I sometimes wonder whether I should use my acquired wisdom to give other women relationship advice, then I laugh at the very idea of it, the advice should come from the victor and I'm the example the smug relatives cite, to illustrate how it can all go wrong.
My sin? I choose to be alone. In the old days I would have been stoned for it, but now society goes for the softer option of social exclusion, finger pointing and talking behind your back. Other women clutch their husbands arms as you waft by, and nervous men stand rather than risk your pouncing on them should they occupy the seat next to you. I sometimes feel like whispering 'I wouldn't have wanted you 30 years ago, and I don't now, relax'. There are anthropological and psychological reasons for women over 50 no longer needing a mate, but for me the reasons are quite selfish. I have raised the kids, I have looked after my parents, I want time now to focus on my own interests.
Loveable as some of the old rogues are, men are a different species altogether - they need lots of attention and looking after. I don't have the patience anymore. My sanity returned when I reached the menopause, it was as though a light went on, all the fog disappeared, and I finally realised men were more trouble than they were worth*. For me anyway. I don't hate them per se, but there's usually something about them that irritates me intensely. Why, for example do TV Guide disputes with sons turn into showdowns? Eg, films: 27 Dresses .v. Die Hard with a Vengeance? There are no winners in these situations.
The good news for men everywhere is, I've lost me MoJo. Firemen and service engineers can breathe a sigh of relief and enter my home safely - the negligees are packed away in mothballs. I much prefer winceyette and a cup of cocoa these days, which is probably a good thing. My track history with men is terrible - my younger son says I turn them gay. Sadly, he has much ammunition, one poor fella I innocently invited home for a drink, was thereafter seen walking round the town wearing black leather and a dog collar. I hasten to add, I merely gave him an inspirational speech on releasing his inner child. I often felt said son secretly wanted to sabotage my potential romances. When I showed him a pair of pink sparkly stilettos I bought to wear on a date he shook his head smugly and said 'my job is done'. He had a point. Someone who moans about their bleeding feet all night is never going to get another call.
I've taken to blaming hormones for what I like to refer to as 'my rock and roll years' - doing so absolves my conscience and allows me to chuckle at the crazy things I did in the name of love. I have a theory that our brains are overtaken by our reproductive hormones during our fertile years, its as if when we walk up to a bar our oestrogen says hello sailor to the testosterone of the good looking guy standing next to us and the urge to mate becomes overpowering. Its primal, the wire in the brain that says 'no, very bad idea' is overruled by a rush of blood to the naughty bits. Its based on science, and would be a great excuse if you were ever caught in flagrante delicto. Of course it could swing either way, and might result in a very non scientific punch in the eye.
Society has adapted to our need for love, sex, companionship and a macho protector to watch over us as we raise our young. If we are sane enough, we choose a like minded partner with similar goals and the love will evolve into deep lifelong friendship.
However, since time began, most women have made a scramble for the knuckle draggers, the fire starters and the chest pounders, the ones who put all their energy into procreating and making fire water out of rotting grapes. Their wiser sisters meanwhile had the sense to shackle themselves to the more prosperous hunters and gatherers and were moving into bigger caves with all the mod cons.
The more deranged among us want the additional entertainment of someone to fight with. Its as though we have been seduced by the Bronte sisters and Dolly Parton in our quest to find a bad man to stand by. We walk past the sensible fellow in the cardie with the highly polished Cortina to get to the rebel without a clue because he's got the seductive, haunted eyes of James Dean and life in a trailer might be fun.
We kid ourselves that it wasn't our fault and put all the blame on the other half we selected. Yet we return to them time and time again, believing the power of our love can change the ending when all the evidence in front of us, shows that it wont. The reality is, we just can't stay away from the object of our desire, a crazy little voice in our heads keeps singing Maybe This Time. Within 5 minutes of that knock on the door we find ourselves giggling with the enemy over a glass of wine and smooching to Tamla Motown classics. By that stage, the hormones have firm hold of the control panel and they keep pressing the nooky buttons.
I'm not really sure anyone in love is susceptible to advice from those who bear the battle scars. They have to actually burn their fingers before they accept that the fire is hot and repeatedly sticking their hand in there will never change the outcome. The only advice the crazed up lovelorn will accept, is from someone who has reached similar heights of insanity over a another human being. Someone who knows the pain of waiting for a telephone to ring and and who is willing to tag along on night stakeouts. Preferably your best mate, who will pour you gin and sing along with you to 'Never Gonna Dance Again' at 4.00 in the morning, then phone your boss at 9.00 to tell him you ate a dodgy lettuce leaf the night before and if you ever stop throwing up, you might come in for a couple of hours.
Digressing slightly, said boss once sent me a very long letter listing all my faults and threatening me with the sack . It was quite passionate and extremely verbose, but not in a good way. Its amazing how much emotion an angry person can pack into a text without using actual swearwords. Whilst he very much appreciated my showing up now and again, he wondered if I might consider turning up at the same time as everyone else? At that point I sensed a bit of sarcasm and the next 3 pages didn't get any better. It was amazing he found so much to moan about, I was hardly ever there. It was love of course that had taken my eye off the ball, but that's another story for another day.
On the basis of the aforementioned, its probably best I avoid employment advice too.
Did I ever learn anything and more to the point, do I have any sensible advice? Hell yeh, don't let the hand you hold, hold you down**.
*In case he is looking in, this excludes Jack Nicholson, who is an old reprobate I could put up with for a week or two
**author unknown, sadly.