Allow me to introduce myself. I am a gainfully employed, God-fearing, law-abiding citizen, and I come in peace. I don't bet on baseball, I take excellent care of my gums, I keep my tray table locked and upright from takeoff to landing. Oh, and there's one more thing: I am what is commonly referred to in polite society as "an unmarried woman." Truth be told, I now have a boyfriend and a baby girl—it's all very modern—but much of my 30s involved ostensibly concerned bystanders averting their eyes, asking how many cats I own, and sharing their private theories on where it all went so hideously wrong for me. Ah, yes, I remember it well. And when I start to forget, I still have plenty of single girlfriends in various states of angst to remind me of the grotesque fix-ups, the ham-handed remarks, and the brutal Thanksgiving dinners. For those valiant, traumatized souls, I present my list of the ten things one must never say, think, or do when dealing with a single woman over the age of 35.

1. Hey, cousin Christy, how 'bout we break with tradition and dispense with that bridal bouquet toss? Believe it or not, it's actually a touch degrading to be shoved front and center next to your spinster aunt Mitzi from Winnipeg as a roomful of revelers hopped up on Champagne and jumbo shrimp chant, "You're next, you're next."

2. The word pickyas in "the reason you refuse to meet my podiatrist's brother-in-law for a night of miniature golf is that you're too picky"—is not only offensive, it's inaccurate. Hell, I'd have dated Ted Bundy if he were willing to meet in a well-lit, public place. No, I suspect it was your description of his "slight comb-over" and "profound desire to one day shake Dick Cheney's hand" that made me release that "catch" back into the wilds of New Jersey.

3. Don't confuse being unmarried with being 11. My love of SpongeBob-shaped macaroni and cheese notwithstanding, I never wanted to sit at the children's table. Nor did I want to ride in the backseat with your darling toddler, his pet tarantula, his Spider-Man glitter glue, and his melting Fudgsicle.

4. Kindly stop filling every conversational lull by announcing how much you love Will & Grace. Being single is not the same thing as being gay, just as being married is not proof of being straight...but I'll cover that concept more fully in my upcoming "Uncle Barry's Very Special Surprise" article.

Rules 5-10: Your single friends will thank you


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