He was a reporter at a competing news organization, and we were eager to meet: Jewish, Midwestern, age-appropriate, and credentialed. He was not tall, but I was not quibbling. He was cute enough and so am I.
We met at an outdoor café on a night that was made for sitting outdoors. We talked about our jobs, the people we knew in common, and what our weekends would look like. I was prepping for a season of too many weddings, because God is cruel to spinsters.
Me: Every single bride announces her engagement on Facebook with a picture of her diamond, like it’s a championship ring.
Reporter: I hate that. I also hate it when my friends put their kids’ pictures up for their own profile pic.
Me: Parents don’t understand that they are not their children. Just think of Snowflake’s future therapy bills.
This was good. We both hated the same things. Commensurate hates are so much more important than similar likes.
Reporter: My little sisters post pictures of their feet, on the beach, in front of the water on vacation.
Me: My pregnant friends post pictures of their bellies. It’s high season.
Reporter: And their ultrasounds.
Me: Your whole life story gets told in body parts. My Facebook feed looks like Jeffrey Dahmer’s scrapbook.
We were two people discussing a world that had left us behind, the lifecycle events we aren’t celebrating and so mutually resent in others. It was nice to have a chorus.
Reporter: Feet. Ring. Belly. It’s the circle of life.
Me: Belly first, then ring. Birth control mysteriously fails around your 40th birthday.
Reporter: You should write a piece on that for The Atlantic.
Me: They are trolling women.
There is a body of best-selling headlines that prey on the anxieties of the category of women I belong to: educated, middle class, old. Just Settle. The End of Men. You Can’t Have It All. The last tenured position left in magazine journalism? White Lady Problems columnist.
Reporter: You have to write about this.
Me: That would be one of the most antifeminist anecdotal trend stories I could possibly imagine.
Reporter: But it’s the truth. You have to cover it.
Me: Truth is something cooked up for newsstand numbers, no.
Reporter: You have to.
Me: I don’t.
We were at an impasse.
He was angry. He had been single so long that the women his age were potentially upending the bargain that had seen him through the last 20 years of nookie. His dates chose lives of fulfillment and now his sure things came with a possible price.
In other words, he felt victimized by women he hadn’t yet met or slept with. Suddenly the Reporter was the least attractive man on earth.
I’m plenty pissed about the way my story is organized too: I was supposed to be living happily ever by now. Scrapping for crumbs of the publishing industry while I count down the clock stinks. But I can’t take it out on the boys.
The older I get the more I get asked: Would I choose a lifetime of adventure and a job I love on the risk I might never find my partner? At every decision and inflection point, yes.
It’s hard to be angry when I would repeat my choices.