I’m turning 30 very soon and I’m (mostly) okay with that. I’ve had a year to get used to the idea and I’ve (mostly) made my peace. But I was watching Jeopardy last night and a clue mentioned that the Danish call a woman who is 30 and unmarried a “pepper maid.” I looked it up. There’s a whole ritual associated with it where your family and friends sprinkle you with pepper on your 30th birthday and give you a giant pepper mill made out of an oil drum. I don’t know about you but if someone were to leave a phallic-covered oil drum outside my door, I’d be pissed.
It got me thinking about other terms used for women of a certain age who have never married. Here’s a selection.
Not to sound weird or anything, but I’ve been calling myself a spinster for a couple years now. I’m joking. Sort of. What was once used as a legal term for any unmarried woman is now a derogatory term, meaning you’re not desirable. A couple trips through online dating and you’ll start to believe it. And question your sanity. Bright spot: Wikipedia lists “Notable Spinsters” as Jane Austin, Emily Dickinson, Susan B. Anthony, Coco Chanel, and Queen Elizabeth I. Those ladies did all right and they didn’t need a man.
From the Wikipedia entry: “Catherinettes was a traditional French label for girls of twenty-five years old who were still unmarried by the Feast of Saint Catherine (25 November). A special celebration was offered to them on this day, while everyone wished them a fast end to their singlehood.” A fast end to their singlehood. Yeah, that makes me feel real good about myself.
I’m not really into cats. I think I’ll be the lady who lives out in the country and hoards a hundred dogs until some do-gooder calls the county and they come take all my precious babies away. Thanks a lot, asshole.
Wow. That took a turn. Anyway, despite the fact that people are waiting longer to get married and have kids, our society as a whole still expects you to be married (or at least be in a long-term relationship) by 30. What’s up with that? Is it better to be a divorced single parent? At least they were married before 30. Dodged that bullet. I admit that this is not how I imagined my life at 30. But am I really going to listen to that confused 18-year-old who still had boy band posters on her walls? No. But that same 18-year-old never let other people tell her how she should be. And this 30-year-old isn’t taking any of that shit either.
When the big day comes I’ll celebrate this new chapter of my life. Just do me a favor and leave the pepper shaker at home.