January Party

January 24, 2012 § 50 Comments

From yesterday’s Times:-

Nothing happens in January so I leapt upon my first party of 2012.  Getting out there, you see.  According to all and sundry, it is the duty of any responsible plankton to do so at all times, so I do.

The room was a-jostle with middle-aged verging on aged folk and I was struck by a terrible sadness.  It wasn’t that they – we! – were old or grim because we weren’t that old and everyone was far from grim.  It was more because their very jollity had about it an air of comfort and contentment and confidence which seemed to say they had passed through most of life’s ruffles and had come out the other side – marriages and friendships intact, children growing or grown up and on the road, a certain tranquility achieved.

I felt at odds with my peers.  Oh, I looked comfortable, content and confident enough – I’m good at that.  I talked the talk with the best of them but inside there was – is – a weight, heavy, rough and sharp-edged as a breeze block.  This sense, in amongst the banter and guffaws, of being there with them, but somehow not part of something of which they are all a part.

A husband humorously hassling his wife to hurry up, they must be off to meet their (adult) children for supper.  A wife tugging her husband and hastening their goodbyes because she’s got a craving for a takeaway curry from their local Indian on the way home. All these people like me, individuals in a circle of friends, but each of them a unit within it, and to a degree defined by it.

And me?  I approached a former twinkle (NB. not even a former date, or ex-lover or boyfriend, just a twinkle) whom I had seen a few times a year or two ago.  Then, he was newly divorced and raw.  We circled each other for a several weeks and considered unspoken possibilities, but the considering never did graduate to progressing.  Now, it is evident that time has done its bit.  He was breathing again; cheerful, relaxed and really friendly.  And he seemed genuinely pleased to see me to the point I thought, maybe past considerations hadn’t flourished because of timing but now that we are both very much Over It, perhaps we would both do well to reconsider?

Fool me.  Will I never learn?

We talked and laughed for quite a while but the crowd was thinning and the night beckoning.  I went to say goodbye to a friend.  He had seen me talking to the former twinkle.

“I’ve known him for years,” he said.  “Didn’t know you knew him.  Terrible divorce.  Ghastly.  Ghastly.  Then he had an affair with someone and now he’s in love with someone else and it’s going terribly well, I gather, terribly well.”

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§ 50 Responses to January Party

  • Twinkletoes says:

    Oh bollocks. Hugs xx

  • RS says:

    What exactly are you supposed to “learn”? You were at a party and you chatted with a guy you once thought might be a possibility, and when you saw him again after some time passed you thought he might be one again. He’s taken AT THE MOMENT if what your other friend says is true. Doesn’t mean the contact was meaningless. You may have made an impression on him that down the road he’ll remember if the current relationship goes south. At the very least you practiced your feminine interaction skills on a suitable (barring the other woman) man. If you’re going to be attractive to a single and suitable man, you have to be attractive to other men too. Put it down to getting the romantic/relationship juices going, which believe me other (single) men can sense. It can only help!
    Just because you talk to (and maybe flirt with) a man doesn’t mean it’s going to end in marriage or is a waste of time.

  • Jo says:

    Oh god. The ‘breezeblock’ et al, description of what can (sometimes) be inside of you, as you sally forth, sparkling, in the midst of such a coupled-up throng is brilliantly described and oh so familiar. It feels profoundly sad and energy sapping.
    But you know what? You can feel like that, even if you are one half of that seemingly happy, tranquil couple. As, I’ll wager someone in that room was – possibly – feeling. The very same.
    Which is worse I wonder?

  • MissBates says:

    You’ve got to stop making me cry at my desk. Very poignant, and spot-on, as usual — that sense of being there, but very much apart, on the sidelines . . . Brutal.

    • The Plankton says:

      I am so sorry I have been making you cry at your desk! Px

    • Jo says:

      Yes MissBates. But see also my comment above.

    • fi says:

      Is that a figure of speech or did you really start crying?

      • MissM says:

        I might suggest that comment doesn’t exactly fit with being ‘a person who is practicing being kind, deep, virtuous, truthful, giving,’ etc. It comes across as lacking kindness and compassion, but I will give you the benefit of the doubt in that you may not have meant it to sound that way.

        It just goes to show how well Plankton in Chief writes that she is able to move people the way she does. P speaks of things that are a truth for many people. If it is not the truth for others perhaps they might just use it to imagine living a life that is unlike their current one, and thus increase their capacity to empathise. Empathy seems to be a very rare quality in the general population these days, I am not sure why this is so.

        Virtual hugs to MissBates, who has shown in her comments that she has an enviable writing talent herself. I always find her replies to be amongst my favourites.

      • The Plankton says:

        Thank you, MissM. Kind words. px

      • fi says:

        I meant it literally. Good job I’m not trying to be ‘a person who is practicing being kind, deep, virtuous, truthful, giving,’ etc. I’m happy as I am!! I did wonder if you’d started crying when you read this or if you meant you found it moving. Just looking for clarification. I’m forever reading these sort of statements from people and think really? I’m a bit like jo brand – she did a tv programme about people who cry and said she thought she’d only done it a couple of times in her life. That’s not to say I never feel sad, but crying through sadness? Never. I can cry at music or if I’m angry though.

  • Mel says:

    Don’t believe everything others tell you – that may not be the case at all. After all the chat about internet dating, I’ve been online and am meeting someone today…no expectations…no expectations I hear you all say. But it’s exciting!

  • Yoga Gurl says:

    Oh what a disappointment. I am sorry. Remember you are comparing apples and oranges. You are the apple, the seemingly content crowd are the oranges. You will seem less happy than they just because they have someone but compare yourself with other singles I am betting you are doing pretty good.

    Keep trying.

  • Life is lonely for married women too. The only truly unconditional love I feel is for my children and my pets. I have only seen one marriage I would say was happy–as for the rest, forget it. Everyone is putting up a front. Long-term marriage settles into a kind of soulless rut. So don’t feel bad! Your alienation is purely imagination–those people at the party have probably worse problems only their desperation is quieter. Yous ought to write a book.

  • Jo says:

    Yes but no writing to Plastics Monthly to earn a crust P! As suggested by a ..erm commentator yesterday. Please P.

  • june says:

    Yes P we are all in danger of thinking being in a couple makes everything great, i do too. But as others have said, it doesent, nearly all my friends are in couples and lots of them have their problems, A friend of mine who is happily married said to me last week when i was at hers having lunch with her and her little boy,when we were discussing a mutual friends relationship, i wonder how many women stay with men purely for economic reasons, where would i go if……….and i spilt up, back to live with my parents, she married late, i couldnt afford anywhere on my own. I think there are lots, and yes i think shes right.

    Yes i get down too P as you know ,although im not sure i actually want to live full time with anyone and id always keep my flat. Because im not sure i could live with anyone all the time,i just want that special someone in my life. Does it improve your social life having a partner, i d like to think it does,but last saturday night i sat on facebook on my own in my flat, talking to two friends, one happily married, and one in a long term relationship, both with children and stepchildren, who are old enough to be left alone, they were staying in to, but talking on facebook, not to their partners, Agree it would be nice to have someone here, sometimes the silence if you live alone is deafening. The grass always seems greener P especially to us planktons. Financially being on own is a pain, but to be honest i know loads of women who have to pay the bills as their partners are crap with money, my own dad was a lovely bloke but he never ;paid a bill in his life, i took over from my mum. The sharing of expenses is good in these times, and the regular sex and sometimes the companionship. Id like it but i dont think it would be perfect. Perhaps thats why i wouldnt want it all the time, but now and again would be nice, a part time plankton must be easier than being a full time one! .

    • Jo says:

      I agree with you June. It’s nice to keep your own place. If you want to. I think it’s important too to have some time for yourself. If you want to. To see your friends on your own when you’d like. And not that, now, you can only ever see them, always with your man in tow. Having a special someone shouldn’t mean that those things go to the wall. That’s the point. It’s an enhancement of your life. Not a cancelling out of those other things you love to do. I think that’s the bonus of coming to things later in life. You can work out what works for you both. You listen to each other and write your own script. It’s not like you’re younger. Hoping to move in together/marry and build a family etc. Wherever our life is now, we’ve all gone through a lot of experiences. Know more about ourselves. (Good and bad!). Have some items of baggage. You bet!
      Whatever you negotiate between the two of you – which works for you both – is up to you. Even if it differs from the way other people may go about things. It’s whatever works for you. Both. So there’s sense in what you say June. I’m with you there. I’m not thinking I want to live with someone full time either. Nor that we must now do EVERYTHING together, or there’s something wrong. No. If there are things that may not be ‘the norm’, but means a lot to you, then that’s fine. If it’s worth anything, you’ll work it out.
      We’re not carbon copies. We’re individuals. All hail to that.

    • Elle says:

      Get a lover June, then you’ll have the best of both worlds. You should read “A Round Heeled Woman”, it’s about a woman in late middle age who embarked on a series of adventures.

  • ToneDeafSinger says:

    Hi Plankton. I want to give you an update on my online experience. At a guesstimate I get about one answer in 100. For every 100 men that I e-mail or send a wink or a smile to, I get one positive reply. I probably get around one “thanks but no thanks” reply for every 25 e-mails that I send. I have had about three people with whom I exchanged e-mails for a few days in a row who then disappeared. The rest is silence. As I may have said elsewhere, I have been trying online dating mostly off and little on for four years. At the beginning of January I e-mailed someone who had a high level of compatibility with me on Parship. We are still e-mailing each other and we are meeting up on 2nd February.
    About a week later I received a message from someone on MatchAffinity, we have been writing to each other since then, we spoke on the phone tonight for the first time and we are meeting up on 4th February.

    • The Plankton says:

      This is very positive. Thank you for telling me and please let us know what happens on both 2nd and 4th! Good luck. x

    • Jo says:

      Hi ToneDeafSinger. That’s a positive start. Oh the best of luck to you girl. x

    • rantywoman says:

      I love it when I read bitter men venting about how women are inundated with responses online. Really? Does that happen? In my twenties, online dating didn’t exist, so I have no point of comparison, but I have NEVER been inundated. Quite the opposite. And at 40 it’s crickets.

      • Lydia says:

        I get loads and I never email anyone and there’s nothing special about me. It must just be the script I use or where I live. I am not saying they are all great men. Plenty though would be nice and loving and loyal and kind.Lots would commit. It’s finding the one whom you can make happy and vice versa which is the fun bit of the process

  • Caz says:

    Well said June….I think being a part – time Plankton is the answer. I love being independent and free but the guy I have been seeing for a while now wants to be more involved. It’s true that so many social events are so much nicer if one is part of a couple.
    But like you June – I love coming home from a busy day and shutting the front door – and yes – it’s completely up to me to choose what to do….bliss!

    • Lydia says:

      I am waiting for that. I think it’s going to be when I’m 95 at this rate that I will get to live alone even for one week.. I would love it for a bit but I chose to be married for so long right out of studies and then to have such a lot of lovely children so I never get even one evening in the house alone in any year. On the other hand if you think of how dreadful ife is for divorced men whose children then don’t live with them we women who have chidlren here are right at the top of the tree in terms of luck and pleasure. Imagine how awful it must feel for all those men because of our sexist divorce laws.

  • Mel says:

    Well guess what happened tonight! I arranged to meet an internet man, we had only exchanged 4 emails but I reckoned that was enough – we had ascertained that we worked pretty close and we met after work in a central London gallery/bar. Whilst waiting for Mystery Man to appear, I sat down at a table & the man next to me started chatting….this NEVER normally happens to me…..we had a great animated talk….. & then Mystery Man recognised me (by my ‘red rose’…nearly but not really!). The upshot is…..it was a pleasant evening but I won’t be meeting Mystery Man again, however nice…..but I DO have the email of the gorgeous man at my table. Where will THIS go? Excited….again….

    • The Plankton says:

      OMG, Mel… and you had better tell us! This is amazing! Best of luck! x

    • fi says:

      Wahay!!!!!!!! I think that YOU made that happen. Being open to going along there (instead of staying at home) and being open to chatting to someone is what happened. Good luck

    • Jo says:

      Wow Mel. That is such a great story. Best of luck!
      Do keep us posted. (If you want to).

    • The Plankton says:

      PS. If this works out, Mel, I shall start a whip-round, so we each have to pay you a fiver for the name of the gallery/bar! xx

      • Jo says:

        Yes P. Ithat makes me giggle.
        Not being a killjoy. But remember. It was a chance meeting. It’s all about who the person is right?
        Don’t read too much into the fact that mystery man didn’t work out.
        Really not being a killjoy!

      • Jo says:

        Oh bugger. Typing in haste. Ithat? Sorry. Meant, that. Delete the I!

    • joules says:

      Great news – fingers crossed! I am off tonight to look through the delights of the internet dating site my friends have put me on. A couple of them and I are meeting for soup, bread, cheese and a bottle of wine. At least we will have a decent supper to go with it all.

      P – you really do have enough for a book I think. We could set up some tests across the country or across the world to see what is the best method of encountering men when you are at the plankton stage of life. Right now we know that Jo has been lucky with the internet, Mel has managed to get a feeler for someone during conversation at a gallery/bar. There are enough other plankton reading this site to do some proper tests throughout Britain at least to see what works best, could do case studies in Ireland, USA, Australia at least and could also include the plankton men on here. It seems that there are a few of us trying the internet, perhaps we should have a few days of the month when we visit gallery/bar establishments to see if this has widespread application.

      A lot more proactive than sitting moaning and also likely to be more useful than relying on friends to set one up. And sorry – can’t help putting some analysis etc. into it. I like to base my decisions in life on science of some sort.

      • The Plankton says:

        Excellent! Funnily enough I was gassing on the phone to a friend this morning who said she wished we could look down from on high and SEE all the available men whom I’d find attractive with a sort of special power. But maybe you’re right and to canvas global opinion would be more realistic! Px

  • EmGee says:

    It is a credit to you, P, and the regular commenters here that so much truth was revealed today.

    People generally show their best sides at parties, and while their happiness is no doubt genuine, it isn’t an either or situation. In fact it is healthier to maintain a positive attitude in spite of whatever else may be causing hurt or pain inside, as you said so eloquently in “Everest” yesterday.

  • rosie says:

    Another tear to the eye here, metaphorically rather than literally, for those who seem to have difficulty distinguishing the two.

    Keep on keeping on, P, it’s a numbers game and the more parties you go to, well…. blah blah blah. I sometimes envy you your social life even though I know from experience that the monumental effort required to drag yourself to these things, when everyone else is coming a deux, makes you just want to crawl under the duvet. But next time, who knows?

  • rosie says:

    And Mel, way to go!

  • rosie says:

    “Your alienation is purely imagination”

    No it isn’t. If you feel alienated, then it’s real, not imagined. Nobody has a clue how anyone else feels (look at poor Gary Speed) even if you’ve known them all your life. If we could all share each others’ suffering there wouldn’t be any.

    • She imagines herself apart from the others and cut off from what she believes is their happiness. Is this really true? Is it rational? Did anyone say anything to her to deliberately alienate her? Not from what I read. I’m not saying her feelings aren’t valid or that alienation doesn’t exist, but it seems like a projection on her part to imagine that the married couples were happier than she. In fact, like Plankton, they may have been putting on a brave face. It’s my experience that things are never quite what they seem and happily married is generally a myth.

      • Jo says:

        sudafeduberalles. I think the things about the couples has already been said here. Hasn’t it? As for P. It is not about what anyone said to her. It’s about how she was feeling inside that evening. I think that was clear.

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