This isn’t a sudden realization; it’s been building for years. I am now older than the TV characters who seemed like quintessential grownups on shows when I was a kid: Kate & Allie, Alice, Anne Romano. Yes, all the women that spring to mind immediately were single mothers. There was always something I romanticized about packing up a car with my kids and just starting a new life somewhere in ways that, say, the characters on thirtysomething did nothing for me. (I only watched that show for the first time five years ago, DVDs rented from the library, on the cusp of 40 to see if I gleaned any knowledge about that decade of life.) Doubly strange considering I don’t have children. It always seemed fun to have casual boyfriends who maybe drank a little too much and would hang out with me and my kid (my fantasy involves only one child) from day one, no fussy modern rules about keeping my love life separate from being a parent.
I recently got caught up in a mini One Day at a Time marathon and there was an entire episode around a single’s bar that Anne reluctantly visited at her sassy neighbor, Ginny who waitressed at the behest. There is a scene where a desperate divorcee goes home with a gross guy because she’s lonely and Anne realizes this isn’t her milieu (she also gives away her age by agreeing with this woman that “the joint was really jumping,” apparently, a dated reference) . I watched the entire episode assuming Anne was like 40-ish, still cute, but had been off the market for a while. She does have older teenage daughters. I couldn’t stand not looking Bonnie Franklin’s birthday up and it turns out she was only 33 when that episode aired in 1977.