The most terrifying two-word combination that a single woman can read is “and Guest” written in calligraphy on the front of an oversized, ecru-colored envelope. Even the most self-assured woman is stopped dead in her tracks when she realizes that she is expected to bring a date to a social function and she can’t think of anyone to take with her.
I recently received one of those envelopes. My friend Sharon was getting married. My first thought was, Oh my God. Who am I going to invite as my guest? I can’t show up alone. “and Guest” implies that they are expecting me to bring a date. An escort. A dance partner.
I went through a mental checklist of all of the men I know. Let’s see now. What about Henry? No, he’s married. John? No, he’s seeing someone else. Robert? No, his behavior embarrasses me when we’re out in public. There’s Carl. No, I unceremoniously dumped him and humiliated him in front of his friends and co-workers. Humm. I wonder if he’s still holding a grudge?
I searched for my address book. I frantically flipped through the pages trying to remember which men I hadn’t referred to as “The Asshole of the Year” to my friends. Looking at the names, I wished that I had returned some of those telephone messages from phone calls that I had avoided. Messages that were left on my answer machine by men while I stood there listening their voices over the speaker as they poured out their hearts onto a twenty-second tape. As I considered how my past behavior resulted in my current predicament, I reprimanded myself, I have to change my ways. Tomorrow.
I began to panic. I suppose that I could respond and tell Sharon that I would not be able to go to her wedding. No, that wouldn’t work. I would have to come up with an excuse, a lie, and then I would have to remember it for the rest of my life. Then I would have to be on my toes at all times and be prepared to convincingly discuss my excuse, in great detail, every time Sharon reminisced about her wedding. Maintaining a lie for several years is just too much pressure for me to endure. Lying was not an option.
Wait just one minute! Sharon knows perfectly well that I’m not dating anyone right now. Is she trying to punish me? Is she trying to humiliate me? How could she be so cold? I became indignant, That’s it! I’m not going and that will show her! Those thoughts faded when reality stepped in and I remembered that the world doesn’t revolve around me and that Sharon’s wedding ceremony and reception were not maliciously planned with the express purpose of embarrassing me.
I thought about being honest and logical. Perhaps I could call Sharon and tell her that I didn’t have a date to bring and ask her if she had invited any single men who also need a date. No, then I would look pathetic. Pathetic and desperate, a sad combination.
I looked at the invitation again. The date of the wedding was six weeks away. I had to come up with a plan of action. Humm. I could go out and actively pursue men. Let’s see. If I met a man this weekend, we could have three, four, possibly five dates before Sharon’s wedding. We would appear comfortable together and after six weeks there would be a good possibility of some hand-holding and sweet glances.
But there was the very real possibility that I would not meet a potential “and Guest” right away. I calculated, if I met someone two or three weeks from now, we might only be able to get in a few dates before the wedding. This could create a familiarity and comfort issue. What if I don’t know him well enough to determine what his idea of formal wear is? It could be an expensive suit or a T-shirt with a tuxedo stenciled on the front.
I considered going to a popular restaurant in my neighborhood and making the announcement that I had been invited to a wedding. I would explain that I had been asked to bring a date and that I would be interviewing applicants from the hours of nine to eleven at the end of the bar. Along with proof of employment and a valid driver’s license, a list of three references must be provided. Transients and drunks need not apply.
The weeks flew by and before I knew it Sharon’s wedding day had come. I had not arranged for an “and Guest.” I was going to the wedding alone, unescorted. Things could be worse, I thought. Sharon could have asked me to be a bridesmaid.
(From The Grumbling of a Chronically Single Woman, By Randi Sherman author of PAULA TAKES A RISK)