This month, Dana Filek-Gibson looks forward to growing old with her many, many cats.
I can’t say I’ve opened a Pinterest account or started any vision boards on the matter, but if I ever get married there will be cake, a man and possibly some streamers. Perhaps we’ll throw an open bar and a few loot bags into the mix, but beyond food and decorations very little thought has gone into my future nuptials. It’s not exactly an issue you’d call pressing. Unless, of course, you’re not me.
In a recent, unsolicited poll of everyone who wants to know if I’m married, over 100 percent of respondents believe that 25 is just a few short, desperate years from spinsterhood. Shocking, I know. That is, until you learn the science. Medically speaking, unwed women are a thousand times more likely to come down with crow’s feet or early-onset bingo wings by the time they’re 30. That’s right: the older we get, the slimmer our chances become of pitching a roadside wedding tent and forcing our closest friends into reams of neon-hued taffeta.
For any woman old enough to legally rent a car, this is not news. From the day we learned there was a difference between ‘no’ and ‘not yet’, we knew that even our most convincing imaginary boyfriends could do nothing to stave off the mounting distress of friends and neighbours. While I’m open to the possibility of one day posing awkwardly in front of the cathedral, this sudden fixation on my ring finger is alarming. It was, after all, not so long ago that I could have my pick of the strapping, eligible bachelors hanging around Lush after 2am on a Tuesday. There would be a period, I thought, of gentle reminders and blind dates before we got right to the ticking time bomb that is my biological clock. And yet, my lack of a husband has gone from eliciting reactions like, “Oh, you’ve got time,” “What about me?” and “I thought you were 17!” to “WHEN IS IT HAPPENING?!”
Worse than being upset, people are afraid. They worry about my future. They fear for my ovaries and my poor, grandchild-less parents, who all but kicked me out at 17 so they could redecorate and take more vacations. Just a few more years and I may give up on love altogether and start adopting cats. Call me idealistic, but I had high hopes of finding the right person: someone who loves the way I wake up at noon and fill out a pair of sweatpants. A tall, dark and handsome type who can have an educated conversation about globalisation in the developing world, then lift up the lower half of his shirt, rub his belly and fall asleep at the table.
But like all women, I, too, must face the harsh realities of time and science: at a certain point, we need to let go of our dreams. Fulfilling though they may be, hobbies like television, eating cheese and couch-sitting aren’t going to keep you warm at night. They aren’t going to snore or crowd the bed, either, but we all make sacrifices. The good news is that the same people who blanch at the thought of my solitary existence have also made it clear that they’ll do literally anything to help me find a mate. Old women have begun introducing me to their single, forty-something sons. Young teenagers heckle me outside of my apartment.
The local banh mi lady now moonlights as an auctioneer, standing on the corner and pointing at every human male with a pulse: “whatabouthim, whatabouthim, hegood, gotaniceheadofhair, fullsetofteeth, whatabouthim, whatabouthim!” The quest to save me from myself has become a collective effort. And that sense of community, that kind of proactive, can-do attitude, is what gives me hope.
Dana Filek-Gibson is a Canadian expat living in Ho Chi Minh City.