One of my fave Dorothy Parker quotes is “What fresh hell is this?” I love it so much I can’t remember what short story it is from. It’s probably one of her self-indulgent, scarcely disguised but really autobiographical monologues, where the person wakes up and gradually the reader realizes she humiliated herself some way. “What fresh hell . . .?” can be used anytime I am surprised by a bad situation, especially one that could have been avoided.
There’s nothing fresh about today’s hell.
I made it through what is, for me, the living hell of singleness in America in the holiday season.
Ho ho ho, cards from ex boyfriends with their beautiful families. Ho ho ho, parties where people already in couples seek out the mistletoe. Ho ho ho, the constant, “What are you doing for the holidays?” which, trust me, means, “Do you have a boyfriend yet?”
Ho ho ho, filling my own stocking because my child needs to believe in something.
I say living hell “for me” because it might not be living hell for you. My friend Eris has never been married. She has never lived with a partner. So she does not miss the togetherness. She does not miss filling her child’s stocking with her child’s father, or gazing at the sleeping child as a unit, anticipating the joy to be shared tomorrow.
Now that I am bitter, lonely, resentful, and 20 pounds over my college weight, it would be easy to blame my solitariness on being bitter, lonely, resentful, and fat.
But I was also single when I was hopeful, eager, well-rested and slender.
Every year for the past five I have tried to embrace the Widowed Mother as a career, an OK state of being.
Five for five failure.
Better to have loved and lost? Not always. I envy Eris, who has nothing to miss.
I have about one week before the Valentine’s Day ads start.