I’m writing Call Me “Miss”! (CMM) to take on the stereotypes and myths about single-for-life women, or SOLOs (singles over a lifetime only). I’ll use CMM to define the experience of single women in America and draw of the personal experiences of dozens of them of varied ages, professions and interests. CMM will examine the preconceived notions of proselytizers of family values, the misplaced pity of married friends and coworkers, and the self-righteous sanctimony of partnered (married or otherwise) gays. For inspiration, I look to Class, Paul Fussell’s perennially-in-print poisoned-pen valentine to American social mores. What Class did for out-of-sights and proles, I hope CMM will do for spinsters and old maids.
CMM will examine the touchstones society uses to interpret the life of a SOLO, the archetypal Dizzy Dames, Culture Vultures, Ice Princesses and Swingin’ Singles who populate literature, television, movies and the biases of most marrieds. CMM will also focus on the real lives of real Solos: the SOLO Sisters (SOLOS), a demographically diverse group of women, will share their experiences and insights throughout the text on topics as diverse as themselves—from good-luck-trying-to-buy-a-car to thank-you-but-I’ll-take-the-table-by-the-window-not-the-kitchen-door to I-get-all-the-hot-sex-I-need-on-Saint-Martin. And I’ll spill my guts as well. Full disclosure: occasionally I’ll be snarky, and at times, to be completely truthful, I’ll indulge myself in a bracing, gut-busting, soul-satisfying rant. Readers can just sit back and let it wash over them…waves of feminine pheromones telegraphing the message: “I’m independent. I’m well off. I’m not lonely. I like my life. Deal with it!”
Just as Fussell used Class as his platform to delve into the totems of social status, I’ll use my quirky world view to shed light on the unique accoutrements that SOLOs are believed to possess: the cloak of invisibility, the calendar of perpetually free time, for example, and share with you the pecking order that couples and partners use to establish the hierarchy of SOLOs:
- So-Be-Its (Women over 65 who have never married, so-be-its are regarded as honorary wives or widows. Universally addressed by nurses, tellers, and clerks as “Mrs.”, so-be-its long ago gave up correcting the hired help.)
- So-Lows (Any woman 40-65 who has never married is really at the bottom of the barrel—too young to be considered an elder stateswoman, too old to “have a chance,” the so-low is society’s vessel into which all un-PC prejudices and biases can be dumped without fear of retribution.)
- So-Disappointings (Any woman under 40 but over 32 who’s yet to wed; there’s still a chance, albeit a remote one, that a so-diss will marry, but her partnered friends and associates are bracing themselves for the worst.)
- So-Hopefuls (Any woman under 32 who’s yet to marry: young, hip, a so-ho’s got time on her side, so she’s welcomed as an almost-one-of-us by the married and the partnered. For now.)
CMM will venture into the work place, the market place, vacation destinations, and home. We’ll do reconnaissance in the most impenetrable suburbs, where real estate signs still proudly advertise, “no singles need apply,” and the denizens would no more have a dinner party or a card game with an “extra woman,” than they would mix up martinis in which guests could actually taste the vermouth. It is in these venues that the life of a SOLO stands in stark contrast to those that surround her. You might be surprised—and maybe even a little abashed—to visit these places and see them through SOLO eyes. You’ll definitely never look at them the same way again!
In the nearly fifty years since Helen Gurly Brown coined her memorable phrase, the sex life of a SOLO has changed—for the better, no question. But with the good comes the bad and the outrageous, as you’ll read in my reports from the world of post-adolescent dating. Together we’ll de-brief them. And believe me, there is nothing that gets a SOLO really fired up as a good de-briefing!
CMM will also review the honor role on contemporary and historical SOLOs of note. The list—from Elizabeth I to Condoleezza Rice and Janet Neapolitano—is empowering and inspiring. We’ll look for clues to discover whether, like many SOLOs, these women simply forgot to get married in the course of their impressive lives, or if there is some one fundamental element of singlehood that characterizes such women of accomplishment.
Perhaps the darkest topic I’ll take on in CMM is the negative fallout from school shootings, fast-food firefights, and lone-gunman hostage situations. We sit by our TVs or radios, and once again are forced to listen to a “grief counselor” sagely opine that “he was a loner” or “he kept to himself” or “he like to read instead of play with the other kids” as the explanation for criminal, for insane, for deadly behaviors. We take cold comfort in the fact that the perp is inevitably a he and not a she. Indeed, the loner-as-crazed-killer paradigm has so infiltrated popular culture that all singles—crazed or otherwise—can’t help but wonder if it’s true. Or if that Uzi under the bed really is there just for protection. Of the many stereotypes applied to singles, this is the most vicious and insidious. We’ll take apart and lay it to rest.
I am eager to begin this journey. I hope you’ll come alone. I mean “along.”