Monday, 31 December 2007

THE DAILY MALE continues...31/12/07

Thursday. A horrible night. I wake every half an hour with a dragging sense of something terribly wrong in my life. My mouth turns down at the corners in misery as the memories of last night wash over me and I fight back the tears as I wriggle myself back to sleep.

At dawn, I am drawn up through the depths like an underwater swimmer who longs to remain on the sea bed. I shun the naked light of day and try to return to oblivion by diving beneath the covers, but I’m awake now and I must face the truth. MLP and I are over. How many more times can I do this?

I get up early and flip the radio on. Terry Wogan is playing Laura Brannigan singing Gloria and the line ‘If everybody wants you, why isn’t anybody calling?’ strikes a sardonic note. I pick up my weights and try to rustle up some endorphins, kick start my metabolism, and fight off the depression. I shower, sit down at my dressing-table and phone up anyone who'll listen as I relate the latest saga of my having been dumped.

This is the Road to Hell as every time I tell the story, I tell it better and the better I tell it, the more it upsets me. I am trying to do my make-up which is not only difficult but stupid, as the tears moisten my mascara which streaks down through my foundation resulting in a salty, smeary paste instead of the flawless finish as promised by Estée Lauder.

The sisterhood is suitably sympathetic but reminds me that it was always finite, that I knew it would end sooner or later and isn’t it better to have ended now, as I haven’t had time to get too attached. HAVEN’T I?!!! Why do I feel so shit then?

I battle through the morning and by lunchtime have pulled myself together sufficiently to reel in some back-up. I text Oxbridge and Brad Pity with the good news (for them) that I’m back on the market, and they both sound pleased and keen to see me. I go out for supper and to the theatre with a group of old friends which I find very comforting, in a This-is-the-future-in-a-Retirement-Home kind of way.

Over the next few days, I allow myself to think about MLP for about three minutes every hour before cutting off his blood supply and pushing the memory of him as far away as possible. He is absolutely and strictly forbidden to live rent free in my head.

Saturday. Although I have loads to do as I’m going away ski-ing first thing in the morning, I can’t cope with the Saturday-night-is-the-loneliest-night-of-the-week-syndrome, so I text Flash Gordon to tell him I’m free if he is. He excitedly offers to see me Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere. Perhaps I should rename him Martini (for those of you too young to remember - this was the strap line of their advert in the 1980s starring Joan Collins!)

We arrange to meet at the Elgin and he arrives just after me. He greets me with a warm hug and a kiss on both cheeks and goes straight to the bar. I study him from my table by the window. Could I? Should I? Would I? Not really. He is truly nice-looking and well-dressed as before, but nowhere in my chemistry lab do I find a Bunsen burner bubbling away with any degree of enthusiasm. And I’m sure he’s lied his age up. He looks about sixteen; I don’t even think he shaves yet.

We go through the usual What-you-been-up-to? natter and when it gets too noisy for conversation, we go up the road for an Indian. I feel a bit mean using him to sublimate my loneliness tonight, and I wonder, en passant, if the rest of him is in proportion with his short stature. He could be hung like a buffalo in which case I’d be missing out big time, but if he was, I can’t help thinking he would have dropped this juicy little nugget of information into the conversation somehow, as in:

‘Did I ever tell you about the time I had to take my girlfriend to the hospital to have her foufou re-modelled?’

We leave the restaurant and he moves in for a snog, but I do my little ducky divey dance and brush him away.

‘I live just round the corner!’ I say in mock shock. ‘I know a lot of people round here so PDAs in the street are not really appropriate…’ which of course we all know isn’t true.

He slinks off with his tail between his legs and I go home and finish packing thinking how glad I am to be getting away and vowing to leave all painful thoughts of MLP behind.

I go to bed wondering if he’s with his new squeeze having their first encounter, and how that feels for him. Exciting, probably. Well, it would, wouldn’t it?

I set my alarm for 5 a.m. and try to get some sleep.

Sunday. Calm Best Friend and I set off early for our Club Med ski trip with forty other singles. No sooner are we at the Gatwick check-in than we’re joined by a tall, dark, handsome, charming guy sporting the same luggage tags as us. He and I have a momentary eye fuck but I decide to let CBF have first dibs as:

a) I don’t need another involvement just now
b) she hasn’t had a boyfriend in a while
c) I don’t need another involvement just now and
d) I’m tired and I keep repeating myself.

I check out the rest of the motley crew but no-one remotely piques my interest. Calm Best Friend goes off shopping and Check-in Charlie (CC)and I hang around together chatting until the departure gate number comes up. We sit together on the plane and he entertains us for the entire flight. He is quick-witted and clever, every comment twisted into a hilarious metaphor.

I find myself inexorably drawn to him... but try not to show it...

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

THE DAILY MALE...continues...26/12/07

‘I’m multi-tasking like women can!’ I say, trying not to sound too bitterly, twistedly ironic. ‘Clever that, wouldn’t you say…being able to watch TV and THINK at the same time?’

This would have made him laugh in any other circumstances but he doesn’t laugh this time.

‘Just watch the film,’ he advises, like this will solve all my problems.
‘It’s really good…’

I chew my lip for a while then perk up a bit as I have a flash of inspiration, or is it desperation?

‘Any reason why we shouldn’t have sex tonight?’ I query engagingly.

He sniggers and says: ‘I s’pose not’ and I momentarily feel a little better, like I have something to look forward to. I’m not convinced, however, that making love when you know it’s for the last time, is such a good idea…

Eventually I settle down and we actually snuggle up and I pretend to watch the film. My body language, however, is horrendous. I’m wrapped around him like a drowning woman clutching a life raft. One of my legs is thrown around both of his and I’m holding both his hands like I’m trying to create an unbreakable circle. But it’s already broken. I know that. He’s drawn away from me if not physically, then certainly mentally.

When the film (what film?) ends, I ask trepidantly: ‘What now?’

‘I’m shooting’ he replies having a long stretch.

I get up and walk out. I busy myself in the kitchen. He comes looking for his trainers and with a slight sense of embarassment, I open the broom cupboard and hand them to him. He scowls and shakes his head, then goes back into the living-room to put them on and collect the rest of his stuff.

I remember his Nike t-shirt I’d slept in then hand-washed and ironed lovingly like it was the Turin Shroud or something, and I go to the bedroom to get it. I hand it to him but I cannot meet his eyes. I do not want to watch him leave. I’ve played that scene too many times before. It hurts. We stand opposite each other in the hallway and I take his face in both my hands. I turn it this way and that kissing him on both cheeks as I studiously avoid his sweet and tender mouth. It’s the way a mother would kiss a much-loved child goodbye. He plants a smacker on my lips like he did that very first time, but this time as I draw back, I’m not giggling.

‘Talk to you later’ he says cheerily.

I raise one eyebrow.

‘Or tomorrow or the next day…’ he goes on.

I pull a 'wha’ ever…' face, open the front door and he walks.

‘Don’t ever be afraid to phone or text me,’ I call out, as he heads off down the stairs, and I close the door firmly behind him.

I take the deepest breath and set my mouth into a thin, determined line. I march into the bathroom, pluck The Robe off the back of the door and stuff it into the washing-machine... ready for its next wearer.

Monday, 17 December 2007

THE DAILY MALE - continues...

This pathetic and futile gesture tips me over the edge, and a wave of the deepest sadness sweeps over me. I return to the living-room and slide onto the floor at his feet. I crouch between his knees and take both his hands in mine. I look up at him and try to speak but my voice cracks like bad plastering – something he’d know nothing at all about!

‘I just want to thank you for everything’ I croak, and a big, fat tear leaks out of my eye and plops down onto his combats.

‘Thank you for all the lovely dates.’ I sniff. ‘Thank you for my birthday and Valentine’s night and that breakfast you brought round. Thank you for making me believe that I could maybe, one day, love again. Thank you for always turning up when you said you would – more or less. Thank you for all the sexy texts – at the beginning anyway…’

And I trail off as my voice and heart are truly breaking now and I don’t want him to see the impact that he’s had on me. Nor do I want to make him feel guiltier than he already may. Or for him to see me how I suddenly feel… which is very, very old.

‘How do you feel?’ I ask trying to hold it together. ' that you’ve told me?’

‘I…er… I feel sorry’ he answers openly. ‘But we always knew…also, I feel…er…a bit relieved really…’

That last was said way too chirpily but although I knew he’d feel this way because I’ve been there, it somehow upsets me more. I wonder how long he’s carried this burden around for, how long he’s wanted to tell me it’s over.

’Does your mum know about me?’ I ask suddenly.

‘Of course.’ He answers.

‘And does she know what you were going to do tonight? Does she know about…S… Sarah?’

I manage to avoid spitting the word out. It was my grandmother’s name.

‘There’s nothing to know, is there?’ he answers and I wonder if my premonition was right when I’d imagined his mother telling him not to see me anymore.

Had she in fact said: ‘Leave that older woman and go out with someone your own age’? If he’d been my son, that’s what I would have advised.

He gets up and slides the DVD he’s brought into my player. As if this is going to make a difference to my life, he tells me brightly that it’s ‘a really good film’. We sit awkwardly on the couch, or at least I do. He seems quite comfortable now. And why shouldn’t he be? He’s been fed and watered, he’s offloaded me in a reasonably decent fashion, he has a new girlfriend to look forward to and now he’s going to watch a ‘really good film’! Life must seem pretty terrific.

I wriggle around and hug my legs to my chest seeking his attention but he is now totally focused on the movie. Men are so weird. If they’re doing one thing, that’s all they’re doing. I fidget some more and he eventually asks: ‘What’s up?’


Wednesday, 12 December 2007

THE DAILY MALE - continues...

‘Do you want me to go?’ he asks, his voice little more than whisper.

‘No’. I reply. God! That would be terrible. It’s bad enough dealing with it with him still here, but at least I’m managing to hold it all together. If he leaves me now, he’ll take away the biggest part of me and I’ll have to go through the seven stages of bereavement all by myself and I really don’t fancy that. Not yet. Not tonight.

We go back to the table and I make some semblance of eating the very-tasty-in-any-other-circumstances stuffed peppers.

‘Very good!’ he mumbles, chewing loudly and nodding approvingly between mouthfuls.

‘I’d like to smash your face in!’ I growl and he looks surprised at my sudden aggression.

He then embarks on some long-winded story about how when he was sixteen, his divorced parents got back together to support him at a football match and he scored his best ever goal with both of them watching.

It all comes out like white noise to me and I don’t give a flying fuck about him and his fucking parents and his fucking football. The reality of what has just happened is starting to hit me, swishing around in my head like thick slurry in a cesspit and I know as sure as eggs is eggs that a deep depression will descend on me very soon.

I exit the kitchen again leaving him to clear up. I actually do not want to be in his company any longer. I consider hurling myself onto my bed and doing a big, sobbing, drama queen number but it’s not really my style and would serve very little useful purpose. I hover about in the hallway, chewing my thumb, then go and sit down on the sofa and soon he comes in and sits beside me. I move away.

‘Look, I’ll go shall I?’ he offers.
‘Do you want to go?’ I ask menacingly.
‘No I don’t…but…’
‘I don’t want you to go. But please try and understand the way I’m feeling. I’m trying to deal with what you’ve just told me and I’m experiencing all sorts of different emotions. I’m not going to try and sublimate them by acting normally to make you feel better. I’m just letting them run through me at their own pace until they find their own level. It all feels a bit scrambled just now… if that makes any sense to you at all…’

He doesn’t say anything. We stay silently one on each end of the sofa, and I think what a waste it is to have him here for the last time, and not be close to him. I get up and go into the kitchen for some water. His trainers are lined up neatly against the skirting board and I pick them up and hide them in the broom cupboard. That’s bound to stop him leaving, isn’t it? No shoes? Oh I’d better stay with her forever then…

Friday, 7 December 2007

THE DAILY MALE - continues...

I swallow hard, look at him and shrug. I don’t really trust myself to talk, but as the confident, capable, cope-able, older woman, I know that talk I must.

‘I always said I would never hold you back from the rest of your life’ I say quietly, with a generosity of spirit I do not feel. ‘I told you I would never try to curtail your freedom…’

The one I call ‘My Sad Tape’ is playing on my kitchen cassette player. Gerard Kenny croons You Are My Fantasy, Patti LaBelle and Michael McDonald wail On my Own and Barry Manilow follows with Somewhere down the Road. I only have myself to blame. I made and inserted the tape and I pressed Play. It could be my choice of music that eventually drives them away... Maybe I should invest in something by Autopsy or Maggot Maniacs, but why should I buy music that I don’t like only to get stuck with it when they walk out?

I suddenly feel I can’t do this conversation any longer so I scrape my chair back from the table, throw my napkin onto my still full plate and stomp out onto the balcony, snatching up his cigarettes and lighter as I go. I light the fag and draw on it so deeply and so fast that I get a terrific head rush.

On top of the two vodkas, my emotions are rocketing then plummeting to titanic depths. I am now reeling and giddy. I look down the three storeys to the street below and imagine myself hurtling to earth, my scream piercing the night like his words pierced my heart. Is he worth that? Definitely not. My children and grandchildren don’t deserve it either. Not for an unemployed little Essex boy who refuses to go down on me, but with whom I just happen to have fallen a little bit in love. And I’ll live to fight another day. I always do. This is just another blip, another debit in my love account, a credit in my memory bank, and something I will no doubt not learn from.

I stay outside shivering in the cold, waiting for him to come and find me, and eventually he does, drawing me gently back inside.

‘We woz doin’ it out ‘ere this time las' week!’ he comments, as if he’s telling me something I didn’t already know.

‘Yes!’ I concur sardonically. ‘And now you’re dumping me! What the hell’s that all about?’

‘I hate that word…’ he says.

So don’t do it, I mutter under my breath, and sniff loudly.