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Thursday, 1 September 2011

How To Be A Great Single Parent -3 - How To Make Friends

photography by Jon Baker

             It's an Urban myth that all single parents meet at karaoke bars. Some of them go swimming. I've been thumbing through my book “Be A Great Single Parent” now for a few weeks and I've read a few sentences, and can confirm that the book is correct. Not every performer at the Karaoke bar I went to was a single parent. In fact I got the feeling maybe I was the only one. Regardless I stood firm and emoted with a heartbreaking and dare I say it inspirational rendition of that song off Glee. When it ended I looked up into the empty room. I was definitely the only single parent in this Karaoke bar. I looked into the stage lights which momentarily blinded me, bringing with it a sense of disorientation. “Is there anyone out there” I said as I tried to get my sight back. In the distance I heard a mans voice. “No” he said. It must have been the swimming day.
           As I walked home I thought to myself “what am I doing?” Do I really want to find another single parent who shares the same confusions and problems that I face? Someone I could talk to and would accept the weight of my responsibilities, because she would be faced with the same issues. No way. That sounds frumpy. I'm still young(I'm not) I still have some hope for the future(I don't). I'm still hip with the kids (I still dress like a child). Then my thoughts went back to the cashier at the Bookshop where I bought the book Teach Yourself How To Be A Great Single Parent. I may have mentioned her in previous instalments. She definitely looked like she felt sorry for me when I placed the book in her hands. If your playing the long game to a ladies heart, this probably isn't a bad start. At least she feels something. So I thought maybe I will head back there. Before the momentum is totally lost.
        You see it's not easy to meet new people when you're a single parent, people are usually outside and you will find you spend most of your time inside. Rarely do they just knock on the door. Sometimes they do but usually they want to read your gas meter, and they rarely seem to want to stick around once they've done it. This is why the internet becomes such a useful tool for making friends. Luckily I have my trusty handbook and I have studied the chapter, “How To Make Friends On The Internet”. Good thing too because apparently it's a dangerous world. Who knew you were not supposed to give your address out in the initial exchanges. My trademark introductory line of “Hi I'm Babak I live at number 5 Winkley street, where do you live ?” is now made virtually redundant. It goes on to warn you that people in cyberspace are not real friends, they are virtual friends, and in the virtual world people who say they are Barbara might really be Syd. When you arrange to meet Barbara and Syd shows up he will probably try and fob off the surprise as a misunderstanding due to his inability to speed type. To be honest as useful as it sounds it could be it starts to feel more trouble than it's worth. The book suggests that instead of actually talking to virtual people perhaps use the internet to look up a nice salsa dancing or pottery class. It doesn't suggest going back to the bookshop and trying to have a conversation with the lady that might pity you.
          Now I'm not saying that, that's what I did, I don't want anybody getting the wrong idea here. All I'm saying is if you do go back into the shop while your mum and child sit in the car waiting, look assertive. If you know where things are in the shop head straight for self help and find a copy of Teach Yourself How To Chat Up Woman, give it a once over and avoid getting caught reading it. Don't do this.

Handsome Stranger: “How hot is your coffee?”
Lady with Pity: “It was hotter before”
Handsome Stranger: “It's cooled over time”
Lady with Pity: “Yes it has”

There's nowhere you can go from here. If you have a moustache you can shave and try again. If you don't you can grow one and try again, but this way round takes a little longer.

It's not easy being alone when you're not really alone, you have your child and he is your primary focus. It's hard to be free, easy and available. There are single people growing and shaving moustaches on a daily basis asking girls out who can actually go out. The other single parents will understand this. So maybe ask your mum if she can stay in the car with your child for a few more hours. Head back to the karaoke bar and listen to another broken mans rendition of “My Heart Will Go On” and gently weep to yourself. When he is finished give him a hug take the mic and break out “Waterloo”.
Hopefully he will stick around till you finish.

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