Tuesday, 9 October 2012

The Cold Stench of Desperation

Today some of you will doubtlessly cry, "Go jump in a lake, Married Lady!" However, I can't help that. My task is to counsel Single girls, whether you like it or not, and enough of you like it to cancel out the you who don't. Dear me, how aggressive I am this morning.

Anyway, some of you may have been in a situation where you have been hit on by a guy who is sooooo desperate for a girlfriend (or something rather more animal and crude) that his anxiety is palpable and you shiver with repulsion and long to flee. And you would flee if you hadn't agreed to rejoin your friends at exactly this spot, and this has been the longest 30 seconds of your life: where are they????

Of course, sometimes it is not horrible, but comical, like the time my friend Trish and I (then in our twenties) were walking through a very snazzy shopping district and an old man in sunglasses drove slowly past us in a red convertible and drawled, "Hi, girls! Say hello to Johnny Hollywood!" How we giggled. Dear me. But I suppose his was too entirely lacking in self-consciousness to be true desperation.

There is a female version of this desperation and, fortunately, nice boys do not pick up on it very easily, although, unfortunately, opportunistic boys do. So do women, so if you are lucky, such horrible moments of weakness are immediately checked by your girlfriends, who hustle you away. If you are unlucky, only female strangers or your female enemies (if you have any) will be around. Ooooh, the horror!

Suddenly I am reminded of my very drunk Contiki tour roommate. I was not supposed to have roommates, having paid the unjust Single Supplement of Doom. But every two days or so, my harried tour guide bribed me with tickets to extra events I hadn't paid for to accept roommates. These were, of course, female roommates, so I didn't mind so much. This particular roommate, who shared my room in Sorrento, was absolutely determined to commit a mortal sin with any random young Italian stranger, but wasn't sure how to go about it. She decided that getting supremely drunk at the tourist bar we were led to was the way forward.

The venue was right, because lo and behold, the place was full of Italian men, including the plainclothes policemen my trip-friend Angela and I were chatting with in our Italian diaspora accents. However, my new roommate's approach was wrong because Italians-in-Italy think public drunkenness absolutely disgusting, especially in women. But she blamed her failure on her inability to speak Italian, even as she batted her eyelashes at the off-duty cops while shouting, "What do you have to do to get [...] in this country?

The younger cops smiled uncomprehendingly. The oldest cop suggested that Angela and I take her back to the hotel. This I did not want to do as one of the younger cops was a dead ringer for Marcus on Babylon 5, only even handsomer, and I was enjoying our conversation. Was I my new roommate's keeper? Secondo me, no.

I forget if I did take her back in the end. I vaguely remember a show of resistance and her trying her luck with the (frightened) boys in our group. More vivid in my mind were her good-hearted wails of "Oh Roomie, I am so proud of you, talking to those guys."

Extraordinary. Anyway, obviously my readers are never going to behave as badly as that. You may, however, be assailed by sudden attacks of crazy and decide to go for broke by doing a number of things you will tell yourself other women do all the time, and it worked out for them.

These include the following:

Deciding that tonight is the night you just get drunk and che sera, sera.

Deciding that old-fashioned traditional girls can and do wear skirts that are five inches shorter than everyone else's, especially with stilettos.

Deciding that it IS okay to wear a Sexy French Maid costume this Hallowe'en because it is Hallowe'en.

Deciding that being drunk makes it okay to tell a male friend everything you think about everything, either because (A) you love him like a brother or (B) he should know the Whole Truth about you if you're ever going to be in a Relationship.

Deciding that the way forward is a make-or-break romantic dinner, including heart-shaped cookies with pink frosting.

I could include a lot more things, but I am now too appalled to go on. The examples of female follies I have encountered are so many, varied and embarrassing, I would have to find a therapist if I listed them all. If you ever suspect, in your heart of hearts, that a bad idea is a bad idea, stop whatever it is you doing, call up your best, bravest and cleverest female friend, and check with her.

Full Disclosure: I was a Jordan Wannabe one recent Hallowe'en, doing my research by staring with great interest at local girls at bus-stops to figure out women of my body type might express their Wannabe-ness. I only got away with it because I never left the house, our guests were all over 40, the fake tan didn't go orange, and, not to sound crushing, I am married. As long as everybody knows we are happily married and we keep off drugs and no-one posts the photos of us dressed as Jordan Wannabes on the internet, married women can get away with stuff like that. Life is seriously unfair.


Abby said...

Yikes this made me cringe! I am still embarrassed of my past (albeit mostly lesser) follies. I think everybody feels this way right?

MaryJane said...

Who is Jordan?

Also, I would add to the list, Calling The Ex. Emailing The Ex. Texting the Ex. Do not do it, do not permit your friends to do it, and take away their access to technology if they are stubborn. They will wake up one day and realize that their desparation is now archived, forever.

If they just cannot help it, give them a piece of paper and a pen and let them write their hearts out. Tell them you will mail the letter. Practice Jesuit styled mental reservation.

Maria said...

Amen MaryJane.

Seraphic said...

Jordan is a British "glamour model". Her real name is Katie Price, and she is or was a hero to all girls who think they can achieve fame, riches and love by appearing topless on page 3 of a British tabloid newspaper and dating football stars.

MaryJane said...

Oh my. Like a real Spice Girl! How fun.

{Am I dating myself?!}

Jessica said...

Totally unrelated, but definitely a "singles" issue -- Can I ask for prayers from the "Seraphic Community" for peace in my apartment? I share a place with two girls, M and T, and tonight (at 10 pm New York time) T and myself are having the dreaded "your boyfriend has stayed with us for a month, this is not OK" conversation with M. I don't want to keep sharing a bathroom and living space with this guy if he's not going to pay rent or at least acknowledging the situation, but I also want to live in a peaceful place! I'm super anxious about the conversation tonight, I hate conflict. Thanks everyone :)

Urszula said...

Good luck, and prayers your way, Jessica! I've been in those sticky roommate situations before, and it's never fun! I hope you find a solution.

Mustard Seed said...

Jessica, I read your comment at literally 10:00pm Eastern time, and sent up prayers for you right away. I hope the conversation smooths the way for more peaceful and fair times in your apartment!

OntarioGal said...

Prayers sent up for you, Jessica! I had to have that dreaded conversation not once but twice with my roommates last spring. It went surprisingly well; I was able to communicate that I really cared about their long-term well-being and though they didn't agree to live morally, they did change the most egregious, just-plain-bad-manners aspects. I wasn't sad to move out, but I'm glad I have been able to continue the friendships after having made clear what I believed. May the Holy Spirit be with all of you!

Jessica said...

Thanks everyone! I think it went ok, the boyfriend is gone for the time being and I think we set up some guidelines for his next visit.

Seraphic said...

I'm glad the talk went well. It occurs to me that Catholic women and women of other faiths might want to put a "No Men Overnight" policy together when they are interviewing potential roommates, with occasional exceptions for brothers and old friends from out of town if given 48 hour notice.

And it doesn't have to be "about" how uncomfortable it is for women practising chastity to live with women who quite obviously aren't in your very own living space. It's about not having to live with men one didn't sign up to live with.

Urszula said...

My roommate and I talked about a No Men Overnight Policy the first time we met to figure out if we were compatible. We are both Catholics and on board with the whole chastity thing (or at least trying) and had both had terrible experiences with roommates bringing their partners (or other more random people) home. In fact, she had had to amend a "No Boyfriend Overnight" policy with her previous roommate who hadn't ever brought over her boyfriend - but had invited many other strange men.

It helps when you can find someone of similar moral convictions - or at least, who values peace of mind. There's a US website called 'roommate matcher' or something of sort where you can specify even such details, and find people who are compatible.

Also, DC young Catholics have a facebook group for people looking for roommates. It's been enormously helpful - and every city with a large Catholic population could benefit from one.