Rocket Scientist

December 20, 2011 § 24 Comments

This column from yesterday’s Times was held over from the week before:

I did so want to report back that the man at dinner who had been earmarked for me but who brought his new girlfriend, 29, was a horror.  I had so wanted to console myself with the view that she was welcome to him.  I wanted him to be boorish, fat, ugly, stupid, pompous and entirely up his own arse.  Wouldn’t that have been gratifying?  And then I could have driven home thinking, more fool her and I am better off on my own than with the likes of him.

Would that life was so neat but of course it never is.  The man was utterly and completely delightful.  He was funny and warm and friendly and handsome and, what is more, he is, well, proverbially at any rate, a rocket scientist.  So clever was this man that he didn’t feel the need to lecture me about his subject and wear his cleverness on his sleeve like a cheerleader’s pompom.  So clever was this man, that he had the wit to sink to my level and appear to be enjoying himself.  So clever was this man, that he wanted to ask me questions and gave every impression of being genuinely keen to hear the answers.  So clever was this man, that he made me feel clever and didn’t feel the remotest need to diminish me.  He was modest and wise and altogether a complete dreamboat.  Of course.

I thought, at least I could bitch about the girlfriend, how proprietorial she was and snooty and full of herself.  But I was disappointed there too.  She wasn’t physically perfect and all the more drop-dead sexy for that.  She wore casual clothes and her face and hair weren’t primped to within an inch of their lives and her smiles were frequent and sincere.  Oh, and she, too, was a rocket scientist.

I wanted to carp and sneer and feel supercilious but the pair of them were so disarmingly lovely, I couldn’t.  I was put next to him and we chatted and laughed from the fish through to the cheese and the camomile tea.  And instead of thinking lots of bitter thoughts about how life is so unfair and how had she got her claws into him before I had even had the chance to meet him for goodness sake, I thought, they are perfect for each other.  I thought, thank God he wasn’t single because I might well have fallen for him – you easily could – and that wouldn’t have been good because I feel sure I wouldn’t have occurred to him in that way.  And while I was able to amuse him, I hope, for the duration of one dinner, any longer and he might have discovered I am a fraud and know less than nothing about rocket science.


§ 24 Responses to Rocket Scientist

  • Barry says:

    You are very nice underneath your, “Veneer of Sneer”

    (I made that up, you inspire me sometimes P )

    On Y Vas !

  • “I wanted him to be boorish, fat, ugly, stupid…”

    @ Plankton- It’s no secret that there do still exist some men who still believe in the 19th century ideology that women are meant to be seen and well, that’s about it; the more vacuous the women, the more aroused some men get….

    If you talk the same way that you write, I can assure you that you’re not in any danger of attracting any of those any time soon….

      • Sadly, I’m actually serious here this time- If you don’t know this already, if you can find a way to discreetly stare at guys in ANY social setting, look to see the ones who are shifting around uncomfortably in their seats, and you’ll see that those are the ones who are either trying to force themselves to stay awake or, they’re ….. ….. well, excited-

        Watch what happens the next time you see a blatantly vacuous woman enter into a room…. …..

  • Lydia says:

    I read this in the Times. I thought. ah there is our nub. Good careers for girls get you good men. Is that it:? Am I going to find love inside the Hadron Collider with the bearded scientist or his equivalent in my field?

    Is this the key? Be the rocket scientist or the equivalent and ideally with the income to match it and the men will be flocking to your door particularly those who paid out so much to their wives on divorce.

    We keep getting back to the key to female success and happiness being in well paid interesting careers and this man and his dinner date/girl friend prove mky theory. Get yourself off to medical school for example and indeed then you’d have so little time to fuss about men you’d probably be happier too.

    • Elle says:

      Good point Lydia but this isn’t a relationship of equals. Rocket Scientist is with a woman at least 20 years his junior. Yes, she may be very bright and ambitious. Perhaps the latter is her reason for being with him.

      If Rocket Scientist wanted to date women his intellectual equal AND age he would find plenty in his university or indeed faculty if he opened his eyes.

      There are plenty of single middle-aged women in science. These are the women who believed that if they worked hard and made sacrifices they could have it all. Unfortunately many of them find out too late that they made a sacrifice they didn’t bargain for – the chance of having a good partner and possibly a family.

      • Joules says:

        I agree – there are plenty of us. He may have a reputation for this sort of thing – there are plenty of male scientists who seem to run through young female postgraduates and post docs at a rate of knots. Lets hope that this is not the case here.

        Also I have seen wife/husband science teams – often an implicit bias that the male side of that partnership is the one with the real scientific clout. A male scientist in a similar field can be a dangerous thing for a female scientist to date – kiss of death for her career. Though maybe that attitude by me is why I have a career but not partner.

      • Lydia says:

        There seem to be a good few rocket scientist types out there. The last man I met was of that ilk, though of all the men in the bar where we met he was the only one I didn’t find attractive. Most of them dont’ want a second family with a 20 something although they enjoyed bringing up their first children and can be good family men so women like us, 40s children not after more children, clever and whose incomes perhaps make up for the low incomes you get in the university environment and most science (most people in science don’t get paid much) are l ike gold dust. They love us.

        Pity I tend not to like them. I can’t stand the beards for a start and usually the clothes.

      • Elle says:

        Lydia, if you don’t like the clothes buy them new ones you like. Get them to shave off the heard. Sorted!

  • Joules says:

    Just caught up with the last few days of posts, been traveling and not able to access the net. I have to say your prose is wonderful. And I am very impressed by the round of parties and your energy for keeping going.

    I am now at my sister’s (the not smugly married one) in Washington DC. Sharing a room with my mum, she is on the bed and I am sleeping on a blowup bed. Reminds me of Miss Bates who comments here. At least we have a room.

    Mum and I are considering going to some tropical island next year for Christmas – more relaxing and less stress – no being built in babysitters for the people you have come to see who decide that they are going out and you are staying in to look after their kids – love my nieces and nephew but. Not sure if I should be looking forward to going on holiday with my mum at 49 but we rairly have a cross word and have the same kind of humour.

    Good luck on the social circuit! I think, in spite of sore feet and small talk, I would prefer going to parties than going on line. And if effort is anything to go on you should get some sort of payoff – at least social if not romantic.

  • june says:

    I really don think plankton either you or i are in any danger of attracting 19th century type men, perhaps thats why we are alone.

    Is it perhaps that even in modern men, and there are sadly not too many of them in my age group,possibly a few more in yours, there lurks the belief that women should be seen and not heard. As i said i was brought up by a dad who was years ahead of his time in how women should be treated,possibly this has made me the way i am, and men just dont like it.

    • Steve says:

      Hmmm….something of a generalisation, don’t you think?

      I know plenty of women who just want a door mat (I know, I married one) with no opinion, no interests and no backbone, who just expect men to agree with them and be done with it.

      Some men are not interested in vacuous women, some men do not want a discussion on hair extensions or the X Factor, some men want women with intelligence, grace and dignity.

      But, they ain’t too easy to find either……..

      • Lydia says:

        That’s mym experience too, Steve. I don’t watch television and would rather tlak about tax law than high heels and I want a man’s brain more than anything else although the anything else matters too.

        I suppose men who want women to be seen and not heard would never come even slightly close to someone like I am. I certainly have not found men want someone with no views althoug most men would like to get a word in edgeways.

      • Dawn says:

        I know many women who just want a door mat… with a wallet. But then I know quite a few men who only want elbow jewellery. If only the two could be matched up – separate the wheat from the chaff as it were.

        I don’t want to discuss hair extensions (WTF?), X Factor, make-up, soap operas. Whether I am intelligent, graceful or dignified is a matter of opinion, I suppose, but I don’t really do any of the vacuous things men complain of and yet… *crickets*

  • Chris says:

    What a delightful, gracious beautifully modulated piece….and like you say you could see why the girl liked him….wasn’t rocket science, was it ?

  • EmGee says:

    So one either has to be intellectually vacuous, or a rocket scientist to hold a man’s attention? I am doomed.

    • Lydia says:

      No, no, Don’t worry. There is plenty in between and plenty of different sorts of men for all sorts of people. Let’s not forget the average UK IQ is only 100 and many are below that and most of those people want someone with similar IQ. There are more than enough people for all of us.

      • Elle says:

        IQ is only one facet of human intelligence. Someone who scores 160 in an IQ test may be unable to relate to other people as well as a person who scores 100 in an IQ test.

        Lydia, the implicit logic in your last statement suggests that the closer one’s IQ is to average, the better one’s chands of finding a partner. Those whose IQs are low may well be too dim to worry but those whose IQs are above average might suffer more.

      • Lydia says:

        I just meant lots of women’s IQ are under 100 so they will tend to date men with a similar IQ and those of us 120+ etc who went to good universities etc find there are a good few men of that type too and that there are more than enough people for all of us.

        Brain of a man is almost top of my list. if they are too slow to keep up in conversation then it doesn’t even matter if they look like Daniel Craig I could not tolerate them even over one meal.

  • Patricia says:

    Just caught up with this – been up in the air and now landed in Oz. Plankton – that was a lovely most generous piece, I like you even more! I’ve said before, I’m 10 years ahead of you…happy now in my space, mostly. I really wonder how & where all we Planktons will be in another 10 years. Wishing us all, and especially you Chief Plankton (meant in the very BEST sense, after all you brought us together…) a Happy Christmas and may all your dreams come true.

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