Santa Brigida

There are patron saints for a lot of foolish things in this life. Like Bernardine of Feltre, patron saint of pawnbrokers and bankers. Or Gummarus, patron saint of lumberjacks. But the one patron we need most of all still hasn’t been sainted, and that, of course is Bridget Jones, patron saint of single women. Santa Brigida, if you will–for that full-tilt pope-sanctioning effect. While some might argue that Carrie Bradshaw is a better choice, she was always far clingier and much too glamorous to be relatable enough as an everywoman. You know, the sort of girl who has been rejected more times than Rudy ever could be from Notre Dame.

What’s more, Carrie committed the ultimate cardinal sin of the single woman by settling for a fuckboy instead of someone worth surrendering one’s freedom and passion to. For any sane single will tell you that she’d prefer the earnest eyes of Mr. Darcy over the cold, lifeless ones of Mr. Big. While both were assholes in their own respective ways, Mr. Darcy’s effrontery stemmed more from social awkwardness as opposed to all-out sociopathy. And Bridget, empathetic singleton that she is, can see through the veneer of haughtiness long enough to give Darcy a chance. Even after she overhears his cruel rebuffing, “Mother, I do not need a blind date. Particularly not with some verbally incontinent spinster who drinks like a fish, smokes like a chimney and dresses like her mother.”

But these qualities, the ones so bluntly stated by Mark, are what makes Bridget so ideal for the role of martyr. Constantly picked at merely for being single, therefore in short, being, even Bridget’s mother verbally accosts her with such sentiments as, “You’ll never get a boyfriend if you look like you’ve wandered out of Auschwitz.”

For all of these reasons, the ones so glaringly making her a saint of singles, Biyu, a 32-year-old who had been celebrating Singles’ Day ever since her college days at Nanjing University, had been petitioning the Vatican to consider Bridget Jones for sainthood. She had moved to Milan for a finance analyst job at the London Stock Exchange Group in 2011, the year of the Singles’ Day of the Century–called such because of its numerical relevance of having six ones in the date instead of the usual four. And how cruel indeed that a day intended to honor singles should take place in the grim month of November, always the 11th. In its infancy, Singles’ Day was sexistly called Bachelors’ Day, which of course sounded far less sad and pathetic than “single.” A lone being unable to shake the Dean Martin taunt, “You’re nobody till somebody loves you.” But maybe the Chinese caught on to the fact that there was greater marketing potential to a “holiday” with more gender inclusivity, as many Chinese people (read: men) see Singles’ Day as the ultimate trolling opportunity, a way to capitalize on the vulnerability and constant tape playing in a woman’s head that chants, “Must attach, must attach, must attach.”

Biyu, conversely, grew to despise everything Singles’ Day stood for from her perch in Milan, an Italian city that, sure, had the only high concentration of Asian people in it, but still didn’t mean she didn’t feel evermore isolated and removed from the potential of finding “a match.” Italian men weren’t exactly known for “dating out of their race,” and she didn’t much care for them anyway. But the job was too important to lose, so she remained marooned in the cold northern capital of commerce and business functioning.

It was during the fall nights that she would notice her state of loneliness most palpably, prompting her to not only watch the Bridget Jones trilogy back to back over a cup of noodles, but also continue work on her numerous drafts featuring all the reasons Bridget Jones should be made Santa Brigida. Among the key points on the list were: 1) she’s fat but still dresses like slut; 2) she isn’t afraid to karaoke Mariah Carey; 3) she isn’t afraid to be different (like when she showed up as the only one dressed as a tart to that party); 4) she is a beacon of feminine strength.

When she would make the rounds with her petition, targeting most specifically the universities of Milan (she had made the mistake of thinking Italian youths would view Singles’ Day the same way as Chinese ones with regard to their reverence for it), she would only be met with laughter. Women jeered at her, saying that they would sooner have Silvio Berlusconi canonized than a pathetic fictitious character–and a British one at that! No, Bridget Jones was the wrong saint to pitch to the Italians, themselves still so traditional in their beliefs about the standard life trajectory of getting married and propagating. Still, Biyu persisted, every November 11th standing in the Piazza del Duomo with her poster of Bridget Jones and shouting at female passersby to help get enough signatures for canonization.

As the years passed and Biyu remained steadfastly single until her death, she became something of a legend in Milan, among both the Italians and her Chinese compatriots. Some mocked her cause, while, gradually, others began to get behind it. Roughly a decade after her death in 2033, when Italy had finally seen fit to accept a female pope named Annunzia Mandato as a leader (because no one knows for sure if Pope Joan was real), the latter nudged the process of canonization through, herself all too familiar with the desolate and solitary feeling only a single female can know. But instead of positioning it this way–the way people so often viewed singledom (as a mark of shame)–Annunzia pitched it as a celebration of the self and all the ways it is so often better to be on one’s own, untied and unimprisoned by the consideration of another. Singles’ Day in Milan and neighboring northern cities was thusly accepted (it would never be in the South, however), renamed instead to Giorno di Biyu. Single women of every age group would hence forward participate in a procession every November 11th throughout the streets of the town center holding up effigies of Bridget Jones, newly Santa Brigida–and all thanks to the determination of Biyu, devoted to her cause until her last spinster gasp.

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