Take it or leave it.

Saturday, April 25, 2015


We live in a sexually liberated age. Porn is free. Prostitution is (largely) legal. And the way we define sexuality and gender roles is changing rapidly. There are now more than just gays and straights. There are transgenders, cross-dressers, a name for every mood and varying fetish. There's even a Gender X. Did you hear about this? It's big in Germany. These "intersex" individuals no longer have to fit in the traditional gender framework, as the current two options of "M" for male or "F" for female in a passport gender field are now joined by a third option. That's right, X.

I've officially seen it all.

But it wasn't until I came across a review for the book Spinster that I read about a group that I for a long time have identified with, a group that before seeing the review I thought was made up of only me.

The book's author (Kate Bolick) celebrates the fact that she is a spinster, which for those too far removed from SAT days to remember means an older unmarried female. And indeed she is a minority (in 2012 the Pew Research Center showed that only 17% of women have never been married).
Rising Share of Never-Married Adults, Growing Gender Gap
Most heterosexual people in their 40s or older of either sex either are married or have been married (or are in a long-term committed relationship involving cohabitation and therefore simulating marriage, only without the paperwork - but remember, people, after 7 years you're considered married in many states!) and most have kids.

Of course gays don't fit this description. Recently gay marriage was outlawed, and outside artificial insemination and surrogation the prospect of two partners of the same sex having a child is anatomically impossible, and these medical advancements are cost prohibitive restricting their availability to the well-to-do. Something similar could be said about adoption. But that's beside the point. I always thought one of the perks about being gay was not feeling pressured to marry. Sort of having your cake and eating it too. Being perpetually engaged. A recipe to maintain the freshness and zest that quickly fade after holy matrimony. I mean right? But all the lobbying for gay rights has shown that the straight guy's nightmare is the gay person's dream. Hopefully the divorce rate among homosexuals will be less that what it is for heteros.

Now I am not a spinster. Only women can be spinsters, and there isn't a name for older unmarried guys. I could use the term committed bachelor, I suppose. But even that doesn't quite work. Since the whole point of being a bachelor is to remain noncommittal! But of the heterosexuals (that's me), I've looked around more than once to count the single, straight, never-wed and child-free adult aged over 4 decades, the (committed) bachelors of the room, and wound up holding up one little finger - that's me. A minority of one. Making me scarcer than virtually any other minority in history, and I hope less persecuted.

But life has not been easy. My circumstances (single, mostly independent, rather care-free) are similar to one who is half my age, but life experience, maturity and wisdom (they are inevitable attendants of time) make hanging out with 20-year-olds seem like babysitting. And spending time with guys my own age (think old friends from high school) feels like babysitting too, only in this case it's my friends babies and they're sitting on my knees.

But though life for a forty-something who is single by choice, never been married and doesn't have kids (such a long description: too bad Gender X is already taken) may not be run-of-the-mill, when I think of all the trips to Disneyland I'm missing (I never liked amusement parks, even as a kid!) I find I'd have it no other way. It's lonely at the top, they say. I may not be at the top of anything, but the saying offers relief, and even the occasional lonely moment is worth it, since it's better than being continuously aggravated - which happens to me if I spend too much time with anyone, man woman or child.

But now that there's my Spinster friend (who like me is in her early 40s) I don't feel so lonely any more. Maybe she and I will get together and go bowling, and pins falling as they may maybe we'll even make babies. I jest. Bringing new life into this world will mean the death of our select group at a time that I am, thanks in part to her book (or at least the summary of it I read on Amazon), just beginning to understand the many benefits of, as she puts it, living authentically at any age.

Or as I chose to say, being single and loving it. So what if about half of Americans consider getting married or having children necessary for being an adult (according to the Network on Transitions to Adulthood). Dare to break the mold!

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