Taking no prisoners. Including herself.

So it seems that 29 is the lucky age where I get to become acutely aware of this whole “age” business — or, rather, the “stage of life” I’m in — or, rather, “should” [?] be in.

That is to say, I have been attending a shit-load of weddings and baby showers.I attended the wedding of a childhood friend. Her sister and I had grown up next door to each other since 5th grade. She would hop over the fence and jump on my trampoline. I’d go next door for macaroni and cheese. We’d choreograph dance routines to The Little Mermaid soundtrack. We’d walk home together and gossip about boys. Her favorite color was pink.

Her favorite color is still pink. It was a pink wedding, with pink carnations and pink bridesmaids dresses and pink cummerbunds for all the groom’s men. The little flower girl (cute as a button) even threw pink rose petals along the aisle as she rounded out the procession.

It was quite a classy affair. Tastefully done (somehow pulled off even with all that pink) and I am very happy to believe that the bride got the wedding of her dreams.

I neglected to bring a date. I suppose because we are such childhood, family friends, it was in my head that I would just attend the wedding with my parents, also invited.

I also don’t, um, have a date.

Kindly, they sat me at a “young person’s table” with other similarly-aged friends, some of who I knew from high school, others I met and happily carried on light but pleasant conversation.

My parents had to take off early to attend another event (we deJongs, we are socially booked people), and I waved good-bye, content that I could enjoy myself parentless and dateless; I’m out-going. I’m friendly. I can get by.

I couldn’t help but notice that I was the only one not paired up. And I don’t mean not having brought a date — I mean paired up, as in “we are married; we are engaged; [or] we are in a very serious, soon-to-be engaged/married” kind of affair.

Never in my life have I noticed this. Traditionally, I don’t bat an eye if I’m single. (Traditionally, I celebrate it*) But it was kindly shoved in my face when — in typical wedding fashion — it was time to toss the bouquet.

“All riiiight!” The wedding DJ announces over the PA, “it’s time to get all the single ladies out on the dance floor!”

I freeze. There is a splinter of a memory of my brother’s wedding. The plastic purple bouquet slow-mo-ing through the air, dragging like butter, all sound muted, as I elbowed my way through the throng of single ladies dressed in satin, and soared through the air — my hand closing around my prize.

(Ok, I didn’t elbow, per se. But there was some skillful maneuvering).

The memory dissolves. A thought replaces it:

“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me. The only single people at this entire pink wedding are me and the little flower girl.”

A couple of the women sitting at my table grabbed my arm.

“Come on, Shannon! All the single ladies. Let’s go!”

I curled my lip and squinted one eye. “Explain to me how you’re single,” I said, pointing at her ring finger, a glittering halo of ice and silver.

“Oh, well, you’re still considered single until you’re actually married. I’m only engaged.”

Of course.

So out we go, a pulsing mass of estrogen and flowers. Many women found their place shyly in the back. Others proudly stood in front and cheered. I found my place flatly against the wall. Surveying the crowd, though, I can promise you one thing: I was the only unpaired, unattached, unbridled one among them.

(Aside from the 7-year-old flower girl.)

And this made me feel — for the first time in my life — terribly uncomfortable.

I should qualify this and say that it was not the simple fact that I was single that made me feel embarassingly lame — it was the simple fact that I noticed it.

“Oh my God. I’m that girl.”

To be continued…

*Traditionally, I flaunt it.

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