‘Tis the season for chocolates, teddy bears and red hearts everywhere. Sometimes it takes the sale of decorations to remind me that a certain holiday is pending. Storefronts have been swathed in reds and pinks for weeks, but I’ve hardly noticed. I won’t be giving nor receiving a V-Day gift to that special someone because, well, there isn’t one. Yet.
I do worry that I’ve been uncoupled for so long that I will have trouble adjusting when I am part of one. I’ve dated over the years, but nothing has ever crossed the line into Seriousville or Coupledom. I call myself the “Queen of First Dates.” There just aren’t enough filters in online dating to weed out the wrong guys. It’s all trial and error.
Despite many disastrous dates, I cling to the hope that my unattached days will end.
Once in a while I have moments when I lament (still) being single, especially when I seem to be surrounded by couples, but to be honest, I rarely think about it. It’s been years since I’ve been in a committed relationship. Being single is my normal.
Life, on the other hand, sends me blunt reminders. In no particular order are three events that reminded me I’m single.
- Doctor Visit
I’ve had the same gynecologist for several years. Dr. D. is awesome. She takes notes on things that aren’t medically relevant, just so she can bond with her patients. One year after she first walked into the room, we exchanged pleasantries. She asked if I had done anything special for a recent birthday that had passed. She asked if I had completed grad school yet. Even after those specific questions about me, when she asked how many partners I had, I replied, “Oh, Dr. D, you must have the wrong chart. I don’t run my own business.”
She lowered the chart and gave me a look that threatened to send me to psych. “I meant how many sexual partners you’ve had.”
I felt my face flush with heat. Thank goodness I’m a dark-skinned woman. I diffused the situation by laughing and saying I hadn’t had any since my last visit. She held the pen mid-air. “None?”
I couldn’t tell if her tone was incredulous or accusatory, as if I were lying. If there’s one place where it’s stupid to lie, even more so than court, it’s a doctor’s office. I told her none, but requested an HIV/AIDS test anyway. Just in case.
- Expired Condoms
Using an old shirt as a dust rag and furniture polish with natural olive oil, I was wiping down my Pier 1 bedroom dresser, chest and night table. The dresser and chest have matching wooden vases with etchings that I also polished. My night stand has a top drawer, but the bottom is a shelf. I keep a decorative wooden container that was given to me as a gift from a cousin’s trip to Africa (I can’t remember which country). As I was dusting it, the lid came off and I saw the shiny gold plastic wrapper of Trojan Magnum condoms. Expired Trojan Magnum condoms.
Once in a blue moon a first date would actually lead to a second, third, fourth, fifth or more! Just because I wasn’t on the pill didn’t mean I shouldn’t be prepared in other ways. I wish I could partake in and enjoy casual sex, but if I don’t know a man well enough to be comfortable around him naked in semi-darkness, it ain’t going down. Unfortunately, that was the case more often than not. I’m happy to report that it wasn’t the full twelve-pack, but it also wasn’t just one.
- Hair Appointment
I have nearly waist-length locs. When wet they’re as heavy as super absorbent wet bath towel. While I can and sometimes do wash and twist them myself, I’d much rather go to the hair salon and pay to have a stylist go through the trouble pamper me with a scalp massage and exotic smelling shampoo, conditioner and hair oil. I usually avoid Saturday appointments so as to avoid spending precious weekend hours sitting in a salon chair when I could be running errands, or lounging on my couch watching Netflix or DVR. Going in on a weekday evening is the better choice, but I still set a weekend appointment.
As the date drew closer, I began to regret and called to reschedule. Petra, the receptionist at the natural hair salon on Washington St., greeted me in her usual cheery manner. I told her I wanted to push back my Saturday afternoon appointment to the following Wednesday, my preferred and customary night. There was a pregnant pause.
“But Sherring, that’s the Wednesday before Valentine’s Day. We’re completely booked.”
Once again I tried to laugh off my embarrassment. “Petra, we’ve talked about this before. I’m single. What do I know or care about Valentine’s Day?”
She laughed with me. My status as a single woman has been the topic of discussion many times at the salon, especially around the time of birthdays and holidays, when I’d request an extra special style.
“Ooh, is there someone special?” The answer was always no and I’d be forced to fend off follow up questions. Have I tried online dating? Am I opposed to blind dates? Does he have to be black? Isn’t there someone at work? Church? A neighbor?
Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. While couples—it seems like everyone else—are scrambling to decide on gift ideas and restaurant choice, I’ve had my plans for weeks. I’ll be watching Nas, Maxwell and Emeli Sandé perform at Barclays Center. I have a fresh hair style. I just need to figure out what I’m going to wear.