I Think I'll Pass

Little kids are fascinated by my single status. Especially little girls, which is sad, because when I was little I don’t recall giving a fig who was married to whom, and if or why not they ever would be married; I took adults as they came. So I don’t see why little girls should feel the need for the Spanish Inquisition (I wasn’t expecting it, natch) when confronted with my singlehood. Particularly exhausting is the fact that they will not accept ‘I don’t have a boyfriend because I don’t want one’ as a plausible answer. Blame cartoons, or Hollywood—or the history of the world in general—but being single by choice is incomprehensible to children; you might as well tell them you live on the moon. And it’s not like I can explain my position fully, because I’m sitting right next to her mother, and if I go off on any sort of feminist ‘marriage-is-misogynistic-slavery’ diatribe someone is going to take offense. I’d like to answer the question honestly, but I can’t make her understand; introducing a contrary viewpoint would confuse her, thereby making more work in the reprogramming department for her mother, thereby making my life unmitigated hell. So whatta ya gonna do?

Luckily, kids also don’t understand sarcasm.

SCENE: Dinner, last night, at local pizza joint

Dramatis Personae:

GRAMA: My grandmother; Aunt Mary’s mother
AUNT MARY: Emily’s mother
EMILY: Precocious five-year-old
ME: Unwitting victim

EMILY: Do you have a boyfriend?

ME: Nope.

EMILY: Why not?

ME: Because I don’t want one, Em. Boys are too much work.

EMILY: I think you need to have one.

ME: It seems to be the general consensus, yeah.

EMILY: I could get one for you.

ME: Well, thanks, but I’m good.

EMILY: You could have Derek. He can drive.

ME: Derek who?

AUNT MARY: One of her cousins.

ME: Well, that’s keeping it in the family.

AUNT MARY: It’s one of her Dad’s cousins.

ME: Do people still marry second cousins? I thought that went out with syphilis.

AUNT MARY: She doesn’t seem to think so.

EMILY: He doesn’t have his own car, though. It’s his Mom’s.

ME: Um… how old is this kid?

AUNT MARY: (barely containing her giggles) Sixteen.

ME: Oh, good. I was worried there for a minute.

EMILY: But you guys could still get married. And then you could be his wife.

ME: Hooray.

EMILY: And you could move to Milford and live there and we could play sometimes.

ME: (containing a shudder with a face like I’m passing a stone) Fun!

EMILY: You’ve lived here a long time—maybe you should just live here in the summertime, and then live there for wintertime.

ME: What about my job? I have a job here.

EMILY: You only have to work it for when you’re here.

ME: Uh-huh. And who pays for my food and my car, then?

EMILY: Mom will.

ME: (to AM) Don’t worry; I’m sure my intended has a paper route or something.

EMILY: So there we go. You can marry him.

ME: Perfect. Except that I’d be spending the honeymoon in jail.

[GRAMA does spit take onto AUNT MARY’S shirt]

EMILY: And you could baby-sit me, because I hate my babysitter now.

ME: (over shoulder) Any chance the building’s on fire?

EMILY: Then you could sleep over, or you could go back to his house and live with his Mom and Dad.

ME: Why not? I bet his Mom and I are the same age.

EMILY: You could come to our house for Christmas.

ME: Fantastic. I’ll bring a football and a pre-nup.

GRAMA: You have to stop talking. I want to eat my food now, and I don’t want to choke to death.

ME: Gram—we’re planning my future happiness.

GRAMA: Well, do it after dinner.

EMILY: We’re done now, Gram. You can eat. They’re getting married.

ME: Champagne, anyone?

AUNT MARY: I think you might need a martini.

ME: I shouldn’t; I don’t want his parents to think I’m a drunk.

GRAMA: I’m gonna starve to death.

ME: I’m done. I wouldn’t have thought I was old enough to be Mrs. Robinson. Thanks, Em.

EMILY: You’re welcome. Can I have some more of your chicken?


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