Just when you think that you’ve grown too old to get caught in the grip of Christmas spirit, it sneaks up while you’re not looking and snares you in its web. And just like that you are once again believing if not in Santa Claus, then at least in Christmas miracles. So, there I was last night, falling for one of the oldest if not the most preposterous miracle of all: “How to Meet a Man at 40,” a five-page, step-by-step guide shining out like the Star of Bethlehem from the pages of the London Times Online to lead me to my prince.
And so, reader, I clicked on it.
I am a great fan of the British press, especially the tabloids, and avidly follow the gossip in them. I read of the sorrowful demise of Jade Goody, I follow the blossoming fashion career of Mrs. David “Becks” Beckham, nee Posh Spice, and I keep up-to-date on the latest travails of Waity Katie. So of course the Times Online would be my reliable go-to source for dating advice.
Unfortunately, instead of a sugarplum, “How to Meet a Man at Forty,” turned out to be nothing more than the usual lump of coal a spinster finds in her stocking each year, regardless if she’s been naughty or nice. Oh for the chance to be naughty! Now that really would be a Christmas miracle!
Yeah, yeah…I can see your eyes glazing over: you’re thinking “another rant about life’s unfairness to single women.” And you’d be right. But indulge me, please, just once more. If the following excerpts from “How to Meet a Man at Forty” are not enough to convince you that old maids should be considered a protected class, up there in the pantheon of victimhood along with the rest of the alphabet soup of sexually disenfranchised losers, then you are part of the problem.
“How to Meet a Man at Forty” begins reasonably enough, roasting all the old chestnuts about being too picky, holding oneself too aloof, but then, having lulled the reader into a false sense of familiarity, the article turns mean, and launches its ad feminan full frontal assault:
If there is one thing the single woman cannot afford to be, it’s a burden. You must be sunny and amenable, the best guest, the most reliable friend, the tonic at the party and the one who blends in on the family holiday. Precisely because you are not part of a couple, you need to give out the message, loud and clear, that you are no trouble and guaranteed life-enhancing. Being successfully single means having lots of different options and knowing plenty of people who might think, “Yes, bring her along!” rather than, “Maybe not.”
Gotcha. Remember the old belief that in order for a black person to be accepted in the workplace, she must work twice as hard as her white counterparts? In what way does the above paragraph (written, I might add, by a married woman) differ from the prejudiced thinking that held the black to a different standard? The answer of course is that it is no different at all, except—and this is a big one—that discrimination against people because of their skin color is not only against the law, it’s socially unacceptable, thank God. All you recovering racists out there, take heart! You have a new outlet for your prejudice. But I digress.
“How to Meet a Man at 40” continues, “People notice single women getting drunk more than they would notice any other demographic. They are waiting for you to get swervy and take to the dance floor, on your own, clutching a bottle of champagne, and then collapse sobbing on the shoulder of some man who has long since married your best friend.” Ah yes, poor Aunty Lucy, she loves her schnapps, doesn’t she? It keeps her warm at night.
What I don’t understand is that when I say things like that, my married friends look at me as if I were crazy. “Deluded” in fact is how one of them puts it. But leave it to a British tab to print an article that vindicates my views. What a gift! Maybe there are Christmas miracles after all.