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One of my best friends is getting married and its all very dramatic, everything is happening at once and it almost feels like a quiet storm is brewing, somewhere in the near future the collision will be cataclysmic and it will take no prisoners. To that end, planning a wedding is not for the faint of hearts; dessert fork, salad fork, fork fork, how many forks can one person possibly need or use?! I don’t eat with a fork, so where does that leave me? In the table of the damned I suppose. Oh and speaking of tables; where to put who and with whom? Nightmare. And I thought choosing an outfit was hard, at least I know if all else fails, a little black dress would do.
So she’s getting married and its all systems go!
As it so often happens, if you’re the last of the single friends it starts begging the question from all and sundry, even those who have no business asking; what about you? When are you going to get your happy ever after? I would imagine they mean getting married is the inevitable happy ever after. Take the blithering rom-com; the girl gets the guy, they ride off into sunset and live happy every after. And if she’s alone, she would have failed miserably in life; it doesn’t matter if she climbed mount everest, builds a successful business, travels the world etc…if the guy and the possibility of a white picket fence are not in the picture, then nothing else matters.
For that, I say thanks hollywood.
Marriage is an altogether, especial institution and despite my current jadedness with regards the subject, I still view it as sacred; it’s a trusting bond between two people, the promise of a lifetime together, no matter the weather, the vows; in sickness and in health, death do us part, they mean something, they are not merely words said in jest, they count for a great deal, its a solid promise to be the other person’s person. For life. That may not always be the case, but people don’t say these words looking for a way out… at least I don’t think so, I still believe in the goodness of people. At the time those words are being said, people mean to do well and to abide by them. But for those of us yet to say them, it doesn’t mean our lives are any less worthy. I hate the sneer that accompanies that question; when are you going to get married? I have a look that perfectly answers the question; the what-the-fuck-business-is-it-of-yours, and it doesn’t invite a follow up. Old or young, its rude to ask someone such a stupid question; whether or not they are in a relationship. Maybe marriage is not for them, maybe they’re not ready, maybe they’re taking their time… for all the 1,001 reasons out there, its nobody’s business why one is not married. It is most inappropriate. It denotes that life as a single woman doesn’t quite measure up, it’ll always fall short of being great, always be eclipsed by the shadow of the woman who’s third or fourth left finger, (is it third or fourth? discussion for another day) is adorned by a shiny diamond ring.
Not too long ago, the hashtag #beingfemaleinNigeria was trending and along with it some hard truths about what it is to be a female in Nigeria, essentially if you are not married then all you have achieved will count for naught. Its not so far removed from the West either, there is an under current sneer towards the unmarried woman. When I meet up with old friends or acquaintances, the first question is inevitably “are you married?” followed by “dating?” If all answers are negative, you see it; that subtle look in their eyes, the slight downturn of their mouths, and can almost hear it on the tips of tongues, it is piteous. They proceed to set you up because there must be something wrong if a woman in her 30’s is unmarried or hasn’t got a child. It must be her fault, she must be difficult to be with, she must be unhappy, she must be bad in bed etc. It can never be her choice, for who would choose to be alone? Right? Nodbody chooses loneliness, but simply because one is alone does not mean they are lonely. I love my own company, it doesn’t mean I don’t have a life, I have a fabulous cluster of friends, a loving family, a life well travelled, a happy career, and a business on the side. I don’t have it all, heck I don’t even want it all, but what I do want is to live a full life, and if this does not involve bearing “Mrs” then I am completely fine with that. And if it does, I’ll be fine with that too, either way, it’ll be my happy ever after.
It’s not a bad deal either.