• Hayley Hengst

Things You Wonder, When You're Suddenly Single (at 39)


1) How do game nights work now?

I’m not even kidding. Of all the things. This is seriously topping my list. I still get invited to the same things I always did (when I was part of a couple) because my friends aren’t jerks, but when it comes to game nights, I’m not sure that I…or anyone else….know how to proceed. I make the group uneven. Am I to be the judge? The beer girl? Do I need to figure out someone to bring WITH me? I’ve got no idea. It’s a problem.

2) Who is my emergency contact?

A few months back, before my divorce was final, I was at the eye-doctor, and the form I was filling out asked for my emergency contact. I’ve been married since I was practically a child, and so my emergency contact has always been my husband. On this particular day, devoid of any other ideas, I still wrote his name. Of course, the next question asked “relationship to patient?” to which I wrote “Husband. For a bit longer”. "Bit longer" has run it's course, and now I'm just not at all sure who to put. It feels icky to be put my mother’s name down. I’m almost 40 years old. I could put a friend. But what are they gonna do if I inexplicably have a stroke while having my eye examined? Probably call my mom or my ex, I’d imagine.

3) What do I do with my eyes, when sitting at a bar alone?

I don’t even sit at bars alone all that often, first of all.


I did recently, though. I was on a vacation in Jackson Hole, Wyoming with some friends. They were skiing. I wasn’t. I met them for lunch at the lodge, and after we parted ways, I thought “well maybe I’ll just go get a drink”. What I discovered was this: if you sit at a bar alone, but have a wedding ring on, it’s fine. If you sit at a bar alone without one on, you look like you are on the prowl. Or, maybe you don’t look like that at all. But in my mind, that’s how I envisioned looking, and so I avoided eye contact with literally everyone. Just to play it safe. “Not on the prowl, no, but the poor girl might be suffering from some sort of severe social anxiety.” So I guess my question here is, how do you put off a vibe that says, "I MAY be open to convo... but I'm not necessarily dying for it, either. My book is just as entertaining"? (Wait, what? I shouldn't have a book at a bar to begin with?)

4) Why are YOU single?

I know why I’M single, but why are YOU? Are YOU the problem? (asked with narrowed, scrutinizing eyes)


Oh, come on, you do at least WONDER that! People are going to wonder that about me too, I already know. It’s fair. It’s fine. It’s valid. You have to wonder, though. Admit it.

5) What am I supposed to call HIM now?

“My ex” is the natural thing. It’s what he is. That doesn’t roll off my tongue easily, just quite yet. So I find myself referring to him as weird things like “the children’s father” (wtf is that? I don’t ever talk that way. The “CHILDREN’S FATHER”??). I’ve said “the dad of my boys”. Again. What am I even SAYING here? Once, I experimented with calling him my "baby daddy". How a person is going to feel awkward saying "ex", and yet think they can comfortably refer to someone as a "baby daddy", I have no idea. It didn't work for me, I do know that.


6) Why are people not having their KIDS be the one to go on the first date?

Maybe the "hilarious" jokes my ten-year old tells me, are annoying to you. Maybe your kid plays the tuba all day inside the house, or...I don't know.. requires Neosporin for every single scraped knee they get. I'm not sure I can get behind either of those things. I can try, but... I feel dubious. I think I need to take your kids out first, and vice versa, before we proceed. Why is no one doing this? That wouldn't be weird, would it?


So...help me out here! What are the rules? What are the answers to all these questions? What was perplexing to YOU when you first became single (those of you who are). Last but not least...will you be my emergency contact and/or my game night date?


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