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.