Update #87

What I wanted this week was this…


What I got this week, was this…

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As much as I would have loved to have spent many lazy mornings lounging around in bed with a cuddly hunk, followed by afternoons in the sunshine reading books, eating yummy treats and shopping for lingerie and shoes, life had other things in store for me this past week.

I have been struck down with the dreaded man flu and the only companion in my bed has been some snotty tissues and a laptop that has overdosed on Netflix. My paperwork, both domestic and business, has been piling up and pure fear has stopped me from checking my work emails. This, however, is not as bad as it may seem. I am grateful to only be suffering with a cold. With all the diagnosis’ and ailments thrown at me over the last few months, a cough and a blocked nose is actually a blessing and I am pleased to report that I have healed perfectly after my laparoscopy. Whatever the surgeons did to ease my painful endometriosis symptoms seemed to have worked, for now.

The washing up, and all other domestic chores, are piling up and the shithole I am currently living in is quite the sight to behold. Although I fear an E-Coli outbreak any moment now, I must admit it is not the man flu that has let my home turn into a giant health and safety breach. I am actually on strike. My son and Weston have been taking advantage of my motherly nature recently and, in order to teach them both a valuable lesson, I have refrained from doing anything remotely domesticated for the last few days. This strike is set to continue until the end of the week and, although they have both been avoiding the dirty dishes in the sink and have not yet discovered where the vacuum cleaner is kept, Weston has become quite the little laundry maid and my son has taken it upon himself to ensure the cupboards are stocked with the necessities and the rubbish bags are taken outside. My plan was for them to realise just how much I do for them, by not doing anything, and for them to consequently be more grateful and not take me for granted. Sadly, the fact that I changed the WiFi password to simulate what happens when I don’t pay the bills, is much more likely to be the motivation behind their reluctant domestic actions. That, and the fact that neither of them have any clean pants.

I also have an unexplained cut on my bottom lip. My guess is that this occurred during one of my recent, vivid dreams. I don’t know why my dreams have turned into these very realistic, surreal experiences, but I’m going to put it down to the vast amount of medication I am on and the slight fever accompanying my man flu. Over the last few nights, my dreams have seen me going on a Knight’s quest with Slim, having some uneventful and disappointing sex with Jason ‘Wee Man’ Acuna, watching my window cleaner run for Leader of UKIP by presenting the nation with some pretty piss poor moped stunts and having a full blown argument about flower pressing with Stephen ‘Steve-O’ Glover while both completely naked. As an insomniac, I am just grateful to have gotten some rest, as well as some entertainment!

On the plus side, a nice boy gave me some throat lozenges and wished me a speedy return to full health this week. Having seen a status about my ill health on Facebook, he posted said lozenges through my door with an accompanying post-it note that read,

‘Thanks for having me round at the weekend. Hope you feel better soon. xxx’

I met him at the weekend when in the local pub with Blue, Billy, Handsome, Jiminy and the rest of our motley crew. Although he is well known to them, I can’t recall ever meeting him before. As the party left the pub and landed, as usual, back at my house, this nice boy, who we shall call Tasha’s Ex (for that’s exactly who he is) was particularly attentive and keen to engage in conversation with me for most of the evening. The house got pretty crowded that night, what with Handsome pulling a webcam pornstar and Weston turning up with his sound system and a group of mates. When the party died down, around 11am on the Saturday morning, Tasha’s Ex, Jiminy and I curled up on the sofa under the duvet and binge watched every episode of the new Scream TV series on Netflix. Tasha’s Ex had insinuated he wanted to lick my pussy, but I had declined his offer. I don’t know why. He’s kind of cute and I haven’t had sex in ages, but it just didn’t feel right. I blame the Cricketer. He refuses to leave my head, or my Facebook inbox, despite my protests that absolutely nothing will happen between us while he still has a girlfriend.

So there it is, my week in a lurgy filled nutshell. Today I need to prize myself from the comfort of my king size bed as, although I am happy to let home life and work take a back seat for a little while, my recent leap back into the world of education is not one I am willing to sacrifice. I have to practice my Spanish, ‘Estoy aprendiendo a hablar espanol’ and I am thoroughly enjoying my course on Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL). Luckily, neither of these things currently require me leaving the house and braving the miserable, rainy October weather.

Sex: 0

Drugs: 0

Alcohol: A lot…but only on Friday night when socialising with friends, and it didn’t lead to any bad decisions being made, so I’m counting that as a win!

Meat: Still veggie, still proud!

Caffeine: 0…I’m going to pretend that the caffeine in cold and flu remedies doesn’t count.

Mental Health: Really, really good :)

Physical Health: Mediocre, but with no complaints :)

Lola’s Top Ten

There are over 660 posts on this blog. That’s more than 660 times when I’ve felt my life has been so amusing, or so disastrous, that I should share the hilarity and the drama with the thousands of you, dear readers.

True to it’s title, Dating Dramas of a Thirtysomething started off as a way to catalogue my dating disasters while searching for some acceptance and solidarity among like minded singletons. Over the last three years it has evolved into a complete overview of every aspect of my life; parenting, mental health, friendships and career, as well as continuing to document how inept I am at relationships. I’ve tried purposefully to avoid expressing much of a political or religious opinion, although my liberalism may have shone through in some posts. Mostly, this blog has been the best therapy I could ever have had and I thank you, my support group members, for enjoying this experience with me.

I am often questioned about the level of honesty in this blog. Is it all true? Do those kind of men really exist? Do I find it difficult to write the ‘sex stuff’? How can I talk so freely about my vagina? The answer to all of this is that, yes, it is all true and I find it very easy to write about all of my fun experiences. The lower points in my life are the ones I find more challenging to write about, most probably because they are experiences I would rather forget but know I must face eventually. The bad memories always seem to have more of an impact on our psyche than the good ones.

As a way of showing my growth as a blogger, and a writer, I am taking this opportunity to share with you my top ten list of posts from this blog. They are the ones I am most proud of or the ones that touch the very core of who I am. Some are darker than others, prompted and driven by depression and pain; ironically a time when I feel I write with fluidity and passion. Some just make me smile, as I recall the event itself or arrogantly laugh at my own sense of humour. So, after trawling through over 600 posts of inane ramblings and overly emotional tripe, I present to you the trip down memory lane…

The Quest For The Perfect Vajayjay – This post just makes me smile. I remember being in a particularly cheeky, mischievous mood when I wrote it. When Joan Rivers died, I was pleased to have immortalized my own memories of her in this post. 

Miserable Bitch Alert – As the title suggests, this post isn’t all fluffy kittens and rainbows, but it was the first time I attempted to be open and honest about my history with depression and attempts at suicide. It was the beginning of a healing process and because of that, this post will always be significant.

The Date With Mr. Bump – An early blog entry, I was experimenting with writing styles when I wrote this and reading it back now, I’m pleased with how it turned out. It almost perfectly captures the awkwardness of that date and I can’t help but breathe a sigh of relief that I escaped unscathed!

I’ll Always Be Loyal To Joey – This post put me in real life contact with the adorable Joey Brass. How could it not be one of my absolute favourites?!

What Women REALLY Want – This post appears to have resonated with a lot of people and for that I am truly grateful. It is so easy to get hung up on whether our partners have the right career, are ambitious enough, motivated enough, goal orientated, family friendly, financially stable etc etc, but this post shows that actually, none of that stuff really matters. The positive response I got after initially writing it showed we are not as materialistic as we think we are; we’re far happier when people make us feel good about ourselves and valued, regardless of our bank balance.

Sex & The Single Mother – This should be a public service announcement. It is absolutely vital that single mother’s know how to prioritize their own needs on occasion and, if you are a single mum, the honesty of this post is going to resonate deeply with you!

My First Vibrator – This story is just funny as hell. It’s also true and I still cringe when I think about it.

The A To Z Of Dating Me – I think everyone should write an A to Z guide for dating them. It not only gives a useful heads up to any potential life partners, but it’s a great way to figure out what your own key elements are and what you really want out of life. 

James Franco Saved My Life – This post prompted a real life conversation between Mr. Franco and I about the nature of mental health and the healing properties of a good book. It also led to the day I met my fabulous gal pal Amber and was, temporarily, rendered utterly speechless…A moment that needs to go down in the history books because it almost never happens!

A Letter To My Younger Self – I wish, oh how I wish, I could have read this when I was just 17.

Of course, according to my blog statistics, my most popular post of all time is 10 Reasons To Suck Dick. Although not one of my particular favourites, I cannot deny that it brings thousands of readers to my blog every week, so for that reason alone it gets it’s own little bonus mention right here. Seriously though people, you’re that obsessed with blow jobs? Really?


Auntie Football


My godson, Jemima’s boy, calls me Auntie Football, on account of how eager I always am to kick a ball around with him. He is bright and cheeky and just the sound of his voice brings warmth into my heart. The only boy I love more in the world than him is my own son. A few other children of close friends call me Auntie Lola. I’ve seen them grow from newborn babies to capable, polite young adults with the entire world at their feet. The title of auntie is one I cherish and believe I have earned by spending time with these funny little people and taking an active interest in their futures and wellbeings.

At 2am this morning, Mother called to tell me that Sister had given birth to a baby boy. As I struggled to keep my eyes open, she proceeded to tell me the new child’s name, his weight and how much hair he had. She relayed all she knew about the labour; information she’d prized out of the new father when he had called to deliver the good news. Mother was obviously excited and that is understandable.

‘Isn’t that a lovely name!’ She cooed, ‘they say he looks just like his daddy’.

I oo-ed and ahhh-ed in all the correct places.

‘And you finally get to be Auntie Lola! Isn’t that wonderful!’

This is where my fake enthusiasm began to fade. Now, I am not trying to be a cold, heartless bitch. I am genuinely thrilled that Sister and baby are healthy, that my son gets his first cousin and that Mother can excel at the grand-parenting role again just like she did with my own boy. I just do not see how the birth of this child will ever bear any relevance to my life,

‘No, I’m not,’ I said to Mother, my tone a littler sterner than I had intended, ‘I’m not his auntie. I’m never going to see him. He won’t call me anything’.

Mother spluttered through the awkwardness at the other end of the phone, failing to catch any words that may make this conversation a little easier, ‘Well, don’t be like that now,’ was all she could.

‘Sister and I haven’t spoken in over two years. You have said yourself that she doesn’t seem to miss me or care what I am up to, so there is no point pretending she’s going to put me on the babysitting rota or give me invites to school plays’.

A faint hum sound came down the line, Mother’s acknowledgement of the truth that I’d spoken.

‘Well I’m sure I’ll babysit at some point and can bring him to see you,’ she bargained.

She didn’t seem to understand that casually bumping into this child at family gatherings wouldn’t be enough to develop a relationship between us. I would not be this boy’s auntie in anything other than a biological link and that was something I would rather dismiss and move on from, than wallow in and make life a little sadder for myself.

After arranging for Mother to take my son for the weekend and introduce him to his new cousin, I made my excuses and hung up the phone. I took a quick mental assessment. No, I wasn’t being dramatic or over emotional. Yes, it was rational to presume I would never have any bond with this baby. No, family wasn’t always about blood. My reaction was logical. Yet, there was still this little lump in the back of my throat, this quiet sadness that I would never see my nephew giggling because of something Auntie Lola had done, that I would never be able to spoil him on his birthdays or at Christmas, that he would never ask to come and play at my house like Jemima’s boy does.

‘You OK Mum?’ my son asked, peering his head around the door.

He’d woken to the sound of me chatting on the phone and was curious as to who I would be speaking to so early in the morning. I told him all about Sister’s baby and the plans for him to visit at the weekend.

‘Cool name,’ he said, So are you OK?’

He knew what would be bothering me. For a sixteen year old lad he is damn perceptive. I explained how his grandmother had tried to pin the auntie label on me and that it had felt somewhat cruel, knowing that I would never actually get to fulfill the role.

‘I’ll make you a cup of tea Mum,’ he offered, knowing full well that a British woman can cope with most things when shes nursing a hot mug of tea in her hands, ‘Sure you’re OK?’

I smiled and pointed at the framed photograph of my godson that sits beside the fireplace,

‘I’m fine,’ I grinned, ‘Like anything could be better than having that little man call me Auntie Football anyway!’

Knowing When To Fall

He did it again. I was focusing on my health, my son, my career, my self-development. I neither needed or wanted a man taking up space in my head and had successfully purged all thoughts of them from my mind. Then he was there, again. Stood before me, in my own home, looking at me as if the universe began and ended with me. Shit was about to get complicated.

The Cricketer text me late on Saturday afternoon, curious about my plans for that evening. It took me by surprise. He wasn’t the last person I expected to hear from, but he was pretty damn close. I explained that I was having a few people over to help celebrate my son’s 16th birthday and, as a significant character from his childhood, he was welcome to join us for a few drinks. An hour later the Cricketer was sat opposite me, nestled into the green leather of my grandfather’s Chesterfield armchair, a can of dark cider in his hands. He was asking me to talk to him.

‘I miss talking to you,‘ he said, ‘I love talking to you’.

We drank, we shared joints and we talked about all the recent events in our lives. I told him how Mr. Surprise had turned out to be nothing more than an irritating headache and he told me the reasons behind his sudden move back to his mother’s, the older girlfriend in tow. We discussed the Syrian refugee crisis, the election of Jeremy Corbyn and the benefit system. I told him about the books I had read and he mocked my football team’s recent mediocre performances. Then he did what he always does, he brought up our past,

‘Do you remember when you said we should go for lunch?’ he asked, a cautious smile appearing on his soft, bearded face.

I remembered. I had suggested it after our last dalliance, my theory then being that if we nourished our friendship, in public places during daylight hours, we would lose the magic and mystery of one another and no longer want to tear each other’s clothes off, an action that would surely lead to trouble with his long term partner, sooner or later. He had declined my offer, claiming that it wouldn’t be fair on said partner. Pretty sure fucking me the previous weekend wouldn’t have gone down with said partner either, a point I was quick to make with him at the time. It seemed that the Cricketer was now having a change of heart about a casual, lunching friendship, but I instinctively knew he had reached this conclusion with very different aims in mind,

‘It wouldn’t stop at lunch,’ I said, pouring myself another drink and doing anything I could to avoid his eye line.

‘It might,‘ he grinned.

‘No, it wouldn’t.’ I argued, ‘We keep gravitating towards each other, regardless of the consequences. Its gone too far too many times already because we just can’t help ourselves’.

The Cricketer wasn’t going to give up without a fight,

‘Well yeah, but that’s why I want to see more of you. It was good between us before, and its like everything has gone full circle because it’s that good again,’ he stumbled, ‘those months when I was with you were some of the best I’ve ever had, I was better with you’.

It was good before, he wasn’t lying. And we do seem to have found our way back to that point, that connection. If anything, it feels more intense than before, but the elephant in the room was quite blatant. He has a long term girlfriend. Who he lives with. At his mother’s.

‘I’m single. I can do whatever I want, whenever I want, with whoever I want,’ I explained, this time making sure my eyes were firmly locked on his, ‘I have nothing to lose in this situation. If you want me, want to spend more time with me and see what this is, then all the risk is on you.’

He nodded his acknowledgment enthusiastically, then turned to me with a look of expectancy. I didn’t have the answers he was looking for. I couldn’t give him a step by step guide on how to cheat on his missus and figure out whether or not I was ‘the one’ after all. Anything that happened from here was all down to him,

‘The ball is in your court,‘ I shrugged.

We talked idly for a little longer, peppering our chatter with hints of our desires, our feelings and our doubts. As was becoming a tradition for us, we discussed our ideal relationship and our dream futures, mentally checking off the list the areas where we were both fulfilling or lacking. Somewhere in my head it felt as if we were laying down terms of a contract, me expressing my need to prioritize my wanderlust and humanitarian causes, him promising to accept the importance of my male friends without jealousy or prejudice. Him wanting more to life than quiet nights in with the X Factor and a takeaway, me needing someone strong enough to pick me up when I fall and brave enough to take me down when I soar into crazyville. He was ticking a whole load of my mental boxes and I could see I was doing the same for him.

He left my home in the early hours of the morning, a decision he had reached with much painful deliberation and great regret. I didn’t want him to go. I had missed talking to him as much as he had and now that he had reignited a firework of emotions between us, I loathed to let it walk away. We stood at the front door with our arms wrapped around each other, my head buried into his chest and his breath gently catching wisps of my hair. When he kissed me I could feel my heart weeping, as if every touch of his lips, every movement of his tongue, was making a million of my most humblest wishes come true. His scent wrapped itself around me, seducing me as the pressure of his body against mine toyed with my need to melt into his very bones.

I cannot explain the effect The Cricketer has on me. I cannot understand it. He’s not my usual tall, dark, hairy and tattooed type, so I cannot say I am being swayed by lust and a naughty daydream. We do not share similar histories or family relationships, we do not share common interests. Our moral guidebooks are noticeably out of sync and our political opinions may as well be sat on opposite back benches throwing piles of dog shit at each other. On paper, The Cricketer and I do not, and cannot, work. All we have is this mutual acceptance, this way of talking about things that transcends speech and language and this innate longing that, although suppressible, doesn’t actually seem to want to die.

‘We can’t do just lunch,‘ I said as I motioned to close the front door behind him.

Stood in the light of the street lamp, he looked back over his shoulder, a beaming smile on his face, ‘we’ll talk in the week,’ he said, before stealing one last kiss from my wanton lips.

I know this choice I am making is a bad one, but it doesn’t even feel like a choice. I am being guided by a force stronger than my own will or my own logic. I am a willing lamb to the slaughter and even though I know what lurks at the bottom of this dark depth, I am powerless to prevent myself from falling at its mercy. I will let this play out. I will allow myself the fantasy of someone adoring me, wanting me, loving me. I will fall into the warm, fuzzy feelings and allow myself the joy of wallowing in their euphoria; the memories of. such a feeling to later come back and flog me repeatedly during future times of woe and self-doubt. I will throw myself upon the gauntlet and prepare for the inevitable, gut wrenching pain. It will happen. I will break. I will hurt beyond measure but then I will use the fresh new scars like a road map to guide me back up. It is a process, one that I accept not by offer of a choice, but by an intrinsic, animalistic instinct to grow and survive. Like a junkie hooked on the promise of a happily ever after, the ‘what ifs’ taunt me. I chase that fairy tale ending mindlessly, knowing the devastation of the consequences and bracing myself for the price I will have to pay. I am as prepared as I can ever be, so all there is left to do now, is fall…

Only, I can’t. He is not single. Somewhere, buried under past hurts and regrettable mistakes, I can see that I am worth more than what he is currently offering me. I am here, teetering on the edge with my wings outstretched but for the first time in my life I feel the need to play it by the books. My desire to start anything between The Cricketer and I on the right note, is as strong as my desire to be near him in the first place. I have given myself over to instinct and emotion, allowing myself to be lured into this fantasy he has created for us, and so it is only right that I allow those same instincts and emotions to guide me in the morality of the situation. I’m not concerned about the girlfriend, I don’t know her and she has no bearing on my life, but I know that secrecy and games ruined the Cricketer and I in the past and I will not start us off on that same road. My instincts and emotions are simply telling me to wait and let fate take its course. Maybe this period with The Cricketer will blow over, maybe it will come to fruition in another twenty years, maybe he’ll convince me marriage is a good idea after all and drag my reluctant arse down the aisle, but truthfully, it doesn’t feel like the outcome is in either of our hands. I will fall, eventually, one day, for someone. If The Cricketer has taught me anything, it is that I am still capable of letting a man fill my head with dreams and my stomach with butterflies. That seems as good a start as any.

E is for Endometriosis

On Monday I underwent a laparoscopy that confirmed I have endometriosis. In fact, I’m riddled with it. For those who are as ignorant to this condition as I was only a few weeks ago, here are the basics, in a very simplified Idiot’s Guide to Endometriosis…

  1. Cells inside the uterus are designed to shed every month, ergo that horridly messy and inconvenient thing us women call a ‘period’.
  2. Sometimes, those dastardly cells escape from the confines of the uterus and decide to go on a little rampage around the body. They’ve been known to travel as far as the lungs, eyes and brain, but are more commonly found around the bowel and reproductive organs.
  3. These AWOL cells continue to behave as they did inside the uterus and shed every month, however without actually having anywhere to shed to, they just cause extreme pain and inflammation. They also leave a path of scar tissue in their wake, creating a vine like effect that can damage the internal organs and cause infertility.
  4. There is no way to harness these wayward cells and send them back where they belong, nor is there a way to stop them escaping in the first place.
  5. 1 in 10 women have endometriosis.
  6. Symptoms include: pelvic pain, depression, fatigue, heavy and painful periods, low immune system, irritable bowels, pain during or after sex, bloating and nausea.
  7. There is no known cause for endometriosis and there is no cure.
  8. More accurate and extensive information can be found here: www.endometriosis-uk.org

My particular brand of ‘endo’, has attached itself to my left kidney, wiping out a prior diagnosis of Chronic Kidney Disease, and to my bowel, obliterating the ‘remember that time you abused laxatives? Well now its fucked you!’ diagnosis. I’ve escaped the painful sex symptom, but been lumbered with pretty much everything else. It is kind of a blessing to know that all my physical ailments can be attributed to just one illness. Before, I thought bits of me were giving up one after the other, an inevitable process of old age expedited by a youth of wildly irresponsible behaviour, but instead, its just my uterus trying to suffocate me from the inside out. The curse element of this diagnosis, as if the chronic pain isn’t enough, is that there is no cure, only management. The lovely medical professionals (who now call me by my first name and no longer need to ask which department of the hospital I am heading to) assure me that they can offer me sufficient painkillers to dull the sensation of having my insides ripped out by Freddie Kruger every month. They can also offer hormone therapy and surgery for when the scar tissue gets a little too clingy. Apparently falling pregnant can also help, although I have no idea how you manage that after its attacked your fertility. I wasn’t actually planning on having any more children and I sure as hell am not having one just to save on sanitary products and multipacks of codeine. Overall, this is a shitty diagnosis brought about by a whole load of prodding and poking that has ultimately resulted in absolutely no solution whatsoever. Endometriosis sucks.

Disclaimer: I know I should be grateful that its not cancer. I know I am lucky to live in a country where this condition can be treated and will not debilitate me too much. I know I shouldn’t be such a miserable, grumpy cow, but I have a sore belly full of stitches and live with boys who have no idea just how painful this shit is, so I’m going to wallow in self pity for a while, OK?! Normal service will resume shortly…

‘Ave A Word!

I, Lola of Dating Dramas of a Thirtysomething, need to have a word with myself. A very serious, epiphany inducing word with myself.

I was doing so well when I first turned to secular Buddhist practices to calm my crazy head. Vegetarian, no drugs or alcohol, no caffeine, no sex, daily meditation, all these things added up to create a calmer and more focused Lola. Events and tragedies that would have broken me a year ago, now passed without so much as a flinch. I felt stronger and was enthusiastic about planning a future for myself.

Gradually, I began to have the odd drink, the odd line. Then I began to have the odd cock. Slowly but surely, the cracks began to appear in my clean living lifestyle and the stability I had been feeling mentally began to crumble. It wasn’t the drugs or the alcohol that really did any damage, it was the cock. The men. It’s always the bloody men.

When sober, I can see that I deserve a man of equal intelligence, someone who can make me laugh, feel safe and accepted. I can see with crystal clarity that the type of man I deserve is not likely to be a twentysomething with an enthusiastic penis and key skills that stretch no further than scoring good cocaine and licking pussy. When sober I see the world of delights embodied in mature men, men with accomplishments and a greater insight into life. I like that Lola. The one who looks further than the weekend, further than the next fun time, further than the temporary satisfaction of a mindless hook up.

Inebriated Lola, however, lacks self-esteem and does not believe these good, maturer men would even look twice at her. They see her as trouble, a handful, at best complicated, eccentric and intimidating. Inebriated Lola thinks that if she is to get any attention from the opposite sex then it has to be the younger men who view her as a challenge, a risk, an adventure. The younger ones flock around me likes bees to a honey pot and it is in this world where I get some validation, some reassurances of my worth as a human being and as a woman. It’s not ideal, it’s not healthy, but it feels better than being lonely and unwanted.

I’m sober again now, after a few weeks of metaphorically jumping off every possible cliff without a parachute, and the fog that lifts in my mind reveals no long-lasting confidence boost or new-found lust for life, but more questions and regrets. I regret what happened with the Cricketer, not just on his birthday weekend, but all those years ago when I let inebriated Lola make immature and desperate choices. I do not think I will ever get over the guilt I feel for the way I treated him. I don’t think I will ever truly stop kicking myself for not realising then what a great man he is and grabbing hold of him for dear life. Our recent indiscretion only reminded me of what I cannot have, not specifically with him but with any man. He’s in my head a lot recently and as much as I hate it, I see the torment as my well deserved karma.

I also need to have a word with myself about Noel. I cannot be near that man without my head swirling with ‘what ifs’. Inebriated Lola can cope just fine; she gets drunk and flirts with something inappropriate as a form of distraction. Sober Lola can’t do that. She doesn’t want to. Instead, my sobriety highlights my mistakes and creates more self-doubt than I am capable of handling. When Robyn told me I made Noel feel uncomfortable and that he wasn’t remotely interested in me, I felt like such an idiot. Embarrassed, humiliated, ashamed. I thought too much of him to ever want him to look at me in the way Robyn had suggested. Those feelings remain, even now. Noel denies ever telling Robyn anything of the sort and yet, when I’m near him, I still feel like I’m pushing myself on him, that even talking to him for too long is going to make him feel uncomfortable. I precariously balance my desire for more with the guilt I feel at putting him in that awkward position.

My head doesn’t get messed up when I see the Tattooed One anymore. We have moved into a new plain of friendship that is both comforting and secure. I’m actually really happy about it. The One That Got Away has changed so much over the last few years, deteriorating underneath misery, anger, drug addiction and alcoholism. Rumours suggest he has all but officially moved into his garden shed, spending as little time with his wife as possible. My head doesn’t get messed up about him anymore because he is not the man I fell in love with anymore. Mr. Surprise never got close enough for me to get messed up over him. I saw pretty quickly that he is a performer. He is always on show, never truly relaxing and being himself, preferring to present a version of himself that he deems most attractive or attention worthy. His switching between total adoration and complete apathy is all a game to ensure I, and most probably many other women, remain dangling; hungry for the chase and desperate for the capture. That may work on young, competitive 18 year olds, but a woman in her thirties needs stability in a relationship, needs to know the man is genuinely interested in her. Mr. Surprise is not capable of that and I do not regret letting him go. None of these men bother me anymore. I accept them for who they are and the limitations on my relationships with them. But the damn Cricketer and Noel I just cannot simplify enough to calm my head.

Jemima has been on a decorating and renovating mission of late, staying up until the early hours of the morning painting walls and coordinating soft furnishings. She says she feels an overwhelming calmness in the cleanliness and propriety of well organised rooms. I think she’s just distracting herself from the truth about Perry. Either way, she seems happier and I know how well a good project can focus the mind and help prioritise the inner voices. So that’s what I’m doing. In order to shun the two remaining men in my head, as well as give myself a purpose for battling my health conditions, I have turned to one of my greatest loves, education. A course in teaching English as a foreign language, as well as Spanish lessons, will combine with my work schedule and my parenting responsibilities to ensure that I have no time for men, or the drugs and alcohol that leads me to them. It matters not whether the men are older or younger, if the Cricketer forgives me or if Noel is disgusted by my presence, when I have something productive and beneficial to focus my attentions on.

I used to run away from problems and emotional dilemmas by reaching for the self-destructive behaviours like a comfort blanket. I am fully aware that burying my head beneath a pile of text books on a mad quest for more qualifications, more legitimising myself as a worthwhile human being, is also a form of running away, but this is the best I can do with my limited emotional maturity. When I feel weak, when I want to go to the pub and sit at the bar getting more and more drunk with Noel, or when I want to invite the Cricketer over for our traditional horror movie fest, I will have to keep reminding myself that my goal is to improve myself instead of making life uncomfortable for others.

The Date With The Book Nerd

This was going to be the most perfect date with the most perfect man; a tale that we could later relay in the most beautiful, nostalgic way to our most perfect grandchildren on the most perfect celebration of our ruby wedding anniversary. He had a beard. He had tattoos. We met in an antique book shop. Nothing about this date could be anything less than fated perfection. On a scale of one to ten, we were a frigging Nicholas Sparks’ novel.

About once a month I like to take the short walk to my local antiques emporium, that is, an indoor flea market for the wealthy and the uptight. Up a flight of stairs and into the rafters of this old Tudor building, a quiet and businesslike gentleman hocks a plethora of books sure to tempt even the most resistant of readers. There is no real system to the jumble of paperbacks, gilded edges and leather spines, yet hobbies and interests pass seamlessly into history and religion, to art, to classic literature and back to military biographies and financial manuals. Once a month I nod my acknowledgment of the quiet man as I peruse the collection, looking for a secret hidden gem or exciting new arrival. On this particular trip, I purchased volumes one and two of The love-letters of Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett and a first edition Through Hidden Tibet by Harrison Forman, among several others. On my way to the cash register I also grabbed a book about Islamic art, simply because it had come up in conversation with my son the evening before.

That’s when I saw him, at the cash register. I was struggling to balance my stack of worn and well read books on my forearm, while answering an unexpected but important business call and digging out my bank card from the inside pocket of my bag; which on this occasion had decided to wedge its zipper shut with the help of an old train ticket and loose thread of cotton. He stood there smiling patiently, a copy of Shelley’s poetry in one hand and a gawky china doll in the other. With reflection, I should have paid more attention to the doll. Those things are the creepy calling cards of Satan himself and anyone who is a fan should be approached with extreme caution.

I managed to pay for my latest bibliophile hit and, like any seasoned junkie, proceeded with my addiction ritual of preparing for their journey home. Check for rain, double wrap books in plastic to avoid getting wet, move keys from bag to pocket to prevent unnecessary stabbing in transit, shove bank card and receipt into now half opened, half stubbornly stuck, incredibly frustrating zip pocket and finally pat outside of bag twice to reassure self that the package is secure. I was so flustered that I didn’t notice Book Nerd watching my every move, not until my freaky little, anally retentive, inner bookgeek had completed her minor OCD meltdown. I left the shop a slightly brighter shade of beetroot red and tried not to stumble over my own feet as my memory quickly played back the full attractiveness of the tattooed, bearded man I’d stood near when buying books. Then I cursed myself for being old and overweight and having typically English rained-on hair. As would be the norm for many women in this self pitying situation, I decided to cheer myself up with cake.

The cafe is two, maybe three, doors down from the book shop, so I bolted inside with unprecedented nimbleness to soothe my woes with a latte and slice of carrot cake. ‘I’ll sit at the back, out of the way,’ I thought, ‘wait for the rain to calm down then head home’. My inner bookgeek had already won the battle to unwrap my carefully packaged purchases and peruse through their pages while I let my coffee cool to a reasonable drinking temperature.

The Book Nerd had obviously had the same idea. As I fished carrot cake crumbs out of my cleavage, he took a seat at the table adjacent to mine, the china doll hidden in a sleeping bag of tissue, plastic and tape by his side. Then he began to read Shelley. I don’t even like Shelley, in fact poetry in general isn’t something I’m a tremendous fan of, but this shit was too close to motion picture perfection for me to not start looking around the ceilings and in plant pots for hidden cameras. ‘Men like this do not live here’, I kept saying to myself, ‘not in this town. Not men who read and look good enough to lick. No way’.

‘You’re having a similar morning to mine, I see?’ he said in a soft Scottish accent, startling me out of my ‘I’m so cool I haven’t even noticed how ridiculously perfect you are’ act.

Of course he’s Scottish. Nothing stirs up the female loins quicker or harder than the imagery of a rugged, bloodthirsty Celt running around commando in a skirt. I’m pretty sure there is some kind of programming in women’s DNA that makes them automatically ovulate on hearing an Irish or Scottish accent. Trying to make vowel sounds and respond in a mature manner was proving difficult, particularly as I had a gob full of cake and, most likely, a latte mustache.

‘Its a leisurely one,’ I said, smiling back and hoping I didn’t have food in my teeth.

Leisurely? Nicely done Lola. That’s the way to show him how articulate and intelligent you are. Use a stupid and pompous word like ‘leisurely’.

‘Did you buy anything good?’ he asked, clearly not perturbed by my inability to make simple conversation.

We discussed our new books, our reasons for buying them and the sheer joy we both feel at rescuing abandoned and unwanted books from secondhand bookshops and antique fairs. He explained that the doll was for his great aunt who was celebrating her one hundredth birthday and that although she wouldn’t have a clue who he was or why he was buying her a present, it was the best chance he had at keeping his mother off his back at the next few family functions. This man was a walking check list of everything I had ever wanted in a partner; smart, funny, considerate, educated, curious, stylish. That was, until he visibly screwed up his face at my copy of Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin.

‘I don’t read foreigners,’ he said pointedly.

‘Define foreign,’ I snapped back with more gusto than I had anticipated.

‘Anything that isn’t by a British writer’.

My jaw dropped. My body froze. I had absolutely no response to what this aesthetically pleasing man was saying. He gave out a slow, gentle laugh.

‘Burns, Welsh, Keats, Dylan Thomas, Shakespeare, Dickens, Wordsworth,’ he preached, ‘why would I need to read anything else?’

My reply was quick and impassioned, ‘Steinbeck, Salinger, Hunter S. Thompson, Cervantes, Zola, Dumas,’ I ranted.

He shook his head slowly from side to side, that slow, gentle laugh mocking me like a silly little girl dressed up in frills and bows, dancing like a court jester for his amusement,

‘Tolstoy, Bradbury, Bukowski, Faulkner, Dostoyevsky…’ I continued, waving my battered copy of Eugene Onegin in my hand, ‘PUSHKIN!’

I fully understood his love of the British classics as well as his choice of more contemporary authors, but I could not understand why a man of clear intellect and a worldly demeanor could not see the benefits and pure joy to be found in reading literature from all corners of the globe. It was like discovering greenfly on a beautiful bouquet, the magic had gone.

Book Nerd and I had become quite audible in our exchange and were beginning to attract the attention of the cafe’s patrons; the elderly ladies treating themselves to lunch with the last of their pensions, the well to do new mothers maneuvering their expensive pushchairs between tables and chairs while wearing even more expensive workout gear, as well as the frustrated and bored waiting staff who’d been forced to stand behind a glass counter of deliciously tempting desserts all day.  The rain was coming down harder outside now, globules of water hitting the window pain with kamikaze defiance. My latte had diminished to just a smear inside a tinted glass and only a few crumbs on a white china plate sat as evidence of a cake that once had been.

Book Nerd apologised profusely as I began to pack up my things, carefully re-wrapping my lovely foreign books and easing them into my bag. I assured him I had not been offended by his narrow-minded love for British literature and that I had enjoyed our spirited discussion, but that I had many more chores to fulfill that day and my ‘leisurely’ time was now at an end.

‘Leisurely’. I bet he thinks I got that word from some sub standard American author. The imbecile. Pfft. I didn’t care what he thought by the time I stepped out of the cafe, lifting my jacket collar to prevent the rain running down my neck and giving my bag the reassuring double tap. I had new books and a belly full of cake. My leisurely day was turning out just fine.