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The Elusive Brass Ring

Phebe Schmidt

Last week, I had a date and after barely 10 minutes I thought, I’d rather be single the rest of my years than spend an entire evening with him. Today, I spoke to a married pal who envied my alone time. On Saturday, I went to a picnic in the park with friends, one of whom has just started chemo for breast cancer. She’s single and her diagnosis evoked my greatest fear about not being married, which is getting sick with no one to take care of me. That evening, when I watched this woman surrounded by loving family and friends, I knew she’d be okay. And I felt better too.

Photo (for a jewelry company) by Phebe Schmidt



23 comments for “The Elusive Brass Ring”

  1. Meghan says:

    Yeah, I have a cousin who’s always been single and about 15/20 years ago she had breast cancer and went through chemo…and went on to “be happier than she’s ever been.” she moved to a new town that she really likes, has a good job, really likes her house. About a year ago she had a mild stroke (she lives alone) and fortunately has some good friends in the town where she lives who helped her. It’s definitely possible to navigate ‘the storms of life’ without a husband!

  2. Petra says:

    And I would add to Meghan’s comment that being married or coupled (in a heterosexual union) is no guarantee of having someone to help when you are sick. Women are still likelier to outlive men, so chance are that the MAN in the relationship will have someone to help, but the WOMAN may well fall ill with a devastating disease after her husband has died.

    • wendy says:

      That’s the scenario so many women go through, but don’t necessarily anticipate ahead of time. And I think that’s why women who have nursed a spouse don’t necessarily want to marry again. Been there. Done that.

  3. karen says:

    this hits close to home. i recently joined an online dating site for all of five minutes and deleted my profile forever after realizing i would rather die alone and be found a week later by a pack of feral cats than ever again date online.

  4. Denise says:

    Your post perfectly encapsulates the thought circle my mind goes round and round with on a regular basis. I’ve accepted being single the rest of my life, but it doesn’t mean I don’t have periodic anxiety about all the what-if scenarios looming.

    • wendy says:

      The whatifs are so conterproductive, regardless of marital status. That’s why every Saturday, I take a worry day off.

  5. Latarsha says:

    Because I’m uncoupled, I’m actually trying to be a better friend because yeah, I might need them for more than just drinking margaritas. I have a career that’s pretty mobile and I’ve lived in several states up and down the East Coast. At 41, I’m not trying anymore new adventures because if I get some awful test results back, I don’t want to be the new girl in town.

  6. Paulette says:

    Karen, I am with you. I love the Vonnegut quote. The more stories I read here or from other single friends and their stories from online dating, the more I feel so right in making the conscious decision not to date again. If love ever happens again, great, but looking for it is a waste of time. I dread the idea of being alone in a time of sickness or old age, but those aren’t reason enough to hook up with someone. There has got to be another way.

    • wendy says:

      Even though my most recent date was such a bust, I’m glad I did it. It made for a good story and didn’t take up too much of my time.

  7. Latarsha says:

    I do online dating and while there are definite pros and cons, I can say it’s mostly neutral to neutral positive. I made friends with a man online several months ago. Strictly friends, we’ve never even talked on the phone, but we exchange a lot of email about what it’s like to date for me — single black female — and for him — divorced Latino male with a child. I’m glad I met him because sometimes its just nice to have someone to complain or applaud good news with.

    I know it can sound all bad all the time but really it isn’t. But yes, it’s frustrating. However less someone knows of a way to order a man by UPS or Federal Express or something, this is it. And when you find that service, let me know so I can order Idris Elba to be my man!

  8. Julie says:

    Being completely alone is also my greatest fear since, on top of being single, I’m quite the introvert. I have friends, but I have a hard time being the social butterfly they expect me to be. I am very much happy keeping to myself most weekends. It’s very hard to tell people that, while I love their company, I need a lot of “me” time to recharge my battery and face a new work week. I treasure them, it’s just that I get exhausted easily, I guess.

    Perhaps I need to build an online network of introverted friends, haha. Dating is not my thing and I would NEVER go back to it just to avoid ending up by myself. And really, if you look at retirement homes, you can see that being married and having kids doesn’t mean you won’t be alone in the end.

    • wendy says:

      Julie, I’m curious why your friends expect you to be a social butterfly. They should appreciate you exactly as you are.

  9. E says:

    Being married is no guarantee that your husband will want to take care of you when you are sick. My mother is sick, and my father routinely gets disgusted with her. My grandmother is virtually helpless and relies entirely on my grandfather, who verbally abuses her and has threatened her physically at least once. People who live by the fantasy that the spouse will stand by you in times of illness are in complete denial of reality. More support is needed in times of illness – this is what I’ve learned from my married relatives. The husband gets tired of the caretaker role.

  10. Mark says:

    Good job Wendy.

    I feel like I run into that sort of thing daily. If it’s not a group of friends or co-workers talking as if I am not there, it is on TV, or in the market, or …. etc.

    I so admire how you have reached a point of comfort with where you are in life. I am so thankful for your blog because it gives me hope that maybe I can too.

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