Back in December, I got an e-mail with the subject line “Bridget Jones for the 21st Century.” It was a press release announcing the publication of a book by British author Melissa Kite. The Art of Not Having it All is a hilarious recap of Kite’s adventures, and misadventures, in dating and in life in general. As a 46-year old single woman, I can totally relate. Dating and life on your own are not for the faint of heart. But sometimes, if you’re happy, its more than enough. And it’s definitely NOT boring.
I asked Kite to answer some questions for me via e-mail, and she graciously agreed.
You have been called a Bridget Jones for the 21st Century. How do you think you are like Bridget Jones?
I think I’m just one of those people who can’t avoid trouble. If there is a crisis to get into, I’m there, front of the queue.
I’m pathologically honest, which is not always a good idea, especially when it comes to men. I’m horribly drawn to disastrous romantic situations, in the way people with vertigo can’t help staring over the edges of cliffs. People ask why I do it, but if you read the book you will see that I just can’t help myself. I’ve got Singletons Disease. There ought to be a support group for people like me.
How do you feel you are different from Bridget?
I’m ruder and more misanthropic than Bridget, who was a sweet thing really and forever hopeful, which is probably why she got her man in the end, at the age of 34 – something I lament as I approach 40 in my book. I think, in truth, I might be more like Larry David (of Curb Your Enthusiasm). The glass is always three quarters empty and I can be a real pain in the ass. I expect the worst, and am half pleased when it happens because I like to feel vindicated. I want them to write on my gravestone: ‘I told you it would end badly.’
What was your favorite story in the book?
I’m not sure I have favorite stories, as such, because I’m pretty much recounting all the most embarrassing things that have ever happened to me. But the time I accidentally on purpose groped my obsessive-compulsive boyfriend’s elderly uncle under the dinner table would probably rank as one of my most impressive shameful moments. The boyfriend wasn’t at all pleased when he found out.
What was the toughest thing to write about?
Oh, the stuff about the abusive boyfriend who made me line up my shoes was easily the most difficult episode to write, and people reacted to it very differently. Some said they felt sorry for me but a lot of people, including my mother, got quite cross and said what an idiot I had been to put up with him. So basically I got harassed by a psychopath, and then told off for it, which is typical of my luck. I was also genuinely sad when I recounted how I once tried to adopt a child. I did feel wretched about being rejected in such a dismissive way. I still think, despite all my shortcomings, I would have made a terrific mom. Ask Cydney, my cocker spaniel, and she will vouch for me. I’m great fun, tremendously caring, and very good at spotting ticks and fleas.
What is your best advice to single women over, let’s say, 35?
This is tricky, because if you are still single at 35, there is nothing to panic about. You’ve still got a good year, maybe 18 months, before you need to register with a leading fertility doctor and start looking for a sperm donor. I’m kidding. But seriously, don’t leave it beyond 37. That’s just asking for trouble.
I personally try to avoid romantic disasters. I tend to avoid romance, period. My disasters usually take place behind the wheel of my car. I’m a nervous driver to put it politely, and have the accident reports to prove it.
But I think support and good friends are definitely important as you play the dating game. It’s an urban jungle out there. Maybe if I could find a support group in my area…
Think you’ll give Kite’s book a try? You can check out some of her Spectator columns here.