"Auntie Michelle, have you ever had a boyfriend in your life, ever?"
This question, from my godson, Makaio, could have sent me over the edge, but it didn't. Kids cut right to the chase, and I happen to love this one so I couldn't help but laugh.
Munching on French fries in the backseat of my car, Makaio stared at me perplexed. My laughter didn't make sense to him, so he asked again.
"No, seriously, Auntie Michelle, did you ever love someone?" At nine years old, Makaio hasn't seen me in love, because my last major relationship fizzled when he was just three.
"Yes, Makaio, I did. I really did," I finally answered.
"Okay, so what are their names?"
I am used to relationship questions and looks of bewilderment from loved ones and complete strangers. At this point, I find other people are much more uncomfortable with my single-hood than I am. Something about a woman in her "late thirties" being unromantically involved makes other humans uneasy.
So what is it then? Are they nervous about me being lonely, or irritated that I am taking too long to find someone? I get a mixture of both.
Here are some of the more common queries we singles hear. (These have all been said to my face.)
1. "How has someone not just scooped you up and married you? I don't get it."
Translation: "Please tell me what is wrong with you, because I am wondering, and I can't ask you this question outright."
2. "You know you aren't getting any younger."
This is a reminder that I am indeed aging and becoming less desirable by the second. The message here is that I should take what I can get (if anyone will still have me).
3. From my ex-boyfriend's mother: "So, are you still the eternally single gal taking on the world?"
Translation: "You bitch. You broke my son's heart all those years ago. Jokes on you because you're still single, and he's married." She got me good on that one.
4. "You know, Michelle, he isn't going to come in on a white horse."
Translation: "Why don't you accept that relationships, and a lot of marriages kind of suck? Just pick someone and dive into this pool of occasional misery with the rest of us already."
5. "You are going to experience those types of guys when you are dealing with the leftovers."
This was in reference to the caliber of man this person believes I will meet online. Leftover: The thing remaining after all the good stuff has been consumed or used. In the words of the guy who accidentally stabbed himself with the practice Katana sword on Youtube, "That hurt. That hurt big time."
6. "Do you even want to get married, Michelle?"
Because the possibility that someone would not want to get married or, God forbid, have kids (even though I do), is enough to make some people fall over and die on the spot.
Sometimes it is difficult to decipher who is coming from a loving place and who is out to put me in my place.
I believe single-hood makes attached people anxious, because they want someone to be there for us. I just don't believe people who aren't in love, are automatically alone.
My life is pretty full, and while I want to be in love and all snuggled up with my dude on a Sunday night, I am far from alone. I do stuff. I cultivate relationships with people. I don't wallow in self-pity over my relationship-less self, because I have lots of relationships with others and with myself too. People are actually there for me all the time. When you get down to it, most of us are rarely alone.
I want to be all loved up in a relationship. I can't wait to explore new places with him, watch dumb movies together and take on the world with wonder twin powers. Mostly, I long to find someone who matches up with me, who I don't have to change. Sure, we will compromise, but I don't want a project, and I shouldn't be his project either.
So, I will not "just pick someone." And the fact that I am selective and care about who I bring into my life does not make me too picky -- it makes me have self-esteem. I know he won't ride in all perfect on a white horse. Thank God for that. I need someone who won't care that I eat sushi very messily with my hands, have an irrational fear of bats and could hold a world record for chronically cold feet.
I expect the questions and concerned looks to continue. In the meantime, I am going to stay the course and remember that most of the people making the comments only want me to be happy. Well, I am. I promise I am, even though he isn't here yet.