Picture a Plankton
October 18, 2011 § 36 Comments
Supper out with friends; two lovely couples and two single women. A typical scenario. I am not bitter. I had a really good time, mainly because the people round the table were so warm and funny and open and unsmug. Utterly forgiving of my lateness. Food was bloody good too; all great fun, and a game where we wrote our wishes on Amaretti-type paper and lit them so they flew in the air – no prizes for guessing mine. They are supposed to come true. Mine took a couple of attempts to take off, but got there in the end, I assure you. Juvenile, maybe, but I don’t pass up any opportunity for a bit of harmless, positive superstition at this point. All power to the elbow, fuel to the fire, or whatever the expression is. Anyway, a great evening and no complaints.
Actually, just one. The other single woman was ten years or so younger than me. She was beautiful, clever, sassy, fantastic company and very honest and funny about being single, unmarried, no children, and with a mother in despair. Like me, she has twinkles, but they never go anywhere, although she does get kissed a lot, but invariably by toads. Why the fuck hasn’t she got men beating a path? That is my complaint. What is wrong with men that she hasn’t been snapped up, for Christ’s sake? I mean, if she hasn’t, what hope is there for single women everywhere, let alone plankton (someone has quite rightly pointed out that plankton is both singular and plural, which I knew but have lazily ignored, but for the sake of accuracy will employ from now on)? In fact, she is technically by my definition – and after all, only my definition counts as I invented the bloody term – a plankton ie. a single woman over 35 in want of a man. But she doesn’t look like one or have the air of one. Ah, but there’s the rub. So many of us don’t.
How do you picture us? Me? You might picture a plankton as someone who is craggy of features, with a grey perm and gravy tights (thick, brown, wrinkled) and lace-up shoes the kind of which were worn by my tweedy, virgin dyke of a headmistress. Can we discuss the bosom for a moment? You know those curious, unyielding bolsters you used to get on top of square pillows in cheap B&Bs in 1970s France (and perhaps still do?)? How to describe them? Never knowingly in possession of a point, stiff, unmoving and unmoved, and about as sexual as an elasticated slipper. I shall move on. Varicose veins. Gnarled feet. A, erm, heightened complexion. Stomach like an un-holey hammock filled with cowpats. The Trunchbull is what she was called, in Matilda? You know the type. Stands with her feet wide apart to give air to her cobwebby crutch, and shouts willy-nilly at babes in arms.
Oh, you may see me and think, hum, not a million miles… On the other hand, there are one or two physical characteristics that could be considered departures from the type. I speak quietly, cross my legs demurely, and a recent trip to the country’s leading bra shop had me down as a size and shape that was considerably more modest and defined than a bolster, thank you very much. My young plankton friend, on the other hand, is top to toe bright and blond and gorgeous, and for all the world could have been a trophy wife, one with class, but wasn’t. Although I didn’t give her a mason-plankton-type handshake, she is a plankton, but not so as you’d notice.
Like the majority of us plankton, really. We don’t look it from the outside, but all of us know it and feel it, like Brighton rock, through and through.