"I am an international woman of mystery. Men beg for my favors, but I turn them down. They invite me to faraway places, they make artistic portraits of me, they write me poetry, they…build my shelves."
I announce this to my grandparents in the middle of their country club, with a completely straight face, even though I regret the whole "artistic portrait" thing immediately. It totally could be misconstrued as "nudie pix of me are floating around the Internet."
Of course, that entire speech could be misconstrued in so many ways--but I figure I've got to come in strong, given what they just asked. Which was:
"Lena, if your younger sisters are both engaged, why don't you have anyone special?"
I knew this question was coming. It seems, in fact, to be my family’s second-favorite line of interrogation, right behind “When are you going to get a real job?’ (Answer: when I grow up, i.e. never.) And there is no right answer—which basically means I can say whatever I want.
Nobody says anything for a minute after I’ve spoken. Then, my sister and faithful ally pipes up like a Greek chorus:
"She's telling the truth!"
My grandparents look at each other for a second, bemused. Then my grandfather turns back to me:
"Can't you find anyone who wants to marry you, then?"
I sigh. I cave. I lie. "No Grandpa, I can't. No one likes me."
He shakes his head.
"Pretty girl like you. I don't believe it."
At 30 years old, I'm successful in my career, have a freewheeling globetrotter lifestyle that's the envy of everyone I know, am blessed with amazing friends, love Los Angeles (I can see you cringing even from here, but seriously, it’s a great city) and am happier than I've ever been. I spent my 20s in a series of long, committed, serious-as-a-heart-attack relationships. At 27, I was engaged. Just shy of my 29th birthday, I moved out of my ex-fiance's house. I haven't had a serious boyfriend since. Instead, I take the "life is a buffet" approach to dating. Until I get tired, when I switch over to "I am a nun" or "I am a man-hater, beware."
I never in a million years planned to end up the quintessential swingin' single. But these days, I couldn't imagine things being any other way. Now if I could only get my family members to step out of the 1950s for a minute and support my choices!
(I am talking total nonsense. That’s never going to happen.)
I could tell them about the investment banker I was dating six months ago. That very morning, he'd emailed me to see if I wanted to resume our ever-so-civilized, once-a-week relationship. I almost responded. Then I remembered: This is a guy who demands complete silence while eating takeout and watching CNN. ' Nuff said.
I could tell them about my 5-years-ago fling, a brilliant writer/producer, who announced to me over dinner last night that he is ready to start a family and thinks I might be a great match, now that I'm in my 30s and less crazy. Well. I might be a bit less crazy. But I remember when this man ingested a bottle of vodka and 15 Xanax and called me at 3AM to tell me that he was "floating away on a cloud." And I don't think I could deal with a husband who had float-away potential. Nope, not one for the grandparents.
I could tell them about the 24-year-old boy I made out with on a business trip last week...but somehow I don't think that's the match they have in mind.
So I just nod my head and make this weird not-quite-grimace.
"It's very sad, I know," I say.
Sometimes it's not worth arguing with the ancients. Your words are, quite literally, falling on deaf ears.