I had brunch, on Friday, with Bob.
Bob is not his real name, but when I told the person who I really had brunch with that I would be publishing the contents of our discussion on melchett mike, he got rather hot under the collar and insisted that I withhold it (Bob, a fellow Brit, suffers from the conceit that he is sufficiently well-known to be identified by his [not uncommon] first name alone, and that people hang on his every word).
After repeatedly, and annoyingly, informing me that I should have bought Dollars instead of leaving savings in Pounds – based, you understand, not on the fact that he actually knew that Sterling was about to devalue by over 25 percent against the Greenback, but merely on the fact that it did – this prophet of hindsight then enquired as to whether I know of any available women for him.
Resisting the urge to dish out similarly useless advice (that, in spite of not having known her, he should have married Amy Winehouse while she was still a nice North West London Jewish girl and before she became rich and famous), I asked Bob what he was looking for. They mustn’t be fat, came the knee-jerk response, or have bad skin. And no one over 36 (in age, of course, not cup size).
Despite being in his early forties, Bob explained that he would like a younger woman due to the increased incidence of Down’s syndrome in babies born to older mothers. Bob took exception to my view that he was being overly fussy; but “ridiculous” would have been a more apt description – Bob hasn’t had a serious girlfriend for God knows how long, but is eliminating potential candidates because the probability of a Down’s birth for a 40-year old increases to one in one hundred . I am certain he wouldn’t bet on a horse at such long odds.
On reflection, though, who was I to judge Bob? On my walk home, I started to recall some of the more outlandish, Seinfeldesque reasons that I have found (created?) for ending (sometimes not even starting) relationships, with women attractive in most other ways. Excluding references to “southerly conditions” (melchett mike is still, just about, a “family” blog), they have included:
- a woman who laughed too easily;
- another who owned an offensive puffer jacket;
- an American who could spend entire dinner parties with her head resting on my shoulder, without contributing a single word to the conversation; and
- an Israeli who insisted on licking her knife (an especially English prohibition which my father campaigned to have enshrined as the Eleventh Commandment) in fancy restaurants, and who – on the same principle (that of annoying me) – refused to ever cross roads (even in the deserted, early hours) on the red “Do not walk” sign.
Most unforgettable, however, was the North West London Jewish woman who, at the very height of passion, used to exclaim (or, rather, kvetch) “Oy vey, you bastard”. I couldn’t have been more turned-off if my Polish grandmother had walked in on us, and enquired whether I wanted a slice of carrot on my gefilte fish. (I initially took it as a compliment to my supreme virility . . . until that is, some weeks later, a friend reported back with the exact same story.)
The problem for us forty-somethings is that as soon as we start explaining why we terminated a relationship, we automatically get that knowing “Yes, but you are a commitment phobe” look. Does that mean forty-somethings can’t have legitimate reasons for ending things? Call me shallow, but I had to stop seeing a woman recently, after a couple of very pleasant dates, due to an unduly hairy upper lip. I mean no man wants to risk a furry or, worse still, bristly snog. And there is no way of communicating such a thing to a woman (and keeping your front teeth), especially so early in proceedings. (Girls, put yourselves in our shoes – if you don’t like your man with a moustache, would his dying it blonde really help?)
I would like to believe that my excuses were more legitimate than Bob’s, relating to a state of affairs or something that had already happened, as opposed to something that, in all probability, never will. Also, unlike Bob, I am fully aware that most were exactly that (i.e., excuses), and am working on it.
The bottom line for both me and Bob, however, is the same – when you have hit your forties, you are less able to rely on intuition, and spend far too much time dissecting and analysing every tiny characteristic of a potential partner.
The flip side, however, of the view (shared by my dear mother) that I now have to take whatever I can get is that, if I have waited this long, what would be the sense in rushing into something? Although, if any readers know of the perfect woman, I am open to suggestions . . . and not that fussy.