Married Man

July 28, 2011 § 11 Comments

Big birthday dinner in an Indian restaurant a while back.  I sat next to a kidnap negotiator who may or may not also be a spy.  Charming fellow.  On my other side a person in a striped shirt; married.  I didn’t know that for certain but I also kind of did.  He had that air.  I mean, more ironed than smug.  While I do think, as my plankton friend said to me the other day after the party, “They [married people] just DO NOT GET IT,” I do not go along with the idea that all marrieds are necessarily smug.

Striped shirt and I began with the usual small-talk in which my divorce cropped up.  I was very open, always am, always honest, as much with strangers as with friends.  In the past few years I have been on something of a mission to be as honest as possible about my circumstances, to say it as it is.  I believe it helps others as well as myself.  He turned out to be amiable, intelligent and sympathetic.  Perhaps because he was genuinely interested in what I had to say, I was particularly bold.  I began telling him stories of the plankton life.  For example, I told him about the cake man (cf. Slice of Disappointment) and I said that it didn’t really matter it hadn’t worked out between us because, much as I had liked him, he hadn’t made my stomach go flip.   I told him other stories, too, that perhaps I wouldn’t have told an available man for fear of sounding desperate.  But with him I was myself, I didn’t dissemble or hold back, and I made him laugh a lot.

Almost certainly in response to my honesty, he began to talk about his marriage, which, he said, was not good.  He was very respectful about his wife (who wasn’t at the dinner) but said that it was no longer working for him.  He was very torn, though, because of the children.

He was not disloyal in what he said about his wife, just talked about the struggle within himself.  Our conversation gave way to marriage in general, to life and the advancing years and so forth.  We were enjoying it; comparing notes, laughing.

To cut a long story short, after a while, he suddenly interrupted me, apologised, and told me that I made his stomach go flip!  He said he had fallen in love with me (so, if not quite a fifth of a second, then the time it takes to eat a pappadum, an onion bhaji and some chicken korma).  How he found me the most intelligent, funny, attractive woman he had met for a long time, and so on.   He asked me, please, if he could take me out to lunch?

People are going to rail at me and say I was just blinded and befuddled by the flattery (I was certainly very happy to hear such lovely things said to me by someone other than my loyal girlfriends and my mother; it had been a while), but I really mean it when I say he wasn’t a sleazeball.  He wasn’t greasy and puffy and porn-breathy and nor did he cover me with wandering hands.  Quite the opposite, he seemed dignified and sad.

I told him how lovely it was to hear these things but, as for lunch, well… in other circumstances, I would have liked that very much, but he was married.  Of course, he said, he totally understood.  When dinner was over, he discreetly squeezed my hand, and quietly left.

He could have easily been undeterred, got my number from our hosts, or googled me and tracked me down.  But he didn’t and I am glad.

I drove home alone that night and thought that the news is not always bad.  Perhaps, as a married man, he should have held himself back and refrained from his declarations and invitation.  Who knows, if I had been the less priggish type, where it might have gone?  (I don’t want to make myself out as some sort of self-righteous creep, here).  But the point is, he didn’t pursue it and that made me feel that not all men are total sleazeballs.

And the experience also made me think that whatever I did to him (what did I do?), surely I can do again, to someone who is available – even if the available one of the moment, the smidgen on the horizon (cf. Men’s Mixed Messages), who emailed me last week still hasn’t emailed since.

On good days, I think it must be because his internet connection is down.  On bad, it’s because he’s just not that into me.

Today I am thinking about striped shirts and pappadums and flattering words, which makes it a good day.

Smidgen’s in the middle of nowhere.  His internet must be down.  Surely.

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§ 11 Responses to Married Man

  • Rubycon says:

    I’ve been following your blog ever since I read about it in the Guardian UK. It’s great stuff. Very candid insightful and funny. Always a great read and I look forward to new entries. It makes me think about my own situation. I was recently blown off-not dumped-that would imply forethought and effort and communication; no, I was just blown off. A guy just stopped talking to me altogether and disappeared off the face of the earth. I was crushed as it had been a couple of months and I honestly believed it was going somewhere. Anyway, since then I’ve been rock climbing and going to yoga. It’s really not my thing either-but I want it to be, does that make sense? Especially for outdoorsy sports there are a lot of (athletic!) men who participate in these activities and it’s a very social atmosphere. You are obviously smart and funny, but I don’t think you are seeing the whole picture and are in need of some tough love. You recently wrote about how you REFUSE to: go on a walk in the park, take yoga, take a class, go on a retreat, use online dating, and had a laundry list of other things you *wouldn’t* do-yet you still hope a man will just drop into your lap from the sky. How is this going to happen? No one’s going to knock on your door and sweep you off your feet while you’re watching tv in your sweats. No one. Obviously the avenues you’ve been pursuing aren’t working, why stand by them? You say you realize that beggars can’t be choosers, but do you really have a tangible grasp of that? I think there’s an element of love showing up when you’re busy because you’re otherwise occupied and it isn’t at the forefront of your mind, but that’s not the whole picture. You admit that middle aged dating has its challenges, so wondering why a man doesn’t approach you while you’re getting coffee or at the grocery store is ridiculous. Maybe they all assume you’re married or involved because of your age. How is anyone to know? Not all women wear rings, after all. My point is, you’re going to have to work for it. It’s obviously not going to ‘just happen’ on its own. Why waste more time? I know that I want a man so I’m willing to work for it and up my chances by participating in activities that I am more likely to meet them at and have positive side effects like staying in shape, which never hurts anyone’s chances. So? How much do you really want it?

    • Miss J says:

      Well said Rubycon! I have said exactly the same thing to single friends of mine in or approaching their 40’s… I have one friend who will not date any man who is a) Shorter than her in heels (she’s 5’10 barefoot!) b) Earns less than her a year c) Has children d) Doesn’t conform to her idea of dress sense and so on – she’s single and bloody likely to stay that way unless she ditches her wish list and piss poor attitude too. If the object of her desire were to appear as if by magic, he’d run a mile as there are nicer women out there who don’t place such emphasis on image, earning potential and ticking all those boxes she THINKS she wants right now.

      Another friend has the right attitude and has lots of dates with men, but it rarely gets past two or three evenings out due to her overthinking the situation…”what if’s” rule her life, thinking the next step should be taken within a given amount of time and I’m sick to death of telling her to just relax, enjoy the moment and if things develop then so be it – she’s had men who she’s been very attracted to declare their undying love for her and want to spend their every waking moment in her company only for her to cease all contact without giving the poor man an explanation! She claims she’s looking for a life partner then when a potential one presents itself she runs scared…I think in many ways we women are our own worst enemy.

  • Sarah Hague says:

    You’re right. Married men = trouble or heartbreak or both. Even if they promise the opposite.

    Especially if they promise the opposite.

  • stormwind says:

    Must admit, of the two, there would have been no choice for me. I’d have been hooked on the kidnap negotiator/spy. I wouldn’t have looked twice at Mr Married-Stripe-Shirt, I’m afaid!

    Married men in striped shirts are everywhere – kidnap negotiators and spies are a unique chance to get a glimpse into another world.

    Sorry, I’m a hopeless case, I know!

  • asjbendall. says:

    I am at a loss, have enjoyed your previous statements, but at the end of the day, we need to identify the real issue, that is? We should identify a gathering of all your present followers, maybe minus one, and have a bloody good night out, because I for one, have had a stressful few days with world situations and need some down time where I can be just a follower and perhaps for once have some real relaxation with people out of my zone, with anonymity, and only you as the interest because my curiosity is now running, and my inner being tells me Go For It! Very rarely do I get the chance to have something else on my mind beyond the issue in hand or getting back to my little bit of England called home, incidentally the Chickens are still not laying! The Times has a lot to answer for with respect to your inital article, exposure! I need leave to track you down with at least a bunch of flowers and some—————

    • Bambi says:

      Now I am curious. Who is the “minus one”. asjbendall…..?

      Hear, hear Sarah and Stormwind re Married-Stripe-Shirts. They are BAD NEWS and SHOULD BE AVOIDED!

      Has anyone done a calculation of the number of “offers” The Plankton has received through this blog to date…..? Better than any online dating site…. or course/yoga class/ contrived activity engaged in “for purposes of meeting a man”…… And much more entertaining for The Followers…

      Just back from Galway race festival. A man took my number…. Am not holding my breath….

  • mel says:

    i think the trick is to be happy inhabiting the space you are in, if someone comes along, fine, enjoy the time alone if not.
    we men can smell the fear of being alone and its not an attraction believe me, maybe because stripy was married you thought “all bets are off i can be myself “.
    i’m not saying you are putting on an act, just that its easier ( even for men ) to converse with someone you aren’t in with a chance ( or don’t want ) to be dating.
    i KNOW i give off the ” not interested ” vibe, maybe you give off a ” too interested” one?

  • SARTM says:

    OMG – “kidnap negotiator who may or may not also be a spy”! I wouldnt even have turned my head towards “striped shirt” once I heard that job spec! can I have his no. pls?

  • Susan says:

    Let me guess – you’ve all watched Mr and Mrs Smith repeatedly and now think that spies are sexy. And look what happened – Brad left Jennifer for Angelina with 6 kids – does this happen in real life??????? As for kidnap negotiator – really? I often say I’m an architect, simply because I like architecture. Anyway that’s another story. What did striped shirt do for a living? That’s what I want to know. It’s always nice to get compliments, but men are notorious for coming to speedy romantic conclusions, especially when their current situation is less than ideal. Perhaps you could have given him some ideas on how to improve his relationship with his wife, rather than declare his love for you which seems rather premature at such an early stage in your meeting. The struggle within himself needs to be sorted first before he can offer anything to anyone. He may not have said anything disloyal about his wife, but his actions and words to you were a show of disloyality to her – not a sleazeball, but foolish nevertheless. I think I prefer a sleazeball, as you know where you stand.

    Rubycon makes some fine points, along with others here. My own experience is that love is a numbers game and the more you play, the closer you are to winning. Good luck chickee dee.

  • mjay says:

    Think you should have slept with him. Enjoy the moment – the rules of the past no longer apply.

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