never married, over forty, a little bitter

hunger games

Eager to see how Chicago’s demographics are working for me, I hit up Rob Paral and Associates, a Chicago-based consulting firm that specializes in the statistical study of human populations. His findings: According to 2009–2011 data from the American Community Survey of the U.S. Census Bureau, my pool of datable men in Chicago is 43,439 (ages 35–44, single and college-educated). But if (like the Harvard guys) I’d find only 20 percent attractive, that reduces it to 8,688. In a city of 2.7 million.

And how many women am I competing with? Applying the same criteria, Paral found there are 50,386, which means for every 100 men, there are 116 women. Only a slight imbalance if all of these men are only seeking women their own age. Factor in women ages 25–34 and that’s an additional 89,852 women, which means for every 100 men, there are 323 women. Yes, I could level the playing field and also pursue men 25–34, but I’m not interested in dating down more than five years. I hit it off well with younger guys, but common ground and emotional maturity mean a lot to me in a partner. Plus, down the road, they may decide they want children after it’s too late for me.

So, now what? Are we single ladies supposed to get all Hunger Games on one another? Punch a girl in the ovaries if she’s about to hook the last eligible man? It’d make killer reality TV but, truthfully, there’s a great camaraderie among my single friends. When one of us gets a boyfriend (and it’s happening, in spite of all these stats), the rest of us are happy for her.

the deal

You were married when you started in the Pixies, and you were credited as Mrs. John Murphy. Do you ever regret not having that simple, domestic suburban life?

Why do you torture me? [Pretends to weep] Yes, I’m lonely. Yes, I’m single. And yes, I’m childless. What more do you want? Yeah, of course. But I can’t do anything about it. I was married briefly to a nice guy, but he wouldn’t quit dating. Awkward.

But you bounced back — you were in relationships after that.

Not a whole lot. I was busy. I read this article on a plane, in, like, Newsweek, about women breaking through the glass ceiling in business. It was an editorial where she was saying, “I have regrets, and one is that I waited so long and I’m now childless.” It reminds me of a Roy Lichtenstein shirt: “Oh my God, I forgot to have a baby!” Well, I was in my early 30s when I read this, and I thought, “Note to self: Got it. Won’t let that happen.” And here I am.

Was it hard to slow down?

No, I felt like I was available. I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I look like a guy — it’s true! You know, they like girly-girl people, for real, and I can’t — I’m just like, whatever, friend zone is cool.

Does that bother you? Looking back, would you have done anything different?

It used to. Now it’s just too damn late. But in the late ’90s, it was really bothering me. I was using a lot of drugs. You know, I think I was available, but maybe I wasn’t. Obviously. But I’m really jealous that guys making the same career decisions I made find themselves with children running around their house and a woman making them dinner: “Honey, no, you go work. You’re an artist, that’s what you do. You’re a poet.” Sometimes I think I need a wife.