November 29, 2011 § 71 Comments
From yesterday’s Times:-
The scene was set to make it easy for a bachelor who may or may not have been nervous and shy in the face of possibility, and me. We met in a relaxed, cosy restaurant with some other friends, and we ate and drank and were merry and when the restaurant closed we all went back to where I live. Friends drifted home. Smidgen stayed. We talked and drank and I was fully aware of words spoken overlaying questions that remained heavily unanswered. There was a canyon between the surface conversation and the two separate subtexts – his and mine. Two of the three were obvious to me, the third a total mystery. An hour or so later he, too, drifted away.
When I closed the door behind him, I felt overwhelmingly puzzled. What was all that about? Those months of lingering hours in cafes, the body language, the apparent interest? Then a shining opportunity, and then nothing?
The next morning, friends – male and female – rang to say it was absolutely obvious that he was in love with me. Well, not to me it wasn’t. One said he had told her before we sat down for supper that he was nervous and she asked why that would have been had he not been in love? The way he responded to me, they said, made it abundantly clear he was besotted, and they were shocked when I said he had left at one in the morning with about as much ceremony as a postman. “Well, in that case, no wonder he is alone,” a girlfriend said. “He is paralysed, unable to do anything, and if he can’t with you, in a situation like that, he never will be able to.” “Perhaps he is a virgin,” said another, male, friend.
My feeling now is that it is immaterial if he is in love with me because if he can do nothing about it, then what good will that do either of us? I am certainly not going to do anything about it. My friends may have it all wrong and the thought might never have crossed his mind and friendship may be all he ever sought. For me to do do anything to find out, and be rebuffed, would be a humiliation too far.
The case of Smidgen only serves to highlight the plankton’s plight in the face of the apparently “available” bachelor of a certain age. He is not a bachelor for nothing. He is one for any number of reasons – no wish to be tied down, gay, asexual, emotionally knotted so tight that the unpicking is painful to the point of impossible. I don’t know into which category he fits, but today I don’t care if it is all of them, and more. Smidgen and I: we’re history.