A few weekends ago, sociologist Eric Klinenberg published an essay in the Sunday New York Times in which he shared his observations about Americans who live alone (there are more single-person households now than at any other period of history):
"Living alone comports with modern values. It promotes freedom, personal control and self-realization — all prized aspects of contemporary life.… "It is less feared, too, for the crucial reason that living alone no longer suggests an isolated or less-social life. After interviewing more than 300 singletons (my term for people who live alone) during nearly a decade of research, living alone seems to encourage more, not less, social interaction... living alone can make it easier to be social, because single people have more free time, absent family obligations, to engage in social activities."
Today is Valentine's Day—and though many of our holidays don't look fondly on people who would prefer to be by themselves, this one lays the guilt on particularly thickly. If you live in Portland, though, you're not alone in being alone.
Many of our one-person households are people over 65, and either widowed or divorced. And Portland is just the place for them! This past fall, AARP magazine highlighted Portland as one of its Top Ten Affordable Cities for Retirement, citing our low cost of living and social opportunities.
And just last week, Men's Health magazine "undertook a nonpartisan examination of the data on datable citizens: the ratio of single women to single men, the percentage of college-educated women, the percentage of gainfully employed single women (all from the Census), and the number who work out."
The feminist headline writers at Men's Health named the report "Where the Babes Are." The number one spot for "most eligible women," according to this demographic analysis, was Washington, DC.
But squeaking in at the #2 spot was none other than Portland, Maine! It must be all of our workout-obsessed AARP readers.
Then again, it might be all the lesbians. The same 2010 Census data that Men's Health looked at also revealed that Maine has more same-sex couples than all but six states. "South Portland and Portland have become particular hot spots for gay couples, the statistics show, outpacing Boston, Cambridge and other gay-friendly cities," a Portland Press Herald report revealed.
Side note: gay couples aren't single, obviously, but something about the presentation of the "Where the Babes Are" report — maybe it was the mudflap girl illustration? — makes me suspect that the quantum statisticians at Men's Health neglected to do the math to subtract out the population lesbians from their "eligible women" accounting. If so, we may soon find wandering packs of Bros roaming our city, searching in vain for the eligible women, scouring magazine racks for the last precious copies of Maxim...
At any rate, no matter how eligible or single you may be, have a happy Valentine's Day.