There’s so many new surprises when you’re suddenly single. For instance: There’s a widows and gays table. Did you all know that? I don’t think anyone is conscious of it, but it’s what happens to you when you’re (a) widowed or (b) come out. It also welcomes the chronically single and just plain weird. It’s where you’re put when they don’t know what to do with you.
Let’s say you’re invited to a wedding, formal event, big party, fundraiser, or the like. I can guarantee if you are The Widow or if you are The Gay, you’re going to be stuck at the same table. The Widows and Gays Table (W>). And it’s not going to be the one up front, either.
Honestly, I had no idea this table existed, which is shameful of me because it’s a fairly safe bet I consigned someone I know to depths of the W>. I had no concept this is what I was doing when I was part of the Married Mob. It was quite a shock, the first time I arrived at the W> only to discover, that along with widowhood came banishment from the Other Couples. All those years invested in learning how to deal with couples, only to get tossed out with one lousy death.
Let me hasten to add that I don’t think the hosts are being malicious. I think what flits through their panicked brains (after all, they’ve got a huge party looming and a million details to attend to) is, “What do we do with this person? They’re alone, so how can we ensure they will have fun at the party? Oh, let’s put them with the other alone people: Widow X, Gay Y, and Single Z. They’ll all get along swimmingly.” Sometimes they’re right and the W> is the best table to be at. Instead of having to listen to the same stories you’ve heard for the last twenty years, you get to meet new people and pretend to be someone new and exciting yourself. Sometime you get to make fun of the proceedings with an appreciative audience!
I like hanging out at a party. I like meeting people and I like socializing. And I feel strongly that a good party is all-inclusive and even those who are there with a partner should have a good time. But I don’t need to be reminded of my single status by having to eat with others I don’t know but am assigned to simply by my marital/partner status. Does this stratification of singles happen to divorcees? Surely there someone else who your single guests know at the party? Is there other family? Perhaps other friends? The point is, we all don’t need to force couples to be couples. It’s not a requirement, like being on Noah’s ark.
Here’s some wacky advice to big party planners: I do understand the need for assigning seats, it makes it easier to serve and to know how much food to get out there and when. So if you’re planning one, I suggest you randomly assign seats (put numbers in a hat or something) for everyone. Make it a lottery. Shake things up. I think it would be more fun and those people who just can’t conceive of spending even one second without their significant other* are going to defy you and switch seats anyway, no matter where you put them.
* Something I never quite understood. Aren’t you going home together? Can’t you talk later and compare notes? But that’s a different post.