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.

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§ 36 Responses to Picture a Plankton

  • fi says:

    We’re just too choosy that’s the problem. I have men throwing themselves at me – last friday I was pursued by 2. One was so fat he walked with a stick. One was not quite so fat and didn’t have a stick. Yet. I think one of them even had a job! But it boils down to a choice between what’s available or staying single, and I’d rather stay single. I live in hope that at some point I’ll meet someone slim, with a job AND a brain, but it doesn’t look good I have to say. So I guess I just decided to get as much fun out of life as I can and if one comes along its a bonus. Even if it is unlikely because the single men I meet (as opposed to ones who have been married) have REALLY let themselves go.

    • Chris says:

      Well, you know, I am 6 ft tall, slim, have a job and a full head of hair that has not really even gone grey yet. So yippee, tick tick those boxes. But wait….I have a hairy back !! Oh dear, and so yet another man falls by the wayside with you oh so picky women !! There is not a shortage of men but a shortage of the impossible dream you seek !! Look in the mirror, what are you REALLY worth ?

      • fi says:

        There may be truth in the clAim that we’re too picky but so fat that you need a stick??? Who would want to have sex with some bloater that stuffs his face with piesa and doesn’t take any exercise? Now on the other hand I DO like hairy men….

  • Patricia says:

    Yep, with you there again.

  • today i love your blog even more than ever. what is the collective noun for plankton?

  • Caz says:

    I agree with Fi….does one compromise or stay single? I have been going out with a “nice” guy for a few months. What a boring word! He doesn’t set my heart a flutter but…. he is tall, good looking, kind, employed, lives locally, solvent and easy company (and he really, really likes me). I would like to have more sparkling, feisty conversation but it’s lovely to have someone to meet up with at weekends or go to the theatre/supper/concerts, walks etc
    He is beginning to want more from me and I have to make a choice; to go back to the world of singletons or keep him happy knowing that he is not “the one” but on the other hand thinking that something may develop. I hope you don’t mind me asking them but I am in quite a stew about this situation.
    I have been following your blog with interest and I feel lucky to have a man in my sights….in fact I am about 10 yrs older than you and wonder if I am mad to even think about ending this relationship….but I worry that I am being fair to him.
    Ideally I would like to jog along as things are and see what develops between us. Am I being really fussy?….can I afford to be??!
    I find the thought of hopping into bed with someone who doesn’t turn me on physically quite unnerving – but he wants to move things on. Help!

    • The Plankton says:

      Oh My goodness, Caz, I am no agony aunt, but maybe, just maybe, if you can face it, go back to the very beginning of my blog – The Wilderness, 2 July – and read straight through from start to finish, and I think you may find the answer comes ringing out loud and clear. Or perhaps I should save you the bother and say, if I were you, I’d go for it – the giving him a chance I mean. Being a plankton has a certain nervous edginess that perhaps is missing from the settled, encoupled existence, but I know which I’d prefer, long-term, any day, and chances don’t come along very often, I can say that again. But that’s perhaps just biased ol’ me: the original Plankton. Good luck. Px

      • RS says:

        This reply is what I find so frustrating about you and your situation. You give this advice to Caz, yet you do the exact opposite. I’m not saying that you should be “settling” for the older guy (is that Poppy Seed? I find all your nicknames for people confusing sometimes) you’ve seen a couple of times but who doesn’t set your heart aflutter. Why though can you see that “settling” as a perfectly viable option for Caz but not for yourself?
        But then you are allowed inconsistencies and hypocrasies when it’s your blog – and life is messy. I don’t know that I would be able to settle myself.

  • Caz says:

    ps – I mean asking you! sorry – I love your blog plankton and your very insightful comments on the world of being single.

  • fi says:

    Caz – I think you know that this guy isn’t right for you as if you don’t want to sleep with him what’s the point? However you don’t have to make a decision right now. Its ok to hang about a bit longer and see if you change your mind or things become clearer. I don’t think its a relationship if you aren’t having sex – you’re just friends – and that’s where this could go. But is it so scary being on your own? Longer term I think its very hard to be with someone that isn’t right for you. After all isn’t that really why our previous relationships broke up? Because either we ceased to be the right person for them or the other way round. At least they were at the outset.

  • Caz says:

    Thanks Plankton……..that really helps! keep up the good work Cx

  • june says:

    Caz id say go for it, im a little older than you and i defintely would if i was so fortunate as to have met someone who maybe doesent send your pulses racing but seems to tick lots boxs, as i ive said i would have seen the first man from plenty fish again, but either i turned him off completely or he wanted instant sex and sensed i wasnt up for that.

    Plankton again i agree with what youve said, if your lovely young friend cant get anyone it makes you think what the hell hope is there for us. My friend who does not want to become a plankton so papers over cracks in her relationship all the time, is mid 40s , and she is lovely and i think if she wont risk being alone and meeting someone else, what hope is there for me, the wrong side 55. It is lovely when coupled up people seem to enjoy the company of we planktons is it not, but it starts you wondering if i am such a stimulating person, why the hell am i on my own.

    I do agree with how unttached women used to be viewed,years ago, my mum felt sorry for spinsters, as they were called, as there were of course very few divorcees when i was a little girl,in small towns there werent.,they were almost banished from the village,. They did have the wrinkled stockings,shapeless cardigan look didnt they, i remember my sunday school teacher,my god she was probably my age now, maybe younger, and yet she seemed light years removed from me. lived a very sad life, with little social activities or invitations. At least we live in the enlightened times when a single woman isnt a sad spinster or a scarlet woman divorcee shunned by all,thank goodness. .

  • Jude says:

    And I’ll ‘third’ that about single men of our age. I went to a singles night that was marketed as an “up-market do for professionals over 40”. Well, the women all looked great – stylish, vibrant, youthful – and had obviously made an effort. But the men! To an outsider it would have looked like a classy cocktail party had been invaded by a bunch of old Rotarians. We were all quite disappointed.

    • Man Fifty says:

      Jude, I assume that minimum male attire for such an event would be suit and tie, shirt (clean), shoes (polished) and hair trimmed. I’d be intrigued to know in which areas their personal presentation fell so short of expectations.

      • (Cynical) Toad Lover says:

        No no, big misunderstanding here.

        No suit no tie no shoes – for all were toads.

        Dutifully the toads squatted whilst the girls (every one a perfect princess – oh what a ho ho) gave each a kiss, held her breath then stood back waiting for the magic to work. One kiss: toad to prince.

        Not one mention of a chat with a bloke with a boil on the end of his nose (a kiss from a princess the night before followed by an infection) but who turned out to be interesting, kind, intelligent, caring….and what’s more with a long and agile tongue.

  • submodal says:

    Love it, I read this and looked at myself, noticed the black opaque tights and sensible shoes for work, think I am wearing heels tomorrow 🙂 and possibly doing some sit ups for the stomach ;-D

  • Troll Lover. says:

    Er, I was wondering if one of you – you intellectual gals – might explain to this naive old Troll the concept of kissing/being kissed by/frogs/toads.

    Have I got it right? Frogs and/or toads in this context are always male? And that the concept of kissing frogs/toads is built on an assumption that (superior) females condescend to kiss an array of (inferior) males before discovering a handsome prince?

    Or maybe the idea that one kiss from the superior female can magically transform a below par male into a designer companion?

    Rather like doing up a shabby property without a builder but magically? One thrust of the tongue through the letterbox and the roof’s repaired? Is that the idea?

  • Margaux says:

    I’m totally with Fi on this too. Planktonia is a far better place to be than compromise. Caz – if you don’t feel that sexual spark – what’s the point? If you aren’t turned on then it just won’t work ( quite literally!- nothing worse than sex without the accompanying hormone rush)

    2 friends tried to set me up with a man who they deemed a catch – successful, slightly younger than me and well heeled.But…he just didn’t do it for me. Meanwhile I am led a merry dance by a Long Shot esque commitment phobic bad boy with no money and a heap load of baggage. But – the fun and the sex is far more life affirming!

    We get one life – don’t make it about compromise!

  • EmGee says:

    “We don’t look it from the outside…”
    Eh, too true. When we put our best face forward, – stylish, vibrant, youthful, as Jude says, and they are intimidated. When we show our desperation and yearning, they run like rabbits, afraid of getting ‘snared’. What’s a plankton to do?

    I also think the “Rotarian Look” is a signal that they want a mommy to dress them, among other things (aka, sfar). Take heed. Sorry the singles night was such a disappointment. Anything advertised as ‘singles’ is something to be avoided imo.

    It’s my birthday today (49 for those keeping score at home), and 2 girlfriends (one securely married, the other is 60ish with a 40ish lover – Audrey Tautou should look so good in 30 years). They are picking me up at 5:30. I have never been surprised on my birthday before, I was lucky if my husband even remembered, usually the best he could do was; sorry I forgot, guess it’s too late to get a card, huh?

    I am being inundated with birthday wishes far and wide online today – I am one lucky girl. 🙂

    • joules says:

      Happy Brithday EmGee. Birthdays do seem to be better as a Plankton. Think people really make an effort. Unlike certain exs.

      • EmGee says:

        Thank you Joules!

        I was feted at a dinner party for 12 or so at a local restaurant, then a few of us went to the open mic night at the local saloon, where one of the invitees was, who couldn’t attend dinner because he was hosting there. A Dylan fan like me, he mustered together some musicians between bands and sang, “She Belongs to Me” (‘salute her when her birthday comes’), what Plankton wouldn’t want to be the bad girl in that song?

        He’s also a very nice and nice looking man only a few years older than I, and he’s made overtures, but as a former Hollywood child actor (who’s made good), and local celebrity…, well the idea of being in tight orbit with him gives me a bit of a fright.

        The dinner party consisted mainly of women, but there were 2 couples, 3 women without their SOs, a man without his SO, another plankton (a hatchling in fact), and myself.

        The nicest birthday //anyone// could hope for.

  • Erin says:

    Dear P, please don’t compare yourself to this other woman. I always say, you never know what goes on behind closed doors. She could be a smothering, high maintenance, possessive type that has turned off men in the past. There could be a multitude of reasons underneath the surface of why she is single. She might have the highest of expectations for men and insist on a full head of hair, tall, dark and handsome, etc – the supermodel man that doesn’t exist, just like some men want the supermodel woman that doesn’t exist. Remember, people are like fingerprints – no 2 are alike – and there could be all kinds of wrong with this woman. So please don’t allow yourself to go down that path because it just leads to frustration and insecurity.

    Now, did you see Smidgen? Have you heard from LS? Inquiring minds want to know : )

  • Caz says:

    thanks so much for your comments girls – yes, I think i’ll hang on in there a bit longer to see where it goes ……..love this blog x

    • t lover says:

      Is it a case of mistaken identity on my part? Is my jaw on the floor because I have simply misunderstood but aren’t you the girl who gets her oats in a stable?

      But then perversely thinks that if a bloke does it to you – viz sees two women (comment 8th of October) – it is on a par with having an affair?

      I only ask out of interest. How many loose boxes are in your stable? Does “Ain’t Misbehaving” know about “Unannounced Pleasure” know about “Unbridled Dreams” (if you get my drift) and are they all happy?

      Just wondering.

  • Lulu says:

    I don’t know if I’m on my own here. I’m mid-40s, single, last relationship dragged on for years and years with the most lovely man who I was completely “out of lust” with and to be honest, I don’t know if I can go down that route again, just for the sake of having company. Like every other plankton out there, yes I would LOVE to meet someone but I’m afraid I DO want the pulses racing, heart a-flutter kind of stuff. I’ve lived so long without it that I would rather be on my own now if the alternative meant compromising with a “nice” guy. Fast forward and Mr Nice Guy becomes Mr Boring. Probably. Can’t say it’s the same for everyone but if it ain’t there at the beginning, where’s it going to come from?

    • suzanna says:

      @ Lulu:
      Goodness, you are so right. I had a similar relationship that dragged on (and off) also for 10 years. Once the sparkle went out of it, it felt like I had the worst aspects of being married to him (although we weren’t actually married!) and none of the fun of not being married. Got to the point where I actually felt miserable at the thought of seeing him. I would not wish that on anyone, so to all plankton everywhere do not settle for second best! And once you have done that, and the realisation sets in, it is so much harder extracting yourself again.

      • Lulu says:

        Suzanna, so glad someone understands! So many friends wanted me to somehow make it work with my partner as they figured it was better than being on my own. You get to a point where you would RATHER be on your own, and having been through it before I am determined I don’t want to trap myself in a similar situation again. Thanks for being on my wavelength. Second best just won’t work for me anymore.

  • june says:

    And youve hit nail on head havent you, most women do look after themselves. keep youthful, want to enjoy life, but men, well i can never work out why most of my age think younger women would want them, because none i know would. How the hell did this men wear better than women thing start, cause personally i can never see it, also they seem to have one foot in grave, and have prehistorc attitudes to women.I feel far too young for most men of my age, but younger men just dont want to know. We dont want too much, its just that men just make no effort at all to be what we want. I would say the divorced ones have been ditched by their wives, because they have let themselves go and are too damm boring.

  • Lydia says:

    Cax, don’;t stick with the dullards even for an evening. I cast them aside. You need someone very clever and very fast and fun. They are out there.

    Plankton does 500% as much socialising as I do with girl friends, married couples and the like (I’m working or with chidlren) and 0.1% of meeting of single men that I do. I think the balance is wrong.

    Your beautiful single friend in her 30s who wants babies is probably just too fussy. Look out of the box, meet the man who might not tick all the boxes and it might just work. Keep trying, have fun.
    Also if she wants babies she mustn’t hang around. Countless women have babies alone by IVF. No reason she shouldn’t.

    Women should stop being so passive and take action to cure problems they have and find solutions instead of being constant moaners, on and on moan and moan. Act don’t do.

  • Margaux says:

    I always love reading Lydia’s comments -they are always totally inspiring! She’s right – we can either sit at home and get more and more depressed and keep moaning – or we can get out there …the choice is ours….

    • The Plankton says:

      Oh dear, Lydia’s not going to approve of today’s post…Yikes…Best P

      • Lydia says:

        Not at all. Liike reading my sister’s daily wonder long moaning emails nothing cheers me up quite like it as I go about the daily grind keeping up the Pollyanna happiness to be alive. Very nice man today at a work thing although I wouldn’t normally mix the two.May be I can find a pretext to contact him although the last time that happened I ended up briefly dating one (very nice ) but he wanted to move so very fast to being serious (he declared to his HR department things might happen when we’d met once for one date and wanted STD tests we;d go together for before he’d touched me.. laughing as I type, mean are so different and interesting) we didn’t progress things. He wanted to move too fast to a relationship.

        Sometimes there is a just a difference of pace on one side and you need to compromise. It is not my experience that divorced men with children want sex and women relationships at all. Often instead they want to rush to settle down again because they miss family life as their children do not live with them any more. It can make mid life women with children more not less attractive,. Lucky us.

  • Elle says:

    Caz, if you really don’t want this chap (and please think about it carefully) send him across the Irish sea to me! I’m 39 and a slightly older version of Plankton’s friend in the article above but not high-maintenance or fussy. I do however draw the line at criminals and alcoholics which dramatically narrows my choice of partner in this country. If there are any good single men my age and older (that’s from 39 up to 60 for me) they seem to get snapped up before the world at large can find out they are available.

    You describe him as being “tall, good looking, kind, employed, lives locally, solvent and easy company (and he really, really likes me)”. Wow, what a package! No fireworks? Never mind, there will be lots of those whizzing around at Hallowe’en and on Guy Fawkes night and you can see for yourself how long they last. That applies to relationships too, I’m afraid.

    You say “I would like to have more sparkling, feisty conversation but it’s lovely to have someone to meet up with at weekends or go to the theatre/supper/concerts, walks etc”

    How many women would kill to be in your shoes, to have a male friend to meet at weekends to go to the theatre, supper, concerts and on walks? I don’t care what anybody says, attraction as strong as an oak tree CAN grow from little acorns of friendship and you have all the potential here of something wonderful. The sparkling, feisty conversation and all the fireworks are all very well but this is not always a stable base for a relationship even though it may be exciting for a while.

    So Caz, give him a chance, and if not send him on a holiday to Dublin to heal his broken heart. He will not be allowed to leave if he comes here!

  • joules says:

    She wouldn’t approve of me getting off the internet dating site that I almost registered with but tough. Went with my gut on that one.

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