‘Darling, there will be gorgeous men aplenty,’ he said. ‘We’ve invited all the lovely men we’ve ever met just for you. There’s one I think you’ll really love. He’s a composer, bit older, said most of his compositions are ‘atonal’. Don’t know what the fuck that means, but I think you can make the word ‘anal’ out of it which might be a good thing, you know, or something. Come, darling, it’ll be fun and you know how much I love you. You have to stop wishing you were with that Texan. (I did, many months ago, though the spectre of him striding, like Action Man, towards me still looms in my dreams.) We know you don’t eat meat so David’s made a seafood curry. See you at seven.’
I should make the effort. I really should. James loves me. He really does. And what source can you trust more as a good judge of a possible mate than the recommendation of your best friend.
I did look at dating sites (see previous post, ‘Want a date? Keep your cleavage in shot and your pets out’ for some statistics on just how to make yourself irresistible or put people off entirely), but contrary to what the enormous advertising campaigns promised, there weren’t thousands of ‘hot men’ who, with just a moment’s electronic matchmaking would display themselves (sometimes a great deal too much of themselves) to me with perfect compatibility on every level of my being.
While I’m on the subject of the advertising campaigns, just quite what the dating companies think people are interested in, I’m not sure. For about a week one ran a tv ad exhorting men to sign up to meet the thousands of ‘hot women’ just waiting to be wooed – too many, in fact, for the men already signed up to cope with. The women pictured were cartoons dressed like they were en route to a fetish fancy dress party – dominatrixes; nurses in uniforms so miniscule that, yes, they might be the stuff that bed-bath dreams are made of; cheerleaders; and bespectacled, cane-wielding teachers. Then for weeks and weeks they ran a similar campaign pleading with women to sign up and get their fill of, if the cartoons were to be believed, muscled, dog-owning doctors and the occasional workie the likes of which I’ve never seen but wouldn’t mind doing so.
I signed up for a trial membership, entered a few details (don’t want kids or do god, but do like brunettes) and, week after week, was sent the profiles of men who met, say, 98% of my criteria. All blonde, all god-loving/fearing, and all hell bent on having kids. Quite what the glaring incompatibilities in the remaining 2% were, I don’t know. ‘Knightinshiningarmour’, ‘justanicefella’, and ‘bigdownbelow’ – we shall never meet.
There are groups for like-minded people that meet regularly in my area. There are the normal (too energetic, in the main) and there are the dominatrix vampire/zombie lovers. It’s not a pretty prospect.
So, the party it is. I might as well be prepared, I think, so to the beauty salon I go. This is a place I used to love – something about the intimacy and chat. There’s nothing a beautician hasn’t seen – there isn’t a place on the human body from which she hasn’t removed hair, no quantity of body fat she hasn’t muscled essential oils into, no manner of aesthetic neglect with which she isn’t familiar. What she is possibly not so familiar with is tears. She only got to do one side of my bikini line till I said I’d well exceeded the medically recommended number of painkillers in preparation for what might be a little sting, but – short of her wheeling out a morphine drip – I could take no more. I limp home snivelling and, hobbling about the flat, tread on Minnie’s tail.
I check her tail for any signs of damage (none), press a cold flannel to my bruised, welted thigh, and slather it in rescue remedy cream. The fact that I can only sort of lean on one leg when either standing or sitting without risk of blood loss through chafing rather limits what I can wear. Winceyette pyjamas would be nice. Anyway, I get there.
It’s a little late on so everyone’s drunk and all the food is gone. James has his usual drink-induced Tourette’s – repeating the same phrase that wasn’t funny the first time over and over – and John is dry-humping David’s leg. He lusts after David – secretly when sober and lustily when drunk. Everyone lusts after David. He used to be straight, but then gayness found him and now he and James are the coupliest of couples and I hate them both for finding each other.
‘Darling! This is Robert! The man I was telling you about. Robert, this is Kate.’
There stands before me possibly the vilest man I have ever seen. He waddles towards me, grabs my hand and kisses me on the cheek. ‘I just have to go to the loo won’t be a sec and I’ll be back,’ I tell him. I wash my hands four times and clean the side of my face twice. When I come back, he tries to flog me a copy of his cd for a tenner which I decline, never having been a fan of atonal. Then he sits at the piano and jerks about like he’s got some sort of involuntary muscle movement condition (for a moment I think maybe he does and try to feel a little sympathetic till he stands up and I see it’s all for effect), banging the keys with every ounce of strength in his upper body. He’s no Beethoven. But then no one is. I’d bring Beethoven back from extinction along with Orson Welles, if I could. He’s one of those creative types who mistake mess and banging crashing about for passion. Or maybe I just don’t get it. He stops, thank god, and starts telling me about his website. I make some suggestions – talk on a bit about ideas while turning my head to the left every time I breathe in to avoid breathing the stinking air he exhales. Wilfully techno-incompetent, it seems, he nods at my breasts as I try to time my breathing with his, roughly breathing out when he does, holding it and breathing in once the air might have cleared. It doesn’t. He goes back to assaulting the piano and I leave.
‘What the fuck were you thinking? He’s vile and he smells and his music’s shit, James.’
‘Sorry, Kitty (my moniker ever since the boys met a still most manly transsexual called Kitty and decided it would be hilarious to call me after him-her – think he was mid-op so I’m not sure which pronoun to use). I really thought you’d like him. I know he’s not got any muscles or anything, but he’s a bit older and you like that, don’t you?’
‘He’s 5000 years old with no concept of personal hygiene. Having lived so long, you’d think he’d have picked up on that. I think I might just head off. My thigh’s started to throb and itch. Lovely party, darling. I love you and thanks for trying even if whatever in all hell was going through your head when you thought I might fancy him is I don’t know what.’
I come home and lie on the sofa with the little ladies. Minnie bruxes softly on my chest while Georgia plays in my hair. When I stand up I find rat bedding and tissue in my hair (I was en route to being made into a nest, it seems) and shit down the back of my neck. Minnie’s only little and hasn’t quite mastered the division between places to shit and places not to, but it’s fine. We have our bedtime biscuit together, I settle them in their nests, and limp off. I’ll be crazy rat lady spinster forevermore. It’s lovely and what’s a little rat shit between friends.