A bunch of years ago, my best friend was muddling her way through a long and tedious stretch of being single. It wasn’t that she was dying to be part of a couple just then, but she was starting to feel like she was slowly being driven mad from all the cavorting she found herself doing with sociopaths and psychopaths as the sun went down, to say nothing of the emotional kleptomaniacs she associated with during daylight hours. Making matters even more trying was the way her vacant relationship status somehow managed to weave its way into every single conversation she had during every single meal she shared with every single member of her rather large family. It happened time and time again. She would arrive home from THE WORST FUCKING BRUNCH IN ALL OF HISTORY (EVEN THOUGH THE WHITEFISH WAS REALLY GOOD) and, emotionally mauled, she would pick up the phone and call me. As a friend, I made it my business to be supportive. I tried to offer her solutions to her very real problems. I suggested, for example, that she put herself up for adoption and maybe find a family that prided itself on its patterns of withholding. I volunteered to take pictures of her twisted into that yoga pose where her ankles end up tucked behind her ears and then post it online because I was certain she’d land a boyfriend in less than an hour. But in the short-run, I encouraged her to maybe keep her dating experiences to herself, to not share them with her mother unless the story involved a guy who might actually end up looming large in her future. I also told her to stop being wooed by the lure of bagels and lox, that she could purchase that shit herself and then enjoy a quiet meal where nobody asked her to pass the cream cheese after guesstimating exactly how many seemingly perfect men she’d allowed to get away from her during her twenties because she’d prioritized sexy stubble over basic human decency back in those hypercrazy days.
Since I too have made several romantic choices that were based almost entirely on some guy having the kind of scruff that caused my knees to buckle whenever I caught a glimpse of it across the room or gazed up at it while I was reclining between his open legs, I maybe wasn’t the best person to turn to for advice. Still, I wanted my friend to be happy and I knew that sometimes she wasn’t even looking for advice or answers; she just really needed to decompress and talk through her stress. I recall particularly how our conversations after holiday dinners tended to be especially long since as she would recount every insane comment her mother made over the entire evening. (Passover was always the worst, what with all that time spent at the table before even a fucking bit of food is served. And the Israelites thought they had it rough…) But probably my favorite comment of all time was made by my friend’s mother during one particular Seder and it’s when she asked her daughter, “Aren’t you proud of me for not even bringing up that you’re still boyfriendless? Aren’t I handling your loneliness so well?” To this day, I cannot believe there were knives and electric turkey carvers on that table and nobody ended up in the hospital or in prison.