I see that I’ve neglected this blog. In my defense, I have been writing — just not blog posts. I’ve been working on my book, The New Old Maid: How Happily Unmarried Women are Defying Spinster Stereotypes. I wish I was able to devote time to everything I want to put effort into, like “growing” my digital platform by attracting thousands of new “likes” for The New Old Maid Facebook page. It’s easier said than done. I do get a lot of “likes” for posts, but that’s not what publishers want to see when they’re considering whether or not to publish a book. They want those damn page likes.
So I’m going to cheat a little bit here. For this post, I’m going to share with you the beginning of the chapter I’m currently working on, about dating and relationships.
And BTW, PLEASE go to The New Old Maid Facebook page and “like” it. You don’t have to be an old maid or even a woman. It’ll help me out a lot if you do that, and ask your friends to do it, too.
Here’s the start of that chapter:
Once, on a first date, I went to a movie with a man named Greg. We found our seats and then he asked, “Would you like something from the concession stand?”
“Sure,” I said. “A small popcorn, no butter.” I’m a cheap date.
He was back in a few minutes with an extra large tub of popcorn so heavily dosed with the combination of partially hydrogenated soybean oil, beta carotene, buttery flavoring, TBHQ and polydimethylsiloxane that movie theatres call “butter” that it looked as if the kernels were drowning in the viscous yellow liquid.
Greg was genuinely surprised when I declined to eat any. I hate soggy popcorn. I also hate sharing popcorn. Having to reach over into someone else’s container is inconvenient. I’m a grown-up. I want my own popcorn.
Although I rarely do, I can go for a few hours without eating food, so I was fine with not munching on popcorn as I watched the movie. Greg was not. He was actually hurt that I refused to eat the snack that he had gone to the trouble of getting for us. It became clear that he’d intended for us to bond over the sharing of the popcorn. He wanted the two of us to become one, with food as the link. I wasn’t just rejecting his popcorn; I was rejecting him. It didn’t even occur to him that he’d completely ignored my preferences, or that I would spurn his offering just because I liked popcorn a certain way.
As trivial as it sounds – and I admit that it sounds trivial — the episode was emblematic of something referred to by several of the women featured in this book: an unwillingness to be absorbed into a relationship. As Leanne put it: “Well, what happens to me, that I brought to the party?”
It reminds me of a disturbing episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, in which Captain Jean Luc Picard is almost absorbed by the Borg, a race of aliens who suck in the intellects of other beings, robbing them of their individuality. Their motto is: “Resistance is futile.”
There are, of course, lots of healthy, balanced relationships out there. But when a relationship is unbalanced, it’s usually the woman who is forced to forego parts of herself in order to make the union work. Some old maids have decided that that is too great a price to pay for having a significant other.
That’s not the only reason why women don’t marry. In my completely unscientific research – which consisted of talking with random unmarried women from across the U.S. – I uncovered several categories of old maids: those unwilling to surrender their independence; those who came close to getting married but didn’t (to their subsequent relief); those with lousy taste in men (who at least have the sense not to seal the deal by making it permanent); and those who have not been in serious relationships.
If any of this resonates with you (or if it doesn’t and you want to argue with me about it on Facebook), PLEASE go to The New Old Maid Facebook page and “like” it. Thank you.