friendship

“Every person who lives alone has the same embarrassing fear.”

Ever since Secret Single Behavior became a thing, thanks to the gang from Sex and the City, ladies who live alone have not been shy about sharing what goes on behind closed doors.

“I lie in the bath for hours, eating chocolate and drinking beer.”

“I wrap myself in a hideous orange snuggy and stand in the kitchen eating Gherkins from a jar.”

“I vacuum in high heels, dancing around the house to Spice Girls hits.”

“I stole my neighbour’s chihuahua and used it’s liver in a Satanic ritual in lieu of dragon testicles. I don’t live near a pet store.”

If these “confessions” sound familiar, it’s because they are a grab bag of all the “real life single girl stories” I’ve picked up from magazines and blogs over the years.

(Well, maybe not that last one. Maybe.)

But can you spy the fairy flossed thread of familiarity that twines them all together?

It’s that they’re all safe, slightly decadent, quirky vignettes of the wildly fun times women who live alone must experience on a daily basis. It’s all endless glasses of wine, late night dance parties and a bounty of chocolate treats.

It’s Pretty Woman meets Carrie Bradshaw, with just a touch of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? thrown in for good measure.

What living alone looks like to the untrained eye.
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At least, that’s what it looks like to the untrained eyes of the civilians who lurk on the sidelines. Those who live in crowded homes with pets and children toppling onto their heads at all moments of the day as they try to co-exist in communal homes.

These are the kind of people who look at these lucky fools living alone and, having studied this exotic species only through the highly regarded, anthropological endeavor known as the “Rom Com” can only see the silver lining.

But us veterans who have managed to stake out a tiny corner of the world for ourselves know better. The truth is, it’s a jungle out there, and when you live alone it is every woman for herself.

Literally.

But you didn’t find you way here to hear me wax lyrical about the social stigma of living alone, you came here for fear, loneliness and a touch of death (no judgment). So here you go.

Recently, I flew into Brisbane and caught up with a group of girlfriends I hadn’t seen for months. During our time apart we'd all gone through a slew of life changes that had made catching up nearly impossible.

But by some magical twist of fate had now found ourselves tucked into a booth together on warm Friday night, filling each other in on new jobs, new relationships and new living arrangements.

Ever since Secret Single Behavior became a thing, thanks to the gang from Sex and the City, ladies who live alone have not been shy about sharing.
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It was over expensive sushi and plastic cups of Sake that one friend started to spill on how nervous she’s been since making the decision to live alone. She loved the privacy and freedom that came from shutting herself into her own little apartment for the night, yet something just seemed a little off…

Most of the women in this group had been living alone for years and we all quickly started commiserating with her about the strange moments where it feels like the world has forgotten you. And that’s when we realised that when it came to living alone, we all had the same niggling, slightly embarrassing fear.

Choking.

Look, I know it seems weird that women who live in a world inhabited by serial killers, rapists and people who show up at your door trying to get you to donate to wilderness funds would find a slice of food going down the wrong way so frightening, but picture this.

You’re sitting alone on your couch, munching on stir fry and scrolling through Instagram when suddenly you swallow a second too soon and a large chunk of that chicken you overcooked quickly becomes lodged in your throat.

You attempt to cough and swallow at the same time, willing it to go in either direction, but it just sits there stubbornly, like a selfish Sunday driver who could have made it through the orange light.

Artists impression of what it feels like when a piece of chicken goes down the wrong way.

You then put your head down and cough harder, hoping desperately that gravity will do it’s thing, knowing that even if you could push through the mounting panic that's overwhelming your senses, you can’t speak.

Which means you can’t tell the 000 operator that you’re about to be quietly murdered by a piece of pesto covered poultry.

You start to think about how you’ll be found days later, after someone finally forces their way into your apartment and comes across your body, eyes bulging out of your sockets and wearing the kind of pajamas no one wants to spend eternity in. And all that’s left to shed light on your final moments is a plate of mold covered chicken stir—fry, nestled sadly on your lap.

"Hello, 000? I'm about to be killed by poultry. Image: Lucy, Universal Pictures

There’s been many a time when I’ve been sitting alone in my apartment and a slice of food has deviated from the suggested route, nearly forced me to make an early trip to the pearly gates.

And each time, after I’d narrowly cheated death once again, I’ve be unable to shake off the horror of what had nearly come to pass.

Thinking about how I could have lain alone on my kitchen floor for days, and not be discovered until after a cat had eaten half my face.

I don’t even own a cat, so you can see why this scenario is less than desirable.

During that dinner, my friends and I started to dissect why choking had become enemy number one for women who live alone.

Just one little marshmallow could equal death. Source: Hart of Dixie.

We came down to thinking it's because it doesn't come across as a wholly dignified way to die. After all, no one wants to hold a candle light vigil for the girl who overcooked her beef and then was too lazy to cut it into manageable portions.

In other ways, it comes down to the old theory that a woman living alone is coated in loneliness, failure and rejection. That maybe when we all decided to get out there and become strong, independent women living alone, we’d also given up our right to have someone on hand to perform the Heimlich manoeuvre.

If you live alone and you're not too busy choking, here are some TV shows to keep you company. Post continues... 

And that’s a sobering thought to have, especially in those harrowing moments when your body has decided to consciously uncouple from breathing.

But we ladies who live alone are tough, and if we can unblock our own sinks, assemble our own furniture and remember to put out our own bins, then we know in our heart of hearts that we will not be taken down by a stir fry.

And maybe we’ll all just take smaller bites.

You can follow Mamamia Entertainment Editor Laura Brodnik on Facebook. Judging from this story, she clearly needs more friends. 

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