Mopping Up Men
February 16, 2012 § 70 Comments
A few days ago someone mentioned an article about some dodgy dating agency which is literally mopping up men from the street because it has so many women and so few men on its books that it cannot cope with demand. Ever since I heard this I have been feeling a sense of doom. There is something so utterly depressing about it that the temptation is to give up all hope and crawl into the hole of solitary domesticity and decline unto dusty death.
Of course, in this mindset, the Guardian Magazine article last Saturday by an American divorcee on the horrors of her experiences of internet dating have had more impact on me than Andrew Billen’s success story about it in the Times. I guess it is all to do with one’s world view, with an almost unconscious editing out of the optimistic stories, a highlighting in one’s mind of the pessimistic ones to suit the purposes of one’s prevailing mood or belief system.
It happens in all walks of life. There is a school in my neighbourhood which I remember thinking, aged fourteen, in that dismissive way one does at that age, was full of tossers and jerks and losers and thick wankers (or whatever particular insult was in my usage at the time); that it was a crap school full of crap people. Well, old prejudices die hard. I went to visit it a while ago and it seemed fine, and friends tell me of its numerous merits and felicities and I hear what they tell me but I choose only to listen to the negative comments about it, both in my prejudiced mind and coming from the parents and children who are there now and who don’t rate various aspects of it. I am completely aware that this is my shit, and my shit only, born of a ridiculous, misplaced, ill-judged, out-dated prejudice.
So it is, I guess, with my view that there are no men, and the ones that do exist are all SFARs or gay or inadequates or emotional incompetents and so forth. My Mystic Meg friend sees the world from an entirely different perspective: that it is full of excitements and there are whole vistas of possibility and opportunity, and it is just a matter of mindset and being disposed and open to all the wonderful things – or, in this case, men – out there, just waiting for me, tra la!
I am not sure this is a stance to which I can ever subscribe. Smacks a bit too much of reading too many self-help books by fraudulent American “experts” who go in for titles like The Key (ie. to life is that YOU MUST THINK POSITIVELY AND VISUALISE EVERYTHING YOU WANT FROM KNIGHTS IN SHINING ARMOUR TO CAREER SUCCESS AND HUGE SUMS OF MONEY AND YACHTS AND DIAMONDS AND HEY HO BEFORE YOU KNOW IT THEY WILL BE COMING OUT OF YOUR FUCKING NOSTRILS).
That will for ever seem to me like so much bollocks, but there may be something in not always seeing the dark side and occasionally allowing oneself a little optimism, allowing in a wee chink of hope that not all men are Brandon from Shame or the husband I heard about yesterday who has been married for thirty years but unbeknownst to his devastated wife has been across the globe serially shagging anything that even vaguely has breath in it and in one city is even nicknamed The Monster for having crashed his way into and broken apart so many marriages.
Last night I went to supper with friends, feeling depressed that I was going round to see these kindly folk once again in my scratched record costume, and it set me thinking. Whilst I am not about to go out and buy such tosh tomes as The Key or The Corny or whatever the fuck those ghastly books are called, I am going to have to shift the gearstick in my thick head. My lovely host – it was just him and his wife and me – told me about a colleague of his whose wife was having an affair she wouldn’t end. He left her and is now going to a very respectable singles club in the European city in which he lives. The people who go there make an effort both sartorially and conversationally, they are all professionals, and they are – hard to believe!? – far from sleazy.
Well, whilst I have no immediate date with Amazon Books, nor am I about to book the next available seat on Eurostar, but I am going to crawl back to various websites with my tail between my legs once again to mouse through the Wanted photographs, only this time I am going to remember first, proudly and un-prejudciously, to put on my rosy-coloured spectacles. And see what it is that the world has chosen to owe me.