Out with the new

DSM is moving into a new phase in her life: ‘new man’ is going to have a name change.

I felt that after six months, ‘new man’ probably does not qualify as ‘new’ anymore. I was going to use his initials, as I have with previous male ‘characters’ but this also didn’t seem right. No, instead he has earned himself a pseudonym. Feeling playful, but forgetful and often uncertain of spellings, I am going to experiment with Asa. Don’t laugh. It’s very obviously not his real name.

So, Asa (apparently it means ‘doctor’ in Hebrew) and I are still together and can still stand the sight of each other which hopefully means he’s sticking around for longer than just a quick bonk and a cup of tea before he slings his hook.

We actually miss each other when we are apart for a few days – a concept I had forgotten, being more familiar with the being-glad-to-get-my-space-back kind of vibe. He even worries about me getting home safely at night (when predecessors wouldn’t even see me to the front door and would have only found out I’d fallen under a truck on my way home if they had tuned into regional TV news). And he’ll labour away down below for however long it takes to get my orgasm because it means so much to him that I get my rocks off as much as him.

So, after years of indifference or shouting and stress, this attentive love and compassion thing is a little alien to me.

And where do we go next? The logical thing would be to consider moving in together, but when you’re in your 20s with no kids or complications, this is much easier; find house/flat, discuss rent and bills, move in.

In middle age, divorced, in possession of two kids, a house filled with junk etc. – not so easy. There’s the practical problem of crap he has accumulated over the decades (books, CDs, furniture, bicycles, motorbike…) plus my crap (books, CDs, furniture, toys, kids…) Do we build a giant shed for all our stuff, toss a coin to decide what to throw out or bury it all in a hole in the garden?

Then there’s him having to get used to living with two kids after years of peace. He has a 23-year-old daughter who lives elsewhere with her boyfriend, while my two are primary school age, so we have around 13 years at least before we’re on our own again (if it doesn’t all drive him out before then). That means 13 years of shouting, fighting, spillages and generally trashing the joint.

There are also those things one doesn’t like one’s partner to know about – those private habits or self-prettifying secrets. The things that will shatter the illusion of loveliness before him. Some of you will understand what I mean. For example, that annoying single coarse hair that appears just under my chin every now and then which I pull out with tweezers late at night, the greyish white knickers I reserve for that time of month or comfy days when I’m alone with a good film and Kettle Chips, the days when I can’t be bothered washing my hair so I screw it up in a scrunchie (heaven forbid!). He may not approve, either, of all the rows of washing I hang in the dining room (we only ‘dine’ there at Christmas) or my addiction to eating peanut butter straight out of the jar…

How about long-term sex? I know everyone says you just have to have lots of variety to keep things alive, but how easy is it to build this into hectic lives? The way some of my days go, he’ll have to give me a quick hump from behind while I wash up, grope me as I fetch a shovel from the shed or ambush me upstairs as I change the sheets.

So, moving into the next phase will take a great deal of thought. I have a couple of female friends who swear that they will never live with a man again. They are both in long-term relationships, but happily living in separate places to their menfolk. And clearly, their menfolk are happy with this arrangement too – there has not had to be any compromise or argument over whose vacuum cleaner works the best or which toaster will be tossed.

But, on those cold winter nights their beds won’t warm up, there’s no one else to take out the trash and if they have an attack of the horn (or does this only happen to me?) and only a male member will satisfy, they are kind of high and dry.

There were two in the bed…

There are some rites of passage/stages in a relationship that most of us only expect to experience within a certain time frame. One is learning to share a bed with another human being.

I am not talking about a bed partner for straightforward bonking (sorry, erotica guys). In fact, the bonking part is straightforward, compared to sleeping. Yes, in my advanced years (compared to you 20-somethings), I have experienced bed-sharing with several attachments over the years, not to mention having to sleep with my mum and daughter at some point or other.

But when you get to my age, the whole sleeping next to a new person thing is a massive challenge.

Will he snore? Will he talk or shout in his sleep? Will he lash out, or swing his limbs across the bed in the early hours of the morning? Perhaps he will sleep walk, re-enacting scenes from ‘The Godfather’ (pick a number). One my ‘bed partners’ in recent years snored to such a degree that, on one particular  sleepless night, I counted four different types of snores, even naming them in my head – there was the ‘loud hog’, the ‘tractor engine’, the ‘irritating mosquito’ and the ‘stop-start motorbike’. So, I am no stranger to the flipside of not sleeping alone.

Even if you do find he is afflicted with none of the above, it dawns on you that you can no longer sleep with a teddy, pile of books or yesterday’s clothes strewn on the bed. If you are like me, you have probably become set in your ways, after a few years of mostly sleeping alone – tissues under your pillow; your favourite pair of fluffy socks and comfy jim-jams; a pile of books and magazines on the floor; a secret supply of buzzing ‘thrill seeker’ devices secreted away in your bottom drawer; a torch to hand and a sturdy hockey stick in the corner for lamping intruders (or is that just me?). In short, it’s a single woman’s bedroom survival kit.

And, if your collection of objects does not faze him, you can’t quite believe what is happening. This week, the new man is ‘living’ with me for six entire days while my children are on holiday with my ex and his girlfriend. I am finding it all very strange, actually accepting that someone wants to prolong the time they spend in my company, never mind in my bed.

I am still waking up at 4am and checking he’s really there, thinking to myself: “Look, a man is in my bed – a real person, not an inflatable one!” I peer over him, watching him breathing in and out, amazed he chose to be here, amongst all my crap and dust, rather than in his clean and tidy room. He is warm, very warm – in fact, my comfy jim-jams are not welcome here, now I have a man-sized heating system in my bed. The socks have disappeared too, in fact all my clothes, seeing as we had our fun before the light was switched off. He is also very long and his legs go diagonal from his side to the bottom corner of my side. He has already complained that my bed is too short, but it’s not the right time to go bed shopping, just yet.

I watch him for another few minutes in the half-light, looking so peaceful, with me, next to me. (Thank God he isn’t a snorer.) Then he twitches, groans and rolls onto his side. I carefully kiss his forehead, lie down and drift off to sleep.

Celluloid or cellulite – part 3: The end of it?

Sandra has been feeling closer to Barry as they have enjoyed their little interludes together – even if it means a quick one when they have both managed to snatch half a day off work, or Barry has snuck into Sandra’s for a quick beer and crisps after her kids have gone to bed. In fact, she thinks about him a lot and suspects she has started to feel the ‘l’ word.

The trouble is that Barry is starting to feel a bit trapped, as Sandra is always texting and calling him to find out when they can next get together. He likes her, but this is starting to feel like the ‘r’ word – something that scares the bejesus out of him, ever since his marriage broke up three years ago, after he found his wife in bed with his next door neighbour. He’s not going down that road again and letting anyone close enough to leave him open to that kind of trauma.

Benedict has similar commitment issues after his ex-wife ran off with the gardener when they were living in his family’s oversized country pile in the prequel to this movie. (Critics panned it when it came out for being ‘too Lady Chatterley’). So he is wondering if he has been spending too much time with Rosetta.

Sandra texts Barry to ask what he’s doing on Saturday, as her kids are staying with the ex and she’d like some quality time with her favourite man. “DVD and a takeaway, if you don’t feel like going to the Sheep’s Leg” she suggests.

But this is the final shove for Barry, as the bleep of his phone interrupts his thoughts. He decides not to respond – his usual way of avoiding a difficult conversation. Sandra gets agitated and as she sits behind her work computer she can’t think about anything else. She pretends to read a report, but is really gazing at her phone, willing it to bleep. When it does she almost jumps out of her chair, before seeing it’s a company asking if she’s had an accident and wants to claim compensation. ““No, but I know someone who bloody-well will soon,” she whispers.

Script writers have made Benedict a bit more open and honest and he phones Rosetta, asking to meet in a quiet café. “I am sorry, darling,” he says, “This is really hard for me to say, but I have to say it. Everything has been happening so fast between us that it has turned me a little dizzy. I need to climb off the carousel and take in some air.”

Rosetta’s perfectly smooth forehead furrows ever so slightly. “What are you trying to say, darling?”

“Sweetheart, you are lovely, gentle and beautiful, but I need to take some time out, to decide what I want. I told you what happened with Cordelia – I need to be sure before I open my heart to anyone else.” Sad-sounding violins and pianos play in the background as Rosetta’s China blue eyes well up with tears.

“You are casting me aside?” She sobs.

“Not quite, darling. You are not an old sweater. This may not be the end. I just need some time out, a break to find myself.”

It is four hours since Sandra sent her text. She is now chewing gum in a fit of frustration to stop herself from eating the entire contents of the office’s biscuit barrel. As five o’clock strikes, she rushes out of work not wanting to talk to anyone and heads for her train. As she sits wedged between two suited men who won’t budge in either direction, she gives in and sends Barry another text, trying to adopt a cheerful, not-in-the-slightest-bit-exasperated tone. “Or we could still just go to the Sheep’s Leg, if you’d prefer that.” She then spends the rest of the evening going from one task to looking at the phone, almost like a religious ritual. Even bathing the kids is punctuated with glances at it, which leaves the screen blurred with condensation.

She goes to bed with the phone on the pillow next to her, just in case Barry feels the need to respond to her at 4am.

On the commuter train again, she cannot bare the waiting. “Barry, are you ok? Starting to worry now.” Still no response. Still no response by lunchtime and Sandra, by now, is on the edge. Then at 3.30pm he texts: “Sorry – can’t do this any more. Don’t want a relationship.”

Sandra re-reads the message three or four times to take it in, even though it’s only ten words. She then runs off to the toilet, locks herself in a cubicle and cries as quietly as she can.

Meanwhile Rosetta is sobbing into her silky dusty pink duvet in her spacious pastel bedroom as piano music plays in the background.

So, readers, is this the end for our foursome? Maybe I’ll return to them at some point to see what happens next…