I went for drinks with my family this weekend for my Uncles birthday, and in retrospect I really should have been more prepared. It’s like going into battle and not wearing armour or wearing a white t-shirt with no bra when there’s torrential rain. Don’t get me wrong, I adore my family, and love spending time with them, but there’s always the onslaught of questions. Oh the questions.
I knew what was to come when my Auntie said: “So…Helen…” (This is never good, at this point sirens were going off in my head, there were beads of sweat forming on my forehead and my mouth felt like it was suddenly filled with sand, and no amount of wine was going to rectify the situation.) “…No boyfriends on the scene?” This is the point in the evening where I have to justify the fact that I simply don’t appeal to the opposite sex to someone I barely see. There must be a secret society of extended family members all over the world who plot to make you feel uncomfortable and generally terrible about yourself every time you see them. I saw my younger sister sitting across from me with her boyfriend, like something from the notebook and I knew there was no way out. I couldn’t even say that I’ve been so focused on my career that I have no time for dating either, that’d be a barefaced lie too. You can imagine then, I wanted to crawl into my glass of wine and stay there for the remainder of the evening.
Oh well, the show must go on. I was torn between saying that there’s no-one I’m really interested in at the moment or that I’m playing the field. So either my Auntie thinks I’m a lesbian or a tramp. A part of me wishes that either of those options were true ‘cause at least then I’d have something to say to shut her up. Instead I looked awkwardly at her and mumbled something unintelligible under my breath. There was so much sadness in her eyes, made worse by the fact that she told me “Oh but you’re such a beautiful girl Helen!” That was the final slip of the knife into my heart.
What is it about these questions that make us so uncomfortable? Every insecurity you have about your career or love life is brought to light to make you feel even more depressed about the situation. I found myself questioning whether I was telling my Auntie that I was fine with things the way they are or myself.
In any event I managed to avoid further embarrassment by telling her she looked beautiful as well and asking if she wanted a drink. If there’s one thing people want more than information about your personal life it’s compliments and alcohol. Three cheers to inadequacy!