Monday, 20 August 2012

Lonely girl went out to a party.


Now, as you know, if you've read other parts of this blog, I come from a symmetrical world - a world of pairs:  Knife and fork; salt and pepper; right and left; Bill and Ben.  Well maybe not Bill and Ben - more the Woodentops, but you get my drift.

My life was a Janet and John book.  Mummy in the kitchen, wearing an apron, taking a tray of buns out of the oven, saying "holy fuck this thing's hot," and daddy in the garden, smoking his pipe, mowing lawn. waxing car, little girl with ribbons, little boy in short trousers, dog, cat, rabbit.  Err - well no rabbit. We did have rabbits, twice, but the first was eaten by next door's cat and the second we gave away on Loot to a man we suspect may have cooked him because the grumpy little bugger bit - the rabbit, not the man.  A lesson the children learned well.

None of the rest was true either.  Except the swearing.  Mummy never wore an apron, sometimes not even clothes, and was responsible for all gardening, household maintenance, drilling, unblocking, stripping (of walls and when stripping walls) as well as Ikea - both driving there and assembling shoddy furniture.  Daddy couldn't drive, didn't know how the VCR, washing machine, or answer-phone worked, read the papers, listened to the news, and sat in his study.  Working.  All my kids want to grow up just like him.  All the kids have grown up just like him.

Instead of two kids, Janet and John, one of each, I had four, two of each, and the only one to ribbons in their long, flowing locks is the elder boy, while the person in short shorts is a teenage girl, the tips of her buttock cheeks showing underneath the hem like the reflection of a twin setting suns on an alien planet.  We never had a dog, and the cat is a recent import.

Nevertheless, nevertheless, these are minor details.  Things were paired.  Boys in one room - girls in another.  Boys in caps.  Girls in boaters.  Mummy slaving underneath the bonnet of the car doing an oil change.  Daddy moisturising his hands.

Entertaining was similarly paired.  Mummy cooked.  Daddy hid in the kitchen and washed up so he didn't have to talk to anyone, and assembled round the table there were more pairs:  Couples.

Couples know other Couples.  Couples invite other Couples.  Couples have other Couples as friends.  The Single, well the single are troublesome.  What do you do with them?  If it's a woman you can't do much, because they sit there, dangling on the edge of the table, odding up the numbers and leaving a spare chair, an uneven placement, screwing with the boy/girl arrangement and possibly with your husband...  Because of course they are, necessarily, determinedly after one's legally bound to you bloke, because his hands are oh-so-soft and his encyclopedic knowledge of the Guardian Comment pages is hugely aphrodisiac.  If it's a man, then it's easier because you can invite one of the single women, of whom there are many in the wild roaming in herds around galleries, garden centres and sculpture parks, winsomely outside the captivity of coupledom, comforting themselves with cream teas and big handbags.  This is rarely necessary, however, because usually he will bring one, often twenty years his junior.

I like men.  I like women too.  So I like couples.  But now I'm single, couples no longer like me.

And so I turn up to a party.  In Mayfair.  Up a bunch of stairs, above a bar, (I'd like to say battling, but sadly at my age it sort of parts effortlessly) through a veritable sea of men, tens of them, twenties of them, in suits - loose men with loosened ties - I mean they don't call pubs watering holes for nothing.  In the private dining room, however, it's a different story.  This is where all the single women go when they're not at Art Galleries, garden centres, etc, in a clump of big jewelry and bosoms, and the room is full of them.

It's recently single, Guardian soulmates success story, now-coupled-up Betty's 50th birthday party - but because she's been running with the herd for a while now - longer even than me, she's got a great bunch of friends.  All female.  Or Gay.  Or both.  The tattoos are often the discriminating factor.  For the women anyway.  As far as I can see there are two heterosexual men - one is with a blonde, the other is with a Bentley.  It happens I am sandwiched between both.   I know the Bentley - he's a lovely, warm guy, previously the lover of one of my kids' schoolfriend's mother.  Keep up, keep up, it's what we call networking in my part of London.  The other is comically (or would be if he weren't about as funny as a root canal) Teutonic, complete with 'ello 'ello invading army accent though he informed me hoitily: ' I hav been here in London already tventy years now' - though his syntax is still firmly in the Gymnasium.  He has been recently prised from the arms of his ex-wife by his current lover though the two have been romantically involved for some time.  (The single, what did I tell you?)  She is thin.

The rest of us, including the women who genuinely love women and don't just say they do before they bitch about them, are - well, curvy.  Plump even.  Chubby.  Fat.  Of course we are.  We've thrown in the towel.  It doesn't go round us all the way anyway.

Thin woman tells me she's seen my article but she 'doesn't believe a word of it, of course.' she warbles. I look at her levelly.  Why not?  Am I to take this as a compliment, that because I'm so popular as well as being at a party with her, that I couldn't be lonely?

'Well you should, because sometimes I am.'  I say matter-of-factly.  I hate this.  I hate this banter, having to pretend, having to laugh it off, as though it were all just a lark, a joke, a ruse to make £600 quid from the Guardian because, yeah, I need the money that much I'd bare my sensitivities.  She blinks like it will make me and my social ineptness disappear.  'But don't you think it's just because of email?'  She says earnestly;  'That we all expect instant answers to messages, that we've due to expect being in constant communication, that people feel lonely when they don't hear back immediately?'

So, that's why!  Eureka...  Nobody answers my emails the second I send them - this is the reason for my existential angst.  Now I know.  This woman isn't a neuroscientist for nuffink.  She's got to the heart of the problem.

As a scientist, I expect she's never bored or lonely - she's probably stimulated and fulfilled by her work - it surely can't be by Helmut, no matter what cliched assumptions would could make about the size of his well endowed research grant. The only possible other reason for being with such a dullard would be loneliness.  I suddenly liked them both a lot better.