The Drink

Some months have passed now since I gave the Rastafarian his marching orders. During those months, his efforts to win me back have been relentless. My phone has been subjected to messages, texts and calls reflecting a whole spectrum of approaches. I have dealt with protestations of love, verbal abuse, ridiculous accusations and requests for help. I have ignored the first, politely requested an end to the second, shown derision over the third and flatly refused the last. Then the verbal abuse stopped. And shortly afterwards, the ridiculous accusations. Just like that. It was blissful. Almost enough to start being won over again. But not quite . . . I still had to endure protestations of love mixed in with requests for help and just these two approaches, without the other two for support, frankly did not sit well together. It seemed as if the purpose of the one was to achieve the other (if that makes sense) so I was feeling . . . Played. I found out by chance that Joseph was responsible for the end to the verbal abuse. He simply contacted the Rastafarian and politely told him to stop. Class.

Then another approach popped up . . . Invitations.

“Honey, pop by if you’re passing.”

“Morning hun . . . Fancy a coffee?”

“Hey. How about I cook lunch for us?”

For a time, I inwardly shrugged my shoulders and thought ‘why not?’ So I popped in from time-to-time, chatted over coffee, indulged in his cooking. It wasn’t easy, as he would tell me he loved me, how much he missed me and the visits started to feel painful. I needed to move on, but I was standing still.

Then Rhiannon ran into him in town. She said ‘hello’ and he ignored her. She called his name and instinctively, he swung round to face her.

“It’s me, Rhiannon,” she said, as if he needed reminding.

“I do not know you,” he dismissed her, but now she was rattled.

“Of course you know me!” she laughed and reminded him of the connection, ie me.

“I do not know her!” he lied.

Well, this was a bridge too far. All his mistreatment of me clearly loomed large in her mind by this time and she followed him, pushing for recognition. Presumably, his guilt was responsible for his cruel lies and apparent indifference.

He pushed her away. Physically. Not once, not twice, but several times.

She told me the next day and I stormed his flat.

“How dare you even lay a finger on my daughter!” I accused.

His retorts were wanting. They ranged from persistent denial to pathetic excuses. His sister was there and I was pleased that she bore witness to the account of his shameful actions and his story, which was ever-changing,  like a chameleon.

And so, the visits ended, because of my incandescence at his shocking treatment of my child.

But the messages, texts and calls continued. Gradually, accusations seeped in again and so I blocked the main line of his communication to me: WhatsApp. We had one line of communication left open between us: texting. As he rarely texted, contact became sporadic. The peace ensuing from my phone was tangible and sweet. It wasn’t like the times I had blocked (soon-to-be-ex) hubby, after minor skirmishes. Those times were tarnished with anxiety, because although I felt contentment that he couldn’t contact me and so I wasn’t being ignored, I also felt frustration at not knowing whether or not he was trying to contact me. Blocking the Rastafarian was like breathing fresh air again . . . Or even just breathing, after a spell underwater or some such thing. I cared not whether he was attempting contact; it would be brutal anyway (I was quite sure of that). I received the occasional text, with a declaration of love. And there were occasions when I bumped into him in town, as although I was, largely, avoiding times and places when and where our paths may cross, there were times when I wanted to attend a musical event that he may attend.

So, just to clarify, last Saturday was the last time that an almost Shakespearean piece of text bounced happily into my phone, courtesy of the Rastafarian. Inured to such romantic eloquence by now, the usual stance was that of indifference, but this time, I queried his expression of devotion.

‘Surely you’ve moved on?’

‘Never. I have remained faithful to you. I want only you. I love you. I miss you. Don’t hurt me.’

This type of text was difficult to read. It would have been easy to melt into his arms and soak up the romance and affection of which he was so capable of providing. But he had mistreated me and also Rhiannon, which was unforgivable, particularly because he failed to acknowledge his wrongdoing. But it was still painful and onerous.

The following night (the timing is important here) to mark the end of my involvement with the Brighton Festival, I took myself off to watch a band. It was a gratifying evening and afterwards, as it seemed that the promise of summer had bestowed upon us an usually light and balmy evening, I strolled along to The Folky Pub to catch the second half of their Open Mic evening. Being Bank Holiday weekend, there was a carefree and summery aura about town and the seafront chip shops were doing a roaring trade while people gave in to their cravings and treated themselves to portions of chips and fat pieces of cod in greasy batter, served in polystyrene trays. I half-promised myself some chips later on, maybe, if I still felt like some, after the Open Mic.

When I arrived at The Folky Pub, so did a chap who played a brass instrument arrive. We had chatted the previous week and got along and so he called out, as he galloped up the stairs to the Gents’,

“See you in a minute!”

I was driving, so I bought myself a half of Guinness and black, intending to make it last for my time in the pub and wandered down to the musical end of the pub. I saw the Rastafarian, in his favourite spot, but there was a table free in the middle, so I secured it, thinking that Mr Brass could join me and we could chat, while Original Blues strummed his way through well, some original Blues. But the Rastafarian went to some effort to pull a stool out from under a table and called me over, enthusiastically. I wasn’t terribly interested in joining him, as there was a lady next to him and as she seemed alone, I guessed that there was some interest from one party at least, or maybe both. I watched his hands rest on her knees and then he took her hand . . . His hands then rested on my knees and he took my hand. Then he joined our hands together and this was his extremely uncomfortable way of introducing us to each other. It was a horrible habit of his, which always made me cringe. I have no doubt that it was a facet of his personality concerned with power and the need to control relationships. A feisty female actually told him to f*** off once, when he tried the same trick in a big, boring pub on the outskirts of town. The expletive was followed by ‘we can sort ourselves out’ and ‘God, I feel sorry for you, if you’re his girlfriend – he’s such a smarmy w*****’. But anyway, I didn’t catch this lady’s name, in The Folky Pub, but I was treated to a saccharin smile, which certainly masked a very contrasting emotion within, I am sure. Her hand was dry and cold and her handshake limp and diluted. I felt sure that I wasn’t going to have any meaningful conversation with her. But then, I noticed where her hand was. Now, I had acknowledged that the Rastafarian was quite possibly in the process of chatting her up. Or she was in the process of making herself available to him. But when I saw her hand, casually and clearly comfortably, resting on his knee and idly stroking it, it was clear that this relationship was far more advanced than just the chatting up stage, the flirting stage, the ‘I’m available’ stage. I felt nauseous. I did not want the Rastafarian. I had ended our relationship months ago. It had been a painful process, because up until the incident with Rhiannon, despite his inability to treat me well, I still cared for him and was in mourning for the relationship. But then the incident with Rhiannon occurred and I was angry. It was still difficult though, because of the continued bombardment of messages, texts and calls from him, professing undying love, even as recently as yesterday, I thought. Everyday, he was toying with my emotions with every call, text or message. I felt I was witnessing raw emotion, his true feelings and although it was too late, I took some comfort from the fact that this was genuine love. Or so I thought. Seeing her hand, so at home on his knee, took all integrity away from every text, message, phone call or face-to-face soliloquy.

I gathered my belongings and headed off. I ignored Mr Brass who had sat at the table I secured and where I had intended sitting. I swept past Original Blues and his young friend, who was very talented and exceptionally polite and kind. Both turned and looked and smiled and I felt bad, for being self-indulgent. I said ‘hi’ to Young and Talented.

“Hey hey hey! Going already?” queried Original Blues.

I took a deep breath and said with my best teacher voice, so people would hear me without my having to shout:

“I can’t be in the same room as him!”

I felt enraged . . . So duped for all those months . . . So played. I’d been strong and kept my head whilst he showered me with ‘love’ and I’d found it so hard to walk away from someone who seemed to really need me. Yet now, it would seem that none of it was genuine. I wanted to storm through the pub but there was a group of men blocking the way. They moved but they were in high spirits and wanted to engage in banter with me. I duly laughed with them and finally managed to extract myself from their group and stood, outraged, in a corner of the pub. I’d wanted to throw my drink over him but hadn’t. I could go back and throw it over him, I mused. I took a sip and spotted the Rastafarian working his way through the crowd, towards me.

Once he was within a few feet of me, with his arms outstretched towards me, I warned him not to touch me. Or even come near me. But he didn’t listen. The drink, that I’d barely touched, then left the glass and because the force behind this exodus had aimed carefully, it mostly landed squarely on the Rastafarian’s front. The excess splashed onto the unsuspecting wooden floor of The Folky Pub. The general hubbub of noise gradually, but swiftly, ceased until complete hush had descended upon the non-musical end of the pub. I looked at him; he stared back at me, motionless. This would be the last time we would gaze for so long into each other’s eyes. I felt like I was in a spaghetti Western and at any moment we would turn around and walk away, only to spin round and draw our guns on each other. I was disappointed that none of it had landed on his face – his beautiful face which was a fine example of the adage ‘beauty is only skin-deep’ – but being exceptionally tall, I’d had to settle for his torso. I inspected the glass to check for remaining drink and there wasn’t enough for his face. The bar was within easy reach, so I took a step to the side and in contrast with my recent aggression, gently, I placed the now empty, half-pint glass on the bar. Only I was moving. Everyone else was under a spell. One of those spells where everyone freezes apart from one. It was my spell, because I possessed the power to break it, which I did by leaving the pub.

My car was parked on the other side of town and I was wearing shoes with a slight heel. Normally, I would have wished I was parked closer and I remembered my half-promise to myself to buy some chips to aid my walk back to the car. But I didn’t feel hungry anymore. I felt sheer red-mist anger. I’d never thrown drink over anyone. I wasn’t the sort to draw attention to myself in a pub. Certainly, I wasn’t given to performing my private arguments to the general public. I needed the long walk back to the car . . . I needed to walk off my wrath in the night air. I reached Steine Gardens and felt the need to message him. I found an empty bench on the outskirts of the gardens, which was synonymous with my emotions. The rest of Brighton was a beautiful reflection of the maxim, ‘hail fellow well met’ while I felt dark, sinister and possibly shrouded in a black smog of fury. The walk through town had not yet assuaged my ire. Almost immediately, a man joined me, asking permission. I granted him permission but wondered if I would be able to stop my fist from meeting his face if he dared to make a move on me. I believe my irascibility was apparent, as he slid, quietly, to the far end of the bench and let me be. My text was simple. I rarely sent him visibly angry texts, as it empowered me to polarise his angry messages which were usually littered with expletives. I pointed out that he brought shame to everything with which he identified, like his family and his country. But most of all himself . . . Whoever that was, as I was starting to feel like I’d never really known him. What was actually real about him?

I continued to march to my car, feeling frustration that I hadn’t decided sooner that he deserved my drink (albeit to wear) more than I did and therefore carried out the controversial deed in front of his musical friends. In time, however, as slight humiliation set in, I would feel content that I didn’t do that. Once I was safely within the confines of my soon-to-be-scrapped Polo, I allowed myself to cry. And then I rang Original Blues, who was not as much use as I had hoped. He sent me some motivational text messages though and I drove home. Once home, I contacted Rhiannon and a few friends whom I knew wouldn’t mind late-night contact, especially over the Rastafarian and drew shameless comfort from their words. My concern was not over the Rastafarian, but my reputation within The Folky Pub and whether or not they would bar me. Rhiannon’s mirth instantly cheered me and I began to feel less heavy-handed with myself over my actions. Having listened to advice from several quarters, my plan is to return there in a day or two, cap in hand, so to speak, and to apologise profusely. No buts. Sorries that are followed by buts are not really apologies, I feel. And despite the Rastafarian’s poor treatment of me, the bar staff should not have to clear up my mess, no matter how much the Rastafarian deserved it.

Everyone to whom I have spoken over this has rewarded me with a smile, laughter, encouragement, comfort and motivation. I do not condone acts of aggression and I wouldn’t recommend throwing drinks over people in pubs, but given the possibilities of what I could have done, and given that I was probably going to do something eventually, I guess it could have been worse. And apparently Guinness is difficult to remove from clothing. Especially with a little blackcurrant mixed in.

I have resurrected my claim for £2,500 from the Rastafarian in the small claims court. And I think it’s time to get this blog published. Someone said ‘one day, he’ll meet someone who won’t put up with his behaviour’. Well, excuse me, but that’s already happened.

The Anniversary

Sunday May 17th 2015. An inauspicious day for most of you, I expect. Not for me. My decision to go to The Folky Pub that night opened up doors for me, as if I was Alice falling down a rabbit hole, or Sarah, embarking on her journey through a labyrinth . . . Only the effects were not as immediate or obvious. A year ago, I had been dating The Dude for a month. We had a blast, frankly. For the second half of our relationship (as in 2 weeks), we had indulged in a mutual love of the arts and blown our hard-earned cash on quirky films with subtitles and unknown bands that had created their own genre, in the Brighton Fringe. This particular weekend, I had travelled up to London to meet up with Wimbledon Man, just as friends. The Dude confessed to feeling hurt and I was disappointed. But, I appreciated his honesty and suggested we arranged something for Sunday night so as to regroup and smooth things over. I had wanted to check out the local music scene and I’d seen an advert for Open Mic in The Folky Pub, so that’s where we met.
I had been to The Folky Pub once or twice in the past, but never on a ‘live music’ night and always at someone else’s behest. I wrote a whole blog post on this night, so I wouldn’t want to repeat myself and shortchange you, my reason for blogging, but I feel the need to recap with a potted version for the benefit of newcomers. Evidently, The Dude was still licking his wounds from my meeting with someone else of the opposite gender (albeit as friends) as he brought a friend along to The Folky Pub and rather than the latter being that awkward third wheel, it was I who assumed that uncomfortable role. My attention wandered and I met Titian Toby, who became the driving force behind my frequent trips to The Folky Pub thereafter. You see, I lost Toby. He came, he saw, he conquered. And I left. I know . . . ‘Tis a travesty. I can’t remember having that instantaneous attraction for . . . ever, actually. And it seemed mutual. But at some point, whilst wrapped up in the music, I thought that he’d left but as it transpired, he hadn’t.
I rather liked The Folky Pub, because it was quaint, the music was good and people were welcoming. I hoped to bump into Titian Toby too, so I started going there regularly, particularly on Open Mic nights, and got to know Original Blues, who became a good friend. He introduced me to a plethora of other musical venues – all pubs – and of course, the Rastafarian, who has been my only relationship since (soon-to-be-ex) hubby left. In turn, he took me on a magical, musical tour lasting several months, as, like Original Blues, he was a musician. He took me for a ride too, but I have exhausted that avenue in my blog.
So my decision to check out the local music scene that night would turn out to be pretty far-out . . . There are new facets to my life that feel as rooted as life-long habits. Just a year ago I didn’t venture into pubs alone; I rarely went to gigs; I knew nothing of Brighton’s dynamic, diverse music scene which is ridiculously soaked in talent; I hadn’t discovered the delights of Guinness and black; I could list people I didn’t know but I’ll stick to the blog favourites like Original Blues, the Rastafarian, Open Mic guy; I had never stopped and chatted to a homeless person (I had, of course, dropped my change their way but had never thought to spend time with them); I hadn’t sat, lazily, on the boardwalk in the summer till the sun went down, listening to live music and having the occasional dance. The last of those, and arguably other items on that list, is also a reflection of living on my own. Of course I’d wandered along the boardwalk in the summer, but to let time pass you by in that fashion is an indulgence one can only experience when one lives alone. A bittersweet indulgence. Every parent, I’m sure, would rather be on a time limit to cook the Sunday roast for the family, than to dally in the sun with no curfew. So, just to clarify, my life wasn’t wanting at all. I have two wonderful children, I’ve pursued many interests, I’ve educated myself, I have a fulfilling career, I’ve indulged in aesthetic and awe-inspiring experiences both within and outside of Brighton and I have many friends; but it is only in this last year that I’ve fully appreciated my home city. I’ve sampled plenty of Brighton’s wares but in this last year I’ve reached out and sampled wares from a different platter. ‘That’s so Brighton!’ I have had said to me on more than one occasion. As a comment on my necklace which opens up to reveal a watch . . . When I went to a cabaret show at The Warren, as part of Brighton Fringe and spent so long queueing for a drink to take in with me, that I bought myself 2 glasses of wine, although I was alone . . . About my penchant for hats and silly shoes. Brighton provides a safe house for diversity, eccentricity, outlandishness, whatever you wish to name it and the more you engage with the city, the more you feel you can do what pleases you, which has to be a good thing. And my decision to start going out alone, which stemmed from a playful quest to find The Auburn One, was one of the most life-changing decisions I’ve ever taken. Company is great but so is solitude, so I am undeterred by lack of company. If I’m seeing a movie or a film, or going to a gig, I’ll enjoy the experience . . . And if I’m going to a pub to listen to live music, likewise, but chances are I’ll see familiar faces. I can be spontaneous, I can be early or late, I can change my plans, I can tailor-make my trip out for me and I can be frugal if I’m broke without worrying about buying a round. Lest any of my friends or my children think their company is unwelcome, it really isn’t – I fall in the overlap of a hypothetical Venn diagram with one circle of ‘people who enjoy going out alone’ and another of ‘people who enjoy going out in company’. I’ve widened the net, so I’m not missing out on experiences just because I couldn’t find a kindred spirit with whom to share them. And it is a great way to make new friends. Apparently, it has become ‘in vogue’ to venture out alone! The only experience I haven’t sampled alone is visiting a restaurant. The jury is still out on that one, for me.
Returning to The Folky Pub . . . I made sure I went there exactly a year after my first proper visit and therefore a year after meeting the elusive, flame-haired Toby. Well, it wasn’t quite a year, but it was the nearest Sunday to that fateful Sunday, so it was Open Mic night. I bought myself a drink and wandered into the musical end of the pub. Original Blues was there with his trilby and braces and wrapped me up in one of his hugs (which always linger for a bit longer than is comfortable but at the same time are very warming and pleasant). I sat on a nearby stool, as there was the usual Sunday night dearth of chairs, and had a lazy look around for familiar faces.

The Dude.

Exactly a year after our last date, we’re both in the pub where it all ended? I knew he was seeing someone and she was with him . . . There were many people between me and him and I’d only just settled into my stool with my drink. And was it protocol to march over and introduce myself to his new girlfriend? I stressed about the situation for a while, then noticed he’d gone. I wandered in the direction of the loos and ran into him en route. It was fine – we chatted and said that we would meet up to practise songs and he said “Come and join us!”

“It’s exactly a year since we were in here together!” I said.

“Is it?” he mused.

He returned to New Girl and I returned to Original Blues and I resolved to leave once my glass was drained, although I felt I should wander over to meet New Girl, as The Dude had invited me to do so. But time was running out, I felt, before the Rastafarian appeared.

The Rastafarian appeared.

An innocent trip to the pub, turning into a social minefield (see what I mean about going out alone? One rarely stays alone for long!)

The Rastafarian had clattered in, with that slightly sinister yet vacant look of someone who has given in to their demons.

I wandered over to The Dude plus New Girl. We met, I asked her name, although I knew it from Facebook and she was as friendly as one can be to an ex-of-sorts. I had no idea what he had told her about me, but we had managed to remain friends after the angry dust had settled after the break-up (if you can call it a break-up when you were only dating) so I figured that probably, my name remained untarnished.

“I’ll be going soon,” I announced.

I explained about the Rastafarian . . . The Dude had been party to my grumbles of dissatisfaction over the poor treatment meted out to me by the former.

I left them in their cosy corner of ‘new relationship’.

I was unnoticed by the Rastafarian for a while, so my resolve remained but then Original Blues started playing. I’ll go when he finishes, I thought. Then I was spotted. The Rastafarian came to sit with me and I was a little trapped. I didn’t want to go halfway through Original Blues, yet I didn’t want to sit with him. It was a little too much . . . The Dude in the corner, the Rastafarian next to me, Original Blues playing. The latter finished and the Rastafarian leapt up.

“Oh! Er – ok – I love the way he just takes the microphone when he’s ready!” laughed the Open Mic guy.

He used to do that when it was getting late and I wanted to go, but wanted to hear him play. I didn’t want to hear him play this time though . . .

A saxophonist had appeared next to me. He was fretting about a lack of a strap for his instrument. I felt obliged to try to help and he said that a shoelace would do. I didn’t want to offer my shoelace, as I didn’t want to wait till he’d played before going home, but I did. I was glad he laughed and turned down my offer and then I realised he had his own shoes, complete with laces. We chatted and he thought I was the Rastafarian’s girlfriend, so I made things clear. He asked if he could have my number and I said, “No – I’ve just met you!”

Ladies and Gentlemen

At some point during my recent and brief liaison with Saltdean, I arrived home from work one evening and carried out my usual ritual of reversing onto the ridiculously steep driveway. I was aware of a shadowy presence on next-door’s driveway as I did so and this presence spoke to me as I was locking up my car for the night.
“Was that OK for you?” he enquired.
I hesitated before answering because actually, I had no idea what was supposed to be ‘ok’ for me.
“Erm . . . What?” I enquired right back.
“Reversing onto the driveway,” he explained.
“I guess it must have been,” I assured him, “because here I am, at the top of the driveway.”
“It’s just I parked my car opposite, so I was worried it was going to be tight for you,” he elaborated on his ‘concern’, “and I don’t trust women drivers.”
I stared at him for a moment or two, just trying to assimilate the information I had been given. I gave a suitably hostile riposte in which I made no attempt to hide my light under a bushel and made it clear that I was so good at parking it was almost a hobby.
This is a great example of misogyny. This was a man with a bitter disregard for women. A mere disregard would have resulted in no conversation whatsoever, but his disregard was so deep-seated and angry that he had to manifest it to me, even though he had no evidence on which to base his lack of trust in female drivers. At least, not from my parking. He had watched my reversing intently – I knew that – presumably, in the vain hope that there would be a slight misjudgment of the biting point, or some over-enthusiastic revving. His disappointment brought about his desperate question which served as a crowbar with which to lever his misogyny. Or perhaps he considered his sexism a playful interchange; a humorous method of initiating contact; even flirting.
(In the event of anyone thinking I’m making heavy weather of this, let me reassure you that I will laugh at sexist joshing, if it is friendly, harmless banter amongst friends. And that isn’t favouritism; it’s a case of knowing who means it, so that’s one of the criteria too – they have to actually be joking. But even if this were banter . . . How should I know, without knowing the guy?)
As most of you know, I tarried in Saltdean a matter of months . . . Well, just over a year, but I went out so often (to avoid being in The Hovel, amongst other reasons) that it didn’t seem a year. Shortly after I moved in, the neighbours moved out and were replaced by a serious-looking chap whom I imagined to be about my age. He left for work every day at approximately the same time as I did, wearing a suit and driving a nice car. Our conversations consisted mostly of ‘hi’, from one driveway to the other. We had about three longer conversations, one when he introduced himself and I instantly forgot his name, another when he asked if he could fetch some rubbish that had blown from his garden onto my driveway and another when he told me he’d called Environmental Health because he’d seen a rat. The last conversation happened shortly after the discomfiting incident involving Lysistrata (aka Rocky, the chicken) and my pyjamas and I wondered if he was implying the rat problem was my chickens’ fault. But anyway, the point is, I barely knew him, but when the shadowy presence made inappropriate remarks about women, I knew my new neighbour well enough to know it wasn’t him. The guy looked old enough to be his dad, so I made the assumption that he was and I begrudgingly forgave his shocking attitude by attributing it to a generation difference, although I hasten to add that I do not necessarily assume all men of a certain age are sexist. That would make me ageist, which is as bad as any other ‘ist’.
In time, I relocated across Telscombe Tye, from East Saltdean to Telscombe Cliffs and did not expect to see The Misogynist again. However, a quirk of fate brought me to him shortly after my move. It was roundabout Christmas, or maybe New Year and friends had an ‘open house’ one afternoon. I almost bailed, as I still found my initial move from Woodingdean traumatic and attending the open house would mean being in Woodingdean. But I went along because I am very fond of said friends and whiled away a pleasant hour or two there. The gathering comprised a small, select crowd and as the last to arrive, I was introduced to everyone in turn. My eyes lingered on an older chap, because he looked familiar but I could not place him. Conversation continued; one conversation serving everyone, so it was all rather public. Then the familiar-looking chap randomly asked me where I lived. I told him, adding that I’d lived in Saltdean up until very recently. Randomly, he stated my old address, asking if that was where I’d lived?
Then I realised. He was the shadowy presence. The Misogynist.
“It’s you!” I accused, “You made a sexist remark to me!”
Everyone stopped talking. If the anger from that day hadn’t jolted right back into my whole being, I would have felt embarrassed.
He laughed, sheepishly.
Everyone looked at him.
I recounted the story.
It was ok – there was no awkwardness, no embarrassment. I could see contrition all over his face as everyone in the room looked askance at him.
There was playful tut-tutting and he visibly squirmed, just slightly, in his chair. I felt vindicated. I didn’t mind that I didn’t get a proper apology, let alone any grovelling, but I felt satisfied that I’d seen him again and had my opportunity to expose him to his friends. I chatted to him some more after that, about other things like his grandchildren and career choices. It was good to have the opportunity to have a different conversation with him and to experience another facet, other than the sexist one, to his personality. He was lucky that this happened and I was lucky, because it meant that my anger from that day was abated.
I don’t know how he came to be a misogynist. He is not the first and I doubt the last, with whom I will have had dealings in this life. Maybe some men have some evidence on which their sexism is founded, but my guess is that most misogynists have been nurtured along that path, in much the same way that some people are raised to support Man U or to have a disdain for opera.
In the year and a half since soon-to-be ex hubby left me, I have talked to both men and women about men. I have had dealings with a rum bunch of men, frankly. I went on a few dates with a friend shortly after soon-to-be ex hubby left me, but it was too soon and we rapidly returned to ‘friend’ status. I downloaded Tinder and went on one date with computer nerd Andrew who was highly anxious, one date with David the artist who was the quietest person I have ever met and two dates with Duncan the welder who was a bit of a geezer. I quite liked Duncan, but I met Wimbledon Man and had to choose. I chose the latter, as you will know, if you are an avid blog follower of mine and it was clearly a poor choice. After the chicken disaster, I met the Italian and we all know what happened on non-date number three. Again, only if you are a devoted fan. The Dude was the last of the Tinderites and then, after a respectable three month break, the Rastafarian sloped into my life. The Tinderites were not relationships. They were dates. I didn’t even hold their hands (apart from Wimbledon Man and The Dude . . . We might have even kissed a few times). The Rastafarian has had way too much air time (so to speak) in my blog, so we don’t need to revisit that debacle, but suffice to say, that was a relationship.
Also in the last year and a half, I have had a little more time to indulge myself in friendships. Like most people, I have friends across genders and across sexualities. Talking to my friends about relationships has been an interesting pastime, whether male or female, hetero-, homo- or bisexual. I don’t mean to say that it wasn’t interesting before, but when you have been rejected and you have the vantage point of hindsight from which to reflect, it makes for interesting conversations. Being single and ‘dating’ also makes for interesting conversations. I have had some interesting conversations about men, with men, but not if I am on a date with him/seeing him/possibly being about to start a relationship with him. I have had many fine conversations with the latter on plenty of other topics, but the most revealing chats on the subject of the (potentially) more muscly sex, have been with male friends. Their forthright candour has been refreshing and telling. The overriding theory concerning the male psyche has been that men are simpler creatures than women. I am not certain that I fully embrace this theory, but let me continue. The evidence for this, according to several male friends, is that men are principally driven by three factors: food, beer and sex. Again, I am not convinced, but the fascinating part of this phenomenon is that the male friends who have imparted this to me, are not typical of this hypothesis. They are intelligent, sensitive and thoughtful people to whom I would not have attributed this belief. But it is precisely because they said it that I have taken the information away to mull over.
The last year and a half, because of finding myself propelled into the world of dating unexpectedly, and being a rather different person from the teenager I was, the last time I lingered so long in this world, has been a journey. I have uncovered layers of myself as well as other people’s – both old and new friends. I am no misandrist, but I have found myself railing against the male sex in exasperation at times, over mixed messages, game-playing, feeling ignored and other unsatisfactory elements of relationships. My long-suffering boss has borne the brunt of my dissatisfaction, because she is a lovely, wise, listening person and because I see more of her than most people on a day-to-day basis, especially first thing when she is often the first human I speak to, apart from the animals (why, of course they’re human!) I’m sure men suffer from similar feelings of angst, directed against the ‘fairer’ sex. The conclusion that I have reached is this – and it is not particularly remarkable – that men and women are very different. Discuss.