A woman who truly wants it all
From Millie Kerr at The Atlantic:
Back in 2003, Sex and the City identified a cruel reality about single life: There’s no single-person’s equivalent of a wedding—a time when people travel from afar to bring you gifts and toast your life decisions.
Carrie Bradshaw said, “If you are single after graduation, there isn’t one occasion when people celebrate you” besides birthdays, which we all enjoy.
Despite a proliferation of single adults, little has changed since that episode aired nearly a decade ago: trips are not planned when we’re promoted at work, nor crystal glassware gifted when we buy our first homes. It seems that milestone celebrations are still reserved for couples and families.
While it’s clear that some companies are capitalizing on increasingly single demographics, singletons wanting to feel celebrated will have to initiate festivities themselves. You might take your cues from Parks & Recreation’s Tom Haverford—who hits the spa on “Treat Yourself” Day—though his fête doesn’t revolve around specific life achievements.
What about borrowing from coming-of-age traditions? As children, we receive gold stars for good behavior in school and celebrate increasing maturity with bar and bat mitzvahs, debutante balls, and graduation parties.
When I approached 30 as a single woman, I decided to host a quinceañera-themed party in San Antonio, which I aptly titled “La Quinceañera Doble.” My parents, not having subsidized a wedding, offered to cover some of the expenses, and friends flew in from around the country. Although I felt a tad silly for organizing a destination birthday, the upshot was that my parents and I covered nearly all of the costs (which were nominal compared to a wedding), and no one suffered the indignity of having to wear matching chiffon gowns.
My toleration for people, in general, follows this heuristic: as one gets older, one should resist any sort of birthday celebration. Double fuck you’s if you plan the birthday party yourself – even if it’s a milestone birthday. Some might argue that this essentially makes me a misogynist since women love birthday attention. That and “birthday inflation” i.e. the expansion of birthday festivities across multiple days, otherwise called a Birthweek. This is the new norm in our narcissistic culture. A wedding celebration at least dilutes the attention on either person involved.
In a rare example of clarity, someone from Slate pushed back against Kerr’s complaint:
There is, however, one thing you cannot have if you are single and that is a wedding. Sucks, I know. But the thing is, you aren’t getting married right now, or maybe ever, which is totally cool. But you can’t not get married and get married. And it’s true, if you stay single forever, you probably will never receive one of those cards with the flabby-jowled husband and saggy-boobed wife on the cover, and some hilarious gross old person sex joke inside. I guess I see your point.
The achievements of single people are celebrated just like the achievements of married people. People who get promoted might have a party regardless of their marital status. Singles probably have better parties for these occasions anyway, but you won’t hear marrieds complaining about how they’re left out of the fun. If you do hear complaints like that from marrieds, they tend to accept the consequences of the path they chose.
Hey, Kerr could send out invitations to her “wedding”. She can do the dress thing, rent a cathedral, send out invitations, get her niece to carry a ring on a pillow that she’ll place on her own finger, have someone throw rice at her and then ride off in a limo next to the purple saguaro belted into the seat next to her. But what would people say? They’d think this woman was loony tunes. Because, being regular people who aren’t sitting around trying to think of clever arguments which connect with the self-indulged, victim society in which we now live, the attendees would realize that there is no discernible reason for the woman to throw a party which is historically reserved for a specific occasion in which two people (man and woman) decide to devote the rest of their lives to one another (in theory). Kerr here has – we should assume – devoted herself to herself. This is *the most fundamental* human characteristic. It is the default rule of life and not worth celebrating. It does not denote a change or a sacrifice or the desire to build something outside of yourself.
And too, if you’re single by choice, you’ve communicated to the world that your freedom is its own reward. Why would you need a karaoke DJ for verification?
P.S. The comments at the OP are great. Sites like Atlantic or Slate get a lot of real talk from their readers though the writers there don’t seem to take heed.