Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Get into the Swing of Singles Week

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Get into the Swing of Singles Week

Article excerpt

Mark your calendars! Clear your schedules! Fasten your seat belts, phone the neighbors, wake up the landlord and get your good foundation garments dry cleaned. This week is National Singles Week!

Well, not actually National Singles Week. That was too blunt and possibly pejorative. It's technically Unmarried and Single Americans Week, celebrating the contributions and, you know, overall fabulousness of the spousefree-American community.

The name was changed because "single" is such an ugly word. There are a lot of people out there who are parents, or are in long-term committed relationships (though perhaps only with a car or video- game character), or are widowed, who don't identify with the word "single," even though they are, technically, quite possibly through no fault of their own, single.

The word "single" does imply a certain footloose quality, a certain playfulness of the field, a certain blankness of the slate that doesn't apply uniformly to all of the legions of the unmarried.

On the other hand, there aren't many terms for the unwed that aren't negative somehow, as if we are as useless as stray socks.

The labels "divorced" and "widowed" at best keep a past trauma fresh in everyone's mind and at worst sound like "used." "Never married" is oddly final and discouraging, and "cohabiting" just sounds dirty. "In a committed relationship" is a joyless grown-up version of the much more romantic "going steady," in the same way that having a "boy/girlfriend" is cozier than having a "partner." Is this love or a three-legged race?

Whatever we call the currently unwed, there is no shortage of us. According to the 2000 census, there are 95.7 million single Americans, representing 43 percent of United States residents age 15 and older. And I certainly hope it represents 100 percent of those age 15. Yikes!

Fifty-four percent of unmarried Americans are women, and there are 86 unmarried men age 15 and older for every 100 unmarried women in the United States. Which means that single men who have the temerity to wonder aloud where all the single women are need to step outside into better light. …

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