Public Property

September 1, 2011 § 15 Comments

When I was away for the weekend almost everyone – and there were a lot of people – asked me if I was with someone.

Sometimes I felt like saying fuck off the lot of you but I didn’t because I love them and I understand the desire for narrative.

They put it in different ways.  The great-grandmother figure asked it delicately; the grandmother of young children who when I first divorced had told me “to have fun, just fuck, fuck, fuck”, posed her nosiness more bluntly.  Really close family who live abroad but were here for a week or so, felt they could launch right in with a, “Seeing anyone?” here, or a “Screwing anyone?” there.  Impossible Cad probed again and again, but in a flirty, am-I-in-with-a-chance? kind of way.  Unforgivable, but kind of dare I say it and strike me down and call me perverse but don’t hate me – (very temporarily) sexy.  I tried to duck and dive with all of them including Unforgivable Impossible Cad but no amount of obscure remarks or tactful dissembling would deter any of them.  They wanted news of my sex life and we were at odds because I didn’t want to give it.

I wonder if men are subjected to this amount of interrogation?  I suspect not.  They’d deck you.  As I am sure I have said before, planktons on the other hand are apparently public property.  Questions are blithely asked regardless of the feelings engendered in us by the answers.  I know this sounds rather po-faced – and I hate to fuck po-faced – but I wonder what it is about the middle-aged woman on her own which makes people feel she is fair game?  Makes them feel she can be plundered for information about her paltry private life purely for the sport of it.  As flies to wanton boys and all that.

And how the fuck to deal with it?

Search me.

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§ 15 Responses to Public Property

  • AnonW says:

    You asked if men get the same third degree. When my wife died, I certainly did. I think people think you are weak and want to control your life. Remember though that there are a lot of targets in this life, who are worthy of insulting morning, noon and night. An example is the builder, who built this house I moved to. Every time, I look behind something, I find another example of his awful handiwork. I hope he never gets round to reading my blog, as he’d probably shoot me. The good thing, is that we don’t even know who the other is. Ignorance is bliss!

  • toyman says:

    To our parents/Grand Mothers/Great Gran’s etc were are and will always be children!

    To my father I am his 49 year old child, on the phone to this day he says, come to Brazil and work for me!

    This normally means; someone loves you!

    Go easy on them Plankton for when they die it will all stop……………………..

    Strangers do not give a fuck what you are up too……………….or with who!

  • Lydia says:

    Let’s look at this one. I am fascinated by the differences between the Plankton and “Lydia” ways when we are about the same age, circumstances. So why would I never be asked?

    Have you made yourself public property? It might be how you are with others. I have a don’t ask, don’t tell rule and it applies between the older children and me too. Of course if you ask I might tell but don’t ask what you don’t want to know and I wouldn’t similarly pry. We didnt’ even tell parents about our divorce until after it was absolute and then I allowed no questions – they were told but it’s our business, not theirs.

    You need to develop the art of the brush off , the ability to make the other person feel terribly intrusive for prying whilst remaining polite with them. On the other hand if you are giving chapter and verse to best friends about every possible date (something I never never ever do) then you’re likely to be asked.

    I still don’t understand why I am never asked and you are. Obviously if someone becomes a bit significant they may at that stage be introduced to family. I’ve always said I would not keep anyone in the dark if that were so. They met a boyfriend last year but until then my business is mine.

    What about this one which I think I’ve used with my sister – “I don’t discuss my private life”. Unless you have very very rude relatives if you say that and not say a snigle other word I don’t see how they can prey even more. If they ask again repeat exactly the same sentence without a change. I promise they will get the message.

    Or you could turn the question round – say tell me about your childhood insecurities or deficiencies in yhour upbringing which engendered within you the prejudice which means you imply people cannot be happy single? That might shut them up. No wonder they never ask me.

    Example daughter came into room. Saw expensive looking box with some jewellery in which was obviously new. What’s that? A necklace. Where did you get it? Someone gave it to me. Who? A man. What man? Someone I went out with. End of conversation.

  • Aspie Weirdo says:

    New reader bopping in here. I just wanted to say a couple of things that popped up after reading your description of yourself. First, you are not at the bottom of the sexual food chain. Fat women and women older than yourself are lower!

  • MissM says:

    To be fair most people’s lives are very boring so they like to look for something to entertain them. Isn’t that the explanation for the success of romance novels and soap operas on television? Also, who would want to ask about a married woman’s private life given there is probably not a lot happening. Stayed in, ate left-overs, watched tv and had an early night with hubby, all very nice if you are living it but not very exciting to hear about.

    A single woman on the other hand might be up to all sorts of things one hasn’t even imagined yet, and you wouldn’t know without asking. Of course they probably are just staying in, eating left-overs, watching tv and having an early night, alone. This probably just reassures married folk that they are not missing anything, but it is important to check.

    Since there is not the faintest chance of any romance in my life, I am certain if someone I knew had some romance in theirs, it is a subject I’d be pleased to hear about. I am not sure I would actually want precise details, but some general outline would be fine. Tips on how exactly one does get jewellery as gifts from men wouldn’t go astray either, since I don’t seem to have that talent.

    Of course if they didn’t want to share, I would not be bothered by that either. So if after one fairly general question they don’t give indication of wishing to pursue a topic I am happy to let it drop. Everyone is entitled to draw the boundaries of their life where ever they wish, after all it is their life.

    • Lydia says:

      Well I only got it from my ex husband (and birthday presents) when I said I wanted a divorce so if you’re married and not getting any I wouldn’t worry. it’s par for the course.

      If you’re single it’s different. I think I was the first one of us to buy a present actually. I’m not materialistic and need or want stuff. Indeed I was saying to the children for a birthday my best present would be to be rid of stuff, not to get more (a sort of inverse present). I never know the brands and makes of things to know what might be good and what bad/cheap. I’m not even sure I’d wear it sadly, not that I gave any inkling that might be so when he was kind enough to give it to me. He said a few things about it I didn’t even understand but I made out I was very impressed and it was kind. There are so many nice kind men around. What a pity I had to hurt that one. I should form a data bank of the wonderful men I’ve met once or even longer who would make wonderful husbands if things had only been a bit more right. They are all out there and they all deserve nice women. Go and hunt for them.

  • Sarah says:

    I didn’t get those intrusive questions after I divorced. I’m not even sure they thought I’d go looking what with having the boys to care for. My family kept a discreet silence on the subject.

  • Chris says:

    You would not by any chance be Liz Jones would you ? Your approach to life seems strikingly similar.

  • kidrock says:

    I constantly get the 3rd degree from my friends and family (especially my parents) to settle down and get married. I appreciate their concern, however, the approach seems to be one of trying to ‘shame’ me into doing it, in the sense that if i dont join the club then that automatically makes me a pariah.

    This i find humorous, since having observed many of my close married friends, i can conclude that a substantial portion of them are quite miserable (for a variety of reasons). i constantly think to myself, is this what i have to look forward to as well? gee thanks.

    Personally, i think single life is awesome which is why i cant understand people on here moaning about how wretched their (single) lives are. it doesn’t have to be this way – why not enjoy it?

    the only reason marriage would make any tangible sense to me would be bringing children into the world.

  • Jane says:

    Ooh how very weird Chris, I have thought exactly the same thing (that she writes a lot like Liz)on very many occasions.
    Previous commentors are right, you are single ‘out there’ hey you must be having a more exciting time than them,right? so of course they want you to ‘dish the dirt’ Whilst I am not a fan of the sharing every intimate detail of your personal life with anyone who will listen….chatting about your sex life with your kids…waht’s that all about? very wrong! sometimes it does help to ‘say it out loud’ or some of it at least, it puts in into perspective and stops it burrowing into your brain and driving you nuts.

  • june says:

    I agree people do seem interested in why a single women isnt married, of course if youve never been its worse. ive been asked why i never have been more times than i care to remember. One gets remarks like you are an attractive women why not, well how the hell would i know it just hasnt happened. But as for are you having sex well from what so many women seem to say, loads who are in relationships are not exactly having rip roaring sex lives, so possibly not missing much.

    Like kidrock unless children are involved i can see no point in getting married, amd as i am way beyond that stage,certainly have no desire to, whats the point, it doesent make anyone stay with you and if you have your own property and dont need someone materially, it seems even more pointless. Companionship yes, possibly sex and a relationship but marriage utterly pointless, anyone over 40 should be way past the glamourous day senario thats for 20 year olds.

    • MissM says:

      Do what I do when people ask why you have never married and tell them that it is obviously because no one has ever asked you marry them. Never fails to shut them up.

      Sorry Kidrock but I do hate being single. I hate having no one to share life’s trials and triumphs. I hate going to bed alone every night, having no one to be affectionate with, never getting any hugs and cuddles ever. I hate not having someone for whom I can think *I must remember to show this to x, he would find that funny* or *I’ll get that for x, he would enjoy that* or in so many other ways be there as a focus for lots of little things that can make life more enjoyable. Having sole possession of the tv remote and eating dinner whenever I want is really not all that much by way of compensation.

      Congratulations to those who are happy being single but I am not one of them. I also get tired of people acting as thought there is something wrong with me just because I’d prefer to not be alone in life. It seems a perfectly normal reaction to being single, given that vast majority of people do their best to pair up.

      Whether you want to grace it with the title of marriage or not is less important than just having someone. I’d not call myself single if I were in a long term relationship, unmarried yes, single no. But on this detail we are only arguing over semantics.

      • Bambi says:

        That physical contact is important. I gets lots of hugs from family and friends, but if I am feeling in need of some more, I just ask straight out. I haven’t been refused yet! Could you try it, MissM?
        Your post made me so sad. Although I am actually quite content (now) with being single, I understand fully how you feel. I felt all those things in the early years of separation. I also agree that it seems to be “unacceptable” to express a wish not to be alone in life; but people also look askance and now think that there is something “wrong” with me because I am actually enjoying being single…. Can’t win!

        So…my point is that…based on personal experience, I think that one can probably change how one feels about being single and turn it into a good and fun place to be – but it is hard work and it may ultimately make one less open to possible relationships. There is a price for everything!

        My personal experience, however, may not be of general application….. am just trying to ‘elp! Sending you a virtual hug, MissM! (Though perhaps, like me (even still), you probably prefer hugs from men…)

      • kidrock says:

        I think being ‘alone’ is different from being ‘lonely’.

        Being lonely is about feeling isolated from any kind of significant human connection. We are social animals after all. One can be around many people yet still feel lonely. This is what I think many (single) folks on here actually mean – the lack of connection, be it a from a lover, family or friends. We have a compulsion to belong and believe we have a purpose which transcends beyond just ourselves.

        For example, whenever I have been single, I have rarely ever felt lonely since I have a huge network of family and friends. It is for this very reason that I have never really felt the pressure to go out and find someone – to me it isn’t the be all and end all. I suppose this is the reason why being single for me is no real big deal. I guess many are not as fortunate. Having said that, I will marry sometime only because I require children.

        Now if I was in a situation where I didn’t have any of the aforementioned then there is certainly no doubt I would be pursuing something with more urgency out of need to avoid the loneliness trap.

        Just saying.

  • joules says:

    Dear MissM
    I am single and still get all those things except for the not going to bed along at night. I have friends who give me hugs, family who are on another continent but who still send me little surprises and ex-“in-laws” who still do as well. I guess I am lucky (though I do work hard at this) and it does mean that I feel less pressure to hook up with just anyone. Try giving a few of your friends a hug – even in Britain most people appreciate a nice hug.

    Actually single versus unmarried but in a relationship is more than semantics – or should be.

    Need to get going – off to make lunch for about 12 friends and colleagues. And probably hug several of them.

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