I had my first kiss in the sixth grade when Eric Johnson ran up to me on a dare, grabbed my face, and planted his lips on mine for a solid three seconds. It was magical — and I immediately claimed him as my own. A boyfriend! My very own boyfriend! It was complete bliss for two days until Eric decided that our parentally monitored AIM conversations were too much of a commitment for him.
“You mean I have to talk to you every night after dinner? AND put you in my profile?”
Yes, dummy. That is exactly what you have to do. You’re my boyfriend. I own you. Catie + Eric Forever. <3 Est. 11/4/2001.
But he wasn’t having it. Evidently, he also didn’t appreciate being called “dummy” — something I got grounded for after his mom called my mom. Honestly, looking back now, I’m glad we broke up. Stupid Eric Johnson: couldn’t even handle getting called a fucking piece of shit moron. Oh, my bad, now I remember why I got in trouble.
Aaaaaaand thus began my descent into madness. I was a training bra wearing, headgear owning, butterfly clip loving, hormonal shitshow with one job: getting a boyfriend. Any boyfriend. Well, preferably one who came from a good family and was rich and would go to Harvard so that I could just sit around all day and drink Dr. Pepper while laying out in my Old Navy tankini and listening to Sheryl Crow on my discman. What can I say? I was an ambitious 12-year-old. Kidding. I obviously sucked.
But really, that was it. That’s when the seed was planted. This incessant need to trick a boy into liking me. And I wasn’t alone. Slowly but surely, all of my friends began to act the same, to think the same, to fear the same, to want the same. We were prepubescent manhunters. Little devil women. Just a bunch of tweens tryna to see who could get Jimmy Brooks or Taylor Adams or Blake Shore to put us in his AIM profile. We wanted a boyfriend — and we wanted the world to know about it.
By the time high school rolled around, things got worse. We could no longer hide beyond the shroud of cuteness of our younger selves. Nope. Now? Well, now we were just crazy. We were in competition with one another for the affection of the boy in homeroom, in competition with one another for the quarterback prom date, in competition with one another for the cute lab partner. And when all of our advances went unnoticed and our efforts proved to be useless, we were left with something so much worse: a competition for being the “most” single.
“God dammit, Cady, what is wrong with you? Have you no soul? This is a sisterhood. Now tell us you have really bad breath in the morning, gain some weight, and stop being so pretentious.”
And that’s really what it is. We don’t want to be the bitch who stands silently denying the existence of her flaws, so we point at them and laugh at them and jiggle our tummy so that our friends can all laugh and feel better about their own tight pants or flat ass or forehead wrinkle. And that’s what we do with relationships. We don’t want to be the bitch who stands silently denying the existence of her singledom, so we say we’re crazy and we say we’re unlovable and we say that it doesn’t count as dying alone if you’re surrounded by your cats. LOL. See? I’m making fun of myself to fit in. If you’re chubby, I’m obese. If you’re silly, I’m stupid. If you’re going to die alone, I’m going to die alone…surrounded by 83 cats.
But it doesn’t stop there, in the comfort of our friends. Oh, no. Because once we’ve said those words out loud, once we’ve acknowledged our flaw or our situation to others, it is out there — and that means we need to talk about it. All. The. Time. So, we take to Facebook and we take to Snapchat and we take to Vine and we take to Twitter and we do things like this:
I just realized that I will probably be single on my birthday. And New Years. And Valentine’s Day. And for the rest of my life.
— Catie Warren (@catie__warren) September 18, 2013
I don’t even want a boyfriend. Just kidding. I’m so alone I could cry. — Catie Warren (@catie__warren) November 1, 2013
If I’m sitting on my couch eating alone and I drop something on my lap, I’ll eat it. Because I’m gross. And I will be single forever. — Catie Warren (@catie__warren) September 8, 2013
And we make ourselves sound like total fucking insane people all in the name of “being in on it.” All in the name of “everyone I know is getting married and if I don’t laugh about it, I’ll cry.” All in the name of “guys don’t like cockiness, right?” All in the name of “I don’t actually think I’m going to die alone but I can’t be the only one not saying it.” All in the name of being able to laugh about the situation. All in the name of being unpretentious and a good friend and self-aware and down to earth. All in the name of “If you’re chubby, I’m obese. If you’re silly, I’m stupid. If you’re going to die alone, I’m going to die alone…surrounded by 83 cats.”
But you know what? Guys don’t like it. They don’t think it’s cute or funny or charming, and, quite honestly, they don’t get the whole “Mean Girls” reference, anyway. To them, we’re crazy. To them, we’re insecure. To them, we’re one Taylor Swift song away from poking holes in the condom and Facebook friending his mom. So, it needs to stop. We need to cut out this “I’m going to die alone” shit because, quite honestly, it’s pathetic — and I can say that because I did it. I thought it made me approachable and grounded and someone who could both identify and laugh at her own problems, but in reality, it made me look like a flashback on “Snapped.”
Unfortunately, I don’t have the answers. Honestly, this column is more of a “stop what you’re doing, you psychos” piece, rather than a “here is how to find a man, pretty ladies” one. I apologize if that wasn’t made clear until now, on the 1,163rd word of the column. But the fact of the matter is, enough is enough. Being single at 15 doesn’t mean you’re going to die alone. Being single at 20 doesn’t mean you’re going to die alone. And, honestly, contrary to popular belief, being single at 25 doesn’t mean you’re going to die alone. Put yourself out there. Be confident. Have some self-respect. Know that half of your now married Facebook friends will get divorced. Don’t fall into the trap of listing off every flaw to your friends because you feel like you need to. Just because she’s chubby, it doesn’t mean you’re obese. Just because she’s silly, it doesn’t mean you’re stupid. And just because she’s “going to die alone,” it does not mean that you need to adopt 83 cats.