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Home Grown

And Just Like That…

I learned sologamy is a thing

Kicker: Marrying yourself is called sologamy. Self-marriage is legal in all 50 states. Yet it took a 5-year-old to tip me off.

By Cynthia Adams

While hacking at a tangle of ivy and Virginia creeper, our neighbor, Warren, approached the fence. He swung a toy sword while wearing the expression of someone who wanted to unburden himself.

When I complimented his red kicks, he solemnly nodded, his blonde curls bouncing, and studied his feet as if surprised to find them there.

His small fingers reached through the chain link fence to pet Patch, our Schnauzer. Generally friendly, Patch responded with a small growl, even as his tail wagged happily.

Like kids, dogs are unpredictable.

“Sorry, Warren,” I apologized. “He’s grouchy today.” 

“So is Baxter,” he pointed out, nodding. Baxter, a wire-haired rescue, is mercurial. We worked hard to end incessant fence fighting between Bax and Warren’s two dachshunds.

“How’s preschool going?” I asked, still weeding. Wrong topic.

He muttered something unintelligible. His frown deepened. Muddling along, I gathered the little guy was interested in planting vegetables. “Plant some popcorn,” I suggested, trying to elicit a laugh.

“You can’t grow popcorn!” Warren replied. But, after thinking, he changed his mind and his face brightened. “It’s corn!” 

So, I suggested he grow popsicles.

“You can’t grow those!” he protested, spluttering. Warren was a tough audience. “You have to go to the South Pole to get popsicles!” Nonetheless, he agreed to include me in his next polar order.

Garden and snacks exhausted, I again broached the subject of school. One girl in particular seemed to dominate Warren’s thoughts, but he struggled to explain how. I’ll call her Julia.

I gathered that Julia perplexed him — naturally, irritation can mask fascination between the sexes.

“You know what she said?” he asked, frowning and walloping a magnolia with his sword, venting his frustration. 

What might a precocious girl say? I couldn’t guess.

“She said Obama married himself.” He gave the tree trunk another hearty stab before fixing me with a long look. Waiting.

I mumbled, “Is that right?” 

Warren muttered something to the intractable magnolia, not bending to his will, and lashed it once again. 

“That doesn’t sound right to me,” I said, trying to read Warren’s reactions. “You can’t marry yourself.”

This was comic fodder. My mind flashed to a TV show from the 1960s, The Linkletter Show. It was the sort of comment Art Linkletter drew when interviewing kids ages 5–10 for a popular segment called “Kids Say the Darndest Things.” 

But Warren had me thinking. 

Beyonce’s song, “All the Single Ladies,” pointed to a clue: Single women have long outnumbered married ones in the U.S. and in the U.K. 

Seems that sologamy, self-marriage, self-partnering had many names, and was legal and well documented.

When and where it began is unclear, but, in a 2003 episode of the dramedy Sex and the City, the main character, Carrie Bradshaw, declared she would just marry herself. Ostensibly to fight the unmarried woman stigma. Of course, that was fictional. Real life examples weren’t hard to find and include:

Supermodel Adriana Lima said “I do to me” in Monaco in 2017.

Actress Emma Watson “self-partnered” in 2019. 

Also, closer to home, American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino (from High Point) embraced sologamy by putting a ring on her own finger. Barrino later married Kendall Taylor — which self-marrieds can do — in 2015.

Bigamy? No. The self-married can legally other-marry.   

Singletons going the self-marriage route may or may not wear a wedding gown, may or may not buy themselves a nice ring, and may or may not have a wedding cake for their big day. But they report feeling affirmed, ready to vow eternal love henceforth. 

To themselves. 

“This is not a Bridget Jones-like tragic story,” wrote Ariane Sherine in a Spectator piece entitled “Marriage for One” four years ago. “If we can’t find a knight in shining armor, we make alternative arrangements.” 

Warren, abandoning his sword, was now on his trampoline, whooping and hollering. I mopped my brow, observing his spring-loaded joy, which didn’t require another to be complete.   

Perhaps young Julia’s wouldn’t either.

It was a new time.

Knight be damned.  OH

Cynthia Adam is a contributing editor to O.Henry magazine.