Friday, 5 November 2010


Okay, so far the internet dating thing hasn’t really worked out. Yes, I have a few dates lined up but, really I don’t expect anything to come of it. The thing is, to borrow a cliché, it’s not them, it really is me. I don’t mean that in a pathetic ‘Oh my god, I’m so ugly/fat/dull that nobody will ever want me’way, it’s just that if I take a long hard look at the evidence, I’m not in actuality, relationship material - perhaps because on some level I don’t really want to be. I mean, obviously, I want all the nice bits, but like the illusion of celebrity, the price is too high for the return. I’d like to have the fame equivalent of being the least attractive one in a successful band that no-one takes any notice of. They get all the good stuff like the money, the groupies and the lifestyle without being hounded by the press and photographed with a hang-over. Similarly, I want to be in an exclusive relationship with all the romance and fun stuff but not one where I have to actually, well… see very much of them.

My first boyfriend and I had it sussed really; we spent the majority of our time ‘together’ with him on the (then very popular) Play Station while I read or watched videos. Sometimes I wouldn’t even notice he wasn’t in the room anymore. I’d be talking to myself for a good ten minutes before I’d hear the familiar blip blip of his favourite game coming from the bedroom and realize I was sans company.

We lasted an astonishing ten years, not despite leading separate lives but because we led separate lives. I didn’t know he’d finished with me until I heard he was engaged. I thought the flat seemed a bit empty but I put that down to the cat dying.

I told Jane my dilemma. Of course, like most things that occur to me, she had already not only considered it, but come up with an answer to the predicament.

“I’ve got great idea how to deal with this common snag to relationships,” she assured me.

“I hope it’s better than your low ebb theory,” I replied sulkily.

Jane’s low ebb theory works on the premise that if you want a man who in his right mind would never really want to get tied down, find them when they are not in their right mind (i.e., the low ebb). Lusting after the caring, hunky ex-model from the gym? Desperately dreaming about your accountant with the PHD who works for the RSPCA in his spare time? Easy. Seek him out when he’s about to be made redundant or his best mate’s just emigrated to Outer Mongolia. Before he can say ‘But I only usually date 6 foot anorexics with huge inheritances’ you’ve got the ring and your first child is on its way. He won’t leave you when his life’s back on track because he’s just so damn sensitive. Jane likens it to getting that dress you always wanted in a sale rail because the zip’s broken.
“But then of course you go home, mend the zip and end up with the bargain of the decade!” she says, without the merest hint of irony.

I have to give Jane her due, it’s a feasible idea but the problem I have with it is that I don’t want the hunky man purely by default, I want him because he actually likes me, job or no job, best mate or no best mate.

“The low ebb theory was designed for catching eligible men, this one however helps you avoid having to spend too much time with him once you’ve got him, therefore leading to the seemingly ever elusive objective, the ‘happy relationship’”she replied, “I call it the ‘Services solution’.”

“Well, I’d never envisaged having to actually pay for it, I mean indirectly is one thing but… I suppose I could cut down on buying shoes…”

“Not that sort of service you raving nympho! Men in the services. Army guys, air force hunks, marines. Think about it: you really do have the best of both worlds. He’s back at home. You spend a wonderful few days together, can’t wait to finally see each other, you look stunning because you’ve spent fourteen hours getting ready and haven’t eaten for 3 weeks, he’s in awe of your natural beauty. Then just as you’re beginning to find his ‘endearing idiosyncrasies’ well, just extremely fucking irritating quite frankly, he’s off for another seven weeks, leaving you to build him up in your head again and him to miss you until the next time.”

“If it’s such a great idea, why didn’t you find a man in the services?” I queried.

“Because by the time I figured it out, I was married to Tom. A low ebb marriage I hasten to add.”

“Really? I thought he seemed okay. Didn’t seem like he was on the low ebb to me.”

“Not his low ebb darling. Mine.”

“Oh yes, I remember now. You’d put on about 12 pounds because you were so depressed after being kicked off that film-making course for sexually harassing the tutor.”

“It was 7 pounds and for god’s sake, I was flirting. Honestly, since when has flirting been an expellable offence?”

“Jane, you asked him what the title of the film ‘Baise Moi’ meant.”

“Yeah, so what?”

“And when he told you, ‘it means “fuck me”’, you said, ‘I know, I just wanted to hear you say it.’”

“Well, I did…” Jane said with a dreamy look in her eyes.

“Rumour has it that by pure coincidence you simultaneously dropped your pen just as you were saying it.”

“Who told you that?”

“I can’t remember now, I think it might have been Mark Philips.”

“That makes sense, he always was a stirrer and a gossip. He never liked me you know, told me I was a men-obsessed, scheming lookist. All I pointed out was that the saying ‘youth is wasted on the young’ should be ‘youth is wasted on the ugly’. I think it was a very shrewd observation.”

“So, anyway, what happened to him in the end anyway?”


“No, the guy you sexually hara…flirted with.”

“He fell in love and got married. Apparently they’re very happy” she said, very matter-of-fact.

“Low ebb?”

“No, nothing like that.”

“And you say they’re happy?”

“So I’ve heard.”

“And they see each other more than twice a year?”


“With no game-plan, no subterfuge, no permissible absenteeism? She isn’t a traveling sales-woman, an airhostess or something?” I found myself asking, looking for the inevitable rub.

“No, they simply fell in love. They spend time together, they talk, they laugh. Plain old simple l-o-v-e.” she said and looked at me, rolled her eyes and sighed.

“Honestly, Zoe, it does happen sometimes you know.”