Honestly, I’m Fine With It…

Originally published in U Magazine, August 2007

My good friend, the self-elected font of all knowledge on the subject of women, has surpassed himself again.  You can tell what an expert he is by how sweet he seems when he and his beloved are together – followed by how vitriolic he is about her as soon as they’re apart.  He knows only too well that if he let slip to her any of the subjects he whinges and rants to me about, it might lead to the disintegration of what he freely admits is a rather cushy life.  He reasons that if he didn’t just pretend to be cool with all these things, she’d join the dots and reach the unnecessarily drastic conclusion that they were over.  In spite of his blotto bravado, he’s never left me in any doubt that he completely adores her.

So it’s perhaps as well they don’t have such discussions.  On another of our ‘quick pint’ nights, the ones that tend to last until the next morning, The Expert and I started discussing those things men ‘put up with’ for the sake of peace; we actually had an astonishing number of them in common.  Unfortunately, by the time last orders came around, the sozzled Expert had started going off on one.  Trying to draw a line under our evening’s work, I asked him:  “So, if there was just one thing that you pretend to be OK with that drives you privately mad about her, what would it be?”  He swayed slightly, composed himself as best he could, pointed his finger into infinity and answered, with an expression of arseholed defiance: “The fact that she won’t just GO.”  I decided he’d better stay at mine than night.

The next morning, I fished a wilted beer mat from my jacket pocket and could just about read the list we’d compiled between us…

Your mate and her “issues”…
Now, your friend really is a lovely girl and it’s always nice to see her… but could she maybe arrange to see you when she doesn’t have some raging problem going on in her life?  You don’t see her for weeks on end, when she’s obviously in good form and things are going well – so just exactly what ‘friends’ of hers are seeing the best of her?  As soon as she’s in the midst of one of her ‘issues’ (whether it be with men or work or men or health or men or her flatmate), she suddenly needs you to sort her life out for her.  Stop being so bloody nice to her, for God’s sake – tell her the truth! Naturally, it’s not my place to say anything…

When you wear our clothes…
I wouldn’t complain about this because it started out as a kind of tribute – all that, ‘ooh it smells of you, it’s like hugging you when you’re not there’, etc.  But after a while, when it comes to wearing a shirt I rather fancied wearing tomorrow, it’s almost like you’re saying, “you wouldn’t go outside wearing this, would you?”  Plus, you start to change the shape of our beloved clothes too – what was the point of me getting that slimfit t-shirt when now there are permanent lumps and bumps in it where I don’t actually have any lumps or bumps?  Anyway, the actual issue is – what happened to those sexy things you used to wear to bed?  Are you trying to look and smell like me simply to repel me?

Your hairy legs…
Making an effort all the time is hard work, we know.  It’s perfectly understandable that you might like some time away from your beauty routine, that’s fine.  It’s just that we still hold dear those memories of when we started – the days when you were a baby-soft, satin-smooth love goddess who would envelope us in permanently silken limbs of an evening.  Now that you’re ‘comfortable’ with us, your leg seems to ambush us in the night like an uprooted, animated cactus, sending us flying towards the ceiling in fright.  Obviously we wouldn’t make an issue out of this either…

Your giggly, girlie chats on the phone…
Why did men pay extortionate rates to listen to a woman talking titillating rubbish on the phone in those frustrating days before the internet?  Beats me.  There’s very little more excruciating than listening to a woman natter on the dog.  Inconsequential clap-trap, scurrilous, sanctimonious scandal-mongering, gasps of ghastly gossip-gathering; you’re the modern, living room versions of the old, garden-fence busy-bodies.  And since the proliferation of crap American TV programmes, the language, intonation and exaggerated use of superlatives are all more irritating than ever.  We have to leave the room to let you get on with it.  And to bite our lips.

Your Ex(es)…
Oh, he’s sent you another text, has he?  What does he need your advice on this time?  Why he can’t  sleep, still can’t cook, some new girl on the scene (who probably looks like you anyway) – or maybe a new paint job for his bedroom?  Yes, I know you’ll think I’m being paranoid or just plain jealous for getting irritated by this, that’s why I’m not saying this out loud – but I know boys better than you do and you shouldn’t think there’s anything remotely innocent about him getting in touch at 3am.

Waking us up when you come in drunk
We know we can’t make an issue out of this either – mainly because we do it too, and probably more often.  But really, why is it that you always have some revelation or epiphany while waiting at the taxi rank, which then requires you to wake us up and force us to listen to every slurred detail of your new slant on life?  In three hours’ time, it’ll be replaced by a brain-warping hangover anyway and honestly, we’ll be far more receptive when it’s not being blown at us on a fragrant breeze of second-hand Corona.

Your makeup…
Another point I’m going to keep entirely to myself –  I’ve seen you first thing in the morning, I know you already have a face, why do you insist on then painting a new one on from scratch?  And who exactly is supposed to clean up this mound of powder and other assorted debris you keep leaving behind?  And you call me a nerd for my DVD collection? What about your arsenal of makeup brushes?  Isn’t this little one for archeologists to painstakingly flick pieces of Sahara off ancient Egyptian artifacts?  And what’s this one for – Artexing a ceiling?

Your cat…
What is it about this evil, dusty, smug, idle, volatile, utterly repellent sofa-hogger that you love so much?  And why does he always stare at me like that?  Wait… he knows what I’m thinking, doesn’t he?

Your list-mania…
You are organiser-in-chief and everything is about lists.  Your day is listed for you.  My day is listed for me.  Daily timetable.  Morning checklist.  Grocery list.  Cleaning list.  To do list.  Done list.  Books to read list.  GI index list.  GM index list.  Current danger foods list.  Christmas card list (in September).  Must-watch TV programme list.  Bedtime checklist.  When are you going to stop writing lists and enjoy some form of life?  But obviously I’d never, ever actually say that…

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