08.18.04 | 2:50 p.m.

Camp Wed

Tomorrow morning I am leaving for what should be my annual beer-bonging, good times camping trip.

Yet, matrimony, of the holy sorts, has gotten in my way.

There were two of us singles a week ago who still weren’t (insert a look of feigned shock here) sporting engagement rings.

I have grown accustomed to the squeal of females telling me, “You are soooo next, Mandy!” I hear it at the bridal showers, the bachelorette parties, the weddings, and now, the… woods?

Well, I wasn’t next. The other single was. And that is okay with me. It is not okay with the marrieds though. Apparently, after vows are exchanged, a silent vow is then taken: With the power invested in us as a newly married couple, we shall spend each day of our lives recruiting others to the sanctity of what we have, until divorce do us part.

I even received a call from a married last night. She was concerned for me. How was I doing (with the news of the other single’s engagement)? Was I still with my boyfriend? Were we still going camping? …Would the woods be the right place for two unmarried people to break bread and share a tent?

While this weekend will be rough, I have battled worse than a pack of diamond rings shoved in my face.

Unbeknownst to the marrieds, as the lone single, I’ve upped my game.

This year I plan on having everyone down on one knee when handing me beer, sunscreen, the latest edition of “Divorce and Money: Everything You Need to Know.”

I will show up in a wedding dress, sobbing inconsolably while foraging through the forest for my prince charming.

I will suggest my boyfriend and I feed each other S'mores, and when he gives me a look like I’m a weirdo, I will run off in my dress screaming "NO ONE LOVES ME!"

In short, I will make the topic so uncomfortable, conversations on weddings and marriage will be steered clear of my direction.

If someone suggests I do something I don’t really want to do, I’ll start an argument with: “Just what are you PROPOSING?!?”

And I’ll never use the words “room,” “broom,” “loom,” etc, but always replace with “groom” as in “This tent is dirty, I wish I could sweep it out. Why don’t I have a groom?”

I’ll go rafting in my latest pink bridesmaid dress, making certain to end each sentence with a snappy, "Always a bridesmaid, never a bride!"

When asked, "Hey Mandy, would you like a beer?"

I will respond with a heartfelt, “I do!

I will volunteer to build the campfire, and throw a bundle of twigs over my shoulder, and when no one catches them, I'll get in someone's face and ask, "Why don't you honor my wedding?"

As my wise friend Ryan points out, “I don't know why married people feel the need to treat unmarried people like they are paralyzed or cancer patients. You are the same as them except you don't have matching jewelry or any official paperwork prepared with both your names on it.”

I couldn’t agree more.