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One Woman's Pros and Cons of Being Alone - Chef's Choice Seven "Ah, yes, the perils of women alone," says Kathy Bowman. "How do I weigh the pros and cons?"

"Let's see, I work all day, go home tired and think, 'Ah, a hot bath, clean sheets and a quiet snack in bed with the remote as I settle in to watch a movie of my preference.'

"This as opposed to, 'Well, what am I going to fix him for dinner? Then after I get through with all the laundry that's piled up, I suppose I'll have to watch whatever guy-awful thing he chooses on TV because he'll be sitting on the remote as usual.'

"Now there's a choice for you. Positively mind-boggling! Hmm, which should it be?" she adds, with a huge grin.

"The things women fear about aloneness is largely in our minds," asserts Bowman, 61, who has owned and operated a tavern in a coastal Oregon town for the past 21 years. First married at the age 14 and divorced at 16, she remarried when she was 17, divorced again at 30, remarried at 33, divorced once more at 39, remarried a year later, then was widowed at the age 49 when her fourth husband, Joe, died of cancer at the age of 50. She has two "successful" children, 46 and 43, who live nearby, she adds proudly.

"So, as you see, until I was 50 I made career of marrying," Bowman remarks, her sense of humor readily surfacing, "I guess I'm what you might call 'loser-friendly' when it comes to choosing men. If I walked into a crowd of 500 of them and there was one loser in the group, guess which puppy I'd have to have? You might say I confirm the old theory that women are attracted to the 'bad boys.'

"I don't mean to sound like I don't like men," she adds. "Obviously, I do. There have to be some really great guys still out there, but so far my radar has been so far off target that the cliche of frying pans and fires comes to mind. If it were literally as well as figuratively true in my case, my butt would be so burn-scarred it would be hard for me to sit down."

She's been alone for 12 years now, says Bowman, and has learned to "love" it. "I've had enough of the 'togetherness' thing for obvious reasons, though I admit I still have my moments, like yesterday when I was mowing the lawn and thinking to myself how nice it would be to have a big, strong man around to do it for me. Until I remembered that when I had a big, strong man, I was mowing the lawn then, too. Blew that moment of nostalgia all to heck!

"And yet," she adds, "there are the nights when I think it would be so nice to have a man to snuggle with-until I remember that sleeping with three out of four of them was like bedding down with a McCullough chain saw. Then reality bites and I say to myself, 'Self, you are freakin' nuts!'

"Not to take away from the relationships I've had," Bowman stresses, "especially with my last husband, Joe. He was a cute little man with a sense of humor that would keep everyone around him in laughter. I miss it so much that sometimes it's almost painful. But that was then, and this is now, and there's still much to laugh at and about-starting with myself, because there's no one that makes funnier and more-stupid mistakes than ourselves, and some of us make them over and over again, as you know about me now.

"What women fear about being alone is largely in our minds," Bowman continues. "Not that there isn't a big pain-in-the-butt world out there that doesn't get scary at times, but approached carefully and with a little confidence, it can be a real hoot. There are so many things that go on in the minds of women about aloneness, especially women my age, that it would take a lifetime to put them down on paper.

"My reward now comes from looking around and seeing what I've done alone, and the feeling of accomplishment it gives me. It comes from being there for those who are less fortunate than I am. It comes from being able to break loose from my fears and go see and do all the things I want, even if I have to do them alone.

"Everything will be stored in my memory banks to muse over when I get too old and frail to do them anymore. I'll always have the memories, always be able to reflect on all the things I was able to do while I still could. And I'll always be able to find the humor in them," Bowman concludes, "because I was there."

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Lionel Fisher is the author of Celebrating Time Alone: Stories of Splendid Solitude (Beyond Words Publishing, 2001). Reach him at beachauthor@hotmail.com to share your thoughts on magnificent aloneness.