The Currency of Truth

February 3, 2012 § 25 Comments

There are a few names of bachelors or “available” fellows in my circle of friends which come up again and again as suggestions for me.  I sat next to one of these famous single men last night at a 5oth birthday dinner, but of course he isn’t actually single, is he?  He has a turnover of girlfriends but doesn’t marry them. One friend talked of men – “single” or multiple-married – leaping from lily pad to lily pad.  A vivid but rather too romantic image in my book.  I see serial monogamy, more, as chain smoking: with the old fire still alight but dimming, lighting the next; never a fresh air breather in between.

The last girlfriend of this man, my neighbour last night, was a hotshot heiress, brilliant and beautiful, apparently, and younger than him, but she went the way of all the rest.  During the first course, this “single” man wasted no time in pointing out his new girlfriend to me.  She was sitting opposite us.  She is my age and looks smiling and sensible, modest and kind.  What a relief it was, he said, to be with someone of his own age, no longer with an exhausting younger woman.  I thought, Marvellous, at last you have seen the light.  I said, could I ask you a cheeky question.  You can do this when you are a plankton.  You feel strangely bold.  Was he it in for the long haul, I ventured.  There was much demuring.  I am not entirely sure now, in the cold light of day, what precisely was his reply.  A certain amount of guff along the lines of, early days, early days!  “We are at the stage when we still fancy each other,” he said at one point, looking across at her fancyingly.  But Janey told me it wouldn’t last, and there never was a wiser woman.

“I’ve known him since [university],” she said.  “And he has had wonderful girlfriend after wonderful girlfriend, and they never do.”

So this “single” man is “single” in rather a different mode from that which I am single.  We inhabit different single territory entirely.  Our definitions of the habitat diverge manifestly.

Janey and another mutual girlfriend had said I should ask him to do some match-making for me, as “single” people tend to hang out together and he therefore must know lots of “single” men.  Actually, I myself have been thinking seriously of late not of entreating my girlfriends to match-make for me, but of canvassing my male friends instead, because there is no question that a number of them daily exist in male-dominated worlds into which I cannot enter because I have no excuse to do so.  I am always being told to find a way into these worlds, but I don’t have any easy ways in.  Starting with doing an GCSE in Maths and working my way up into the City?  I don’t think so!  Or training to become a surgeon or lecturer or lawyer? Oh, yeah? But these male friends are already there by dint of their work, or chosen sport or whatever; and they like a challenge, so it seems logical.  But I don’t know this man all that well and whilst I am bold, I found, alas, I wasn’t that bold, so I didn’t ask him.  But I might.  Another time.

The dinner was fantastically merry.  Populated with many an historic friend.  One lovely plankton, a single mother who’s ex-husband and father of her children has cut off all maintenance, laughed at the car crash of her life and my admiration for her billowed.  We laughed together and said we must arrange a jolly evening to compare desultory plankton notes.

I teased a man who had circled me aeons ago.  I heard recently that he would have liked to have married a woman like me.  I was delighted but puzzled to hear this because at the time we never even kissed.  Because it was so long ago, and because he has a lovely wife with whom he is happy and I get on, and possibly because I am an entrenched old plankton and just can, within reason, say what I like, boldness returned.  Why the fuck, I asked him, laughingly, had he never made a pass at me then?

“You were out of my league,” came the startling but flattering reply.  Oh, how the layout of the past, its unique landscape, is seen so differently by those who inhabited it at the time, fleetingly, together.  Oh, the way we can get things so wrong.  All along, back then, I thought he was out of mine!

It does set you to thinking of chances missed through skewed interpretations.  He looked at me and held my hand – no, not in a threatening-to-his-wife way – as if to say the same: not regrets exactly, because of other marriages and children since, but how foolish of us that our thoughts were so out of synch at the time, so remiss; what fun there might have been.  Missreadings so rife when you are young they are almost cheap.  Youth is so spoiling.  It makes us squander opportunity and suppose we have time.

To me, with nothing, it felt good that someone had a candle with my name on it, let alone seemed to be holding it still, however nebulously.

Precious few of those around.

Precious little time.  And certainly no more of it for skewed interpretations.

I have made a start with LS, being myself in my latest email to him.  Call it honestly, clarity, openness, ingenuousness, truth: these surely have to comprise the currency of the plankton’s future.

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§ 25 Responses to The Currency of Truth

  • Did you go home with a lighter heart than usual? I think I would have done. I’m not sure anyone has told me I was out of their league. How cockle-warming, if only temporarily.
    Sarah

  • John says:

    Miss P, I have been reading your blog over the past few months. You appear to have been unlucky in love, have little worthwhile male attention, have minimal mental stimulation from the opposite sex, and apparently no twinkles etc. This seems to be the story of your life at present. Why? No it has nothing to do with your domestic situation, two kids at home etc. Maybe it is because you are a journalist!!!
    To digress a little, after university I spent the first 22 years of work in the newspaper industry. I met, worked with, loved and even lived with women journalists (one at a time). In that time I married, divorced and married again – not to a journalist! I am now retired after a further 30 fruitful years in the airline industry which is a probably different world to newspapers.
    Why do single men tend to steer clear of women journalists? Well, they have a sharp eye for detail, an investigative mind, they work with men on equal footing on a daily basis so are never a shrinking violet, they are well-read and in touch with the world and above all, they are their own person. They represent a formidable package for a guy looking, for a start, for some easy fun, small chatter and some close contact between the sheets.
    Women journalists will extract your life history – warts and all – before you know it and before they have even assessed whether you will make a suitable lover. Mr LS and others, as a prospective lover do you measure up as an intellectual equal? Do you understand female emancipation – equality in the workplace etc? Do you have any hidden secrets (are you married maybe?) because if you do she will find out and her many “contacts” will be looking into your past, as well as where you work and where you live. Never cross a woman journalist – she will get even.
    So where do we go from here. Dear P maybe you should seek out a fellow male journalist. The real difficulty is finding one that has not been bailed for some alleged indiscretion, who is still sober and, if he is a worthwhile catch, if he is still single. Good Luck. and please stay a plankton as I so enjoy your posting every day.

  • I’m telling you, Ms. Plankton, you’ve got potential as a musician here… “The Plankton’s Blues”…

    I see potential for a hit here!!!

  • rosie says:

    John, I think you’re confusing P with Janet Street-Porter and I don’t think anyone, male or female, would want to get on the wrong side of her!

  • Amanda says:

    If it were me, and as much as they’re happy and you like his wife, I’d seriously be hoping that they fall out. But I’m selfish like that. Would you mind if I hoped for you?

    • The Plankton says:

      Thank you Amanda, but I think you may be hoping for me a long time…I appreciate the sentiment, though, even if I would never in a million years wish their marriage ill. x

    • Jo says:

      Blimey. That’s so unkind Amanda. So ungenerous.
      Wonder how you’d feel if you were the wife and someone spoke about your relationship and husband like that.

  • June says:

    Ah yes i suppose P we all have missed chances in our lives, even me , although at moment its hard to think of any offhand. Trouble when young we think we have forever and of course we dont.

    You do seem to have a fairly extensive social .life P, , better than lots of us planktons, i wish ,mine would improve, yet another weekend of staying in beckons, As i said on previous blogs my city, though a nice place to live is not a good place to be a single middle aged or older women, people in relationships here seem to have a much better social life than us planktons.

    Are you still on dating sites. My fellow plankton friend met a man today, from POF he invited her out to lunch, actually invited her, not suggested it, but once they had eaten lunch he asked her to pay for herself, didnt even get her a drink. That seems a little bit off, actually inviting a woman out to lunch and they asking her to pay for herself, or is this how it works now, then just suggest a coffee or drink. much better.

  • Lydia says:

    I am absiolutely delighted my social life is nothing like Planton’s each to their own and mine if I go out is one to one with a man on the whole. I suspect I am also busier with work and children and I do what might in the context of the article above do “male” work in male worlds. Yesterday everyone almost bar me was male, not that any were suitable although one was fairly attractive to me. I don’t mix work and pleasure.

    Why can’t you be and enjoy being the man next to you at the dinner? I have really enjoyed the various boyfriends I’ve had since I was divorced. What a lovely way to spend your 40s getting to know intimately some wonderful men who will always be friends. How much nicer that is than being stuck for another 10 years with someone you don’t want? So I would sit here thinking how lucky I am that I have had those men in my life even if none of that had led to marriage as what your male companion is enjoying is something you could enjoy and many women enjoy if that were the mindset. So change the mindset – be he and then if in the course of an enjoyable new relationship which may not last things develop even further that’s lovely.

    They don’t all have to be suitable men one sees. Some may not be but all tend to enhance our lives.

    [Note to your friend who expects her husband to maintain her or the children… why not earn your own money? It’s much more attractive to men if you do? Who says women shouldn’t support their own children and themselves? There’s nothing special about me but I can afford to pay school fees. Just work harder. Far too many people don’t know what hard work is. We are not chattels of men, kept in return for sex. Pick careers that enable you to support yourself. Make sure your children do.]

    • maria says:

      Oh, come on, Lydia. Why shouldn’t men support their own children? Didn’t they participate in the conception of said children? Why should only the women be responsible for them?

      • Lydia says:

        Sometimes yes,Sometimes women earn more. Our court order says he pays nothing and I pay school and university fees whoever the children live with.

  • MissM says:

    That ‘single man’ sounds SFAR, the reason being that he doesn’t have what it takes to commit to one person for any length of time. I guess he has a serious case of quickly believing the grass is greener elsewhere, no matter who he is with. There is no woman in existence who will be so perfect as to be able to change that part of him. Hardly worthwhile offering him up as a suggestion for you P, when his track record is so appalling. As for his matchmaking you, perhaps he does have a group of men hovering around him that are just waiting to catch his cast-offs, do we know what fate befell the hotshot heiress after he had enough of her?

  • EmGee says:

    Just wanted to let you know that today’s post was particularly satisfying, with a little bit of everything: Mr SFAR, LS, your darling friends, a dinner party, the best ingredients!

  • rosie says:

    “…. chances missed through skewed interpretations…”

    If only we could have 40-something heads on 20-something shoulders. Whoever said youth is wasted on the young was so right. A lovely compliment from your old friend, nonetheless, P. I’d be walking on air for a week so unused have I become to any kind of compliment in *that* department!

    btw, my posts are being published straight away rather than ‘awaiting moderation’. Just thought I’d point it out in case anyone puts something dodgy up…

    • The Plankton says:

      Thank you, Rosie. You are right to point out about comments being published immediately. I have done this after much consideration. Trolls seem to have left the blog (for the time being and hopefully for good) and so I felt it was a good idea for comments to go through automatically and not just when I have the chance to approve them. I was checking them numerous times every day but even so some would have to wait a while to get in, which I felt was holding up the debates. Obviously, if any really offensive ones come through, I will of course trash them asap. I hope everyone agrees I have done the right thing? Px

  • rosie says:

    Yes, time consuming having to sift through them all. Hopefully no more trolls!

    • The Plankton says:

      Fingers crossed. I think I am right in automatic approval being a risk worth taking. Let’s see. And I do check comments several times a day still. xx

      • The Plankton says:

        PS. And reply to some too, still! Though I think my replies are jolly inane. I do it because I like the conversation and I think it’s friendly and polite, especially if someone has bothered to say nice things to me. xx

      • MissM says:

        I am enjoying the automatic approval, and your replies P. I agree it feels more like a conversation this way. Definitely a risk worth taking and no doubt you can reverse the decision if there is a sudden resurgence of trolls (fingers crossed that there wont be).

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