Confessions of a 40-year-old lunatic

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As I hung upside, my thighs balanced on the soles of someone’s feet, while also performing a semi-decent v-shape formation with my legs, I wondered: Is this what a 40-year-old woman needs to do to get a date in this town?

Riverside acrobatics was not what I had ever considered to be a remote possibility for a second date, but this was what I found myself doing a few weeks ago. The owner of the feet above – a very earnest Swede with a fondness for contortionism it seemed – professed to me that since I used to be a gymnast, I would have no problem putting my legs above my head while also balancing on his head with just one of my hands.

Alas, as I tried to tell him while clad in fetchingly tight gym-gear that accentuated my lady lumps and minimised any bulges, I gave gymnastics up in the late 80s and the closest I’d got to any acrobatics since then was usually the result of one too many ciders.

So it was at that very moment, well perhaps a few hours later when I had a monster headache from hanging upside for longer than is ever necessary and certainly advisable, that I decided that dating in your 40s is a ridiculous past-time best reserved for people who actually want a boyfriend.

You see as I head into my final few days as a 40-year-old, I have realised that I, in fact, do not. I thought I’d been single for nearly four years because I was no longer desirable or because I was being more selective that I ever had before. But over recent days, I have realised that that is not true at all. The simple truth is that I have been single for so long because I want to be single.

During the first year of my 40s, I remember this time last year, making a pact with myself to say “yes” more often in a optimistic bid to meet my “person”. So I did. I went bushwalking, learned to love Latin dancing, joined a book club, went to New Zealand, went to Bali, went to NIDA, went to the Blues Fest, had a fling with an Irish man and had a fling with a New Zealand man too.

I went to my first-ever V8 supercar race and watched a man who I am in love with just a little as he speed around the track again and again. I learned that even though I have some killer curves, and have been known to get up quite some speed in certain circumstances, I would never want to compete with the passion he has for racing. I respect that. And I admire and love him for it too.

I wrote blogs about spiders, pet cemeteries and politicians. I wrote about my dentist, my teeth, my hair and giving myself an enema on my birthday. I pontificated about fame, disaster porn and the potential of having sex with a New Zealand man while on holiday there in April (big tick). I wrote about friends who broke their backs, their knees and those who were only ever my friends in cyberspace. But mainly I wrote about love and my search for it. Thanks for sticking with me.

On Thursday, I will never be 40 again. I’m neither happy nor sad about it. I guess you could say I am ambivalent. Over the past year, there have been some wins, and some losses. I’ve achieved some stuff I wanted to, and had shit sandwiches smack me in the face at the most inopportune moments. That’s life innit? I’ve turned down dates with younger men because I didn’t want history to repeat even though my brain was screaming at me to not be such a silly old mole. But this year, my search for love will not be my main focus. No, I have just made just one – potentially two – promises to myself.

After two years of feeling sorry for myself because no one wanted to publish my first book, next week I start writing a fresh one. I know it will be better than the first and, who knows, maybe it will be the one that piques a publisher’s interest. It will again be a black comedy, and no doubt I will be in there too, but I learned this morning when talking to my sister that that is the type of writer I am. And I am finally cool with it. If it was good enough for Hunter it’s bloody good enough for me.

And secondly, since it seems I have finally made peace with this single life I have chosen, if a young man crosses my path on the dance floor (or anywhere really) again, then I will take him up on his offer with graciousness and without fear. But I do suspect that a swapping of names will probably not be necessary.

Shoes in the City

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Over the weekend I contemplated buying a $700 pair of shoes. At the same time, I reflected on whether I had become a wanker.

The first justification for considering splashing out such an obscene amount of dosh on a pair of hell on heels is they are Christian Louboutin (see image above). For anyone who knows their Manolo Blahniks from their Jimmy Choos that would be rationalisation enough but I have never considered myself to be one of those people. In fact, I just googled “most expensive shoes” so I would have examples for that sentence but then simultaneously realised I automatically knew at least two so didn’t need the search results at all, which is a bit of a worry.

The second validation is that I am soon to become the beneficiary of a lucrative and unexpected tax return so I feel like I should waste some of what is actually my own money on something spectacularly frivolous  – just like successive Australian governments have done with my hard-earned over recent years.

Thirdly, while I was sick last week, I watched both Sex and the City movies back-to-back and had a pseudo-revelation. Watching the films about a bunch of forthright women in their 40s while also being a relatively forthright woman in her 40s, meant the story-line appeared to have more resonance than ever before – or perhaps it was my fever. Finally I understood that shoes can maketh the woman. Especially if she is the writer of funny, anecdotal-filled ditties, complete with real-life people and the sexually suggestive shenanigans of single life.  I also learned that it is always a bad idea to wear a bird in your hair on your wedding day, even if Vivienne Westwood has given you a $100,000 gown, and you shouldn’t be surprised if you’re left at the altar.

The fourth rationalisation is that these red-soled sex-stilettos will make my legs look fabulous.

The fifth reasoning is that this weekend I also bought a shoe rack, perhaps in recompense for my lack of courage – or maybe my innate Scottishness – for not purchasing this most luxurious of shoe labels. While I was assembling the shoe rack, which I debated for a day or more before attempting, I shook my head when I realised how big it was. I’m never going to fill this, I said to myself. No siree. I’ve only got about six pairs. Well, tonight I learned that I own 17 pairs of shoes – yes that’s 17. I was shocked. Due to the very parlous state of cupboard space in my apartment, I had shoes stuffed all over the place, so had no idea that perhaps I was more girly than I ever knew. Admittedly I have as many pairs of flats as heels so my femininity epiphany is more measured than magnificent but perhaps it does explain my current obsession with Mr Christian Louboutin.

The sixth rationale is I have my annual date with my hot racing car driver friend – who has been spending some time on the V8 podium of late – in two weeks and this time, after a number of years of flirtation, methinks we might finally get out of first gear – especially if I wear these sex-on-legs, Himalayan-high heels

Lastly, and most importantly, the final justification for buying a pair of ridiculously over-priced, quite possibly very wanky, French, shag-certainty shoes is because I want to – and that’s enough of an excuse for me any day.

The cougar myth

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No doubt there are certain women who are suited to being cougars. I am not one of them. I learned that the hard way.

Perhaps to be a successful cougar you have to have the ability to have sex with no feelings and possibly you have also long ago stopped believing in fairy-tales and happy endings (I mean the happy endings found in fairy-tales not the other happy endings found in, well, massage parlours).

Long before cougars were the flavour of the month, I became one… I would like to say reluctantly but I don’t know if that’s true.  I was 34. He was 23 and a backpacker. I should have known better but the attraction was fierce. The first few months were nothing short of mind-boggling but I never dreamed it would go on for as long as it did. Now, of course, I wish it hadn’t.

It went on so long that now, single and 40, I have pretty much said goodbye to the chance of ever becoming a mother, all because I fell in love with an age-inappropriate man and I always knew it. Love, though, can make you ignore even the most glaringly obvious faults in a situation that generally makes you feel warm and fuzzy and slightly ridiculous all at the same time.

We spent a couple of years blissfully happy. I know I loved him more than anyone else before or since. I would joke about him leaving me when I was 45 and barren so he could go off and populate a small Irish village with his offspring all named after obscure Gaelic football players. But those jokes always held a telling tinge of truth – a truth that neither of us wanted to admit, not just yet anyway.

There is nothing more depressing than meeting someone who could almost be your “person”, apart from the fact you were both born in the wrong decades. While I looked younger than my age, and he looked older, that didn’t change basic biology.  We finally accepted that irrefutable fact outside a John Butler Trio concert in Dublin of all places and then cried buckets of tears together on the pavement.

I always knew he would grow up and want to get married and have kids and by then I would be too old and he would leave me. In fact, one of the last things he ever said to me was: I shouldn’t have let it go on for so long – like in his mind it was always temporary and he was just biding his time while playing idly with my heart. I suppose when you’re in your 20s you have time to do such things. That hurt, but I also learned a very valuable lesson

At the time, I remember thinking having children was still something that I wanted to do. I don’t think like that anymore. Or at least I don’t let myself think like that because my chances are so negligible they are almost transparent. A bit like the chances of our relationship making the distance, in hindsight.

For the past three years, I have had a lot of time to think because for the first time in my life I have been more discerning when it comes to men, and more protective and proud of the love that I have to give – but only to the right man.

He hasn’t turned up yet. Sometimes in my darker moments, I wonder whether he ever will. But most of the time I recognise that in this elongated period of singledom, I have finally learned who I truly am and who I deserve to be with. And I know that every day I spend by myself is another day heading towards the man I am supposed to be with. If that’s the way the cards are meant to be.

These days I also know I am stronger, and hopefully just a little wiser, and am happy to wait relatively patiently until the day I finally meet the man who, I hope, is mature enough to love me.

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