February 23, 2012

Will living alone — without "social checks and balances" — make you too eccentric?

This is one of these NYT lifestyle articles with anecdotes about women who do things like leaving their bra on the kitchen table. Then there's the woman who wears "this pair of white flax bloomers that go down to my knee. They’re like pantaloons. They’re so weird." She never lets anyone see them. "No, no... That would be the height of intimacy..." And yet, she's telling us all about them. She also "grazes on nuts and seeds."
What emerges over time, for those who live alone, is an at-home self that is markedly different — in ways big and small — from the self they present to the world. 
Until they're interviewed by the NYT. Then they present that self to the world.

Oh, well... anyway... I enjoyed reading this article, because I had this attitude myself as a woman living alone, and it's an attitude that curls back on itself and makes you think you have these special freedoms that would hurt too much to sacrifice. Here I am, expressing myself on the subject in the summer of 2008:



In the summer of 2009, I would get married, after learning that I really can be myself and be free in the constant presence of another human being. I had no idea!

45 comments:

Meade said...

That's right - three years in and I'm still completely accepting of anything on the kitchen table.

Anything at all.

David said...

Bra on the kitchen table? Grazes on nuts and seeds? Sounds like my wonderful wife. I won't even begin to tell what she puts up with, nor would I tell the NYT.

Ann Althouse said...

Here's the old blog post linking to that Bloggingheads dialog. I love the way Meade shows up in the comments and makes a pitch:

"I could fetch her newspaper, scrape snow and ice off her car, shovel the front walk. Draw her bath. Pick her up at the airport. Rinse and dry her wine glasses. Form a circle-of -safety to protect her from Hillary Clinton-type madwomen who randomly come up to innocent people on urban sidewalks and punch them in the back. I make excellent salads, grill superb steaks and vegetables. Play a piano sonata. Pick up dry cleaning. Wait patiently while she shops for shoes."

Then my next comment (not really directed at him, but immediately after his):

"I have very valuable benefits that I'm not using because I'm unmarried. Maybe I should go for a cash transaction."

And he responds:

"Okay. Forget the services. I have cash - very very valuable cash. So what are the benefits and just how much valuable cash do you suppose they're worth?"

So then half a year later Meade finds a way to insinuate himself into my life. (It involves Clint Eastwood and many other things.)

We marry in August 2009. Some time in 2010, my adult son John sees the old comments quoted above and adds a comment:

"Wow, Meade, way to come up with a plan and follow through!"

Meade responds:

"I was, ahem, between wives. Now if you'll excuse me while I go and draw a certain someone's bath..."

Moose said...

OMG yes. I have one friend who is now channeling for arc angels and wears nothing by primary colors and "healing crystals".

Women get weird if you leave them alone too long.

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...

That's right - three years in and I'm still completely accepting of anything on the kitchen table.

Has she got the closing the bathroom door thing down yet?

ricpic said...

How do you square the women living alone become eccentric assertion with the equally frequent assertion that women handle living alone better than men do? The reasoning behind that assertion being that more single women have a supporting network of friends than do single men.

Petunia said...

ANYthing, Meade? Do tell!

Or, maybe, don't. :)

virgil xenophon said...

When I first met my wife in graduate school some 41 years ago she was an RN getting her MS in Abnormal Psych. All my friends said to me that I'd better hold on to her as only someone with expertise in "abnormality" could put up with me. LOL, how very, very, true. At the time I was 27 fresh out of the Air Force as a fighter pilot, of which it has been said that, "The average fighter pilot, despite the sometimes swaggering exterior, is very much capable of such feelings as love, affection, intimacy and caring. These feelings just don't involve anyone else." LOL. Plus I hit the trifecta of egotism as besides being a fighter-pilot, I was not only an only child, but also a typical prima-donna tennis-player. Although after all these years my wife now re-evaluates the marriage on an hourly basis, we're somehow still together--probably says FAR more about her than me...

Henry said...

Is "old maids" used anywhere in the article? Because we sure wouldn't want to perpetuate a victorian stereotype. No sir, we sure wouldn't want to do that.

Crunchy Frog said...

How many cats live with her?

Meade said...

Petunia said...
"ANYthing, Meade? Do tell! "

Heh heh. I'm saving it for the NYT, P.

Meade said...

Wait. There is one thing I never... ever... EVER want to find on the kitchen table. And, yes, it has to do with Ryan Braun.

bagoh20 said...

In that video Althouse says she wants to do things that others would consider totally unacceptable ways to live. Now that's tantalizing. Do tell, professor.

Ah Pooh said...

Read the article - so? Struck me that maybe a lot of people are too uptight. I live with someone and have for over for over 50 years. Nothing the singles do that we don't do. And drinking out of a milk carton is weird? Be flexible people.

Ron said...

The whole thing seems very Martin and Lewis to me...with Althouse the one in Rio Bravo and Meade workin' the telethon...

traditionalguy said...

Love without jealousy is a rare find. Be very thankful.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

I think the writer interviewed Liz Lemon.

MadisonMan said...

I'm not sure why you can't do any of the things in that article if you live with someone.

It seems they interviewed people who care too much about what others may think of their foibles. I don't care if my wife talks to the pets, or sings in the shower, or leaves undergarments anywhere. And we both leave the bathroom door open.

Michael K said...

""The average fighter pilot, despite the sometimes swaggering exterior, is very much capable of such feelings as love, affection, intimacy and caring. These feelings just don't involve anyone else.""

Thanks for a laugh. My two brothers-in-law (If I was married to their sister, but it's only been 25 years) fit the picture well. One of them had a call sign "Fokker" and is famous in the fighter pilot community, at least in the Marines. My spouse equiv still isn't ready to commit but always seems to be around. Maybe she just doesn't want to be alone.

Paco Wové said...

"they interviewed people who care too much about what others may think of their foibles"

We are talking about the New York Times demographic here.

Broomhandle said...

I've certainly noticed that middle-aged people, men or women, who never established a long term live-in relationship tend to get distinctly odd with greater frequency than those with a partner.

Chuck66 said...

My sister used to always point out old ladies who didn't have kids. She could tell by the crazy way they would dress. Older folks need adult kids to help them go shopping.

Someone has the tell the guys not to wear dark socks and sandels.

Andrea said...

I was going to write something here, but as usual the idea that women can't be alone because REASONS has left me nearly incoherent with rage. Goddamn no-inner-life parasites. LEAVE ME ALONE.

Andrea said...

Oh yeah, and I love all the conformity and fear of the different I see in here. God bless America, where you get to be an in-duh-vidual only if you're like everyone else. OMG a woman has had no kids and she becomes WEIRD. Oh, like Andrea Yates, who killed her five kids? Yeah, fuck off.

Broomhandle said...

I was going to add in my post that these solitary people seemed more likely to be embittered, irrational and harshly judgemental of others but then Andrea did it for me.

chickenlittle said...

Bella sure plays a good yes-man in that video.

edutcher said...

Funny what a good man is capable of bringing out in a woman.

Meade said...

That's right - three years in and I'm still completely accepting of anything on the kitchen table.

Is that with whipped cream or chocolate syrup?

Or are we talking spaghetti sauce here?

Andrea said...

Broomhandle, you sure do have the perfect name.

EDH said...

Andrea said...
Broomhandle, you sure do have the perfect name.

For this thread anyway.

Little does Althouse know that all her her male commenters live together in one zany pad like the Monkees.

Methadras said...

I've been together with my wife for very very long time. Heaven forbid, after she goes, I'll never do it again. Ever.

Carol_Herman said...

Life Begins at 80.

The Horn & Hardart food chain.

Back in the days of Black & White TV. When stations were desperate for shows ... there was one called "Life Begins at 80."

And, they collected these bums from around NYC. Usually found loafing over a 5-cent cup of coffee, at the Broadway Horn & Hardart's.

Man that place was fun!

And, to "write a show" all you needed was an idea. And, maybe, a pencil and a piece of paper. As long as you weren't going in front of the camera ... you could be short. You could have a face that wasn't telegenic. And, you can make a better living "writing for TV," that you could doing vaudeville. Plus, you didn't need to live your life out of a suitcase.

Those were the days ...

Carol_Herman said...

Ann, did you know Meade does a pretty good imitation of Harry Truman? He was just like that! Easy on the eyes. A good listener. Doesn't growl "alpha." But can lead better than Fred Astaire.

Why are you using this crazy ID set up? Two words ... that are hard to read ... And, keep so many old posters away, that you're losing business.

Soon getting 200+ comments on a thread will be just a memory.

rick said...

@Carol Herman. I couldn't agree more on those two "crazy words".

I struggle mightily trying to decipher these words. They are written in script, put in a blender for 60 seconds and tossed out for our frustration.

After two tries, I go elsewhere.

Carnifex said...

Living alone with no peer pressure or social network does NOT make you crazy.

Just ask my 157 cats.

Rusty said...

Meade said...
That's right - three years in and I'm still completely accepting of anything on the kitchen table.

Anything at all




And you better keep it that way if you know whats good for you.
just remember Meade,(I've been married for 24 years), she's always right and you're always.............there.
It a;so helps if you know how to fix stuff. They'll keep you around longer if you're handy.

LordSomber said...

Man, lame article.

That said, I do eat over the sink, as I am a bachelor.

Jay said...

Who gets more weird as they age alone, women or men???

rosebud said...

Effect, meet cause.

Being too eccentric will lead to you living alone.

Patrick said...

Well, those old Meade comments are pretty cool. Meade plays piano? Who knew?

TMink said...

I think a similar process makes therapists weird. We spend 8 hours a day up to our ears in other people's pain and weirdness, and it works on you in two ways. It subtly desensitizes you to letting down your public personae because you spend so much time in intense interactions while it also lets you know too much about how weird people really are. That knowledge further undermines your "need" to keep up appearances of (what you now know to be phantom) normalacy.

Trey

Peter said...

removing only the clothes she needs from her dryer, thus turning it into a makeshift dresser

I do that all the time, despite being in a household that varies between three and five people. When someone else takes my clothes out of the dryer and puts them on top I finally get the message and put them away.

Peter said...

I've only lived alone for a few years, in the mid-1990's, and I couldn't imagine doing so again. I'd go nuts.

William said...

Toe nail clipping is the most oft procastinated chore of personal hygiene. I think people who live together have better toenail maintenance than people who live alone. And as a result of this, married couples suffer from far fewer ingrown toenails than single people. There may be other advantages, but this is the one that really stands out.

Broomhandle said...

True that. I was making like Howard Hughes until I got married.

Broomhandle said...

So now I'm not only a well-adjusted person, my socks last a lot longer