Slightly Irrational Fears: Spinsterhood
My future and I collided last night at the grocery store.
It wasn’t one of those gentle brushes with fate, like when you see someone who kind of resembles the person you think you might age into, someone who’s thinner and more fashionable than you’d imagined a fifty-year-old self to be. There was no pleasant “Huh. Could be worse,” moment. This was more like getting backed into by a cement truck, with my past changing lanes to rear-end me just as I got out to check the damage.
Just before getting in line to pay for my groceries, I popped back over to the produce aisle on an organic avocado search. There were two left — how ironic for an emporium of food — two little green rocks which probably were made fun of by all the other avocados before they were sold. Disappointed, I turned back on my heels, fruitless, only forced to bob and weave around a disgustingly happy twenty-something couple who had just come in off the street.
They were hanging all over each other in front of the fresh strawberries and grapes, kissing and laughing when they weren’t content with just hanging. It was too perfect, the sex in their near future, the fruit… it was like Freud had set the scene up himself. I threw my shoulders back and carried my groceries for one to the checkout and got in line, and there she was.
This is not me being cute and metaphorical. The she in question was an actual she, an early thirty-something woman, kind of frumpy with her hair tossed up carelessly and her work pants a little too tight. She was setting down her basket, and had placed approximately three items on the conveyer: cat food, a Lean Cuisine, and a pint of Ben and Jerry’s.
My heart sank, and a little voice in the back of my head muttered something about how in ten years, this would be all mine. The track record isn’t looking so good up through this point, and lately, male attention is nowhere to be found. It feels as though I could walk out on the street in my bra and underwear without so much as a catcall to signal that I was anything but ordinary. And nobody likes feeling ordinary when words like “extraordinary” exist just to take away its importance.
As I watched the cat lady swipe her Visa and decline cash back (at least she has good credit?), I tried not to give in to self-pity. Maybe like me, the cat lady has amazing friends and family, and maybe she’s a better person than I am because that’s enough for her. Maybe along with that, she’s got a fulfilling career. Maybe she lives in a one-bedroom that feels like home with just her and her cat. But my eyes threaten to water when I wonder if she actually wants to be loved by someone who can say it and mean it, and if it’s just as selfish to want that as to buy yourself a pet that has no choice.
I also have to stifle a groan, because it occurs to me that I passionately, vehemently hate cats, and only have ten years to find a substitution.