6/22/2018 07:35

Living Alone in the 21st Century

Many people have taken note of the social bias against single people of all ages. Even though there are a large number of young workers whose single status is regularly exploited by employers, even with a growing population of old people who have lost their spouse, and of course the multitude of middle aged divorced people who may be only transiently single, and a resulting increase of single person households across the United States, public discourse is phrased as if everyone is always partnered with someone.

Many have noted this, but it came to me when I realized that soon I would need to break down and purchase a sheet. Bedsheets only last so many nights and so many washings before they thin away. As much as I dislike going to stores, as much as I dislike picking products from psychologically manipulative displays, as much as I am repelled by bright, happy sales floors with attenuated background music, the time comes every few decades when I am forced to buy a new sheet.

A single person needs only a single bed. But there is no such thing as a single-sized bedsheet. Not in the United States. I read that some other English-speaking nations retain "single" as a designator for beds and bedding. Not here. If you don't have a double bed (or one of the royal expansions of the double bed), you can only have a twin bed -- half of a pair.

Single people in single beds do not exist in the American marketing universe. All of us who are not doubled are halves.