Go to Everything
October 3, 2011 § 41 Comments
The other day someone told me that a well-known actress who had married late in life said that as a middle-aged woman on her own you have to go to bloody everything.
I thought about this last night as I ventured out. I am rather possessive about my Sunday evenings because I am usually so knackered at the end of the weekend, but I had been asked to a massive dinner and so swallowed my reluctance, and shovelled on the mascara. My hosts were people I don’t know well but like very much and I realised I had to go; the opportunity to widen one’s field and all that.
I didn’t have a fantastic time but I was made to feel welcome and had a nice enough time. I sat next to a medical big-wig happily married to his second wife. He had left his first wife and had a story about that to tell (I love getting unlikely men to talk about these things. My heart had rather sunk as I sat down. He had looked so formal and not up for it, but I probed a bit and bit by bit out it all came, the emotion and expletives and all, and in the end we laughed a lot, I enjoyed our conversation and liked him). On my other side, a very jolly academic. I am guessing he was gay and I liked him too. On balance, I am glad I made the effort and didn’t stay in because I had thought I’d rather watch Downton. The occasion was fun in itself, though stuffed with married couples and of course I left on my own as usual which is always dismal.
One of the great things about being married is that you don’t have to go to everything. Such a goddamn relief! You can say no, can’t be arsed, and you aren’t potentially missing the opportunity of a lifetime! When you are a plankton, every invitation could be the one where you meet The One. So when I am tired and can’t be arsed, and even actively dreading something, I feel the need to force myself to get up and go, because you never know… I have heard enough stories of someone who made herself go to something she wanted to go to as much as she wanted to be hung, drawn and quartered, and lo and behold, she did go and met the man of her dreams! It’s so commonplace this cliched story, it haunts me to the point I wonder if a woman ever met the man of her dreams at a party she did want to go to?
So I go out when I want to go out and I go out when I really, really don’t. Sometimes I enjoy the occasion like last night, sometimes I don’t, like the thing I made myself go to a few nights ago; waste of bloody time that was. Sometimes it’s more extreme: absolutely fantastic or really, really shit. In any event, I wonder if meeting someone will ever happen this way because it seems the world is teeming of married couples; even if you try to break out into the world of singles and get away from them, you’re always within 6 feet of one, like they say you are with a rat. Don’t get me wrong, I am not equating married people with rats – some (most!) of my best friends and all that – but there are a fuck of a lot of them.
I remember when I was young and single, I’d worked it out down to a tee. Take a party of, say, 100 people. 60 of them were married or boyfriend/girlfriend. The other 40 consisted of 30 single women (including me), 10 single men. Of those ten men, 4 were gay/emotionally unstable/commitment-phobes or SFARs (Single For A Reason); and the 5 vaguely reasonable ones were surrounded by 29 single women. Which left me, the thirtieth single woman, in a corner with the one handsome, clever, funny, brilliant, gorgeous single man who would invariably look deeply into my eyes and tell me how extravagantly, totally, completely, overwhelmingly, joyfully, passionately, manifestly in love he was with… a woman who couldn’t make it to the party tonight but whom, he assured me, combined the physical attributes of Brigitte Bardot and Kate Moss, and the intellectual ones of Simone de Beauvoir, and whom he intended to propose to within days and go on to have a hundred of her children.
Today, those stats have shifted slightly. Party of 100 people: 90 married; 8 planktons; 2 SFARs in their almost certainly in their dotage.
So, all this Going to Everything, all the effort and sticks of mascara and babysitting fees, where the fuck has it got me? Nowhere. But you have to keep on going to everything, just in case.
Just in my case, I sometimes wonder why the fuck I bother?
Except otherwise, I suppose, I might as well be dead.