I had a boyfriend once who used to play with himself while watching soaps. I don’t know why I put up with it; I hate soaps. I expect I had just read a book on the dire effects of controlling behaviour on relationships. I have to say that I’m glad I no longer have to put up with the weird habits of others on a daily basis.
I like living alone. In fact I’d go so far as to say that in my long life it is the thing that I’ve been best at. Once I learned how to debone a chicken and that gave me a huge amount of satisfaction but it was nothing like the kick I get from being good at being alone. I can remember Penelope Mortimer being interviewed in the sixties, saying that the happiest time in her life had been between marriages. So why not keep minding the gaps I ask myself.
The only thing I can think of, off the top of my head, that is better with a partner is camping. A tent on a remote Scottish beach with marram grass and dunes as far as the eye can see, just wouldn’t be the same without a man to share the rug (and it has to be said, the challenges of putting up the tent and lighting the fire, of course). So what else do I miss in my single state? Well here are a few:-
The laughter between the sheets.
The morning mug of tea in bed.
Any dancing that requires being held.
Having poetry read to me.
It’s not much of a list, is it? And when you take into account that the handholding wasn’t always forthcoming and the poetry reading never happened, it’s even lighter , so I can see why the balance always tilts on the solitary side, in my life anyway. Nevertheless I’m still at an age when I like to think that I have a choice. After all I’m good- looking, have been told that I’m fun to be with, like sex a lot and am a brilliant cook. So it’s a choice, even at my age, OK?
Even in the times I have been half of one, I was appalled at the cosiness of couples and the air of boredom or irritation that passed between the pair like vapours. Kitty, my couple counsellor(well you have to have one when ambivalence is so rife) said that I was a narcissist and had always been alone. She didn’t explain clearly enough how one was linked to the other, however. I figured out that as an only child I didn’t learn how to play nicely and therefore always ended up alone. But the evidence shows that I do play nicely thank you but often so intensely I need time off for bad behaviour, before I come apart at the seams.
To be the honey that some guy comes home to, and then ignores for the rest of the evening, has never been my idea of a good time- I’m far too demanding. Yet I was once the sort of woman who fried potatoes for her man by turning them one at a time. Ask my friend Zizi, who still reminds me how far I’ve come.
As far as men are concerned I’ve been too keen to please. Now I’m not keen enough. How many times have I left an opera because my man was getting antsy? I no longer have to do this. I can wallow right to the final curtain and after that, of course, we are all alone. If I ever have the need to write my autobiography, I’ll call it Alone at the Opera and, for now anyway(see the ambivalence?) that suits me fine.