Enter your email address here to become a follower!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Splat-ter of the Week: Claudia Connell

Never heard of Claudia Connell? We hadn’t either until we got wind of a piece she wrote that appeared this week in London’s Daily MailOnline.  The article, entitled “The Lonely Legacy Of My Sex And The City Lifestyle", offers the perspective of a single female in her mid-40s. 

We can sum it up with a phrase from the Magic 8-Ball we played with as a kid: “Outlook not so good.”

Connell writes of middle-aged singlehood with the despair and hopelessness of a music critic forced to review “Snooki Sings Motown.” (And before you ask, no, we don’t know if this album will be out in time for the holidays.  We made it up for Heaven’s sake. And even if we hadn’t, as hateful gifts go, it can't compete with airline pie.  Duh.)

She states, “At the age of 46, I accept that my opportunity to have a family has gone and the changes of meeting a decent man aren’t looking too rosy either.”  And then she describes people in her demographic –single and 45-64 years of age--as “[m]aterially well-off but emotionally bereft.” 

These lines got our attention.  (The team at Splatospheric was single at 39, married at 40, and divorced at 41.)  They also got Connell this week’s Golden Pancake.

Connell, a journalist, has been single her whole life.  She chose a bachelorette existence in her 20s and 30s and embraced the lifestyle glamorized by SATC. 

Once content with her status as a poster child for the iconic series, Connell now laments it.  (Maybe the poster has started to fade and droop in areas that were perfectly perky ten years ago.)  

According to the article, Connell regrets spending her 20s and 30s making money and partying it up when she could’ve been nesting and pairing it up.  She claims the herd of available men starts to dwindle when women reach their mid-30s and is nearing extinction ten years later.  Moreover, men who are available don’t want to date women their own age.  In sum, she believes she's doomed to perpetual loneliness. 

Connell performs a root cause analysis of her still-single state and blames herself for setting standards that were too high for the suitors who pursued her in her heyday. 

We’ve don’t know Ms. Connell but we do know we see this landscape differently. Here’s how it looks to us:
·       We must have watched a different version of SATC than Connell.  Sure, the show's plotlines focused on the characters' romantic relationships.  But overall we thought the show encouraged women to embrace adventure and march to their own beat, no matter what tune society played in the background.  This theme has aged quite nicely, in our opinion.  Adventure remains as worthy and fun a companion to us at 41 as it was ten years earlier, even if we look for it in different places.  Instead of sitting on a barstool or dancing in a club, you might find it taking a writing class, playing amateur tennis, and going to a Chexican wedding.

·       Adventure is no proxy for family. We get that.  But it may pay to keep an open mind in this arena as well.  “Married with kid(s)” isn’t the only conduit through which the current of familial love flows, or even necessarily the most fulfilling one.  Sometimes its most reliable and enduring arc is the one that runs sister-to-sister, aunt-to-nephews (or niece), or even lifelong friend-to-friend.  

·       Connell worries that she used to be too picky. We don't know her and can’t judge her history but it seems like at one of her present criteria –age—is still a bit restrictive.  Someone who thinks she should’ve said “I Do” to Mr. “You’ll Do” can surely nudge her target numbers a few years in either direction to beef up the herd. 

·       We worry that Connell has elevated form over function.  She notes it might be nice to have someone to cook for, watch mindless TV with, or “just offload to after a particularly bad day.”  And she wishes she had a handy partner who could help her with heavy lifting and other household problems she solves by writing a check.  This doesn’t strike us as a realistic portrait of a companion so much as a cardboard cutout with a toolbelt.  Fulfilling companionship consists of much more than mere physical presence.  While that can be critical, it doesn’t guarantee emotional presence, the quality most people seek in a companion.  We wonder if Connell has ever experienced the feeling of trying to offload a particularly bad day to a partner who doesn’t care.  Or to have a mate who fixes things around the house but constantly reminds you that he does it because you can’t, and that you don’t appreciate him enough.  This kind of “companionship” generates a loneliness that crushes your soul as if it were a ripe tomato rolling into the path of a tractor trailer.  We’ll take singlehood over that kind of isolation eight days a week.  

We aren't here to discount Ms. Connell’s perspective.  It's hers and it's valid.  But we’re still giving her the Golden Pancake because, if she believes what she wrote about the single life, she’s hit the wall hard and has quite a slide ahead of her.  Sounds like it’s lonely at the bottom, too.   

2 comments:

  1. Only have one thought on that- don't hit Publish when you are at rock bottom. I can only hope that she is having a rough time and doesn't honestly think she should have settled for good enough! If she does, then that is too bad. Your points? I agree entirely!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Peach, if you ever give up blogging (which I hope you won't), may I suggest you take up advice columning? Yeah, the Good Enough bit caused me to concuss myself on my keyboard. I don't think you'd have caught this chick dead at speed dating. But I kinda wish you had, because I think you'd have written her up hilariously.

    ReplyDelete