Aerial Man ll
February 28, 2012 § 37 Comments
From yesterday’s Times (and rather similar to an earlier post but I hope I’ll be forgiven…?):-
When I was in my twenties, a plumber came round to fix my boiler and he nearly raped me.
I cannot remember how I fought him off. He was obese, and I still shiver at the thought of him. His skin had the etiolated, bright grey-ish look of a blank document on a computer screen. At the time I thought it was my fault. I had been too chatty or friendly or something, although I knew I had not been flirtatious.
I did not allow the incident to diminish a basic trust which I hold for most people. I must have had dozens of strangers in my house over the years, builders or fixers or delivery men or what have you. Nothing sinister since then. Last week it was a TV aerial man. He was balding and cheerful and had filthy hands and a friendly smile. We discussed how he might put another point in one of the bedrooms. In that bedroom, I admitted I was hopeless at these things and he asked me what my husband did. For a split-second, I thought, do I correct him? Why? Why not?
“Ex-husband,” I said.
I may be wrong, but I think he then asked me if I was seeing anyone. Perhaps I should have said yes, or told him to mind his own business, but I was caught on the hop.
“Nah,” I said. Then, like a fool, added. “Bit old.”
I will admit, I was torn between common sense and watching a compliment rising in him like a bubble in a glass and – rather starved of such felicities from men at the moment – wanting to hear it.
“You’re not old!” he said predictably (then guessed I was mid-fifties, which seriously served me right, I guess, for fishing.) “And you’ve got great legs. I’d ask you out,” he said shyly, not looking at me and smiling nervously, “but you’d probably chuck me out of here before I finished the job.”
I thanked him kindly, and swiftly brought the subject back to the aerial fixing. He wasn’t a nasty man. He did not get humpy or angry or unpleasant at all. Just carried on, friendly, as before.
After he left, I pondered the matter. Does a man in his position, going into people’s homes all day every day, try it on with all the lone women he comes across, like some randy opportunist in a Carry On film, and consider himself lucky when he scores, what? One in twenty? One in ten?
The world is obviously passing me by. Perhaps I should be more open to the idea of things happening, as everyone will insist on telling me, “when I am least expecting it.”
There again, as I did in my youth from time to time, with a total, utter stranger? Call me Prissy Plankton, but maybe not. Bit old.