For some reason — and I have no idea what that reason is — my mind has been grappling this morning with a bemusing question.
The dictionary definition of the word spinster is as follows: An unmarried woman of gentle family; a woman who has never married, especially one past the “usual” age of marrying.
The dictionary definition of a bachelor is as follows: A man who has never been married; a man who is not married or cohabiting, but who lives independently.
So let me get this straight: A bachelor is a man who has never married, and by the use of the word “never” one understands that he is well along in years and has passed the “usual” time of marrying. A spinster is a woman who has done the same. Yet the term bachelor carries absolutely no negative connotations with it — and in fact, some people even consider it a mark of distinction. Yet the term spinster — at least here in the U.S. — carries a very decidedly negative connotation. In fact most dictionaries give the term “old maid” as a synonym for the word spinster.
Now for the question: WHY THE DIFFERENCE???
Anyway, while cogitating on this bemusing question, I also got to thinking about a poem that was written by a great friend of mine, Lila Colloton. Lila is now a perky little lady of 82, a widow, a mother, a grandmother, and still an active poet and reporter for a local newspaper. She wrote the following poem when she was 16. I’ve shared it once before on this site, but not for a very long time. Thought you might enjoy it today.
AN OLD MAID
Being an old maid would be fun I guess:
No diapers to wash or children to dress;
You may go shopping whenever you can;
Don’t have to sit home and wait for your man.
Yes, being an old maid would be fun I suppose:
Just one person’s dishes and your very own clothes.
But just stop to think before you continue:
Don’t you feel sort of funny within you?
Kind of an empty feeling I bet.
Just suppose Mom and Dad hadn’t met.
Where would you be?
Probably just part of the breeze that blows.
So stop debating before it’s too late;
When he calls up, don’t break that date!
© Lila Colloton
(By the way, if anyone can answer my question, be sure to let me know.)