Last Night Wasn’t The Night

December 18, 2011 § 20 Comments

On balance, I am glad I went to the party.  I met up with a couple of other plankton and we went together which made the going altogether more palatable.  It was in a hall and the lighting was morgue-like and the acoustics basic, both of which were something of a challenge to those of us who are no longer sixteen but nearer sixty.  I spent much of the evening talking to a cluck of middle-aged women, of course.  But I also talked to several old male friends, and quite lot of friendly people I hadn’t seen for twenty-five years.  One was a man who can always guarantee a good, safe flirt (he is happily married) and a joke or two.  I should have slept with him years ago when it was on the cards but never did though I guess that makes it easier now.  He said that, in his line of work, he often gets called a balding, lanky cunt by troubled teenagers.   Coincidentally, I heard him on Radio 4 on the way home being sensible and grown-up and refraining from telling the audience what he’d told me.  It raised a solitary smile on my journey, thinking about people’s public and private personas (personae?) and entirely prevented me from thinking about Long Shot.

One thing that is different about now and then (when I was young), is that I have let go of certain inhibitions.  Perhaps it is the fact that I have been married and had children – blessed – that enables me to be open and honest with old – male – friends in a way that I would never have been when single in my twenties and desperate.  Caring less about my public persona and being more prepared to wear the private one on my sleeve.  It is a liberation of sorts.  One old friend, a delightful big-wig in the art world, asked me how I was and he did so with such sincerity that I split-second decided to give him the truth as opposed to the hackneyed PR version.  I said I was happy day to day – very true – but the long-term frightened me as a middle-aged woman with no partner.  This is humiliating to admit, I said, but not so hard to guess at, and anyway, I think we know each other well enough.  The funny thing is, I find men friends really respond to such openness and honesty and seem to like it.  I even braved it enough to ask if he had any nice husbands for me.  Rather than laughing in my face and thinking of me as tantamount to the third witch in Macbeth, he was thoughtful and kind and told me about his mother who had been in my position.  Her technique had been to go for the men in marriages that were clearly broken down but before they had actually broken apart.  I told my friend that the very earliest I could consider is separated, divorce pending.  I am not a marriage breaker and, call me priggish, but don’t approve.  He agreed it wasn’t ideal but said his mother went for these men precisely because she had recognised the narrowness of the window of opportunity, which I have often referred to and which make slits in castles look like a plate glass vista designed by Norman Foster.  My friend became rather excited by the idea of coming up with someone for me.

“Trouble is, all my single male friends…Well, there’s Fat Pete, no explanation needed.  There’s Squeaky Pete, rather shrill and neurotic.  And Sad Sid, so suicidal most of the time, it’s a wonder he’s made it to his late forties.  No, I don’t think any of them will do.”

No, I don’t either, somehow.

Surely there must be someone?

“I shall make it my New Year mission,” he said smiling.  “You must come to supper in January.  Six will be a good amount of people, not make it look too obvious.”  As he took my number, I thought, maybe old male friends who are good and kind and whom I can trust, might hold the key, even if at the moment they can only come up with Fat Pete, Squeaky Pete, and Sad Sid.  Who knows, Bumper Bachelor may be just round his corner?

In the end, I stayed much later than I expected having had a few jokes with old mates and a nice time even despite the noise, the lighting, the lack of food (save for a few curling sandwiches) and want of chairs.  I had to leave because my heels are so high that my feet were beginning to riot inside them with a crisis of comfort on the scale of the Eurozone.  I staggered to my car, and gave not two but three other plankton a lift across town.

We compared nostalgia together and then each went on our own solitary way.

No more or less than I expected.

It was ever thus.


§ 20 Responses to Last Night Wasn’t The Night

  • angie says:

    My night was the same, middle aged married women, and planktons in a hotel suite, sit down dinner and disco. The same at all the other tables. Another night of small talk with lovely women, but would much rather have saved the 20 odd quid taxi fare and stayed at home! Every night out seems the same. Really dont want to bother anymore.

  • Lizzie from Oz says:

    It’s funny that isn’t it? Somehow curled up on the lounge, snuggled up with my two adorable dogs, complete control of the remote, a cup of hot chocolate …………. seems like, well, just bliss ………….

  • paolo says:

    You write that “men friends really respond to… openness and honesty and seem to like it.” You are correct about this, and I have always wondered why more women don’t realize this fairly obvious truth. Candor and directness are almost always tremendously appealing, especially to men who are emotionally healthy and self-confident.

    Perhaps I have a bit of a puritanical streak, but the fact that a mother would have confided to her son that she pursued married men whose marriages appeared to be on the rocks I find shocking. Not only is the making of such a confession to a child bizarre, but the tactic itself is disgusting, showing a complete lack of regard for the feelings of the other parties – some of them innocent, if there are children – involved. No matter how grave your desperation might become, Ms. Plankton, I hope you continue to avoid this temptation.

  • Barry says:

    You enjoyed yourself …gave me a glow …lovely prose …thank you P x

  • MissM says:

    Wonderful post dear P. The reference of the window of opportunity being so narrow as to make castle slits look like Norman Foster plate glass vista windows was beautiful. I do like the idea of finding out the stories, techniques and strategies of women who have successfully transitioned from planktonhood to partnership. Clearly some are not what we’d employ, like luring men from their marriage, but perhaps there are other ideas we could benefit from. Internet dating is not working for me, and not even Lydia who meets a million men a week in a lifestyle that sounds like living a nightmare, though she enjoys it, is still single like the rest of us.

    Mentioning shoes reminded me of the quote: the best way to forget all your problems is to wear tight shoes.

    On the plus side you have found someone who wishes to make finding a man for you his New Year’s Mission which has to be a bonus and a start. I find even the tiniest speck is a substantial morsel to most plankton, for whom all possibilities however small are preferable to none at all. I will keep my fingers crossed for Bumper Bachelor in the new year.

    Lizzie, your evening does indeed sounds ever so blissful, which is why I rarely go out. When I do go somewhere it tends to be a result of some “just in case” wishful thinking, since that is about the only thing that can lure me from a more enjoyable time at home. Like our P, my nights out never turn out to be The Night either, and I simply end up appreciating my nights at home even more.

    • The Plankton says:

      Dear MissM, I am glad you enjoyed the post and it’s lovely to hear when readers like the actual writing. That makes me happy. Thank you. Px

    • Lizzie from Oz says:

      Miss M – on the blissful note, yes I love an evening like that! I would just like to add that that comment is coming from someone with a very full social life, which for the most part I enjoy, and certainly feel richly blessed with so many good friends, couples and planktons alike. But as enjoyable as this can be, there are still occasionally those awful emotionally-plunging moments when your situation hits you like a cannon – you are still single, the years are ticking by faster than the whirlwind of a social life, and how can we avoid that question that just leaps out of the depths – what is wrong with ME?

      I can only conclude that there are male planktons out there who would feel exactly the same, unappreciated, undervalued and unheard. I believe there are many shy, unheard planktons out there of both genders, bottling it all up, not quite sure how to cross the boundaries into a confident, self-assured dating machine. My most telling and revealing conversations would be with (safely and happily) married men friends – just like our Plankton has, and if only we could have these same conversations with available single men. But for some ungodly reason available single men prompt an immediate tongue-tied, ridiculously bashful, heart thumping reaction. So then we are not ourselves, not the true self that our friends see every day. It makes me think that the best gift we can give our children for their future is the gift of self-confidence.

  • Margaux says:

    Lovely piece to read. Impressed by your openness as well. Felt like I was there, lurking and listening by the curled up sandwiches.

  • Kristina says:

    Dear Plankton

    I enhoyed reading, again, your touching, honest and entertaining post. I still think you should not be discouraged,as you seem to have plenty of chances to go out and mingle. I mean, you have friends and contacts – other than just the pals at work. I wish you could appreciate your present lifestyle a bit more! I have been married for ages and, well, I sometimes miss having a life of my own. You have it, as well as your kids. I wish you the loveliest of all Christmases and am looking forward to your next post!



    • The Plankton says:

      Dear Kristina, This is a lovely comment and thank you. My internet was down this morning and now I am desperately packing up to go to my mum’s, and then there’s the drive, so annoyingly I won’t be able to post until this evening probably. But I have promised that I will be posting every day as always, the timings may just be a little erratic during this period. Bear with me, as the appalling expression insists on going! Px

  • EmGee says:

    I’m glad it wasn’t terrible, since I encouraged you to go in the hope of having a good time, no matter what. 🙂

  • MissBates says:

    Hm. Sounds as though the kind male friend who has offered to help has a keen appreciation for your dilemma, in part because of his own mother’s experience, whatever one may think of her tactics! And to have someone looking out for you who understands the “narrow window of opportunity” — that’s fantastic.

    My own venturing out over the weekend was vastly less productive. Pleasant dinner, lovely stylish restaurant, two fellow plankton and a gay male friend whose partner was away on business. Sweet, funny conversations, nice food, good wine, then home early-ish by cab to take off the pretty dress and heels, remove the eye makeup and so to bed, alone. Ho hum. And yet . . . if I didn’t go out with my fellow plankton and gay male friends, I’d never see the inside of another restaurant/theater/concert hall again. So round and round it goes.

  • rosie says:

    I’m sure you’ll get there in the end, P, you seem to have lots of friends working on your behalf, even if they don’t always turn up trumps! Wish I could say the same. Half of my so-called mates – no strangers to planktonhood themselves – practically disappeared off the face of the earth once they got coupled up, even though we’d been practically joined at the hip for years. Talk about persona non grata.

  • Dawn says:

    You know, I’m pretty much to the point where I enjoy my solitude too much to give it up. I wonder how I would fit another person into my life and literally, into my bed. After sleeping alone in a queen size bed for the past decade and a half, I’ve developed the habit of sleeping right in the middle or on the diagonal… so unless I find a Christmas elf… I’ve really gotten to like spending my money as I wish with no debate, choosing the social events, movies, plays, parties I want to attend with no discussion… eating what I like with no worries about someone else’s preferences or allergies… I really, honestly don’t know if I even WANT a man in my life.

    I need to get my pulse checked, don’t I?

    • Lizzie from Oz says:

      Pros and cons Dawn! It’s just a matter of weighing up those deliciously self-absorbed pastimes (who DOESN”T love eating exactly what they like when they like?) and a very relaxing uninterupted sequence of habits – with someone walking in the door to interupt these habits – makes you think that person would have to be a damn perfect Mr Right for us to give away all that doesn’t it! That is, Mr Right for US, not necessarily a perfect person, just a perfect fit.

    • Lydia says:

      You don’t have to have him in the bed all the time. In our marriage we had separate but joined beds and separate duvets. Worked really well.

      With my last boyfriend we would often happily sleep in separate rooms and he would come for me when he wanted me etc

      I sleep on my stomach flat without a pillow. I don’t find that should really be a reason not to have a boyfriend.

    • EmGee says:

      Check your pulse. If you find the right guy, it won’t be that difficult to give up some things, in fact if you find that it is, he may not be Mr Right.

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