is it okay: to go stag?
The music is loud and I have drink in my hand. For the last five minutes I have been leaning against the wall trying to simultaneously look nonchalant and avoid meeting anyone’s eye. It’s probably a mistake that I came here. I tuck the drink into the crook of my arm and get out my phone. No messages. My phone goes back in my boot. That distraction lasted no longer than ten seconds, and I’m beginning to wonder if I’m a wallflower. The term sounds willowy and serene, as well as withdrawn. Probably not then. Things that are willowy and serene don’t spill a drink on themselves, even if they are wall-adjacent and wearing a now damp, floral print dress.
I have a tendency to go to places alone and then freak out. It always begins the same way: I tell myself I want to do something, even if no one else wants to do that something too. My resolve becomes steely. I tell myself I’m confident, it will be fine, who knows, it will probably even be good for me. Steel turns to Adamantium. I become convinced I’m invulnerable. It’s like I’m Superman – leaping over awkward encounters in a single bound, burning through awkwardness with a single glance. Then the day rolls around and I discover that solo attendance at events is my Kryptonite. Adamantium turns to alfoil, flimsy and crinkly, and hordes of comic purists descend on me, screaming at my gall for mixing Marvel and DC references together.
Going stag means to attend a social event alone. Originally meant just for males, I guess if we follow logically, the female equivalent should be “going hen”. But I’m assuming that because that sounds ridiculous, the term has slowly evolved to cover both genders. It makes sense because you don’t get beaked to death by solitude, you get aggressively antlered, while everyone watches on, cocktail in hand, until Harry Potter calls his patronus back.
There is a sliding scale of how acceptable it is to go certain places alone. Movies, sure, so long as you follow the humans-as-a-gas rule and don’t do socially awkward things like “talking to strangers”, “sitting in the middle of a couple”, or “making eye contact with a random during a sex scene.” Eating alone at a restaurant is also generally OK, though this depends on things like portion sizes, target demographic, and amount of laminate used in their decor.
As things get more formal, however, people start to notice. Going alone to a wedding where you’ve been offered a plus one is probably a bit too far. Sure, it means you will definitely get your first choice if the food is served on a pork/fish/pork/fish alternating basis around the table, but there’s only so long you can tell people ‘oh, he’s in the bathroom’ before they get suspicious and confiscate your Jordan almonds.
It should be OK to go to places alone, but the fact is that for the most part, people don’t. As a result, solo attendees enter a room filled with people who know each other, linked together in a way that forms something akin to a trampoline, which bounces confidence back outside the door onto the street where it sticks its thumb out and hitch-hikes its way out of town until it finds someone who will treat it better. Maybe you’ll spot someone you know, but in my experience, that can be worse as then you will limpet to them like a barnacle to a whale, and everyone will have an uncomfortably clingy experience filled with long silences and rapid escapes to the bathroom. Fun.
I return from the bathroom after drying my dress under the hand dryer. It was an uncomfortable experience and people politely and pointedly did not look while I did so. At this point the story can go one of two ways: I will spot someone I know or strike up a conversation, make new friends, and everything will be very first day of school. However, today is not a school day and so I return to my place at the wall. Minutes pass and nothing happens until a couple move away from the general group and find a secluded area to start paying special attention to each other in. Unfortunately this secluded area includes me. It’s time to go home.
What do you think, Lipsters? Is it ever OK to go stag? Tell us your thoughts below!