You know you’re a spinster when: First Edition

  • There is an incredibly hot and sexy man who attends my parking lot. He is the shade of chocolate that elicits plantation era fantasies of him running away and getting caught and us breeding lots of slave babies together. That shade of chocolate. He is fine. Rather than asking him out or some sort of thing that the kids are doing these days with the texting and whathaveyou, I talked to him about whether or not he uses sunscreen. I worry about his skin. I conversed back and forth with myself about asking him to become a fuck buddy (I may be a spinster, but my plumbing still works), but then I thought about the shaving and plucking and exfoliating and the sexytime sheets and the panties and I just got so exhausted that I dismissed the thought right from my head. I had to get a shandy, turn up the central air and literally lie down.
  • Speaking of panties. I went to the LB to exchange some bras. Spinsters love buy 2, get 2 free bra sales. Especially when they’ve gone up a cup size and need proper fitting replacements. Well, there was also a 5 for $25 sale on panties. You should see the shit they’re putting on underwear these days. I almost stormed out when I saw this pair. Who is going to see that? I stick to my neutrals and animal print (which is a neutral in my world). I don’t need writing on my ass. It sorta speaks for itself. And let me tell you about the exceptional customer service! The older I get, the more I love me some good customer service. As a Black woman, I’m used to getting followed around in stores so when I get someone attending to me not as a loss control measure, but because they actually want to sell me something, you can knock me over with a feather. Now, I’m not one of those Yelpers or Trip Advisors. My thing are those surveys you get on your receipt. I love those. I name names and I just picture when that employee gets a heads up that they did a good job. It’s the spinsterly thing to do.
  • About clothing. I gotta say, one of the questions from my receipt survey hit it on the nail for me. “Do you dress for style or comfort?” The sad thing is that for most women it’s zero sum. The contraptions women use to get dressed and stay in form are tortuous. The shoes. I used to dress for attention and it was uncomfortable and the ROI was not worth shaking a stick at. Nowadays, I dress mostly for comfort and myself. Now if that’s an outfit like this or this, so be it. Other days, it’s an outfit like this. There is something freeing in being able to dress at your whimsy and not in an effort to attract romantic attention. Spinsterhood is freedom from sartorial choices dictated by the male gaze. I mean I have all but given up on trying and you know what? Haven’t noticed a damn bit of difference. I still wake up alone on my side of the bed (WHICH IS ALL THE SIDES) whether I shellac my face or let the hyperpigmentation shine through. Not a lick of difference.
  • I’ve got too many lemons and not enough gin.
  • Sundays are best spent doing home pedicures and watching a young Tom Selleck. Hell, old Tom Selleck can get it, too.

On a scale of 1 to 10

“How are you doing?”

There is no question that makes me cringe more. I’d rather recall the details of my last gynecological exam than answer a question about my emotional disposition. In the span of less than 24 hours, I have avoided that question four times. Another variation of this question is, “How is your day?” Regardless of whether it’s a casual ask that is masquerading as a greeting or a genuine inquiry from a friend, I respond with a grunt and shoulder shrug. 

Years ago, I dated a woman with borderline personality disorder. She told me that one of the worse questions you can ask a person living with a mood disorder is, “How are you doing?” Because this question is like poking at an open wound. “How am I doing?” How am I doing? I don’t fucking know. She told me that she learned that rephrasing the question to reflect a scale of 1-10 is better because you can gauge the person’s….emotional shades. The variations of shitty. 

I know that friends ask because they care. Others ask because it’s a safe space in which to engage in small talk. I get that every, “How’s it going?” is not an invitation for me to talk about my suicide fantasies. But even mustering up some banal retort takes up what little energy I have. My mind has to do some serious contorting to arrive at a positive perspective.

Even the thought of thinking about how I’m doing (bear with me) is tough. It requires some degree of self-reflection. What depressed person wants to do that? Why does my medicated mind even care? It doesn’t right now. I don’t know how I’m doing, nor do I care to know how I’m doing.

I am about a 5 as I write this. Yes, back to the scale. So a 5 in my world is probably what constitutes a good day. I can’t recall in my entire life a day I was at a 10. Ever. I have tried and tried to remember a 10 day and I can’t. I have come close, but my emotional odometer has never got the needle to a ten. I suppose that’s OK because I haven’t determined that reaching a 10 is a life goal. 

What is the point in being happy? My brain can’t process what life would be like if I were a 7, 8 or dare I think it: even a 9. I have spent so many years in the grey, that any other colored lens is incomprehensible. Every time I say, “I’m doing alright”, two things could be true: I’m lying or alright means not wanting to kill myself that day. 

Being on the bipolar spectrum makes the question even more difficult. I’m swinging between states of outrageous irritability or soul-crushing sadness and apathy daily, weekly, monthly. When I am high I am usually irritable; there are no euphoric states. I don’t have the “pleasure” of having a bipolar condition that allows me to be super happy and creative and productive. How am I doing? I dunno. That’s open to interpretation on my part, I suppose. What day is it? Is the sky blue? Can I spin a wheel and buy a vowel?

There are those look on the bright side people. They try to look at every obstacle as a could have been worse. I tried that. I mean, I could be living in Syria or the Gaza Strip. My life could be in perpetual danger. Le sigh. If I were, I could care less. My desire for survival is nil. That sort of count your blessings thinking is moot for someone like me or those like me. Perhaps it’s something I should do as an exercise. A way to re-tool my thinking patterns. It could be worse: I could be unemployed or physically sick or homeless or….you name it. Then I’d have something to be sad about. That’s the guilt in that line of thinking. What do I have to be sad about? The guilt leads to shame. Makes me feel like I’m ungrateful or weak. 

That’s why I hate that question. 

Yosemite Sam or Eyeore. I could make little flash cards with their pictures on it. I could carry around numbered paddles and hold up a number. Anything but actually talking about it. It’s just too painful. 






Other People’s Kids

Spinsterhood clearly implies childlessness. As a modern spinster (or ModSpin for short. In fact, I ™ that. It’s mine now.) Where was I? Ah yes, as a modspin, I prefer the term childfree. As this denotes a choice in not having children. One can’t discuss spinsterdom without talking about children, or lack thereof.

I am fortunate, though, to have many friends with children. I can safely say that unlike many single women, I understand, advocate for and in some way, empathize with moms. Working moms, single moms, gay moms, new moms, old moms. I know them all. I have a shit ton of respect for them because being a mom is hard as hell. Being a mom in the United States in 2013 is hard as hell. 

But being a mom also rocks. 

Yet, I still don’t want to be one. I was talking with an ex of mine and we came to terms with the fact that the main reason we are no longer together is because I absolutely refuse to bear his children. 

Fair enough.

So that leaves me with other people’s kids. I dig other people’s kids. For the most part. Some of my friends’ kids are straight up assholes. They bring out the “backinmydaywedidn’t” in me. Which, of course, only emphasizes my spinsterness. Rather than dwell on those kids, I spend time fawning over the ones I like. They are precious things. Little people who remind me of the women I love and cherish. Tiny packages of awesome that make me marvel at genetics and nature and nurture and the universe every time I see them.

Babies are truly fascinating creatures. You just want everything for them. Even the big babies. The ones graduating and going off to college. I worry about them. I hope for the best. My heart swells at times when I think about Other People’s Kids. I can only imagine with it must feel like to be their mom. Because my mind works the way it does, I have spent hours thinking the worse and being afraid for Other People’s Kids. I think about what I’d do in a car accident or how I’d rush into a burning house. I have even thought about what I’d do if I had to choose between my friend and her child. I know she’d want me to choose her child, but…but…the agony of made up dangerous scenarios! So I filter this anxiety into over-orchestrated clothing purchases and baby shower fetes. I mean…if I get the right balloon bunch, nothing bad will ever happen, right?? Say, right, dammit. 

Despite this, there is comfort in loving Other People’s Kids. Something that says, I am still capable of feeling and adoration for things….beings outside of myself. I think my ability to love another child — one foreign to my biological fiber — speaks more to my capacity as a woman and potential mother than if I ever had babes of my own. 

So therein lies my issue with the discussion around singleness and childfreeness and that whole….shit stew of a discussion. I consider my decision to be a spinster somewhat political, but really it’s out of inevitability and an almost innate predilection for bowing to reality. However, when one asks ladies who desire a childfree lifestyle, they spew vomit about me time and high thread count sheets and trips to Provence.

I’m embarrassed for them. We lose the chance to have a decent conversation on choice. We could finally FOR ONCE have a discourse on the fact that pro-choice extends beyond abortion and that choice encompasses how and when to have a family. AND what life looks if you don’t create one. This really shouldn’t be about material sacrifice or protecting a lifestyle you love. It should be about supporting women in their pursuit of spinsterdom or motherhood or whatever existence lies in between. 

And what does this line in the sand do, really? Jack shit. It sets up a false dichotomy where one choice is supposedly better. Do I want to deal with your kid(s) while I’m eating my 2 for $20 special by myself? No, not really. However, I can also see that you’ve only had one bite of your meal and your husband is too busy looking at the game on the TV by the bar to notice. It makes me realize that the decision to eat out rather than cook in still resulted in you working your ass off. THAT is about working the “second shift” and that’s unfair to the whole family, especially Mom. 

Being a modpsin allows me the time to think about this crap. It’s what makes me buy my mom friends alcohol. I believe in surrounding myself with mothers because it keeps me balanced and informed and alive. Mothers give me perspective.