Another slippery customer

It’s funny, but since I decide to give up on men, it’s as if they’ve decided to give up on me.

Now that I’m safely ensconced in an office for 37.5 hours a week, rather than roaming about like the footloose freelancer I once was, I’ve had no random nutters approach me in the street, The Bull has been quiet as a mouse, Normal Guy has been holding his silence and I’ve only had the occasional email from the Darkly Intriguing.

In short, it’s been pretty peaceful.

Of course, the fact that the nights are drawing in and the air is getting a little crisper naturally changes things. The joie de vivre of summer is fading, but we’ve yet to substitute it for the cosy charms of winter. Everyone’s getting low on bounce and facing the fact that a whole heap of cold, murky weather awaits us.

But despite my natural aversion to wind and rain, I’ve got to say that I’m quite enjoying my romantic solitude. Or at least, I was until I encountered The Guttersnake at a friend’s birthday party.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve seen him, but my discomfort in his presence has remained undiminished since an ill-advised lip-lock shortly after my break-up from The One I Almost Married.

Reader, I snogged him. And he’s pursued me with a burning ardour ever since.

Now, you’d think I’d be pleased to be desired with such passion. But the truth is that The Guttersnake is one of the slimiest, creepiest, most unctuous human beings I’ve ever met.

Or at least he is with me.

I’m assuming that most of his many friends don’t have the same impression of him, but then his hand probably isn’t tracing a path from their shoulder to their behind on a regular basis. His endless innuendo knows no limits: he never tires of making suggestive comments, or flashing come-hither eyes at me despite my greeting his every advance with a marked froideur. Heaven knows why I ever thought it was a good idea to snog him.

In my defence, I have a vague recollection of whisky being involved. I’d also not long had my heart smashed to smithereens, but everyone was telling me that I’d have to jump back into the fray sometime… And so I thought, why risk a snog with someone you might actually like when, as experience had taught me, it could all go so horribly wrong?

With hindsight, I can see that this logic was distinctly flawed. But now we’re almost two years on, and I daren’t say something as simple as, “I’m tired” in his presence, as that will remind him of the bedroom and start him on a litany of ‘romantic’ proposals, usually involving alcohol or massage oil. Or both.

Tonight he’s on fine form.

I’m having a quiet conversation with a girlfriend about my recent insomnia and she’s offering me her suggestions for a sound night’s kip. Naturally, The Guttersnake pricks up his ears.

“Oh!” says the spellbound eavesdropper. “You’re having trouble sleeping?

I reluctantly acknowledge the problem, with a sinking feeling about what’s coming next.

“You must be stressed!” he says. “I’m sure could help relax you. A warm bath, a glass of wine, maybe a soothing massage…”

And he gives the kind of smile that makes my skin crawl.

We then engage in a polite, verbal battle wherein he pretends to be interested in my welfare whilst trying to work out how my predicament could help him get into my pants … and I watch him doing it and squirm.

I’m saved by a call from another girlfriend, who’s waiting outside to take me to another party. (I know, I know. Sometimes you just have to live the lifestyle…)

He leaps up to say goodbye.

“You’re leaving so soon?” he says and paws at the back of my neck as he gazes into my eyes.

“Umm, yes,” I say awkwardly, “Places to go, people to see…”

“Don’t forget my offer!” he calls, giving me a wink as I head out of the door.

It takes a good five minutes for the shudders to subside.

The next party is already in full flow and my girlfriend hands me a drink.

“Thank you,” I say, and raise my glass.

Suppressing a little shudder, I make a toast: “To romantic solitude!”

My girlfriend gives me a curious look. But she raises her glass and smiles.

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Shaken, but not stirred

So, after a month’s silence, Normal Guy has been in touch again.

Since we last spoke, or rather messaged, I’ve been to Barcelona and partied at the Festa de Gracia, supped innumerable coffees and gossiped with girlfriends, been to birthday party, a fancy dress party and a retirement party … oh, yes, and I’ve also started a new job.

I’ve no doubt that Normal Guy’s schedule has been equally packed … but is it wrong that I’m a bit underwhelmed by his rather meagre missive, which amounts to just four words?

“Hey! How’s it going?”

Now, I understand that folks is busy, but such a short and superficial message says to me that you’re not really investing much in this friendship. Like, not even a full minute.

And yes, I know, I know. I know some people just don’t rock it by email. But four words? Four? At this rate, YEARS could pass before we have a proper conversation.

Since I’m sworn off menfolk anyway, I’m finding it hard to get excited about such titchy tidings.

What I am properly excited about, though, is a book that I’ve come across called Live Alone and Like It: The Classic Guide for the Single Woman.

The book, “takes readers through the fundamentals of living alone, including the importance of creating a hospitable environment at home, cultivating hobbies that keep her there (“for no woman can accept an invitation every night without coming to grief”), the question of whether single ladies may entertain men at home and many more.”

Nothing amazing about that, you might think … except that the book was published in 1936.

Apparently known as a bit of a bon viveur, the authoress, one Marjorie Hillis, was apparently fed up of hearing single women complaining about their lonely lives, so she penned the book as a call for single ladies to stop whingeing, take control and start enjoying their circumstances.

Sound just a little bit familiar?

Anyway, the inimitable Ms Hillis is an arch old bird, dispensing pearls of wisdom such as:

“One of the great advantages of your way of living is that you can be alone when you want to. Lots of people never discover what a pleasure this can be.”

Quite so.

How anyone could fail to love a book with chapter titles such as ‘A Lady and Her Liquor’ is beyond me, but it’s ‘The Pleasures of a Single Bed’ that has me snorting with laughter, making me realize that although the good lady was writing more than 70 years ago, some things never really change. Or, perhaps, the more they change, the more they stay the same…

“It’s probably true that most people have more fun in bed than anywhere else, and we are not being vulgar. Even going to bed alone can be alluring. There are many times, in fact, when it’s by far the most alluring way to go.”

Sounds like the old girl is right on the money. Now, according to the book, all I need is a maid to mix my martini and a set of matching bed jackets and I’ll really be living the lifestyle.

So if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a date with decadence lined up. Mine’s shaken, not stirred, with just a twist of lemon, please…

The bestest single in town

This morning brings an email from one of my dearest friends, with a link to an article, “36 things every single girl must do before she settles down.”

The link is accompanied by a short note: How many of these have you done, lady? 😉

Well, I think, having had more years of singledom than the average gal, I should score quite well on this one. Nevertheless, I click on the link and start to read.

1. Go to a movie alone.

Pah! Child’s play. I actually quite like going to the cinema by myself. It’s the perfect thing to do when you’ve got nothing to do.

2. Lift weights

Uh-huh. About three times a week. It’s the only thing that keeps me sane.

3. Take out the trash, set a mousetrap, do your taxes, build a bookcase.

Well, so far I’ve never needed a mousetrap, but I’ve happily sailed through the rest. Though with the possible exception of the bookcase, they’re not really optional, are they?

4. Live alone.

Yep. Done that. And very nice it was, too.

5. Go to a scary doctor’s appointment by yourself.

What? Of course I’d go by myself! Why would I drag anyone else into it?

6. Quit your job.

Yep. I’ve had the pleasure of doing that, too. It was incredibly satisfying, if a little scary, but definitely the right move at the time.

7. Fly to a foreign country by yourself.

Pah! Only about 30 times. This list is for wusses!

8. Do at least one Valentine’s Day alone.

Just one???! Ahahahahahahaaaaaah!

9. Witness something once-in-a-lifetime, like Jokulsarlon, a lake next to a melting glacier in Iceland.

I’ve danced on a rooftop in the middle of a Moroccan gorge, with a troupe of Berber musicians beating out complex rhythms in the street below. That was quite wow.

10. Revel in watching all the reality TV you want.

Now here you’ve lost me. I don’t even own a TV, much less go crazy for reality TV. But I suppose I have watched all the reality TV I wanted. It’s just that that quantity was zero.

11. Get drunk during the day, just because you can.

I’ve got to say that I’m a rubbish drinker. One sniff of the barmaid’s apron and I’m all over the place. I’m sure I probably have been drunk during the day, but it’s something I avoid rather than aspire to. And to be honest, when it’s happened, I probably wasn’t even trying – like if one of my aunties had a particularly heavy hand with the sherry in the trifle, for example.

12. Chill with your grandma.

I LOVE my gran. I need no encouragement to hang out with her. She’s one properly cool lady.

13. Go out with an older man who takes you somewhere nice and makes you feel like a million bucks.

I should never have turned down the Iranian urologist… Sigh.

Anyway, the article goes on, but I don’t. I know I’m a first-rate singleton. Being single may not be the state that I’ve always aspired to, but it can’t be denied that I’m a champion in my field. Other people are great sports(wo)men, fabulous musicians or top-class knitters. I just make a bloody good single.

And once you find something that you’re good at – I mean really good at – why on earth would you want to give it up?