I email my RSVP to a small reception billed as a “Social.” Now, I am old enough to know what a “Social” is, but I’m not sure the rest of the Facebook/Twitter-ers do. Unless they are devotees of period pieces produced by The BBC that air on PBS. Anyway, I RSVP that I’ll attend (oh, BTW, that’s French for répondez, s’il vous plaît. And, yes, I understand the irony of using “BTW”).
I arrive at the event with a lot of pleasantly surprised “OH! Hi! You’re here!” “OH! You came!” sort-of salutations. I guess, regardless my firm RSVP, no one actually expected me to show up. I take my complimentary 1/16oz glass of wine and start making my rounds. I chat with that guy and the woman who have volunteered for years, and then the three people who put together that thing every year, and finally, the few attending tonight’s little event who serve on my planning committee. Having made my rounds, I set down my long-since empty wine cup and declare it’s time for me to head home.
“Don’t forget,” the Chairwoman of tonight’s Social reminds me, “the annual picnic is coming up!”
“It’s for families, so please bring your kids. Or, grandchildren?”
She’s searching my face for a reaction. I must have looked like a deer caught in the headlights. This is the very first time someone suggested that I look old enough to have a grandchild.
“Or, whatever,” she says, noting my confusion.
“No, that’s OK,” I stammer. “I…don’t…I don’t have kids. Or grandkids. I…”
I work in a community where singlehood by design and barrenhood by design is strange and unsettling. To have to explain why I am the only person in a room of 50 or so people who is not married, or remarried, or who never had children, or stepchildren, is far, far too complicated.
So, I simply make my thank-you’s and say goodnight. I walk back to my car assuming the group of people I made my good-bye’s to are speculating whether I am a lesbian who never coupled, or who can’t embrace artificial insemination or adoption. Whatever. After so many years as a single woman, I’m used to the bias.
What matters to me is that this is the first time someone asked me about grandchildren. Holy crap. I now look old enough to have grandchildren.