Me, marriage! Tell that to the Tamagotchi

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The Independent Online
I'm completely confused. The family is still at the heart of the British lifestyle according to the Office for National Statistics. What on earth is the twentysomething woman to make of this?

Over the past few years I've naturally assumed I'm going to spend the rest of my life on my own, divorced or gay, not having children, or being a single mother, on bad terms with all my natural relatives. That's what all the surveys show.

But now, according to the latest one from the ONS, if I get married I've got a one in two chance of making it to my silver wedding anniversary.

Obviously that trendsetter herself, Diana, Princess of Wales, has spotted this and has allowed herself to be caught canoodling with a new beau. But I've been quite happy destined to live a dysfunctional life for ever. I knew that feminism hadn't delivered it all, but I still thought I'd escape the moans of, "Are we nearly there yet?" three minutes after setting off on family holidays and endless squabbles over which sibling is the favourite.

In fact the only nurturing I've ever done was caring for a Tamagotchi which wasn't a great success, to put it mildly. I decided to swap notes with my friend Angela.

"How long did your Tamagotchi stay alive for?" I asked.

"What?" she replied.

"Your cyberpet. Apparently the longest recorded time is 110 days. Do you think if I say half that I'll come across as caring but not obsessive?"

"How long did you keep it alive in reality?" she said.

"A day and a half. I went to the pub and forgot about it. But no one is ever going to trust me in charge of a real child if I can't even care for an LED screen efficiently - thank goodness."

"Yeah, well I wouldn't worry," she yawned. "In China, according to the People's Daily, cyberpets aren't good for students' patriotic education and lots of schools have banned them."

"Oh well, that's great." I said. "Under New Labour they're probably gearing up to banning single people as unpatriotic. We'll all be forced to look after Tamagotchis to see how suitable we are for family life. How can I get out of this?"

"Well there's always a kit called Boyfriend in a Box," said Angela. "A Texas company will send you two photos of some man or other that you can pretend is your boyfriend. They construct this whole character for him - his likes, dislikes, career. It's the perfect bluff."

It sounded like the answer. No Man United, no 12 pints of lager nights, no fights over the remote control, no emotional torture.

"Who would you like?" asked Angela.

"Dodi Fayed."

"Who you would like sensibly? I've got either Self-Made Stan or Millionaire Max."

"Oh well, they sound much more realistic than Dodi Fayed, don't they?" I said. "Let's face it, my mother will only fall for this one if I say I'm going out with Dipsomaniac David or Commitment Phobic Chris. What are they like?"

"Stan is a retired importer/ exporter who drives a silver Cadillac and wears boxer shorts."

"What's Millionaire Max like?"

"He's a divorced former Princeton graduate who rakes in $1.2m a year developing resort property."

"Info on underwear?"

"None."

"None????"

"No information."

"No information on underwear and he's divorced. What does that say to you? I'll stick with Dipsomaniac David."

But already a small thought was growing in my mind. "Did you say that you only see these men in photographs?"

"Yes."

"So people never see you together in real life but he sounds like the perfect man and as a result people stop speculating as to whom you might be going out with?"

The penny dropped. "It's no good, Angela, she's done it again. Diana has got there first. I'm doomed to be stuck with the Tamagotchi."

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