Chapter 9: Going Stag To The Border
You and a guest are cordially invited….
Another invite. Another party. Another guest. I am filled with excitement as I open envelope after envelope of wonderful life events that I have the privilege of being invited to by family and friends. Although, I battle the sadness that creeps in as I begin the process of RSVPing.
It won’t come as a surprise to those that know me that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE a good party. Whether it’s a wedding, birthday, engagement, communion, sweet 16, bar (bat) mitzvah, anniversary or work celebration, it doesn’t much matter to me what we are celebrating. I just the love the entire experience of getting dressed up, eating good food, toasting great people and dancing the night away.
However, for the past five years, I’ve experienced anxiety when I get that invite in the mail that is addressed, “You and a Guest are invited…” Because for the past five years I don’t have a guest…I go stag, solo, alone, without an “other.” The self-pity is palpable.
When I met John (aka the Most Interesting Man in NJ as per my blog chapter 7), I was so hopeful that I would now be a PLUS 1. Optimistic that I could say “YES! Ms. Cherry Maggiore and her partner will happily attend your party.”
As you can guess, John is out of my life (cue the Queen song “Another one bites the dust.”) This time though, it wasn’t because he did anything wrong, or that I did anything wrong. He just wasn’t right for me. He wasn’t a strong communicator and communication is non-negotiable for me. Call me crazy, but when I text or call you, I expect a response within a reasonable amount of time; you know like within four to five hours unless there are extenuating circumstance. I don’t consider myself overly demanding of attention, but when John expressed that I was SO millennial in my communication style, I quickly realized this was NOT going to work for me. He meant it as an insult, I took it as a compliment.
I said well fuck if you think I’m millennial’ish because I merely want a response, then that makes you someone who is living in the past and shit out of luck. The rules have changed. And when two people are busy and still getting to know each other, technology allows us to stay connected. Not sure why that would be a problem especially as we manage single parenthood and careers (insert eye roll here).
Ironically, my work husband Mike (John’s college friend) and his wife validated this issue by saying that communication was his biggest downfall since college! I’m so glad I listened to my gut especially when he diminished my feelings and mocked me! I mean for real, that’s just a major red flag. A flag I would have probably ignored before, but not now, not as I’ve found my self-worth and value.
So with that, I’ve decided to break-up with dating. No more dating sites. No more set-ups. No more bullshit. It’s been freeing to just SURRENDER. To stop seeking. To stop trying so hard to control something that is completely out of my hands. To accept that, for now, my journey is to walk life’s path solo. So unless some incredible guy falls from the sky or I meet someone in the meat aisle of Stop and Shop (according to some single lady sources this is THE spot to meet men), I’m going to remain Single. Alone. Stag.
Deciding to attend an event by yourself is so hard at first. Once you decide to go, you then worry about what you’re going to wear and who you are going to hang out with; you know, the people that act as your home base. Then finally the greatest anxiety is the stigma of walking into the party as a single divorced woman, especially post 40. Going to these events can be treacherous as we intersect with married couples. A divorcee can be viewed as a threat. Not intentionally of course, but ultimately we are a threat when we are happy.
The wives/girlfriends are the toughest because sometimes they think you are trying to make a move on their man. But then the men worry that if their wife hangs out with you being single may be more attractive, especially if they recently fought. These are genuinely rough waters to navigate, so I’ve come up with some ways to win as a single divorcee or a single woman at any event you need to attend stag.
Cherry’s rules for going STAG:
- First and foremost, you have to win the wives.
- Do not dress too sexy. Dress on-trend. Wear a statement necklace or shoes.
- Be noticeable but don’t be the center-of-attention (read: LEAVE THAT RED DRESS AT HOME!)
- Don’t go when you’re depressed or in a bad mood. Fake a 24-hour stomach virus.
- Introduce yourself to the women first.
- Prepare questions in advance or have a funny story ready to share.
- Read some interesting articles that might intrigue the people attending the event.
- Seek out the alpha female. You’ll know her cause she’ll be surrounded by other guests, making everyone laugh or telling a good story (even if you have to follow her into the bathroom to make a quick intro. This is not stalking. This is strategic.)
- Don’t make inside jokes with a married male colleague at a work function.
- Earn the women by complimenting their shoes or necklace or perfume. Whatever. Find something. (Ladies, you know we dress for each other not for the men!!)
- Be clever but not too funny
- Don’t out dance anyone. (I made this mistake at a party once, and I never heard the end of it).
Now to the tethered couples, here’s what I will kindly ask of you when you encounter a single divorcee at a party.
- Be kind to her.
- Assume her best intentions until she shows you otherwise.
- Smile at her. Say hi. Maybe even buy her a drink.
- Introduce her to your friends.
- If there isn’t a pre-set seating arrangement, invite her to sit at your table,
- DO NOT ask her about what happened with her ex…honestly that is the LAST thing she wants to talk about when she’s out trying to have a good time.
- Don’t ask her why she’s still single. Assume there’s a reason and it might be painful to talk about.
- Don’t think she wants to meet every guy who is single attending the event.
- Ask her to dance.
- But when that slow song comes on, DO NOT give her a look of pity. And do NOT offer up your husband to dance with her. That’s just uncomfortable and weird.
Keep in mind that it takes a lot of guts to attend an event alone when you are not married or dating. But once you get the courage to do it, you will definitely have a lot of fun (I certainly do!)
Once I accepted the fact that I am ALONE and alone is a beautiful empowering thing, the anxiety started to quell. I get to do what I want when I want and never have to ask permission or compromise on my desires. I arrive and depart when I choose. I make new friends and genuinely enjoy getting to know people I may not have spoken to if I was with someone who requires my full attention. This is not to say that I see a lifetime of going stag, I hope that one day I’ll find someone to attend these events with. Someone who is easy to be around and who will make it even MORE entertaining!
I’ve gained so much by accepting my current state of being single, happy and without a guest. Plus I’ve learned so much about myself by attending events and parties alone. The beauty of all these experiences is that my confidence has grown, I’ve developed many beautiful friendships, my sense of adventure expanded and I’ve laughed until I cried on many occasions.
At the end of the day, I will NEVER say no to a party. So fuck it.
YES! Ms. Cherry Maggiore will happily attend your party…STAG, for now!
Cherry Maggiore is the proud single mom of her 9-year-old super-sassy daughter (aka Miss Sassy Pants or MSP) and 15-year-old pug baby (Tiki Barber); in addition to being an award-winning senior marketing executive at NBCUniversal.
Beside her side hustle as the Freak of Nurture, she also started a home design company after being inspired by renovating and designing her 1880’s home in NJ.
This insanely curious and passionate “multi-potentialite” can be found dancing the Argentinan tango, swing and Hustle every Saturday, cooking her family an Italian Sunday dinner, singing and air drumming at concerts or searching for her next adventure.