Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Single Ladies- Toya
I so wish I could get sick of Beyonce's "Single Ladies" but I just can't. That song is all kinds of fun.

During my recent visit home to New Jersey for the holidays I met up with my childhood friend Mike. Mike and I have known each other for almost 30 years (the fact that I know anyone for 30 years is appalling to be honest).  He was in a mid-thought when he stopped and suspiciously looked at me and asked “Why are YOU not married?” I know Mike’s inflections about as well as I know my own so I know what he was really trying to say. “You are wondering what am I doing in Nashville? Like I have some sort of sheisty dealings going on down there; some sort of buckwild double life  maybe?” “Yeeeeeaaaaaaaaah” he replied slowly while giving me a side eye.  I smiled and said “I don’t know really.” I went on to say that with me turning 34 that week, I could honestly say that I was happy that I wasn’t.  I have been fortunate enough to have ran into who I thought could be The One at least 4 times proving that what you like sometimes isn’t what you need.

I used to not handle this question with such ease though.  I am sure that I am not the only single woman that has felt attacked by those who ask why they are not married and then is hit with a barrage of accusations of what they must be doing wrong.  I used to get very defensive when I was asked why I was not married in an effort to protect my own feelings. The accusation that used to irritate me the most was “You just gotta put yourself out there.” Now any one of my friends will tell you there aren’t too many people in this city more “out there” than I am.  When my dad came to visit me, he told my mother that he was amazed at how many people knew me in Nashville. “She’s so popular! I mean, she could run for Miss Nashville she knows so many people.”  I am constantly out and constantly networking and for this I get accused of being too intimidating and that I seem like I don't need anything.  I don’t think I am alone when I say that feeling attacked for not being married and it being my fault can be hurtful especially when feeling attacked from someone whose opinion I value.

A few years ago, I was back at the church I grew up in and I was eager to see my pastor’s wife.  I adore my pastor’s wife as she has always had this regal quality to her.  I grew up in a church where she and my pastor urge women to not chase men; To love the Lord first and know that they were worth pursuing. They were also really quick to point out that desperation is ugly even for the prettiest woman.  So when I walked up to her one Sunday to say hello, I was completely shocked that the first thing she asked me was “Are you engaged?”  I mean, no “Hi how are you, how is your career” nothing.  Startled I said no to which she replied “Well are you looking?”  Even more taken aback I again replied no. By the look on her face you would’ve thought I said “Why yes I am engaged and I would like for you to meet my fiancĂ©, Wanda Sykes.” “You’re not looking?????” she asked. Absolutely confused by where this was going I said “Well, I thought we weren’t supposed to look.”  In the most condescending tone I have heard since I was six, she said “Ooohhh. You are waiting for him to find you. Well as long as he doesn’t come along and you miss him.”  She then went on about her way and I stood there stuck in my tracks. I was devastated.

I was devastated because I felt lied to. I felt that what she taught us was only valid until you hit about 30. If you aren’t married by 30 then everything previously taught was null and void, so you better get to finding that man.  Oh and you better look real hard because if you miss him, that’s it. There is only ONE bus. There is only ONE fish. What is that?  I considered writing her a letter but my dad said her opinion shouldn’t matter that much to me. My mom wasn’t happy one bit and recently in response to what my pastor’s wife said to me almost three years ago, she did the most gangsta thing I have ever heard my mother do in my entire life.

Last month my church held their annual women’s retreat.  During one of the sessions, a woman in her forties I have known for years testified about how she had put marriage on such a high pedestal in her life that it became an idol. The pressure to become married and constantly wondering what she was doing wrong had taken its toll on her. She became so desperate that she was very close to compromising a lot of her values. Now she can say that she is in a good place where being married is a desire of her heart but it doesn’t run her life in such a way that she has it on hold while waiting to be married.  After she was done speaking, they went into the Q&A portion of the session.  All the way in the back of the room my mother stood up but she didn’t have a question. She did however have an answer.

The way she tells it, she began by saying that on behalf of all of the married women she wanted to apologize to all of the single women for being so insensitive and pressuring us to get married. Now my mother has NEVER done this. She just recently started talking about some grandkids but she has never pressured me on being married.  She soon followed her apology with “And when you see my daughter Toya, don’t you dare ask her why she isn’t married. If you are really concerned about her then you need to ask her about her life. Ask her how she is doing and not if she has a man or not.  We all know that Toya could have been married seven times by now but she is doing this God’s way which is the way she was brought up.” I know that my mom was heated because she really doesn’t remember all that she said. I know when I get confrontational I have a hard time later remembering what I said. All I remember usually is the look of shock and awe on the person’s face after I come to after blacking out. Well whatever she said must have been seriously convicting because she said numerous women came up to her afterwards apologizing to her for pressuring me to get married (not including my pastor’s wife though).  I am telling you, that Willie Mae is gangsta! I went to my hometown church during the holidays and not one person even said word one to me about a man.

Like I said, I am now not defensive  at all when I get asked why I am not married yet. Hey it’s better than people NOT being surprised that I am not married yet. Ever hear of a woman that is kind of homely get married and someone says “Well, I guess there is somebody for everybody”? Yeah, I am alright not being that woman.  At the end of the day it doesn’t matter how anyone else feels about the matter. I need to be okay with the way things are and I can honestly say that I couldn’t be more content.

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