By Beth Diane Bradley
Who knew? Living alone is now trendy and hip. I’ve recently seen two stories about this in the media. About 4 years ago I became a divorced empty nester, and found myself living alone for the first time in over 20 years. It didn’t take long for me to become — well there is no other word for it — eccentric. They didn’t list that as one of the very hip qualities of those who live alone by choice.
I don’t mind being eccentric, as I am a writer and writers are supposed to be weird. But there is that point where weird starts to turn into crazy. For example, I’ve brought my childhood imaginary friend back to life, but with a grown up attitude. She likes to hear about my latest culinary adventures, and puts up with my ranting at political ads on TV. When I was a kid, she merely told me not to eat brussel sprouts.
It doesn’t hurt to talk to her when I’m alone in my apartment, but sometimes we continue to chat in my car, office, or the grocery store – until I notice people are staring. Busted! It’s time to pretend I’m a secret agent talking into a cleverly concealed recording device.
People who live alone also like eating serial for supper – that’s right, I mean serial, not cereal (although that also works). Meaning if you cook, you get to eat the same thing every day for a week. This is especially effective in causing mutations, due to the lack of nutritional variety. Just say yes to individuality!
Another opportunity afforded only to those of us who are “single by choice” is unusual menus. I hate to throw out food, so I often end up with an odd collection of leftovers, and pretend it’s normal to eat them together. Close your eyes and imagine a ¼ cup of chili, a half a grapefruit and some day old popcorn. My imaginary friend still thinks this combination is better than brussel sprouts.
A classic fear expressed by many who live alone is dying and not being found for days. This is another job for your imaginary friend. Teach her to dial 911 on her imaginary cell phone and everything will be okay.
According to the news stories, the benefits of living alone include hogging the remote, eating crackers in bed, using all the hot water… in other words regressing to toddlerhood. Hey, selfish is the new sexy. It gives you that “I don’t give a damn” attitude that drives the opposite sex wild. “Oh, baby you know what I like.” But then if that really worked, living alone would no longer be trendy and hip.
I do recommend having a pet to keep you company. I have two dogs, and they are much more agreeable than a lot of human companions. The difference between living with just pets, and living with pets and people — is how you relate to them. My dogs have replaced my two grown sons. They actually share the bedroom my youngest son used to occupy. But the difference is they have less stuff. And you can’t yell at them for not picking it up, because they don’t have thumbs.
I talk to my dogs even more than I talk to “you know who.” They obviously don’t talk back, but they do understand. My new thing is trying not to eat so fast, so I attempted to make conversation with my dogs while eating lunch this noon. I took a bite, put the fork down, and then asked them a question. OK, I don’t need your opinion on this one … weird just turned into crazy. Tomorrow, I’m getting a parrot!