It's like Sex and the Suburbs and 30 Rock all rolled into one…
I don’t know if you noticed this, but a few weeks ago a sequel to Sex and the City bombarded movie theaters the same way we bombarded Baghdad. I did not go to see the movie, but take my friend and local B-list celebrity Kevin Marshall’s advice and avoid the film. I didn’t see it, didn’t plan to because the first movie ended the series perfectly in my mind. Carrie learned to love Big in a mature and adult sort of way, Miranda finally learned to forgive a man, Charlotte had her baby and Samantha, oh Samantha learned she’s got to love herself before she can love another. (For the record, the scene on the Brooklyn bridge is the most romantic thing ever.) For me, to continue the story any further seemed like an exercise in excess, and not the kind that leads to death by diamonds and pearls, but instead the kind that allows BP to pollute the Gulf of Mexico daily. (The former is good, the latter is very very bad.)
The point of SATC was that there were these four great strong women who represented the different aspects of real women. They all had their trials, their flaws and their friendship (I won’t use sisterhood). It was a great act of feminism that they each got a happy ending. Most strong women don’t. They’re told to settle, give up, or compromise for the sake of fitting in. None of the women in SATC compromised, gave up or ever thought of settling. And that’s why it was a brilliant ending. Why go see a pointless exercise in footwear marketing? Why see unhappily ever after when all I need to do is call any of my friends currently going through a divorce?
There’s always a “but” here, and here is mine – I get caught up on pop culture fever. (Like duh, she says, you totally write a blog about fashion. Like oh-em-gee Ellie!) So my sister and I grabbed a bottle of pink champagne, a frozen self-rising pizza and planted ourselves in front of the television to watch the complete season one.
Twelve years ago, when the show debuted in 1998, I thought it was hilarious. I was seventeen, sexually chaste, and experiencing love, romance and physical intimacy all for the first time. Even in 2004, when the show ended and I was engaged and planning a wedding, I still laughed out loud. Certainly my eye caught the fashion elements more than my younger self, but I found the show wonderfully funny and wonderfully empowering throughout it’s first run.
It’s not so funny as I approach thirty and I find myself another one of these women. In the episode “Bay of Married Pigs”, the girls rant about how at their age, being single puts them at odds with their married or partnered counterparts. And yes, it’s absolutely true – being single makes you the odd one out when people begin to decide that they would like to grow-up together. While I don’t think we become enemies, as Miranda so bluntly pointed out, we’re the sock left over in the dryer. We’re not paired, we’re not grouped, and we’re certainly not figured out. In the adult world, we begin to get left out. Single women don’t fit in nicely at couples dinners. How do you arrange the table? At weddings, we are useful for throwing flowers at but little else in the way of ballroom dancing. We go out, hopefully to meet people, in some attempt to figure ourselves out so that society at large can be comfortable with us.
As I watched the episode, I thought back to a few weekends ago. A close family friend got married and it’s generally agreed that it was a fabulous ceremony and an even better reception. However, besides the fourteen year old maid-of-honor and bride’s sister, I was the only single woman there. If we count another close friend in the mix, a man who was recently divorced, there were all of three single people at the wedding. Everyone else was paired up. Thank goodness the DJ played maybe three slow songs. He needed to make up to us single ladies for getting women in relationships out to catch the bouquet. Alright, he needed to make it up to me.
When you’re thirty (or close enough), the means and places to meet people dwindle. So it’s the bar, the club, the art gallery opening. And in this town, or perhaps any town, that leads to a lot of casual sex with the prospect of more formal sex later on. Single men and women try each other on after the sidewalks are rolled up. I’m to blame too. I do it. I’m honest about my needs. I just hope that I have not tried on a man who is on lay-away or in the lost-and-found. And so I ask myself the question: are single women in their late-twenties and early-thirties the new concubine? We’re a cultured lot, a more youthful group than any other in any other time. We can discuss the state of the state and Albany (not New York or national obviously) politics, as well as enjoy a nice scotch (Taliskers), and look fabulous in whatever trend we choose to slip into.
Watching Sex and the City in 2010 is significantly different. I’m older, hopefully a little wiser, but more importantly (or perhaps more unfortunately), is that I am a single woman living in a city (not THE city), who would like to meet someone that she could grow up with. And she’s failing at it, just like Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte did in those first seasons. Watching the HBO series is less like watching satire and more like watching dramatic interpretations of the lives of my friends. What I laughed at ten years ago has suddenly become an emotional subject. It is amusing that I was the only single person of age at a large wedding, but only from the outside. My friends have often chuckled at my (sometimes lack of) sexual exploits because they are hilarious. Just like I laughed once at Sex and the City.
Not that I’m sobbing over my single status in this world. I suppose, just like Carrie, I make the most of it by being fiercely independent and using the experience as a creative, and hopefully fun, outlet.