I like to think of what I do as myth-busting and consciousness-raising. I use science to shatter stereotypes about single people. But science can seem sober, and consciousness-raising by traditional means can come across as rather earnest, especially in this brave new and edgy world of blogging.
So how about humor? Can you help?
Here's what I have in mind. I want to create a new SAT - the Singles Aptitude Test. The point isn't really testing, though the items actually will have correct answers. The new SAT will be an instrument with "attitude" (maybe I should call it the Singles Attitude Test), taking the conventional syrupy wisdom about marriage and transforming it into a new and hipper brew. Think of it as a subversive guide for the single and savvy.
Don't look for the final product in Tests and Measurements catalogs. It is more likely to end up on a website or in one of those little novelty books that proliferate around the holidays.
Here are my first 10 items. The answers are at the end.
Test yourself, then go at it. Improve my items, add your own, create new categories or better titles for my categories, or just lurk and enjoy everyone else's contributions. Keep sending your suggestions long after this post disappears from the front page of the PT blogs - I'll still find them. Do you have some clever friends who may have some witty and brilliant additions? Then click on the share/e-mail icon and send this post to them.
Singles in the Movies
1. In Mona Lisa Smile, Julia Roberts, the new college teacher, arrives at the residence where she will be staying with the other female college professors. The person who greets her explains the rules for the coming year, including, "no hotplates and no male visitors." What did Julia say in response?
A. But I have a boyfriend!
B. Not even if he is my brother?
C. What if I get married?
D. I don't think I can go a year without a hotplate.
Singles in Music
2. In song lyrics, Billy Joel once swooned, "I love you just the way you are." What is his relationship to the woman he described in those lyrics?
A. They have long since divorced.
B. He never knew her; he just admired her from afar.
C. They have been married for decades.
D. She died; he remarried.
Singles in Toyland
3. The male doll who was created to stand alongside Barbie was Ken. What happened to Ken?
A. It turns out that real girls just weren't that into him.
B. After many years and many make-overs, Barbie ditched him.
C. He was a bit of an embarrassment to Mattel.
D. All of the above.
Singles in Children's Books
In the book, The Paper Bag Princess, a dragon destroyed the princess's castle, incinerated all her clothes, and took off with the prince she planned to marry. The princess, now wearing just a paper bag, outsmarted the dragon and rescued the prince. The prince scolded the princess, saying, "Elizabeth, you are a mess! You smell like ashes, your hair is all tangled and you are wearing a dirty old paper bag. Come back when you are dressed like a real princess."
4. How did the princess respond?
A. She said, "Ronald, your clothes are really pretty and your hair is very neat. You look like a real prince but you are a bum." She skipped into the sunset and never did marry the prince.
B. She apologized and explained why her clothes were dirty.
C. She cried, then the prince apologized and they got married and lived happily ever after.
D. She persuaded the prince to go to couples counseling, then they got married and lived happily ever after.
5. What was the fate of the book, The Paper Bag Princess?
A. It was popular among hippie parents for a while, but then went out of print.
B. It has gone through more than 40 printings.
C. It was remaindered after a year.
D. It was banned from more than a dozen grade school libraries.
Singles in Politics
6. In 2001, this President said he would give $1,100 to any unmarried presidential employee who married within one year. Also, a symposium was held in the capital of his country to "enhance awareness" in the young men and women of his country of the "social, moral, religious and health benefits of early marriage." Who was this President?
A. George Herbert Walker Bush
B. Saddam Hussein
C. George W. Bush
D. Jimmy Carter
7. In 2005, Florida Republican Party leader Jim Stellings lashed out in court at a political rival. Stellings thought his rival had defamed him, and complained, "That's unconscionable...I believe in family value." Why was Stellings so upset?
A. His rival falsely accused him of having cheated on his wife.
B. His rival said that Stellings plays footsie with other men in public restrooms.
C. His rival said that Stellings had been married six times; in fact, he had actually been married five times.
D. His rival said that he cursed at a colleague in the halls of Congress.
Truth or Truthiness?
8. Which of the following quotes really did appear in print?
A. From a story titled, "Husband tried to put spark in marriage": "A man who said he threw a live electrical wire into his wife's bath hoping a near death experience would save their marriage was convicted of first-degree intentional homicide Wednesday."
B. An advertisement: "Large, old couch. Beige. Pretty ratty looking, really. Comes with chubby hubby and remote control attached. $3,500/firm."
C. Both statements.
D. Neither statement.
The Wisdom of Single People
9. In an interview in 2004, a Newsweek reporter said to Lauren Bacall, "You're 80. You look fabulous. You seeing anyone?" What did Bacall answer?
A. None of your business.
B. I'm Lauren Bacall - what do you think?
C. Well, I'm talking to you and I'm looking out the window and I'm waiting for my dog to come back from her walk. She's the one I see the most and I'm very happy with that.
D. I'm dating two celebrities; each is sure he is "The One."
Name That Single Person
10. Three of the following four men were married. Which one was single?
A. Dennis Rader, the BTK killer, who bound, tortured, and killed at least ten people.
B. John Wayne Gacy, who murdered thirty-three men and buried many of them in the crawl space under his home.
C. Ken Lay, one-time Chairman of Enron, accused of criminal behavior in the downfall of the company
ANSWERS. 1d. 2a. 3d. 4a. 5b. 6b. 7c. 8c. 9c. 10d.