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‘Sound of Us’ tells stories Northeast Ohioans want to tell — in their own voices.

My dad thinks I'll never get married, and I'm OK with that

Silk Allen poses on a front porch.
J. Nungesser
Ideastream Public Media
Cleveland resident Silk Allen has never considered herself to be a marriage kind of person, but she wonders if that could ever change.

This story was created as part of Ideastream Public Media's “Sound of Us” audio storytelling workshop. We are featuring stories about marriage. With the proportion of never-married people 40 and older at an all-time high, our community storytellers explore why they got married or not — and, if they are married, how they're making their unions work. Tell your own story!

One of my favorite songs by rapper Too $hort growing up was called “I’ma Player.

He knew by the age of 17 that he wouldn’t have a wife or a ring, and I immediately related at that same age.

Before that, I loved the song “Superwoman” by R&B singer Karyn White but hated hearing about the disrespect she put up with in her relationship. She fights through rush hour traffic, makes dinner for her man, but then he has the audacity to say that he’s not hungry and he don’t even wanna talk? Oh baby, that song radicalized me at age 7.

Parental perspectives

Rap and R&B didn’t make marriage or relationships look all that sweet for me. Even as a kid, I knew I wasn’t interested. And that’s exactly how my life turned out. I’m 40, I’ve never been married, and I've never had the desire.

Based on how I was as a kid, I wanted to see if my mom, Kathy Allen, was surprised that I never got married. I asked her about it recently when she was doing laundry at home.

"I mean, I think all parents visualize their children getting married," she said. "I was always adamant about you getting your college education and a degree so that whether you decided you wanted to get married or not, you could always live a life independently."

When I asked the same question of my dad, Reginald Harris, he was more direct.

"You told me that you wasn’t getting married," he said. "‘Cause I had an abundance of girlfriends at that point, and you said, oh, that’s why I’m not getting married. I was like, 'Man, I wonder, did I really scar her?'"

My parents have a non-traditional marriage. She works and cleans. He’s retired and cooks all their meals. And they didn’t marry each other until later on in life.

They met at a nightclub back in the '80s. They had me, but they didn’t immediately start a relationship. In fact, they both had brief marriages with other people before getting back with each other and marrying when I was an adult. So, I didn’t grow up with my parents being husband and wife. I often wonder about the effect that had on me.

Silk Allen stands to the right of her parents. Her mother, Kathy Allen, stands on the left and her father, Reginald Harris, stands between them.
J. Nungesser
Ideastream Public Media
Silk Allen (right), says her parents, Kathy Allen (left) and Reginald Harris (center), have a non-traditional marriage having married later in life.

When I talked to my mom, she said something that made me think beyond society norms and traditions when it comes to marriage.

"It’s all about the person and not the word," she said. "You’ve got all kinds of people married to all types of different people. Everybody’s relationships are different. It is not written in concrete that this is what marriage really is. Marriage is about those two individuals and how they make it work."

Is marriage in my future? My "Daddy Dearest" kept it real, as usual.

"Did I ever see you getting married? Nah. Nah, that ain’t gonna happen," he said. "I used to talk about it with your mom all the time. ‘Cause ain’t nobody gonna deal with you in that way."


"First of all," I told him, "I would have to deal with somebody. Ain’t nobody gotta deal with me."

Dad shook his head.

"See, because your personality is overwhelming," he said. "You’re so far advanced in your life or whatever. You just not gonna compromise."

A fabulous life

My mom seemed more hopeful.

"I mean, I seen and heard of people getting married in their 70s and 80s," she said.

I feel like that’s ideal for me at this point. That’s when I could see myself spending the rest of my life with somebody.

But mom back-pedaled. By the time I'm that age, she said, "You got nothing left!"

Mom said I need to stay open-minded.

"You could get married next year," she said. "You can get married at 50. That person just hasn’t crossed your path yet, that made you want to give it a shot. You could meet somebody tomorrow."

My parents never expected me to get married and I appreciate not having that pressure. Thanks to my parents, I created a fabulous life where I focus on myself, my son, and my career, and never felt guilty about it. I still don’t.

I’m dating now and having fun with it. I really don’t know if I want to get married, still. I’m just having a good time, at age 40.

Silk Allen is a storyteller and personal stylist based in Cleveland. She received a degree in journalism from Central State University.

Thanks to Literary Cleveland for its partnership on this series.