In the June ‘ issue of The Standard, Lois Goldrich wrote about being single in a couples world and the woman’s learning curve when becoming suddenly single again.
I thought I’d add some thoughts from a male’s perspective.
It is generally assumed that later in life single males have it far better than females. Twenty years ago people believed the horrifying statistic that a 40-year-old single, white, educated female had a better chance of getting killed by a terrorist than of getting married. Even though that seems no longer to be the case (hopefully because it is marriage that is now more likely and not a terrorist strike), the odds and social attitudes do seem to favor males.
I get e-mails all the time about upcoming rapid dating or events. These are evenings in which participants meet one-on-one then every few minutes move on to another "date." Organizers need to have an equal number of men and women because they promise you’ll get to meet a certain number of singles in one night. In the over-40 age groups, many of these events are sold out for females weeks in advance, while organizers have to beg for male attendance. A few days before these events, I typically get last-chance e-mails asking if I’d like to come at a discount or even for free. I’ve learned that the single, non-gay, male is a hot commodity. It’s almost a total reversal from the days of my youth when it was the women who got in free most nights at singles bars.
People also generally assume that the singles scene is a swinging scene. One day soon after my divorce I ran into a rabbi I knew who asked with a great smile how I liked single life. I was tempted to pander to his fantasy and tell him I was exhausted from all the wild parties, but I was honest and said that divorce is not good for anyone.
It’s a couples world and being single is not easy, especially in the Jewish world.
Most congregational activities are full of couples. And almost all my friends are married, so when I started inviting old friends over for Shabbat meals, I was a third wheel in my own home.
At first being single again was bewildering. I had to make adjustments. My first was setting up a real apartment. I decided immediately that I was not a kid out of college, I was not going to be live in a thrown-together bachelor with temporary furnishings. I set about setting up. New furniture, a real set of dishes (actually two sets) and a real kitchen.
Ah, the kitchen. That brings me to the most important decision I made. It took me only a few weeks to realize there would be just so many times I could eat alone in restaurants or bring home Chinese take out. So I decided to learn to cook.
The following advice is directed at divorced men: There are 10 good reasons that a man should learn to cook. The first reason is that women think it’s sexy. Need I go on?
Learning to cook was mostly learning to not be afraid of killing the food. It was a process of learning how forgiving and how flexible recipes can be.
I never became a gourmet chef, but I am now competent at cooking a few things, and it’s opened up several social avenues. I invite company over for home-cooked meals, and I now have a whole new vocabulary and can talk foods and recipes with any woman I meet.
At a party there might be a group of guys talking about last night’s game. But then there’s me, in the middle of a group of women listening to me talk about my recipe for carrot ginger soup (my secret is to add a little maple syrup).
Cooking is not without its issues like portions. Most foods come in family size packages. No one sells one chicken cutlet. So what do we do with the rest? Jars of pasta sauce are never the right size for one portion of pasta. And then there’s the issue of time. Because many singles work, there isn’t time to come home and start cooking at the end of a work day. So I sought out the meals that I could make ahead on weekends using the whole package of food and then have meals ready to eat during the week.
There are ways to work it out but it’s like being a lefty in a right handed world.
Yeah, I’m also a lefty.