Thursday, 8 November 2012

"Table for one?"

Miss Haversham
I have a friend who refers to himself as a male spinster
Everyday he faces judgements that  underline the "collective" view that
"Couples are good- singles are bad"
It's an unfortunate and sad state of affairs
.
Yesterday I read with interest James Friel's article on the subject
He made that interesting point that at social gatherings he has often been treated abysmally by couples who feel that they have the right to ask him just why he is single?
His struggling answer of
: "I have never found the right person... I am a sad and sorry manchild... I am incapable of love... I am a deviant, and prefer giraffes."... is painful, especially as he always seems to notice the joint eye  rolling between the "couple" doing the asking.
What's that all about?
Friel  also comments that his own reciprocal questions of
"Why have you settled for him? Why are you stuck with her? Were you so afraid of being alone? would never be tolerated in this partner-led world. 
It would be deemed far too rude.
and he's right

Unfortunately we are a species that does not tolerate the single. (And here I am reminded of Anna, the single marran hen who has been banished to the periphery of the field borders by the confident flock hens)
Some of that intolerance of course, comes from the "spinsters" themselves.We all have experienced that lunatic, crazy gal lala from work .The one that cannot quite gel with anyone human even if it is in a benign social setting, Well he or she can provide the template for all normaltons who just choose or find themselves not part of a double act.
Everyone, unfortunately gets "tarred with the same brush"

Almost weekly, I go to the small arthouse cinema in Theatre Clwyd and I usually go alone.
I have no problem with doing so, for me the enjoyment of watching a good film outweighs the effort it takes to drag my sorry arse out into the cold, but I often do get the feeling that I am being judged by people when I am sat there reading my programme and quaffing my diet coke all by myself or when I am ambling around the art gallery on the first floor without the "benefit" of someone else to "share the artists' message" with..

I get the look.... you know "THE LOOK" which says 
"I wonder what he's doing here ......alone?"
It's not a figment of my queeny imagination
It happens........It happens everywhere.
Being alone in public = sad bastard
sad, sad, sad!
There is one exception to this rule... and we all know what it is.....
Take a walk down the beach with a dog on a lead
No bugger will judge you then!
William camouflage for singletons

53 comments:

  1. Very true indeed. I get suspicious looks when I go for a walks and pass either a couple or someone with a dog. I can see them looking for my dog and when they don't see one, think, oh no, a weirdo. Add a dog to the equation and no one questions your motives to be out on the hills. I have been single for 4 to 5 years and although I don't really mind that much (naturally reclusive blah blah blah) other peoples attitudes to me are sometimes very odd. It is definitely a 'couple' World and it makes the single man the oddity.

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  2. I have always been very happy on my own, but having an adopted family makes me equally happy, in a different sort of way. There is good in both conditions, and I would not compare one to the other. It's just as easy to be surrounded by people and be desperately lonely - perhaps easier.

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  3. Sadly true. And, while I am in a relationship and have been for over thirty years, I do not get enough ALONE time. Alone is wonderful and for sad and sorry types like me an essential to maintaining some semblance of sanity.

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  4. Years ago my lady was often overlooked for party invitations because they were for couples. Awkward to have the fifth wheel at the table. Doesn't bother her now but when she was younger it was rather sad.

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  5. I also read that article. Going places alone can have many advantages. You follow your nose without debate and sometimes being with somebody else can be a hindrance because you can become too inward looking and interdependent. Being alone means you're more exposed to new situations. I have travelled around the world on my own and have always felt comfortable with my own company. I think you have to walk tall, be proud of yourself and not give a bugger what other people might think of you.

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  6. I put forward the theory that people struggle for something to say so they fall back on cliches. New mums often get 'so, are you planning any more?' almost before the placenta has hit the floor. Couples who live together will get 'are you planning to get married?'. They fall into the catagory of 'so what are you driving these days?' or 'what do you do?'. Almost a standard script for social occassions. You know like dogs sniffing each others bums.

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    1. I agree with this theory. Being married with no children also automatically provokes less than polite interrogation.....
      Most people couldn't come up with an original and interesting social exchange if their lives depended on it....

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    2. I aint sniffing ANYONE'S bum FOR ANYTHING!

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  7. I read that article too...I wondered how much it had been 'sexed-up'...I've always enjoyed doing things alone whether I've been part of a couple at the time or not...I'm very comfortable with my own company...in my more belligerent moments I worry about the couple that are joined at the hip. Last night I went to the cinema. By myself. I'd have enjoyed it immensely if it hadn't been such a poor film!

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  8. The only think I dislike about being alone is traveling alone. I have such a poor sense of directon I am afraid I will get lost and never find my way home!

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  9. We were always asked why we have no children,I always used to reply "Why do you HAVE children"? I was considered rude.
    Jane x

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  10. It's a bloody cheek of couples to look down on singles as if they're some kind of alien species. Just why do they do that? It's so bloody rude. And as you say, just try asking similar questions of couples and see where it gets you.

    Jenny and I have quite a few single friends and we would never dream of seeing them as inferior. Why is it "normal" to be hooked up with someone else?

    What's interesting is that when I'm out on my own without Jenny, I'm just as likely to get odd looks as if I might be a paedophile or some other unspecified threat.

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  11. Interesting. I sat next to a man on his own at the theatre once and thought he was brave to go alone.
    While dog walking, I often see people alone sitting on the beach looking out to sea. It always makes me wonder if they are deeply troubled. They do not make eye contact and are deep in thought. Maybe though they just need some alone time.
    I love being alone at times but I am part of a happy couple & imagine I would be very lonely with out this.
    How rude to ask people why they are single or childless. If they want to tell us they will.

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  12. I like being a recluse. A friend of mine asked me recently when was the last time I had been in town. 'With you' I replied. 'But that was over a year ago!' he exclaimed.

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    1. NICE TO see you surface again old hippo! I have missed you

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  13. I love having a large family but so enjoy the time I can be alone. I do not think that people mean to be rude when questioning a friend about their single status (although they are); i think they want them to have love in their life. As you said though, get a dog - they are always in a good mood and care about you no matter what.

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  14. Too true, these points. And you are at a greater disadvantage for being male. Single males are perceived as potentially dangerous; single women merely sad.

    My recently deceased aunt had been divorced before I can remember, though she had close ties to her children and her ex. As I grew older, I realized that she was probably happiest on her own, without having to share or limit her life. Compared to her, my need for a partner seems a weakness.

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  15. Been single, been married...can't begin to say which is better. Each has its benefits and drawbacks. No matter which side of the fence you are on there are times when the other side looks better. Maybe the folks giving the strange 'looks' to the singles are just trying to make themselves feel better about their choices lol.

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    1. I have been the same, now married (late in life) but I preferred being single. I love doing things on my own, gives me a sense of independence and freedom, which I need. I do find though if I walk the dog, people speak, but if alone they don't. Strange, isn't it?

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  16. I've had this discussion many times with my single friends. They all have told me that Himself and i treat them as "whole" people, not as one-half of a relationship waiting to happen.

    I've spent a lot of time alone and have grown used to stares and looks of "oh, dear, she's on her own," so i hardly notice, but it was nearly painful when i was in Virginia in 2003 for a fife and drum event and stopped at a nicer restaurant to have a meal at one of their outside tables. It had been years since i'd been in the South and forgot a woman dining alone was severely frowned upon. I remembered hearing stories of women being turned away because they just don't serve single women. They didn't turn me away, but every outside diner stared at me as did every server.

    I'm glad i'm not famous; i'd hate to have everyone staring at me all the time.

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    1. I would LOVE people looking at me , well for at least 20 minutes a day!

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  17. So right about the dog. I know that look even from having a coffee alone. Sorry your arse is so sorry incidentally!

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    1. my sorry arse goes with my sorry body

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  18. I would like to thank all of the non-child bearing singles for paying taxes into the system. At least a quarter of their money is used to improve the lives of my children.
    It takes a village!

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  19. Hello, John. I'm a frequent reader but this is my first post. I was married for over 30 years to a very social man. I didn't realize until after our divorce just how many of our "friends" were his. It didn't matter who did what, how amicable our divorce was, etc. I was suddenly dropped from everyone's invite list and phone books. Anyway, it took a couple of years to realize I was going to have to get over my fear of going out alone. It's been over ten years now and I am completely comfortable eating breakfast or lunch alone in a restaurant (Kindle is my friend) but still haven't come to terms with eating dinner (supper?) alone. There's more of a stigma with that. I tried walking alone but too many people stopped to ask if I needed help! I now borrow my elderly neighbour's dog for walks. But all in all, I am happy living alone and I have a core of loyal, caring friends - both married and single.

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    1. WELL SAID THAT WOMAN.....welcome to going gently (I love your nickname......I wonder where that is from)

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    2. I'm not Rose, Sophia, Dorothy or Blanche. Just sign me Joan. I neglected to mention how witty and caring you are - and your followers too! I love checking your blog everday. My sisters live in Pembrokeshire and Trelawnyd gives me a sense of their daily lives (less the animal excrement!)

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  20. Are you sure that william is alive and not just a cuddly toy?
    If he is the latter then pop him in a parcel and send him to me quick - he is just unbearable wantable.

    agree about the singles thing. I experienced it even in my two years of widowhood before remarrying. You almost feel as though you are committing a crime being there. Brazen it out, I say it is the only thing to do.

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  21. Well written post, John. As they say here in the US, "You said a mouth-full!"

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  22. I am often at events etc on my own as hubby works shifts and a lot of my pals don't have the same interests. I find that I talk to people more when I am on my own - I turn into a bit of a nutty old lady who talks to everybody!!! xx

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    1. "I am often at events"
      my goodness di
      you have a busier social life than the queen!

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  23. I read that article too and I loved "I am a deviant, and prefer giraffes". Serve anyone right who asked such a rude question in the first place, if that was the answer they received.

    I know what you mean about the 'look'. I actually prefer going round art galleries by myself, because I can stand in front of any piece for as long as I like and stare at it, without having to worry if my companion is bored/not ready to leave yet/eyeing up someone else/only there for the nudes anyway.

    I have another problem though - why do people assume if I'm on my own that I want to be picked up?

    {Please leave me alone with the art, as a smack in the mouth often offends...} :)

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    1. liked the last sentence!

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  24. I think that in my years between marriages (2, and one live together arrangement) or after I was done with them, that it was my perception of myself that made me feel strange when I was out alone....I don't recall anyone ever making me feel that way. But even all these years later, although I often dine alone I ALWAYS have a book with me. It's partly because I can't sit without reading, but in the beginning it was so I would look busy to strangers. Going to movies alone used to make me feel like an outsider - especially standing in line - but once I'm seated I am completely immersed in the movie. I used to hike alone on the trails around Atlanta, although I sometimes borrowed my sister's dog for the trek. Now that my knees are bad and I have to use a rolling walker to get around, I've actually found a new sense of self-respect. People don't stare at me (well, I do live in a very small, polite town!) but instead often offer to help. I'm still not inclined to go into one of the local pubs for lunch, although I've heard that a couple of them have very good menus. So here's to you who move about on your own!!

    Nancy in Iowa

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    1. valid point there... I think ( sorry I know) that we feel what we feel regardless of others

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  25. A while ago, someone commented on my 'single' status (after a long marriage) as being 'but not by choice', to which I was incensed to think that people would judge me as not quite good enough to have a significant other in my life, particularly since that person was remaining in her rotten marriage simply because of the money. I'm so chuffed that I owe everything I have and might have in the future to no-one else but myself and shame on folks who think of 'single' people as sad,incompetent,unworthy and the multitude of other cliches which roll out everytime this subject is discussed.I'm single.....so what?

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    1. right on sister!!!!
      (holds up fist!!!)
      xxx

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    2. Sorry, I didn't mean that to come across as so militant - my Mother's always blaming my 'singledom' on that very fact and the one about not wearing any lipstick whenever I appear in public!There was an article on Radio Scotland this morning about the very same subject (being 'single')so perhaps I've just had 'single overload' today!Tomorrow's another day.....x

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  26. I think the sort of married people who like to look down upon singles do it to make themselves feel better about their own situation. I've never had anyone give me a bad time, though, probably because I'm always obviously happy and also because I'm a troublemaker and wouldn't hesitate to ask, "How can you STAND being married to each other?" That works best if you're talking to just one person of the couple.

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  27. who are these people....? it's a shocking thing to be that rude with someone... I think people tend to say these things because they hate seeing their lives reflected in someone else... horrid horrid people...

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  28. Very true about the dog. I rarely find myself in social situations so my "singleness" goes pretty much unnoticed . . . even in the playground, as most Mums/Dads go there alone.
    BUT, I have noticed this week while I've had my Brother's dog for the week, so many more folk (mainly at school gates) have actually said hello to me! How bizarre . . . how does a dog make me more acceptable?
    It will be interesting to see if next week (when I'm dogless) they revert back to pretending they haven't seen me! . . . I might have to get my own dog! I am missing him already, he went home at 6pm :-(

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    1. take a stuffed toy on a lead and see if anyone talks to you then!!!! x

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  29. Loving your blog. Embrace your occasional solitude and keep them guessing!

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    1. welcome
      luffy
      come again!

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  30. In my much (younger) single days, one of my sisters chose this for one of her wedding readings in church. Needless to say, my brother (also single) and I were snickering in the pew because we had never heard this passage before. Enjoy...

    Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
    New International Version (NIV)

    9 Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
    10 If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
    But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.
    11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
    But how can one keep warm alone?
    12 Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
    A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

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  32. Eagerly log on to read your blog, sad I know, but you are living the life I want, Wales, gardening and lots of animals. Me, other side of the world large garden and can manage 4 cats.
    Am part of a couple (second time round) like my alone time to ponder my thoughts, plod around the garden, gather sea weed from the beach or leaves from the gutter(I know, it sounds like I'm mad, well I am a bit). But when push comes to shove I love having an other half, just to share the workload with and the rewards. But I have been single and resented the inference of people that I must have done something to be alone at my age (which makes me sound ancient but just gone 50 like you John) but they forget or didn't know that my first relationship lasted 24 years and produced two kids and ended because it had to. Being single is great being a couple is great, just different.
    JO Auckland NZ

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    1. 50 is the new 40 jo remember that!

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  33. My husband died 17 years ago and I've been more or less alone since. I love it, actually, and have no desire to be hooked up to anyone these days. You do get the looks, mumbles, gossips, but to hell with them. I just smile and let em know I'm having a good time. And I am. Besides, I don't breed well in captivity. ;)

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  34. I am single and only own two cats so as not to become a crazy cat lady...dear brother in law says single women with 3 are considered crazy...after being divorced forever and a serious relationship ended being alone just feels right...would I like to find someone to share my life with?of course...does it keep me up at night...never...by now it's going to take a special man to be better than no man...

    I will say I have a friend who is never without a man...her requirements? a job and his own teeth (he doesn't even have to brush them)...my list is exceptionally picky compared to that...

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