Jane Helpern

Jane Helpern


Writer & Over-sharer. @janeohelp jane@cultistzine.com

So my best friend is getting married, and I am beyond ecstatic for her. She and I used to joke (in grave seriousness) that we’d be alone forever. We fancied ourselves unwifeable, unmanageable, and unable to be domesticated. After ten years of friendship and an unquantifiable amount of vodka, Thai food, tears, couching, complaining, and “clubbing”, she’s engaged to a lovely southern gentleman, and I am in a committed relationship with my wonderful boyfriend.

Yesterday he (my boyfriend) asked me, “How does it make you feel that your best friend is getting married before you? Do you suddenly feel the itch to hurry up and get hitched?” (Cue: Cat claws sprouting out of nowhere). First of all, you’re an asshole. Second of all, she’s a whole year and a half OLDER than me, so she’s SUPPOSED to get married before I do. That’s just the order of operations. Like my older sister getting her period before me. It’s a right of passage. (I don’t have an older sister). And also, you probably don’t want to have this conversation unless you’re prepared, with ring in hand, or budget to purchase one (you aren’t and have neither), and also for me to say, “Yup, let’s do this shit today.” But, since he asked…

It’s not that it isn’t a justified question, because it certainly is, but for a moment his candidness caught me off guard, and caused me to squirm around in my own skin, instinctually and without any hint of subtlety, dodging and deflecting with an offended gasp and an innocent, “I have no idea what you’re talking about!” expression. Doesn’t he know that these sentiments, those of envy or urgency or ticking clocks or whatever they are, are meant to remain unspoken? That these kinds of concerns are universal but are never uttered out loud to judgmental crowds? Instead they are just stuffed into cream-colored tulle, or down our throats, stifling us in the form of popcorn while we laugh awkwardly at Kristen Wiig laughing awkwardly while Maya Rudolph plans a wedding, sitting next to our varying degrees of married, single, divorced, and pregnant friends and pretending that all of our relationship (and life) statuses are whatever they are completely of our own freewill and fruition and not at all due to extenuating circumstances or unprotected sex or completely impenetrable defense mechanisms.

But I’m not the best liar, and couldn’t be a “writer” if I were without my willingness to divulge everything, regardless of how tacky or tactless it makes me look. I mean, what kind of person, upon hearing the news of her best friend’s engagement, proceeds to pen a post about how said impending nuptials make them feel. Well, righteous folks, hop of your high, high horse, because I did. And I think that’s why she loves me, or so I tell myself. Because her birthdays have always been “our” birthdays, and now her wedding is my literary muse.

So, I know that you’re just dying to know. How does it make me feel? The answer is a cacophony of things, including very old, combined with a strong desire to online shop and also to get pregnant so I can one her up (totally kidding about that last part. I think I might be infertile. Babies are so expensive, anyway. Anyways!) But, seriously folks. The fact that my best friend, who once upon a time could hardly commit to a Friday night engagement has now invited me to fly out to Mississippi for this particularly special engagement, is an amazing, monumental, emotional, pivotal, symbolic, $450 flight-worthy milestone and I couldn’t be more elated for her and for him. And yes, naturally, it does make me contemplate my own situation. And it does make me a little self-conscious. But not in all the ways you’d think. Not in the way that I need a Xanax or am going to begin sobbing and screaming ultimatums if I don’t become a fiancé in the next three weeks (Talk to me in a year, though). But in the way that it makes me realize that I’m still just not ready to be a wife. The word still sort of makes me cringe. And that makes me feel like a freak. And the more that my friends effortlessly ease into that role, the more I wonder what’s wrong with me.

So my challenge, just as it has always been, is not to compare myself to others, whether it is in terms of waistlines, hourly wages, or life stages. I’ve never thought of myself as an old-fashioned girl, because if you fuck on the first date, can you really be? (Ed note: Yes, you can. And fuck anyone who says you can’t).  I don’t do that, I’m just wondering. Hypothetically. (Ed Note: Mmmhmm). But really, I feel like I’ve got a lot to learn before I’m ready to say yes to the dress. Like how do you do laundry and why is the oven making that beeping sound and what is a fixed-rate mortgage exactly? This is not rhetorical. I’d like an answer please.

So, for the time being, no, I don’t have the “itch to get hitched,” or any itch, for that matter (yay monogamy!) I’m very content with the knowledge that I’m working on myself and working towards that goal. I’ll probably be the last one of all of my friends to get married, but at least I’ll have this really witty series of totally insightful, not-bitter-at-all essays to look back on in hopes of remembering why I didn’t pressure my 40-year-old boyfriend to do anything he wasn’t ready to do.

Next up: How to prepare for a Mississippi wedding ( and avoid catching the chiggers)  in the sweltering August heat.

Jane Helpern

About Jane Helpern

Writer & Over-sharer. @janeohelp jane@cultistzine.com