I Went to a Wonderful Party

July 17, 2011 § 8 Comments

Here’s a thing.  I just went to a wonderful party.  It was the kind I get asked to perhaps once every ten years.  Perhaps 300 people.  I was thrilled to be asked.  Incredible generosity on the part of the hosts of whom I am exceeding fond – marquee and fabulous food and amazing booze and wild flowers and loads of what I call historic friends and dancing till dawn, except I didn’t dance.

All the elements were there, that special merriment and affection of old friends and comfort and joy and kindness and I did enjoy it, I did… Well, without wanting to sound ungrateful, sort of.

It was the first proper party I have been to since the decree absolute.  I am good at going to parties on my own.  Years of them as a single girl; and years more when my husband was working away.  When you’re young and single you have got girlfriends in the same boat, you’ve got pert tits and hope, so parties can be OK.  I remember one, in Clapham, when a tall, handsome Irishman looked at me across the room and his eyes begged me upstairs and, never saying a word, we miraculously made out on the bed of coats.  (I saw him at a party a few weeks ago, and he remembers the occasion as fondly as I do, how thrilling!  He is rich now.  And married, with a score of kids.)  When you’re married at parties, even if your husband is in Timbuktu, you have a husband and theoretical companionship.  But when you are a Plankton, you are alone.

The hosts had already apologised to me that the only non-married men coming to the party were SFARs (Single For A Reason).  There were quite four.

One I didn’t meet.  He was probably just a rumour.

One known divorced dodgy one now has a girlfriend although she wasn’t with him so he had rung another plankton friend of mine whom he had got off with two years ago and hadn’t texted since and a year ago when out walking in the park with the girlfriend had cut her (my friend) dead and the day before the party had moved himself to text her after all to ask her if she was coming (presumably with a view to screwing her perfunctorally) and she hadn’t responded so he was ripping.

The other two I already know.  The hairy Wiltshire one talked to me as he always does, as though I have a medical condition and he is just being polite, but the politeness has a very short shelf life, about a minute and a half, after which he turns into the complete jerk he really is.  He wants to fuck me as much as I want to fuck a seasoned football boot, but he doesn’t bother to disguise it which feels a little insulting.  The Lincolnshire one has a House and therefore the pick of the generation of women a good couple of layers beneath me though none of them has proved quite good enough.  He was wearing a glittery suit and reminds me of a seaside town magician.  Enough said.

We ate the sublime supper and listened to the best speech I have ever heard at an event by the funniest man I know who is married to a close girlfriend and should have been a comedian, and I chatted to a few dear friends who are married men, but most of the time I spent with a whole lot of women.  Lovely middle-aged women like me, only married, can always be relied upon to be friendly at parties.  They are the ones who know my default sartorial position is head to foot black tantamount to a burka.  So they were the ones who loyally told me I looked sensational in my highlighter-pen orange £46 Top Shop online nylon body con dress even though I was poured into it and, frankly, don’t have the legs.  Bless them.  None of the men said a word.  Hairy Wiltshire just looked at me as if to say, there, there, loser, may I call you Mutton?

The seating plan was touching.  A lot of thought and effort had gone into it and it was not at fault.  The hosts had done their level, but a plankton secretly really only wants to be put next to two intelligent, lovely, available men who both fall in love with her over the soup.  Alas, there is not a host in the world, however gorgeous, who can pull off that fantasy feat.  So it is every placement is going to seem wanting. I had a gentle (married) man on my left, great company, and was flattered to have been put next to a kindly, beloved relation of the hostess on my right.  He was 86 and charming and well known in his youth for having fulsomely delighted in a little breezy buggery.

The next day I had a debrief with the two other planktons who’d been at the party.  One had been put next to an overseas queen of about 23 who was there with his middle-aged husband and love of his life whom he banged on about and, on her right, a shrink who turned his back on her.  The other plankton had been put at the end of a very long table indeed, all the better to commune with the sides of the marquee.

After dinner, I wandered round the tent a lot pretending to look for someone, but with no one, really, to look for.  I made a lingering trip to the loo and experimented with the luxury hand washing and softening products on offer.

When I did O’level art a million years ago, the subject for the painting was “Alone in a Crowd”.  I remember, at fourteen, having not heard the expression before, thinking it was very clever.  Now at forty-something and having heard it and lived it an awful lot, I think it is inspired.


§ 8 Responses to I Went to a Wonderful Party

  • john says:

    I think I know the exact feeling. Having been married to an emotinally bereft woman for the past 25 years and on the brink of divorce, I certainly feel very, very alone. The 3 schoolage children don’t help make it any less so.

    Maybe, just maybe, divorce will be good to me as a middle aged man, but I don’t want to find out. To me my marriage vows mean something.

    Still, she needs to ‘find herself’, like a lot of her divorced friend who are all trying to find something better…strange how they are nearly all single and have been so for years. i think divorce is contagious and these sort of people feed of each other, dragging those above them into the pit of their miserable existence.

    I have made my mistakes and realise I have done things wrong, but that seems to count for nought. Everything must be cast out and destroyed to make her happy. It seems forgiveness and reconciliation are not on the agenda.

    Is the grass greener on the other side?…I am sure I will soon find out.
    Am i bitter…you bet. 25 years is a lot to throw away…at least it is for me.

  • John says:

    Your daily stories make my day. Thanks. John

  • asjbendall. says:

    Classic account of your invite, I likewise attended a birthday bash last night, however Moet and Kronenberg woke me 4am, had an interesting effect! Today desperately getting my Best Mans speech together for September, and duties keep the Orange nylon body con dress available. Early today spent several moments trying to catch one of the chickens before the cat dragged it off first for lunch, tea and nightcap! God knows what anyone would have thought, but finally it was mine! You mention Clapham I used to live in Fulham in the Fulham Palace Road in the Cemetery Lodge it was unique a real talking point.Should you drive past give the house a smile we were in the Sweeney and several other films the Omen was filmed just down the road at Fulham Church by Bishops Park. Relax and enjoy the rest of the weekend if you can get Welsh television you might just catch a view in the week, otherwise start gathering your relaxation outfit!

  • stormwind says:

    Grain before grape, ASJ – Kronenberg and Moet and you’d have slept like a log! 😉

    Last party of any scale I went to was several years ago. I was politely ushered towards a man who was also there on his own, and briefly introduced. I made a start at conversation, and within 2 sentences he was talking about his wife, who wasn’t present. Fair enough, I thought – he’s just making the point that he’s happily married – he was hardly my type anyway – but point taken. However, here we are, so let’s try some plain, ordinary, neutral conversation. They had newly moved to the city, so I think I started on something like what he thought of the place – something about as innocent as you can get.

    Seconds later, we were back on the subject of his wife, who was off scaling the north face of the Eiger or something similar. OK – how marvellous – I put in a few questions about his wife, then another attempt at another topic. This went on for a about 5 or 6 attempts at subject change and we kept ending up back on the topic of his wife and how wonderful she was no matter whether I started with the weather or peace in the Middle East. He was apparently incapable of talking about anything else.

    Eventually I managed to extract myelf and move on to a totally riveting conversation on which primary school offers the best deal.

    The evening was saved by bumping into an old (girl) friend who is also plankton, and we snuck off to the kitchen with a couple of bottles of wine and had a great time – away from the “party”.

    After this general process was repeated on a few separate occasions, I decided not to bother with parties again. I fear that once one gets over 40, a “party” is usually the word for a group couples getting together to score points off each other. They have nothing to do with the parties you and I fondly remember from our youth, Plankton!

  • MissBates says:

    Hello Plankton — Your post had me laughing in recognition of virtually every party I’ve been to in the last ten years. Now I feel dangerously close to weeping . . .

  • SARTM says:

    LOL – brilliant! …and sadly so true!

  • The Mule says:

    found your post as we are both featured on the landing page of the mumsnet bloggers network today!
    great writing!
    we are in very different boats but somehow i felt i could still relate. since becoming a mother three years ago i rarely get a chance to go out and when i do i feel my own sense of being alone in a crowd as i am usually sober, looking knackered, and missing my children!
    well it was nice to find a new blog. is there a way of following you? (ie FB or twitter etc?)

  • Anne says:

    Found your blog also through the Irish Independent – it was posted with a blond model with a rather red nose. You write very amusingly – and are obviously on the upper side of middle class working it strikes me perhaps in the legal area? I was engrossed by your blog because you are saying the unsayable. Feminism told us all a few decades ago that we are all equal. A few decades on, we know the truth which I have only had to deal with in the last few years (I’m 42) – biologically men and women will never be equal when it comes to pairing up. Obviously if you’re incredibly beautiful or sexy to start with, you’ll have longer in the ring but if you’re just average, you f**ked after 40 really.

    At least you can look on the bright side; you did have a marriage and a husband and have children. You could be me, with no husband and never having had a proper relationship for a variety of reasons. No children either. So I would say to you to look at what you did have and be thankful for that. You also sound like you have a decent job so that’s something to be thankful for also.

    Unfortunately the situation is that men just like younger women, firmer flesh and all that and I suppose if I was a man too I would be the same. Men can have kids until they’re in their 90’s. Women can’t so their sexual power and therefore viability wans after 40.

    How do you face the next 40 years? Well enjoy your kids and job and house maybe. Give up going to parties with married people and get yourself some single friends doing a hobby you might like to do – doesn’t have to be dancing – there must be something else out there you’d like to do. It’s painful to be around smug married people so just don’t be around them. In the old days older women played whist and drank loads of whiskey.

    If you are really determined to find a man keep trying those internet sites. I can refer you to Nuala O’Faoileain, an Irish journalist who died a few years ago who found the only secure and happy relationship of her life in her sixties with a Jewish New York lawyer whom she met on one of those dating web sites.

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