry in advance.

I have this problem with my own family too, by the way. My sister asked me if my nephew wasn’t “the cutest kid in the world” and I paused. Because, honestly how would I know? I defer you to the earlier incident wherein I said “all babies look the same”. And, also, he’s not on a can of Gerber’s baby food. Which is the recognized mark of success, right? And then I said “sure”, because this is not something worth fighting over. But my sister knew I wasn’t convinced.

So now there’s a suspicion growing that I do not have the proper all consuming love for my nephew that I should. Which, again, I’m sorry.

I don’t have a really good defense here. I’m just really bad at babies.

I Matter

I sometimes think that the desire to get married, it’s not about getting laid, it’s not about financial security, it’s not about keeping up with your insufferable married neighbors with the matching shirts, and it’s not even about feeling loved. It’s about knowing you matter.

Despite the fact that there’s dozens of people you encounter in a day or a week, isolation is inevitable. Spending any significant time with your own thoughts will give you the distinct impression of separation and disconnect.

And what single person hasn’t had the thought “if I died in my apartment tonight, how long would it take someone to find my body?” (I max out at a week interval. If I died on a Sunday night, by Sunday mid-afternoon someone will have noticed.)

Most of the time I’ve got nothing but positive things to say about being single. I love it.

I love that when I’m eating in bed and I’ve spilled caramelized onions on the floor that I don’t notice for a week, there’s no one around me to go “ewwww” when I pick up the crusty corpse. But there are times, at the end of the day, or the week, or the month, whenever I’ve got time to think about it, I get a little sad.

Most of the time being ancillary to my friends is a plus. I get invited to spontaneous events, I don’t get invited to uncomfortable family events, I’m there to listen to conversations that don’t annoy me and I’ve got an easy out if they do (“have you told your husband/boyfriend/anyone else, please God, tell someone else”).

But when I get the phone call that cancels plans with a “sorry my husband and I are doing this instead, hope we catch up soon!” Or the “You’re flexible right? I’m just booked with family stuff this week” or even the “thanks for the offer, but this is kind of a family thing, you know?” There’s just a tiny part of me that puts a numerical value on my importance. Oh right, husband, family, work, me and fifteen other people you never see.

I’m cancellable. I’m expendable. If you’ve got a full week and one thing has got to go, it’s probably going to be me. (“She’ll understand, besides, I can make plans with her whenever.”)

Normally I truly don’t mind this. Because most of the time I’d rather be at home watching movies on the couch, anyway. But it’s the core concept isn’t it? When it comes to mattering — and this goes both ways — I don’t have someone that I rely on that relies on me to show up.

Of course, around my apartment I know I’m more highly valued. Those leftovers, for example, won’t eat themselves.

Although, there are other things that can eat them. Budding penicillin always tries to fight me for them. But at least at home I know where I rank.  I’ll either win, place, or grow my own culture from what I’m pretty sure might have been lasagna.