This I Believe

Paula - Richmond, Virginia
Entered on November 6, 2006

How I Became Sally Rogers

When I was growing up, the person I most wanted to be was Laura Petrie from “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” Not Mary Tyler Moore, but Laura Petrie. I wanted to be married to handsome and witty Rob. I wanted a beautiful house in New Rochelle, NY, which sounded much more exotic than may hometown in northern Indiana. But most of all, I wanted to be beautiful, graceful, charming, and to look fabulous in Capri pants. Mind you, I possessed none of those attributes, but that didn’t stop me from wanting them.

As I mature, it is becoming painfully obvious to me that instead of becoming Rob’s wife Laura Petrie, I have morphed into Rob’s perpetually single comedy writing partner, Sally Rogers. I am the “great gal” who everyone loves to have around, because I can sing and make people laugh. (My upper arms also do that flabby thing that Sally Rogers’ arms did when she spread them wide to really bring home the ending of “I Wanna Be Around to Pick up the Pieces.”)

Like Sally Rogers, however, I’ve never been lucky with single men. I’ve had my share of Herman Glimpshire’s, but never a serious, long-term relationship. It’s as if single men can also sense that I’m a “great gal”; fun to have around, but not . . . “something” . . . enough to find romantically interesting.

For a while, when I was in my 20s, people would say, “Oh, you have plenty of time. Just you wait…men will be falling all over you, and your biggest worry will be having to choose one. You’re just a late bloomer!” Well, I’m in my mid-40s now, and I’m still waiting to bloom. My married friends and family members don’t tell me anymore that I have plenty of time. They just smile at me in a way that lets me know they don’t have a clue what it’s like to be 45, single, childless, and husbandless. I can’t tell if the look in their eyes is pity, fear, disdain, or just confusion. Or, maybe I’m imagining things…projecting my own self-pity, fear, disdain and confusion onto their expression. Because, it can be scary to not fit the mold of normalcy. It can be frustrating to have to endure the “Well, if you had children, you’d understand,” admonitions. And, it can be confusing to have people tell you what a “great gal” you are and to still be quite single.

So, what I believe is that for some of us the typical American dream of spouse, house, and kids never gets off the ground. And as precious as that dream is, I believe that other dreams are just as valuable.

I also believe that there is a dignity to being single…and not just a little bit of freedom. After all, at least Sally Rogers just had a cat. Laura Petrie had to live with Richie!