May 22, 2012 § 34 Comments

From yesterday’s Times and rather disappointingly similar to a recent post about a date with a married man, for which apologies all round and please forgive me…?  Not quite sure how it happened.  Anyway here goes :-

I have a date with a married man.  Shock horror!


He is a happily married man and neither of us has any untoward intentions.  He and his wife are my friends.  She can’t go.  Spare ticket.  Spare person (me).  I got the call up.  Logical.

I have been longing to go to something with a male friend, but it never normally happens because they are almost all married so their first choices are, naturally enough, their wives.  And because it is potentially odd, even though in reality it isn’t with me because there’s an orange light on my head beside the one shouting “Desperate Reject”, which flashes, “For Hire but not to Married Men”.

My mother always used to talk about walkers.  “So and So is Diana Cooper’s walker”, she used to say, and because it was during the days when I was still young and had a certain amount of active – how shall I say? – turnover, I always thought, callously, “Pah!  Walkers?  They’re for old ladies.  The lover’s the thing.”

“But it’s nice to go out with men to the theatre sometimes as friends, and not sleep with them,” my mother insisted.  Really?  I could not grasp it, then.  These days, potential lovers all mealy-mouthed and runaway, I think, “Walker?  Luxury!  How lovely it would be to have such a thing.”  How circumstances have changed.

I am lucky because I have enough girlfriends with whom regularly to go to the movies or theatre if I could afford it and so wished.  But girls’ girl that I may be, I also love the company of men.  I used to relish going to a play or film or exhibition with my husband and talking about it for hours afterwards; his take on things so enlightening.  I miss that.  It is why I am looking forward to tomorrow night.  I shall have my very own walker.

At dinner we will discuss, as is our wont, marriage and romance (or lack of it in my case) and life and the universe, because one of the greatest discoveries of my divorced years is that my men friends seem to love talking about all this stuff more than I ever supposed.  I am open about my situation in a way that I never was in my twenties, pre-marriage and children, and goppingly single and fizzing with the humiliation of it all.  But, more honest and brazen now, I find men, just as much as women, seem to love having their opinions and advice sought on all the emotional matters I happily throw at them.  There is no agenda, just a frank and funny exchange between the genders.

Call me an old crone, but these days I am completely alive to the joys of walkers.


§ 34 Responses to Walkers

  • Last week, you wrote, “I said, if only I was the sort of woman to go after married men, I’d probably be having a lot more “fun”! But alas it is not in my make up; it’s not what I do; and, I am not being pious or anything, well, maybe a bit, but I just don’t believe in it. Quite apart from it being immoral (that’s maybe the pious bit?), it’s a hiding to surround-sound misery….”

    However, if this guy does seem to want to get to know you a little bit beter, then what will you do?

    • thirtysomething says:

      Dear Scott Benowitz, I feel like you’d have been that student at school who never read the assigned reading but cut straight to the Cliffs Notes :D. If you have, indeed, been keeping up with Plankton’s blog, you would be crystal clear about the fact that **she will not go for married men, least of all whose wives are her girlfriends**!!!! Just because she happens to muse aloud one day, Oh, wouldn’t it be fun to have a dalliance with one, doesn’t mean she’d actually abandon her morals and go through with it, hello!

      • The Plankton says:

        THANK YOU, thirtysomething! I would never in a million years have a dalliance with a married man but that doesn’t mean I can’t go to the theatre with one who happens to be an old, old friend! Pxx

      • You’re actually correct- I only read her posts a couple of times per week, I don’t read them every day, so yes I do understand that I’m missing part of her explanations of her views on men, sex, etc…

  • Margaux says:

    When it comes to ‘walkers’ – or actually just male company without any overtones or complication – I am grateful for my gay male friends …:-)

  • EmGee says:

    It was never a revelation to me that men like to talk about ‘stuff’. nor that they have different points of view. I had a couple of male friends in high school, and there always seems to be two or three, gay or straight, married or single, around to hang out with. Probably because I have interests like music, art, and photography that are fairly gender neutral.

    The only exceptions to men being friends are the ones with jealous wives, and the ones who think every woman is out to ‘get them’, neither of which type are worth wasting time on.

  • rosie says:

    Hey P, how did the date go?

    • The Plankton says:

      With my old friend the married man? It wasn’t a date, really it wasn’t. Cinema and supper with him, his son and his son’s girlfriend. Nice night out. End of story. But thanks for asking. Pxx

  • rosie says:

    Glad it went well. The only person I can think of to act as walker would be my dad and that’s a tragedy too far!

  • I first read an article that you wrote in The Times more than 6 months ago, and at that time, you’d stated that you’d not been in a relationship with a man for 2 and a half years, meaning that it’s now been more than 3 years. You are obviously in pain, and I feel sorry for you now, so:

    @ Ms. Plankton- Attend any public lecture at any university on any topic. If you ask even one (1) question during the question- and- answer session at the end, and then you stick around for a few minutes afterwards, people will come up to you and talk to you, especially if you sound like you know what you are talking about, and with your skills with our language that will be quite easy for you. If you do this a few times, some of those people who will attempt to pick your brain after the lectures end will inevitably not be female, some might will even not be married or at least not happily married, some may fit into your definition of “age appropriate,” and some of them might even be attractive looking….

    • AMJ says:

      I work in a university. Nobody ever goes up to audience members afterwards. People go to the lecture,sit down and listen. Some people ask questions. At least one of the question askers is a conspiracy theorist who wants to make a statement about how everything is a cover-up by the combined efforts of the government and the science community, who are in cahoots. Another one is always a looper who considers question time an opportunity to amaze the world with their nutty irrelevant theory. Then everyone gets up and leaves, avoiding eye contact with the conspiracy theorist and the looper. Where exactly would people stick around at the end of a public lecture at a university in the hope that single people will come up to them to tell them they’re brilliant? They don’t exactly have a reception area and bar outside every lecture room. If they stay in the lecture theatre they’ll be trampled by the 300 undergraduates who are no doubt coming in for the next lecture.

      • I studied at LSE from 2001 through 2004. We too did have a small handful of people who seemed to attend almost every single lecture every night of the week, and they wondered why everyone else was missing how every topic could somehow very obviously be linked to some giant conspiracy, usually somebody’s attempt to take over the entire world, reminiscent of some of the James Bond movies or some of the classic villains from comic books…

        However, the nutcases aside, people usually did actually attempt to not only converse with each other, but also to invite each other out to drinks at some of the bars in Kingsway, Aldwich, The Strand and in Bloomsbury after the lectures ended- This included 17 year old undergraduates, 16 year old high school students who were in the process of applying to university programs for the following year, retired professors who were well into their 70’s and their 80’s, and people of all ages in between…. …. including some who seemed to be newspaper writers, in case Ms. Plankton is curious to meet other fellow writers….

        And occasionally, I even saw some men and women who had first met at some of the public lectures go out to drinks afterwards, and then leave together…. …. …… Once, I even saw a young man and a young woman who met at a lecture go out to drinks with us afterwards, and when they left together, I observed them through a window walking into Superdrug across the street from the bar…. ….. Hmmm…..

      • In fact- here- www2.lse.ac.uk/publicEvents/eventsHome.aspx

        Attend a handful of them, I promise you you’ll meet someone…

  • Margaux says:

    Scott – Plankton has been down the ‘Attend Lectures’ route – much discussed here on the Blog

  • kathy says:

    We want to know how it went!

  • T Lover says:

    Sorry, sorry, I don’t want to be rude or ungracious but this blog (which I do enjoy) seems to be running out of steam.

    Can’t someone stir things up? A touch of controversy? Some ammunition to provoke a bit of male/female leg pulling? Handbags amongst the women is a special treat. That sort of thing.

    • The Plankton says:

      After writing it every day for months, I admit I ran out of steam, which is obviously reflected in fewer posts now, so fewer readers, I am guessing, and fewer comments. Which is a pity, but I couldn’t keep up the pace, or perhaps lost the will to do so, much though I enjoy doing it. pxx

      • T Lover says:

        Well, however it goes, thank you.

        I can’t deny I have had some pretty low moments over the past year made easier by this blog – looking forward to some of the banter – not to mention it has been better than any book on the workings of the female mind.

      • EmGee says:

        Well, it’s quality not quantity. I would miss some of the regular commenters as much as your blog if you were to quit completely. I think you’ve done a swell job on what is a pretty limited subject – especially when there is a dry spell, socially speaking. Actually, you could write about anything, and I’d still be a regular reader. I like your writing. The only other blog I follow is Eric Gross, and then what he has to say is only interesting to me about 1/4 of the time.

        I used to enjoy every post, and it isn’t because his writing is dull, but he tends to write about the same unchanging subject, just in different terms.

        Being Plankton, stories and situations change, so new things are always cropping up. When I first started reading your blog last summer, I had not hope that I would have anyone in my life. At least now I have a loving companion, and while it isn’t a relationship complete with fireworks, I am not lonely and he is a big part of my life.

        Anyway, T Lover is right, this blog has made some pretty low moments not seem so trying.

      • The Plankton says:

        Wow, EgGee, that is great to hear, and a big thank you. I am sorry I haven’t been keeping it going regularly but I became a bit burnt out, it was taking over my life and – though this wasn’t the point, it began to have at least some point – I wasn’t earning anything from the blog. I know I have my once a week in the Times, for which I am very grateful, but I was writing the blog 7 days a week so economically-speaking, it was making less and less sense. And it’s probably a good thing not – officially at least – to be thinking about my pathetic plankton status 24/7! I promise to post again soon, and thanks for the support meanwhile. Pxx

  • rosie says:

    How about some of the male commenters stop being sexist jerks. Will that do for starters?

  • EmGee says:

    How about you fellas drop your pointy spears and take a look at this:

    Wouldn’t hurt for the gals to check it out too. I had a long postponed steak dinner with a 60ish girl friend who has a 40ish boyfriend, and they have been doing the relationship dance for 10 years. They have finally decided that it is what it is and they are made for each other. Anyway, we discussed this site and she sent me the link after I got home.

    • T Lover says:

      The first thing I noticed was the extract from the back cover (of the book): “Are you puzzled by women? Frustrated with your current relationship?”

      The second: two overweight bald men suggesting the type at whom the book appears to be aimed.

      After four happy months with a woman I met “online” (and who was over me like a rash) I drove to 200 miles to London after work to find her so pissed she could barely stand up.

      I have now spent three years trying to find a woman. Thought I had found the super bright loving woman I long to spend the rest of my life with only to realise that she has a drink problem she can’t control when she is on her own.

      Life is passing by. You can read as many how to do it books as you like but there is no legislating for real life. How the hell do you find a woman you can rub along with?

      • Mezzanine says:

        As much as I love to reading, you are right T Lover, books cannot legislate for real life and a partner or potential partner with a drink problem is a real problem. I know because I’ve had to deal with it myself with a partner and a friend who just couldn’t stay off the stuff. I’m not a drinker myself – the odd one here and there. Funny, it was always me that was called boring when I tackled them about it. Hey ho. It’s a deal breaker for me.

        I still think there is someone out there but I think our life experiences colour our view a little when trying to find a life partner. I see this when looking on dating sites. What gives me a smidgen of hope is when I look at some of the profiles of men that may be of interest, they almost always specify criteria that I don’t match. I ‘wink’ or message them anyway. Low and behold I get a positive response. So I must not be that bad if they step out of that box of requirements to respond.

      • T Lover says:


        They say women like bad boys because they think they can change them. As people get older – perhaps less naïve – you realise that it is not always possible. What do you do? Try to stick with it or walk away? Look at the heap of positives and away from the drinking?

        Apropos the internet, this morning at 8 am I was suddenly a new “favourite” of a woman who looked interesting but by 8.10 I had been relegated and now – in the time it took to scan the fridge and make a cup of tea – all I’m left with is a shed load of pensioners with interests such as bowling, coffee in quaint pubs and listening to Herb Alpert.

        Hey ho. I must have caused real offence in a past life.

  • Mezzanine says:

    Sorry, should have said ‘love to read’!!

    • Mezzanine says:

      T Lover

      Bad boys – no. Naughty boys – maybe! Just a man with a grip on reality would be nice. Sorry but I can’t be doing with a drunk or someone with anger issues. I can’t change them, they have to change themselves. I don’t really want to change someone and compromise isn’t such a bad thing. Is it such a hard thing to do, to rub along with someone who isn’t perfect but good company all the same?

      I’ve had my fair share of 70 plus year olds contact me, so you are not alone there. I’m 53, not ready for bowling and as for Herbie, no thanks. More of a Massive Attack girl. One thing. Are you making contact with women on these sites or just waiting for someone to contact you? Works both ways…….just saying :0)

      • T Lover says:

        Do I wait for them or am I pro-active? What a question.

        Well, I have never had a sub for more than one month. I hide my profile some but not all of the time in periods when I am not paid up. I can’t remember how many one month subs I have had in three years, six at most I suppose. I think your profile can go stale if it is there all the time.

        The profile used to be surreal but is now a touch more moderate. I once included the fact I was the UK’s fattest man and had swum the Channel but that killed stone dead the tiny trickle of applicants. I add circa 40 years to my age but show a photograph. The reasoning: the women who see through it are more likely to be on my silly wavelength. And you get so many dodos and women without social potty training (but still think they are wonderful) the only available armour (not amore) is in laughter.

        I “view”, sometimes more than once, then make them a favourite, then see what happens. I tend to write for the first time (if I have a subscription) by saying something like thank you for “viewing” and wait for a response.

        I live in the Peak District. The site I have used seems to attract people from London/the south/the south west which is a pain.

        I shouldn’t admit this but the best fun I have had has been on the three occasions I have made contact without a subscription. I have been warned twice and threatened with death by the administrators. Eg. view repeatedly and message by changing the headline. When you have their attention, in the narrative say: I like driving up the A = 1 the sort of thing that gets under the site’s automatic scanning and redaction systems. So, thE quiCk Brown fox becomes 532 and away goes a phone number. Cryptic clues for an eMail address has worked once and on the third I got her to give me clues which lead to a phone number through Google.

        Oh, perhaps I should say that apart from this last woman I have not been very successful. Some complete loony tunes out there.

        Sorry for rambling. Having a break from the garden.

      • Mezzanine says:

        There are indeed some strange people out there. I’ve met a few. I’ve also had some great banter with people and never met them. I guess internet dating sites are what you make of them and people are what they are. If you are ready for the dating scene then it makes it easier to make contact, if not then hiding your profile is an option….but then no-one sees you :0/

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