I must apologise in advance for letting you down – this note does not bring joyful tidings of the type you are expecting. I am not pregnant, and you will not be receiving a grandchild in nine months time, but please trust me in knowing that it is probably for the better. What I do want to address is that conversation we keep circling back to. You know, the one we had again last weekend, when I averted eye-contact and told you that I was definitely still very single, and you retorted by blaming me for my lack of trying, stability, or foresight about my future.
You believe that I don’t date because I don’t feel like it. This is not quite true; I tell you that I don’t date because I do not want you to know about even the top two inches of the cesspool that I have to wade through just to find a semi-decent dinner companion, not to mention baby daddy. I don’t feel comfortable telling you about the time my colleague criticised me of being “such a girl!” because I said that I did not want to be fuck buddies. I couldn’t exactly tell you about that guy from Coffee Meets Bagel who informed me “I have to tell a girl that the blowjob was good if I ever want a repeat”. I never heard from him again. And I really, really did not want to tell you about the law student on the scholarship committee who wanted to send a taxi to pick me up, and take me to his place for a “deeeeeeep kiss”. I probably lost out on a $2000/month scholarship because I said no to the booty call, but I still didn’t want to tell you about it.
The truth is, Mother, that dating kind of sucks. The other truth is that you live in a fantasy world where men are not sometimes assholes, and it is very easy to land a tenure-track position in the humanities. I love you for your delusions, and I want you to keep them. I don’t tell you about the gropers, the sleazes, or borderline date rapists because I, ironic as this sounds, want to protect you from the plethora of linguistic perplexities of the modern dating world – “friends with benefits”, “sexual fluidity”, and “I don’t like labels!” – that can crush the self-esteem of even the most well-intentioned, optimistic young woman.
I don’t tell you about these men because not only are they not good enough for me, they are also definitely not good enough for you. I want to shield you from the bad feelings, ick at best and devastation at worst, that comes from knowing that your kid is making misstep after misstep. You told me to never second-guess myself, my attractiveness, or what I have to offer in a relationship; I can assure you that you do not want to be here when I prove time and again that it does not take much, or long, for that self-doubt to inevitably kick in.
Maybe I am also just really bad at dating. I may be too much of a bro around my actually-nice male friends, or frequent the wrong bars, or scare off Tinder matches with my tendency to use too-witty jokes. But please know that I am ready to trust someone – I’m just trying to avoid being stomped on, neglected, or otherwise mistreated along the way.
Love, your daughter,
P.S. Please tell Cousin Marnie congratulations on her engagement. While you pass on my message, can you please also add that I was voted best speaker at the recent department conference? Actually, can you say that I dazzled so much that a cute postdoc asked me out? I can make a fake LinkedIn profile if I have to.