I've made quite an art of being the third wheel over the past few years. Sometimes there's not a lot of choice when you're single.
There's no point being a complete sad sack and just staying at home by yourself while others are out enjoying themselves. (Remember when we were allowed out to enjoy ourselves?)
When I think about it, sometimes I just invite myself to things, surely my friends don't mind if I turn up to their parties or tag along on their day trips? (Yes, I'm remembering way back now.)
And usually they don't mind. Or they've been too polite to tell me.
Because, as any singleton would know, invitations to things tend to dry up when you're a for one, rather than a plus one.
While there are more than two million Australians living by themselves life still seems to exist in pairs. From dining tables which seat six or eight, to accommodation where a single supplement makes it even more expensive.
And it's even happening in lockdown.
I've been dying to try some of the delicious dinner packs offered by local restaurants but there's been a minimum order of two. One time I did pull some strings so I could enjoy a fancy meal by myself and it was great.
But usually it's all too hard.
If you don't want to spend all your days alone you have to go to the trouble of setting up a bubble buddy. Is it really worth it?
And, like parents in NSW are finding now their children are allowed to set up a friend bubble, there's the whole complex issue of asking and finding out someone doesn't want to be your buddy. Is exclusion worse than loneliness? I reckon it could be.
So I haven't asked someone to be my buddy. I'm happy enough to get on with it all by myself. I see the occasional neighbour. Say hello to people on my daily walks. The young girls at the IGA are always friendly, so concerned I have checked in. I probably shouldn't admit it here, but I only log in to our morning Zoom conference at work to see people's faces and hear their voices. It's rare that I have something to add to the storylist that people care about seeing I'm not writing about case updates or exposure sites.
If I get a bit morose I wonder why no one has given me a shout. Am I really bad company? Does no one want to see me? Have I nothing to add to your picnic?
(I know that is not true because apart from my scintillating conversation surely you'd invite me because you know my cooking game has improved and I'd be sure to bring something delicious.)
I wonder if there's any medical reason for five being the magical number during lockdown because for me it seems like the most ridiculous number ever.
Two couples and a fifth wheel. One couple and a throuple. One family of four and either nan or pop but not both. Who's looking through their contact book and doing the maths to see which other family rounds out the numbers. Mum, dad, and the two kids, don't have much choice at all. Best not to offend anyone.
Sure, the one household rule means if there are 12 of you living in the one home, you can pull out a couple of rugs and head out for a mega picnic but my guess is if that's the case you're probably all sick of each other.
At least in NSW the "picnic rule" means you can have five (fully vaccinated) people and any number of children under 12. That's a much better way to get the kids together.
It's about time people realised us single people are the answer to all their mathematical problems during lockdown.
I've even had a few discussions with friends with young children about getting up some arrangement where I could be the fifth wheel who babysits. Want to take the kids on a picnic but want to get rid of them while you share a nice bottle of wine and some gooey cheese. Invite me along. I'll even be the designated driver.
Or perhaps during school holidays I could fill the same role. You need a break, you know you do. Invite me over and let me take them off your hands for half a day. Kind of like a lockdown au pair.
All you need to do is ask. And perhaps that's something we all need to practice more during these unprecedented times. There is no shame in asking for help.
Our coverage of the health and safety aspects of this outbreak of COVID-19 in the ACT and the lockdown is free for anyone to access. However, we depend on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe here. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support. You can also sign up for our newsletters for regular updates.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: