People love to throw me relationship hypotheticals. There’s something about a single woman that others jump to challenge, as if she’s not worthy of her own preferences. It’s another form of blame wielded against single women to demonstrate to them that their own singleness is all their fault because they’ve committed the crime of having standards. We should all be dating pond algae, really, how dare we be so picky? Hypothetical-flingers are looking to debunk whatever dealbreakers I have left like they’re earning a very disconcerting badge of honor. As if they win a prize for showing me that the things I want are the exact things I can’t have. Makes ‘em feel like real winners.
I don’t want kids, so people love to ask me what I’ll do if I fall in love with a man who wants or has kids. I never want to live in Los Angeles again, so they give me that entirely fake ultimatum, too. Like they’re expecting to be the miracle worker that points out my own silly stubbornness to me, resulting in marriage to the next person who comes along, because with my dealbreakers in place, joy would surely elude me. I assume they intend to officiate the ceremony? I don’t know.
And somewhere in the midst of this little game I remind them that I don’t have to settle for scrap, I’m not quite a rodent scavenging on the garbage pile of life just yet, and that any man whose preferences and realities don’t align with my own very simply isn’t the man for me. And that’s fine. There’s also a troubling societal notion that single women should bend and twist themselves to make things “stick” with whatever guy they’ve got on the hook at the moment, and I’m more of a “toss it back” kind of gal. Someone else will happily reel it in, I’m sure.
But the best hypothetical, in my opinion, is, “What if he’s allergic to your cat? What if you meet the perfect guy for you, literally the love of your life, but he’s allergic to your cat? To all cats? The only way you could ever be romantically happy and in love ever again is if you also have to live the rest of your life cat-free? What then, Shani? Huh?”
I find this so cute. And it’s the one instance when even my “he’s not the one for me” argument holds little water. It’s so hard for people to believe that a cat could factor into someone’s life in a potent way. It’s just a cat, right?
My cat’s name is Clementine. Clementine Josephine Silver for tax purposes. Princess Fluffy Tushy around the house. I adopted her on New Year’s Eve 11 years ago and left the party I was at before midnight because I knew I’d have more fun at home. She is a mixed breed cat, a blend of Ragdoll, Maine Coone, and Swiffer Duster. She requires quarterly in-home groomings and her claws can open Amazon packages. Her litter box habits are fickle at best. And every rug in the house is little more than a hairball repository in her view. However: she is my dearest companion and greatest comfort in this life and no one, literally no one, shall take her from me.
Let me explain something: There is absolutely nothing on this predominantly aquatic planet that could get me to give up my cat for a man. Not with all these allergy shots lying around, no sir. And why should I? It might sound strange to you but if not for her, my life over the course of my singledom would have been ten shades darker and friends, it was already quite inky enough, thanks.
Give her up? For partnership? I need details. I need numbers. And most likely some sort of written agreement. How confident in this union do I get to be before I make such a gamble? Give up my cat? With these divorce rates? You are out of your damn mind. My animal has been my primary source of comfort and support for the last 11 years of my life, where the actual hell has he been?!
She is my confidant and dearest friend. Yes, I have to vacuum my home twice a day but so be it. She is family. She is permanent. She’s not like a toaster I can give to a friend because suddenly counter space is an issue. I’m very serious about this and I don’t think society at large has grasped the weight of my commitment. Chris Evans himself could beg for my hand in marriage and if he’s allergic to my number one girl he and his athletic build can turn around and go home.
No matter how horrific the date, painful the wedding, or sad the shower, I have always had her to come home to. There has always been a pile of fur and purring waiting to give me unconditional snuggles any time I need. In 11 years, I haven’t found a human being who will even text me back at a reasonable clip.
So Clementine stays, come hell or high skin rash, this animal and I are family for the long haul. And hold onto your wedding bands, because I’ll get another cat when she takes her leave, too. The comfort I’ve found in the feline kingdom as a single woman isn’t something I’m ever going to stop enjoying, no matter if there’s a man on the other side of the couch while I Netflix, or just some throw cushions. There will be a cat in the middle, either way.