never married, over forty, a little bitter

tribal longing

I just finished reading No Kidding: Women Writers on Bypassing Parenthood and thoroughly enjoyed it. Review here:

It was such a great feeling to read an entire book of essays by smart, funny, adventurous women about not becoming a mother. The only comparable experience is the Gateway Women forum.

The women are all writers and, of course, live in New York and Los Angeles. Le sigh. Perhaps my leaving L.A. will turn out to be a grand mistake.

Naturally I related the most to the childless-by-circumstance essays; there were several standouts for me. I’ll offer up a few choice quotes soon. Internet access has been spotty.


Since I continue to be both the man and the woman of the house, I often make treks to Home Depot. It has turned out to be another reliable spot in terms of men flirting with me. Between the swimming holes, the farm, Home Depot, and my weekly tennis games, I wouldn’t say it’s completely out of the question that I could one day meet a nice man here.

There are other avenues, however, in which my optimism has vanished so completely that they seem to me to be the equivalent of believing in Santa Claus.

Several of my older, single female friends from around the country have recently called with the news that, through job promotions and social networking, they may soon be attending prestigious social functions that could lead to meeting prominent men.

I completely understand their excitement and have been there myself, but my last job placed me in those types of settings, and my feeling was the prominent class has about as much use for an older, non-wealthy, non-famous single woman as they do a dodo bird.

These women are lovely, educated, resourceful, and talented, and perhaps they will succeed where I failed. I’ll eat my words, if so. But I tend to agree with the author of The Woman Alone— going forward will be about me changing my relationship with society as opposed to hoping for its warm embrace.


Quite a few women had been inspired by the daughter, mother, grandmother triad traveling together who seemed to be genuinely enjoying each other’s company. For my part, I had been watching this reunion as though I was Margaret Mead, observing the customs of a miraculous and magical family unit utterly unlike my own. Mainly I was astonished by Michelle, the granddaughter, who answers the question “What inspires you?” with “I know people who hate their parents. And hate their birthdays. And hate getting old. But I look at my mother and my grandmother and I think, “How can I not look forward to that next stage?'” Amazing, I thought, unable to remember having had a single moment like the one she was describing, trying not to dwell on images of my frequently unhappy mother and depressed grandmother.

— Merrill Markoe, Cool, Calm & Contentious, p. 242