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Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s lifestyle November 5, 2008

Posted by Onely in Everyday Happenings, Food for Thought.
Tags: , ,

The other day I walked from my townhouse to my car and saw people of all ages swarming over the grassy knoll in front of our street, giggling and shouting and walking and standing. I recognized a neighbor from the other end of our row of houses, who I only knew from waving distance. She approached me, a petite woman holding the hand of a little toddling girl.  

“What’s going on?” I said.

“All my children and grandchildren are here visiting,” she said, smiling. 

“Wow, so you’re busy,” I said, also smiling.

We exchanged names and laughed about how her name was Tina, and my name was Christina, and one of her daughters-in-law who wandered by at that moment also happened to be named Christina. Then Tina looked at me and said, “Do you live alone?”

“Yes,” I said, still smiling, enjoying the rare chance–so seldom presented in the American ‘burbs–to stand and chat with a neighbor.  But Tina–poor Tina, when she heard my answer, her face just dropped. I have never seen a face go from smile to deep concern so fast. Her brow furrowed, the corners of her lips turned down, her chin slipped to the side and she shook her head just a little, while inhaling a startled gasp. She morphed as if she were in a cartoon or a sitcom. It was singlism at its finest, and yet her uguarded physical reaction was so hilarious that  I couldn’t be mad at her, any more than I could be mad at a cat spazzing out in a bathtub.

Like with the cat, my first instinct was to reassure her.  “Oh, no really, it’s ok, don’t worry!” I said. But she still worried. “If you need anything,” she said, sweet and concerned, “Then you just come down and see me.” I told her I absolutely appreciated her offer, and I did. It’s always good to have kind neighbors.

But as I drove off I wondered, why is it that she can let her face fall when she hears that I live alone, but if I were to (not saying I would, but if I *did*)  exhibit the same cheek-sagging response when she told me about all her swarms of kids and grandkids and kids-in-law, I would be an insensitive, intolerant bitch?    

Just saying it’s interesting. 



1. Anita - November 5, 2008

That is interesting. I actually have to work on my face at large family gatherings and baby showers. Because I can’t think of much worse for me than getting pregnant and having a kid, it’s really hard for me to imagine. I’ve got a friend who’s desperately trying to get pregnant, and I have to struggle not to go “But WHY?” when she talks about her travails.
And that’s me being honest – I am, in fact, kind of an insensitive bitch. But I try not to be around my friends.

2. onely - November 6, 2008

I guess that’s the thing–we try not to be insensitive to our coupled/kidded friends’ lifestyle choice, but they are not expected to put in the same amount of understanding about our single/nonkidded lifestyle (even though among my friends, most of them are considerate!)-CC

3. Anna - November 29, 2008

Good question! If I mention to anyone- friends, family, etc. that I don’t plan on getting married, the standard response seems to be “don’t say that!!!” as if it’s the most horrible thing in the world. And yet, when people call me to “announce” their engagements and pregnancies I have to pretend to be over the moon with happiness!

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