I have a confession. After spending the majority of my life deeming Valentine’s Day for suckers and championing all the single ladies, I have become a Smug Married.
Following this startling revelation, I got to thinking: how did I get here and why? Like all afflictions, there was a stage of denial. If I was a Smug Married, the single women in my life must have turned me into one. After all, I was the girl who had a two-year engagement and could count on one hand how many times I had used the word fiancé. I had spent the majority of my prime dating years as Single, Loud and Proud. And I looked down at women who only befriended the opposite sex, secretly labeling them women-haters. I was a girls’ girl—the friend you called for Sunday brunch, “E! Live from the Red Carpet” specials and the “Sex and the City” finale.
I caught an old episode of SATC where Carrie and Co. visit the suburbs for a friend’s bridal shower. The Manhattan foursome is subjected to Suburban Smug Marrieds with Children who spew weird, random things like “I love my son. He’s 11 months old, a total god and perfect” before turning on their heels to refill their punch. Yikes! Sooo relieved to not be a Smug Married living in Dullsville.
But it made me wonder: who were these women and how did they get to be that way? As difficult as it was, I forced myself to look inward and wondered if I was next. I was 30 years old and married with a dog. I also realized I’d begun making excuses to skip out on plans with my Single Friends so that I spent no more than two or three nights per week away from the homestead.
After some introspection and a few bottles of wine, I got very defensive. With myself, yes, and I became adamant in my convictions that I was still a strong single girl at heart and had not abandoned my kind for the lesser, you know, more smug kind. Just because I wasn’t out until 4 am at some spot where they only let in hot chicks didn’t make me smug. My ideal weekend no longer consisted of brunch, shopping and dinner, but I was still part of the crew. Or was I?
Soon afterwards, I found myself out to dinner with the girls smiling and nodding about how awesome it was that Single Friend A had met her fifth tattooed male South African of the month. Single Friends B, C and D all laughed uproariously, remembering how the South African and friends had picked up their pricey bar tab and then swept them past the velvet rope at another bar. Too bad I’d missed it, they said, what did you do this weekend?
I felt my throat tighten. After stuttering about an early dinner with a couple who just had a baby, organizing the second bedroom and grasping to remember what it was I could have possibly done with those 60 odd hours, I realized I wasn’t a Smug Married. They were Smug Singles.
So I bitched about it with other friends in relationships and found myself here, writing about my feelings. I had a few more introspective moments, more bottles of wine, survived the stage of denial and suddenly realized I was on a two-way street.
I had been that girl. I had been a Smug Single.
In my early 20s, a friend of mine who would annoyingly refer to her boyfriend as “My Honey” seriously got on my nerves. She’d bail on Girls Nights Out or be on her cell with him using a baby voice that made me want to barf and throw it at her. So when she’d flake, I’d talk endlessly about our late night and how some British men had picked up our tab and introduced us to an Olsen twin. She would smile, nod and say something like “must be nice” and follow it up with some passive excuse about not being able to make it out because they broke the bed during intercourse.
I never, ever wanted to be like her. When I finally fell in love, I refrained from unnecessary relationship gloating. Why wouldn’t I come out for post-dinner drinks anymore, they wanted to know … Well, it’s because I actually look forward to bolting up the stairs of my walk-up, flinging open the door and nose-diving on to the couch, right in between my Husband and Dog. I even lamely call him en route, just to let him know I’m coming home.
My Smug Married beast still rears its ugly head on occasions where Single Friends A-D recount bellini-fueled weekends that make my weekend look like poo in comparison and seem boring at the same time. It’s the same reason I morphed into a Smug Single back in the day. But I know that for me, at least, when I was single, no matter how many Olsen Twins I befriended or fashion shows I was invited to, the one thing I couldn’t fit in to my weekend itinerary was a Sunday Night Couch Snuggle with a man who loved me.
You gotta admit, if that’s not a reason to be smug, I don’t know what is.
But Valentine’s Day is still for suckers.