Posted Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012, at 2:43 PM
Photograph by Eric Feferberg/AFP/Getty Images.
Single people, you are everywhere. Your womenfolk helped seal Obama’s victory and the whole lot of you are all over my television screen. Books? You’ve written some and are writing more! Hugely popular magazine stories about you? They exist. Hugely popular magazine stories about you now being adapted for TV? It happens! Demographic data that irrefutably proves your existence? You exist! Sociological examinations of what that data means? It exists.
You know what don’t exist, apparently? Hallmark greeting cards to celebrate your singleness. Writing for the Atlantic under the headline “Single People Should Get to Have Weddings, Too,” Millie Kerr wonders when single people will finally get their own holidays and life cycle events:
When will barometers of celebration reflect the growing number of singletons?
I decided to pose that question to Hallmark, which seems to have a greeting card for every imaginable occasion. Jaci Twidwell, Hallmark's publicity manager, told me, "We don't have any new greeting cards specific to milestones in a single adult's life. But we do have cards for occasions that might be celebrated with a little more energy by a single person who doesn't have things like wedding anniversaries to celebrate. New Home, New Job or New Aunt would be examples."
Twidwell needn’t be so sneery about it, but the cards she mentions—Congratulations on Your New Condo! Awesome Promotion! Yes, You’re an Aunt!—do celebrate actual events in actual people’s lives, and as stipulated above, actual people include single people.
I’m curious what single-specific cards could go on the shelves that wouldn’t be incredibly condescending or silly. “Good Luck on Your JDate” seems off. There are, actually, whole sections of greeting cards aimed at many, many single people: Birthday cards, for when you have a birthday every year. Sympathy cards, for when your mother/uncle/pet/friend dies. Get Well Soon, for when you are sick (and alone). There are also Christmas cards, Hanukkah cards, Halloween cards, blank cards, and those “Just for Fun” cards that aren’t ever really that fun. True, there are some cards at your local Hallmark Identity Crisis Store that might not work for you. You know which cards don’t work for me, a 35-year-old married mother of two? The ones for everyone under 35. Do not get me a 21st-birthday card when I turn 40. I won’t find that funny.
Kerr goes on to write:
While it's clear that some companies are capitalizing on increasingly single demographics, singletons wanting to feel celebrated will have to initiate festivities themselves. You might take your cues from Parks & Recreation's Tom Haverford—who hits the spa on "Treat Yourself" Day—though his fête doesn't revolve around specific life achievements.
What about borrowing from coming-of-age traditions? As children, we receive gold stars for good behavior in school and celebrate increasing maturity with bar and bat mitzvahs, debutante balls, and graduation parties.
If you are single and decide to have an adult bar mitzvah, I am there. With a gift and my electric-slide shoes on. (Don’t cheap out and iPod it, though. You have to get a local radio DJ and also have a dessert table or else it’s bullshit.) If you are single and graduate from something—say, an MBA program or some other accredited institution of higher ed—throw a graduation party! Everyone expects and wants you to do this. (This does not apply to MFAs.) If you want to have a dinner party, Guy Trebay thanks you. If you want someone else to throw you a party, often friends do this when a person announces that he or she is moving. (I believe Hallmark calls this a "Going Away Party.") If you want a gold star for good behavior, you are destined for a life of loneliness. Train your cat to peel off stickers and shut-in now.
There is, however, one thing you cannot have if you are single and that is a wedding. Sucks, I know. But the thing is, you aren’t getting married right now, or maybe ever, which is totally cool. But you can’t not get married and get married. And it’s true, if you stay single forever, you probably will never receive one of those cards with the flabby-jowled husband and saggy-boobed wife on the cover, and some hilarious gross old person sex joke inside. I guess I see your point.