"Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it." Greg Anderson
Easy for him to say! All he ever has to do is wash and shave. That's because he's a man.

My journey starts with the FIRST BLOG; you'll need coffee/tea and probably some chocolate digestives, or maybe some Cadbury's Fruit and Nut, or Green and Black's Organic if you've got more money than sense.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

The Learning Curve

I’ve had my very own first date! Whoopee doo!


I’ve been receiving all kinds of weird propositions, and I’ve answered them all – God knows why – something to do with being forced to send thank you letters as a child I imagine. The single-brain-cell one liners are a severe pain in the arse because it’s hard to reply in the same vein and not sound rude or dismissive. Especially when your inclination veers towards ‘Have a rummage and see if you can dislodge your other brain cell from its hidey hole; the combined efforts of the two of them might, given time, application and a transplant, produce a subordinate clause.’ 

So, when a five sentence email appeared in the inbox, it was a novelty. I can’t say it looked very promising because it didn’t; more interesting than promising. A quick resume: down side - a full ten years older than me and a bit on the portly side (not that that's ever worried me before); plus side - a lawyer (so at least literate), and he sent me a couple of messages in German, which was a bit more imaginative than ‘hi sexy, what did you have for lunch lol?’ One other thing - and I’m not saying this swayed me (although, you know, any opportunity to don my dirndl…) - he had a home in the Swiss Alps. Furthermore, as I’d just downloaded a free copy of Heidi’s Lehr- und Wanderjahre by Johanna Spyri into my Kindle, I thought that must be a sign from the Himmels. God, I’m such a moron! Remind me to never trust my Glas-halb-voll moments!  

We arranged to meet at a pleasant little French café for lunch. I was on time: no sign of him. I waited. Then came the phone call – he’d just arrived at the restaurant, he said – where was I?  I was at the café with a very similar name! He was up town, I was downtown. Not the best start. It wouldn’t take him long to get there, so I ordered a cappuccino and enjoyed some fine people-watching – mainly well-heeled, designer-clad, freshly coiffed (or is that coiffured?) ladies-who-lunch and a few smart couples. Eventually he turned up. Well, I’ve got plenty of friends who are around 60, and I’ve never felt they were too old to be my mates. But here was my granddad! That’s not fair to my granddad, even in his current condition, come to think of it, and he's been six feet under for the past thirty years. I hid my disappointment and thought we'd just have a convivial hour and that would be that. We quickly ordered two salads.

And then it began – sheesh! Double sheesh! The full, bloody, glorious technicolour, surround sound history of all his relationships over the past forty years: two wives, three further long-term partnerships and all the dalliances in between. But not only did I hear about all of them – no, I also heard about the siblings, parents, next door neighbours and cousins three times removed of all of the aforementioned partners. (By the way, the sister in law of the second live-in partner was invited to Charles and Diana’s wedding. Fascinated? No, me neither!) I did my best to look as if I wasn’t about to slit my wrists, but you know, stifling the yawns had already become tricky by the second wife. Anyway, the salads, which were a very welcome distraction for me, were served. At least I had a/something to do while he droned on b/ something to satisfy my palate if not my lugholes.  

Suddenly he was seized by an ear-splitting coughing fit; a piece of lettuce had lodged itself at the back of his throat. The thing is - he just couldn’t stop hacking and everybody (I mean everybody – staff, customers, bods walking past the establishment) was staring at us. I offered to whack his back, even suggested the Heimlich manoeuvre, but he declined. Although he managed to control the coughing for short periods when he took the opportunity to return to his favourite topic (at which point I decided this was my karma, and I had been a murderer in my previous life), something kept setting him off again. To be honest, I actually felt rather sorry for the poor sod; how embarrassing for him. However, my sympathy was ultimately compromised by a thoroughly unforgivable peccadillo. All this expectorant activity had propelled great wads of nasal hair downwards, and I couldn’t bring myself to tell him to shove the offending tufts back up, so had to sit there and look at them. Ugh.  

At the end of the date, we politely shook hands and went in different directions. That evening I received an email from him.

Dear Bette,
Thanks for the date and it was good to meet you. Sorry I got a piece of lettuce stuck in my throat - next time will eat something that goes down more easily! (Complan?)
I have the impression (could be wrong but doubt it) that there was something that you didn't like about me! It is easy for me to give the impression of a 'serial changer' but in fact both wives left me against my will. (I wonder why!) So couldn't do anything about that. I left the partners against their will, without third party involvement, but Joanna would not sleep in a bed with me (Again… I wonder why!)  (unlike the other four), Pamela kept bringing stray cats home and Fran had the problem of her psychotic son who was at one stage sectioned and locked in a hospital secure unit after attacking his sister and the newsagent. I do like you but it takes two to foxtrot and must leave it to you.
Very sincere wishes,

I replied politely that it wasn’t that I didn’t like him (euphemism for 'mind-crushing bore'?) I was merely bemused about how complicated people’s lives were. Nevertheless, a relationship was not on the cards. Good luck in finding the right person for you etc etc. You’d think that would be enough, wouldn’t you?

But, no.

Dear Bette, 
That's understandable and I am relieved that there was nothing more to it than that. I have to explain my past but, on the other hand, my life is very uncomplicated now. I am now as uncomplicated as you are.
Often people do 'grow on each other' and I feel we have quite a lot in common at the cultural level. I am musical, play the violin and like literature, history and languages. Between you and me the 100% English are hopeless at other languages and my brothers' talents in that field - especially my younger brother in Abergavenny who is certainly a 'good chap' - are on the same level as my dear departed Mother's! (See what I mean about relatives? I have no idea what this refers to – I must have switched off at that point!)
If, on reflection, you would like to see what I am like on a second meeting (when all the background has already been explained) I would be very happy to meet you.
With sincere wishes,  (Er? Even that - who these days writes ‘with sincere wishes’ except on low key business correspondence?)  

I sent another message reiterating ‘No thanks’, and so far, fingers crossed, that’s the end of that.

Lessons learned? 
  • Amend my profile requirements to no more than five years older than me. 
  • Don’t assume that the ability to pen more than two sentences is an indication of anything whatsoever in common. 
  • Always carry nasal hair trimmers in handbag in case of emergency.



Danusia said...

And so it begins! I wonder with all the information that was supplied, whether you were given a chance to talk at all? and perhaps, though it doesn't sound like it, he might have mixed you up with the other appointment he had with his biographer. Best seller there, I'm sure (not!).
Carry on, regardless... you shall prevail!

Cousin Bette said...

Dani - of course I was given the opportunity to speak. He wasn't that bad! I said 'Really?', 'Mm', 'I see' and 'My goodness!' on - wait, let me think - I'd say about 239 occasions.

Downith said...

You forgot

4) If we end up at different restaurants, it was a sign.

basheeran said...

Cousine Bette : A learning curve bien sur! Nasal hair trimmers - pret-a-porter - could be a whole new career. I note the prevalence of eye-brow shapeing concessions - perhaps nasal hair trimming could be the new thing. Pour vous a considerer?

Fifi x

bella emberg said...

God forbid anything happens to my other half! Because I will never put myself through this, much better to have dogs- unconditional affection and total power over the remote control.

Cousin Bette said...

My dear Fifi, It just so happens that I am going to try one of these eye brow shaping concessions next week. I will pass on your helpful suggestion. But somehow, although we women seem to be prepared to suffer in view of all and sundry, I am not that sure that men will allow someone to probe their proboscis in public. Baisers, CB. x

suki said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
suki said...

oh how i lalughed on the way to the tena lady counter!! i had a similar date once, fat, greasy hair and only interest shown in me was whether i could cook and keep house!! hmm. still you are keeping us amused, needless to say i was busy next time he rang, the beauty of e mail is of course the delete button, if only we could do that with other areas of our lives too!! cant wait for the next installment

suki G

blue moon said...

God, he couldn't help himself with going on and on and on and on, personally the lettuce msut have been a kind of relief from the biography of his life, not summarised either!! They must realise just because we are born with the capacity to care for others does not mean that we really care!!! Keep searching, the needle is out there :-)